Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Biblical Response to the Abused Wife

A letter from an emotionally battered woman prompted this. She is from a denomination that believes you are married for life even if you married the devil's disciple himself...nothing could be further from the truth. Can a woman of God be fooled by an abuser into marriage...YOU BET! They are masters at disguising themselves and their intent to dominate a woman. They particularly like to pick women who are very religious and naively believe marriage will solve all their problems and loneliness. They are adept at misusing scripture to guilt their wives into staying in their cycle of abuse.

Truthfully, abuse whether physical or emotional, is the deal-breaker in a covenant relationship! Diane from Portsmouth this is for you and all the women who are held captive by ridiculous unbiblical denominations who hold marriage as permanent to an abuser. Please read the whole paper to understand why God would not condemn a woman or man from leaving their abusive covenant partner. If the readers of this post would take the trouble to read through prior posts they will find multiple accounts of biblical advice to leave their abuser behind. The church and pastors are finally waking up to the devastation of abuse and the cycle of terror that hold godly women and even men captive.

A Biblical Response to the Abused Wife

June 8th, 2011
by Renee M. Malina
A research paper submitted to Dr. Steven Tracy,

Intimate partner violence is prevalent throughout the world.  When wives are abused, they are faced with the decision whether to remain in their marriages, possibly at the risk of their lives or harm to their children.  This decision is particularly difficult when they believe that they might be disobeying God by ending the marriage.  God’s covenantal design for marriage is broken by abuse, and Scripture does not mandate that an abused wife must remain married to an abuser; therefore, the body of Christ is called to model God’s compassion toward abused women through effective strategies designed to meet the needs of women who are trying to escape abusive relationships.  God designed marriage to be a covenantal relationship through which spouses could experience companionship, physical relationship, respect, love, and caring.  On the contrary, abuse and neglect are condemned by Scripture and can break the marriage covenant.  When this happens, divorce is permitted due to the hard-heartedness of the abuser and as a legal protection for the abused.  Nevertheless, in the face of abuse, divorce is a complex decision that requires physical, spiritual, and emotional support.  This provides an opportunity for the body of Christ to execute effective church discipline, educate clergy and congregations about abuse, accept ministries of reconciliation and advocacy, provide safety for abused women and their children, and offer Christian counseling that reflects a biblical view of abuse within marriage.
Keywords:   abuse, covenant, divorce, intimate partner violence, marriage, neglect, violence

 A Biblical Response to the Abused Wife

The pounding of Sarah’s heart echoed the pounding of her drunken husband’s footsteps climbing the stairs to their small apartment.  With nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape, it would only be a matter of moments before her battered body would once again fall prey to his abuse.  On the other side of town in a more affluent neighborhood, Mary appeared impervious to the harsh realities of Sarah’s world.  Yet, surrounded by all the luxuries that her wealthy husband could buy, Mary’s heart beat loudly as her enraged husband beat her to a near lifeless pulp.  This fictional account of two abused wives calls attention to the very real epidemic of abuse.  The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) reported that “intimate partner violence is pervasive in U.S. society” (p. 5).  Approximately 25% of women surveyed were physically assaulted and/or raped by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.  In a 10‑country study of domestic violence against women, the World Health Organization (2009) found that 15% to 71% of women disclosed sexual or physical violence by a partner or husband.  These statistics underscore the prevalence of intimate partner abuse, which counselors will likely encounter in their practices.  It is imperative for Christian counselors to have a biblical answer for abused wives who feel caught in the dilemma of how to obey God and yet preserve their very lives.  God’s covenantal design for marriage is broken by abuse, and Scripture does not mandate that an abused wife must remain married to an abuser; therefore, the body of Christ is called to model God’s compassion toward abused women through effective strategies designed to meet the needs of women who are trying to escape abusive relationships.
God established the permanence of the marriage relationship when He declared, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, New American Standard Bible).  The Hebrew word azav, translated as leave, is often translated as forsake (Fruchtenbaum, 2009, p. 88).  Although azav frequently characterized Israel’s rejection of covenantal relationship with God, it was used positively in Genesis 2:24, with the man rejecting parental emotional ties in order to seek emotional fulfillment with his wife.  The Hebrew word dabaq, translated as cleave, literally means “to stick like glue” (Fruchtenbaum, 2009, p. 88).  In Deuteronomy, this word often signified maintaining a covenant.  The Hebrew phrase basar echad, translated as one flesh, connotes a compound unity, with the man and woman becoming one.  Genesis 2:24 is the foundation of the New Testament teaching in Matthew 19 and Mark 10, upon which Jesus elaborated, “consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh.”  Similar to the Hebrew phrase for one flesh, the Greek phrase sarx mia connotes the new relationship that is created through the marriage union, which signifies a unitary existence (Brown, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 678).
God’s intentions for marriage are embodied in the context of a covenantal relationship.  Hugenberger (1994) argued that four essential components comprise an understanding of covenant in the Old Testament:  “1) a relationship 2) with a non‑relative 3) which involves obligations and 4) is established through an oath” (p. 215).  In Genesis 2:24, the man and the woman became one flesh via sexual union.  Sexual union is an oath‑sign, similar to giving a handshake or eating together, which depicts the covenant commitment of one flesh
God used the metaphor of marriage when He modeled in His covenantal commitment to mankind.  When God makes a covenant, He offers promises, assumes responsibilities, and identifies obligations to be fulfilled by His covenant partners (Eilts, 1995, pp. 444-445).  This ensures that the covenant is good for both God and His covenant partners.  In fact, “a common thread in all of God’s covenants is a promise of deliverance and well‑being, liberation from suffering, persecution, or oppression” (Eilts, 1995, p. 445).  In God’s covenantal relationship with Israel, He committed to be their God (Alexander & Baker, 2003, p. 154).  In exchange, Israel committed to keep Yahweh’s commandments (Deuteronomy 5-26).  These obligations expressed love and loyalty to God (Alexander, 1997; as cited in Alexander & Baker, 2003).  Love is more than mere feelings or sentiment, but is expressed in actions that reflect that love.  Similarly, God’s intentions for the marriage relationship are companionship and mutual help (Genesis 2:18), ongoing physical relationship that comprises one flesh relationship (Genesis 2:24), and mutual respect, love, and caring (Ephesians 5:21-33) (Brown, 1979, Vol. 3, p. 539).
Jesus admonished His hearers not to deviate from God’s design for marriage:  “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).  In the context of marriage, the Greek word chorizo, translated as separate, has the connotation of dividing that which is indissoluble because the man and the woman become one living being (Brown, 1979, Vol. 2, p. 349).  This partnership cannot be dissolved without damaging its partners.  Yet, Jesus recognized the possibility for the marriage covenant to be broken and challenged His hearers to appraise their own lives to consider any action that might break apart that which God joined together (Brown, 1979, Vol. 3, pp. 539‑540).
Abuse and neglect break the marriage covenant.  The Lord described the man’s companion as hiswife by covenant and warned him not to deal treacherously with her (Malachi 2:14-15).  The Hebrew word bagad, translated as treacherously, denotes unfaithfulness to the covenant (Harris, Archer, & Waltke, 1980, p. 90).  Conversely, when the man is faithful to the covenant, he fulfills his obligations to his wife.  According to Luck (1987, pp. 31-37), the man’s obligations include provision for his wife’s physical needs, protection of her reputation, and protection from abuse.  Provision for physical needs includes food, clothing, and conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10).  Exodus 21 is traditionally not cited in connection with marriage because it refers to a slave or concubine with whom the master has a one flesh relationship.  Luck (1987) argued a fortiori that although Scripture does not delineate similar rights for a full wife, it is reasonable to assume that God’s care for a lesser status one flesh partner would, at the very least, be applicable to a full wife (i.e., a free woman would not have fewer rights than a slave).  In Deuteronomy 22:10, the husband was fined for publicly defaming his wife.  This verse established the husband’s obligation not to ruin his wife’s reputation.  Exodus 21 established penalties for personal injuries.  For example, a master is not to strike a slave’s eye or knock out a slave’s tooth (Exodus 21:26).  Using the same a fortiori argument as above, Luck (1987) argued that a man must never beat his wife.  Furthermore, it does not make sense that God would care about the wife’s reputation and then care nothing about her body.  It is also persuasive to consider that if the penalty for striking parents was death (Exodus 21:15), it seems incongruous to consider that there would be absolutely no consequence for striking a wife.
Scripture condemns abuse and neglect in all of its forms.  The Bible vigorously condemns violence (Kroeger & Nason‑Clark, 2001, p. 77).  God abhors and denounces violent behavior, which is an evidence of sin that brings God’s judgment.  Because of violence, God destroyed the earth (Genesis 6:11-13).  The Lord’s soul hates “the one who loves violence” (Psalm 11:5).  Wickedness stirred up God’ anger (Ezekiel 7:3); in His pronouncement of punishment for wickedness, He declared that “violence has grown into a rod of wickedness” (Ezekiel 7:11).  Proverbs characterized the violent as wicked (Proverbs 4:14-17) and treacherous (the Hebrew word bagad, meaning unfaithful, as noted above) (Proverbs 13:2).
Abuse perverts the image of God (Tracy, 2005, pp. 27-35).  Instead of nurturing, sustaining, and enhancing a wife’s God‑given craving for love and affection, physical abuse distorts God’s image of responsible dominion in a most destructive way.  Neglecting to provide for a wife’s physical needs distorts God’s functional image to care for His creation.  Thus, a man who neglects to provide for the needs of his household is described as one who has “denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  Furthermore, verbal abuse distorts God’s image by failing to create life through words.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).  “A soothing [healing] tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:14).  ”The Pentateuch holds the lives of men and women, slave and free, Israelite and foreigner, born and unborn, to be of utmost value.  Each is an image of God, to be respected, protected, and actively loved” (Alexander & Baker, 2003, p. 94).
God’s response to abuse is reflected in His strong statement in Malachi 2:16 that He hates “him who covers his garment with wrong.”  The Hebrew word chamac, translated as wrong in the NASB, is most often translated as violence (KJV; NIV; RSV) (Harris et al., 1980, p. 297).  However, the Old Testament usually connected chamac with sinful violence.  Hugenberger (1994, p. 75) presented the older view ofgarment as a biblical image of clothing to suggest an outward expression of man’s inner state.  For example, “pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them” (Psalm 73:6); “he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment” (Psalm 109:18); and, “on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor” (Jeremiah 2:34).  Thus, for a man to cover his garment with wrong includes both the action of violence and an abusive inner state, which violates the covenant of marriage.
When the marriage covenant is broken through abuse and neglect, the abused wife may be faced with the dilemma of whether Scripture supports her decision to leave the marriage.  Returning to the opening vignette, both Sarah and Mary entered into marriage with the expectation of a lifelong commitment and an understanding that biblical grounds for ending a marriage only include adultery, desertion by an unbelieving spouse, or death.  Is their only recourse for this abuse to pray that God would look down from heaven, see their affliction, and cause their husbands to leave or die?  Some New Testament texts appear to support Sarah and Mary’s understanding of marriage:  Whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity or immorality, commits adultery (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9).  However, if an unbelieving spouse leaves, let him leave (1 Corinthians 7:15).  A married woman is bound to her husband while he is alive (Romans 7:2), and she “should not leave her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:10). 
For women with strong faith, “the promise before God to stay together until death do us part” (Nason‑Clark, 2004, p. 304) creates greater vulnerability when they are abused.  These religious women sometimes feel that they are not allowed to leave because they believe that marriage is forever regardless how cruel their husbands may treat them, even if their lives are endangered (Kroeger & Nason‑Clark, 2001, p. 36).  In fact, religious victims have a higher level of commitment to remain in their marriages than non‑religious victims:
One study found that the average length of marriage for religious victims was 11.4 years compared to 8.6 years for non‑religious victims.  In the case of religious victims, the abuse had continued for an average of 9.4 years, whereas for non‑religious victims the figure was 7.4 years.  Religiosity of the victims bore no relationship to the severity of the abuse (Horton, Wilkins, & Wright; as cited in Roberts, 2008, p. 42).
In contrast to this religious commitment to an abusive marriage, Instone-Brewer (2003, p. 83) argued that not all marriages can be rescued, and Scripture does not provide a lifetime guarantee for all marriages.  This is evidenced by the wording in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9, “let no man separate,” which is contrasted with the common understanding of these verses, “no one can separate” (Instone‑Brewer, 2003, p. 84).  Even though the dissolution of a marriage is very undesirable, these texts imply that it can end. 
Yet, some have argued that if Jesus considered neglect and abuse to be valid grounds for ending a marriage, He would have said something about them (Instone‑Brewer, 2003, pp. 95‑96). What can be concluded about Jesus’ silence on this matter?:
There were no debates about the validity of neglect and abuse as grounds for divorce in any Jewish literature, for the same reason that there are none about the oneness of God:  these principles were unanimously agreed on.  Rather than indicating that Jesus did not accept the validity of divorce for neglect and abuse, his silence about it highlights the fact that he did accept it, like all other Jews at that time (Instone-Brewer, 2003, p. 96).
Furthermore, “the mission of the Incarnate One included freeing the oppressed” (Sider, 2005, p. 47).  In Luke 4:17‑21, Jesus informed His hearers that Isaiah’s prophetic words about “preach[ing] the Gospel to the poor…proclaim[ing] release to the captives…recover[ing] sight to the blind…set[ting] free those who are downtrodden” were fulfilled in Himself.  Sider (2005) argued that Isaiah’s words about releasing the captives and setting the downtrodden free unquestionably refer to physical captivity and oppression.  Jesus’ ministry corresponded to Isaiah’s prophecy, and He spent a great deal of time ministering to despised women, lepers, and other marginalized people.
What Jesus did condemn in the Matthew 19 discussion with the Pharisees was any cause divorce (divorce on trivial grounds) as an invalid and unbiblical way to end a marriage (Roberts, 2008, p. 86).  Roberts (2008, pp. 39-41) made the distinction between treacherous divorce and disciplinary divorce, arguing that it is only treacherous divorce that God hates.  Treacherous divorce occurs when a spouse divorces without biblical grounds (i.e., discarding a spouse for an insignificant or no reason).  Disciplinary divorce is a disciplinary tool that withdraws marriage privileges from a spouse who breaks the marriage covenant through adultery, abuse, abandonment, or harmful neglect.  Another name for disciplinary divorce is justified divorce.  However, many Christians may fear that by accepting the notion of a justified divorce, the floodgates of excuses to divorce will open.  Roberts (2008, p. 41) clarified that she does not intend to imply that Christians can separate as the result of light offenses or transitory incidents.
Even with repeated abuse and heavy offenses, the believer should make every effort to call the abuser to repent (Roberts, 2008, p. 41).  “Often the best hope for abusers to repent and change their ways is for them to experience painful consequences they cannot escape no matter how much they cajole, threaten, or manipulate” (Tracy, 2011, p. 6) (e.g., arrest, wife leaving, ostracism or separation from the church).  Without painful consequences, there is little motivation for the abuser to change.  On the other hand, painful consequences may lead an abuser to repentance.
God did not quickly divorce His covenant partners.  In fact, it was only after God’s repeated, faithful attempts to call faithless Israel to repent that He gave “her a writ of divorce” (Jeremiah 3:8).  God modeled a compassionate invitation to repentance:  “Return, faithless Israel…I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious…I will not be angry forever.  Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God” (Jeremiah 3:12-13).  God followed His invitation with the blessings that He was willing to provide:  “Shepherds after [His] own heart, who will feed [them] on knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15) and “a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of the nations!” (Jeremiah 3:19). 
Roberts (2008, p. 41) argued that it is important to understand that most abuse victims make many attempts to reconcile their relationships before seeking a pastor or professional’s help.  Often the victim has borne too much, too long, and the abuse pattern is deeply entrenched.  Unrepentant abusers have darkened understanding and hardened, callous hearts.  When this is the case, the believer is forced to accept that an unrepentant partner irreparably broke the marriage covenant (Wenham, Heth, & Keener, 2006, p. 112).
Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ question about why Moses commanded to give a divorce certificate (Matthew 19:7) by correctly distinguishing that divorce was not commanded, but was permitted due to hardness of heart, even though it was not that way from the beginning (Keener, 1991, p. 42).  In essence, Jesus communicated that allowing divorce conceded to human weakness.  This principle interprets the law with compassion:  Jesus is making the point that Moses conceded to divorce because legal protection for someone divorced against will is the best that could come from hard‑hearted people.  If they were open to God’s ways and compassionate, He could have required them to keep his original, ideal standard of not initiating divorce.  It is consistent to assume that God would provide the same compassionate, legal protection for an abused wife.
Scripture confirms that God responds in compassion to the oppressed.  God is a rock, refuge, shield, horn of salvation, and savior who saved David from violence (2 Samuel 22:3).  God delivered David from his strong enemy and those who hated him and were too mighty for him and rescued him from the violent man (Psalm 18:17, 48).  Solomon declared that God crushes the oppressor, delivers the needy when they cry for help, and rescues their lives from oppression and violence (Psalm 72:4, 12-14).  God sets free those who are doomed to death (Psalm 102:20).  God executes justice for the oppressed and sets prisoners free (Psalm 146:7). God loosens the bonds of wickedness, undoes and breaks every yoke, and lets the oppressed go free (Isaiah 58:6).
If God is so compassionate toward the oppressed, why does He hate divorce (Malachi 2:16)?  In other words, why would He hate the very thing that would liberate an abused woman from her oppressor?  “He knows from personal experience how much pain results from it” (Instone‑Brewer, 2003, p. 42).  God’s criticism is not against the legal process or a person who divorces; otherwise, He would have to criticize Himself for divorcing Israel.  God hates the treachery or faithlessness of breaking the marriage covenant.  However, it is important to distinguish that the person who breaks the marriage covenant is the abuser, not the wronged person who enacts a divorce.  Continued abuse or neglect can result in physical and emotional damage, and continued unfaithfulness destroys the credibility of the institution of marriage.  Even though divorce has terrible consequences for both partners, remaining married is often worse.
In their study of 15 divorced, formerly battered, women, Haj‑Yahia & Eldar‑Avidan (2001), examined the factors that contributed to a decision to divorce an abusive husband.  Intrapersonal factors included the personal strength and empowerment gained in coping with violence, efforts to preserve self-confidence despite the abuse, intensification of violence, and combating damage to children.  Interpersonal factors primarily focused on concern for children.  Structural‑organizational factors emphasized rights as women and divorcees, access to money, employment, and support from governmental agencies.  Factors that hindered their decision were past failed attempts to leave, fear of the spouse’s violent reaction, lack of support from the family of origin, and cultural stigma.  Underlying the many factors that helped them to implement the decision to divorce was the physical and emotional support they received from various sources.  This study underscores the complexity of the divorce decision and the need for the body of Christ to support abused women.
In the case where both spouses claim to be Christians, church discipline (Matthew 18) is an important part of the decision to divorce in the face of marital abuse (Roberts, 2008, pp. 48‑49).  This gives both parties a chance to present their sides of the story.  If the alleged abuser is unwilling to present his viewpoint, a decision is made on the available evidence.  Sadly, church discipline is not always used in a biblical way.  “Sometimes churches use the principle of discipline in a grace‑less way:  by breaching confidentiality, demonstrating fleshly bias, or viewing restoration of the marriage as more important than restoring individuals” (Roberts, 2008, p. 48).  Sometimes they accuse the wrong person or reject them because they have failed to investigate the matter sufficiently.  When Christian leaders have an underdeveloped theology of sin and its devastation, they are unable to offer needed help.  Conversely, when victims receive a fair hearing, with a just determination, it can provide peace of mind to move forward to rebuild their lives.  Unfortunately, church discipline rarely happens.  Furthermore, the church is often unaware of the abuse.
According to Tracy (2007), due to clergy mismanagement and misunderstanding of domestic violence, only a small percentage of women view clergy as helpful for abuse victims.  Abused women are often told by clergy that they should submit to abusive husbands, even when submission fails to stop abuse.  Instead of condemning abuse as sinful and unacceptable, clergy are often silent from the pulpit on this issue.  Even worse, clergy consistently underestimate the prevalence of domestic violence, especially in their congregations (e.g., according to Wirthlin Worldwide (1999), as cited by Tracy (2007), in Maricopa County, Arizona, 42% of 600 abused women surveyed attend religious services on a weekly basis).  Because clergy na├»vely believe that an abusive man will change in response to a wife’s submission, they are often more concerned about preserving the marriage.  Sadly, some clergy even go so far as to partially blame women for the abuse.  To counteract these problems, clergy must educate themselves and their congregations on all aspects of abuse, especially qualities of abusive men.  Clergy need to recognize the importance of networking with other professional and community resources to address the needs of abuse victims.  Clergy must also work with other leaders to hold batterers responsible for their abuse.  Victims of abuse and their children must be protected and considered a priority.  By making these important changes, clergy have the opportunity to provide healing and help for domestic violence victims.
Alsdurf and Alsdurf (1989, pp. 127-128) challenged the church to accept its radical ministry of reconciliation in responding to abused women.  This challenges the church to awake from its passivity in failing to recognize abuse and intervene on behalf of victims.  It calls the body of Christ to nourish and struggle along with victims.  This achieves a balance of justice and love that is sorely missing in our world.  This radical ministry of reconciliation is not tidy or safe, but takes the risk to serve as a mediator.
Alsdurf and Alsdurf (1989, pp. 128-129) also challenged the church to fulfill its prophetic role by advocating for the oppressed.  This is not a feminist ministry, but one that aggressively responds to the existence of evil.  “If the church is to be truly pro‑life, how can it help but champion the cause of battered women?” (Alsdurf & Alsdurf, 1989, p. 128).  Being pro‑life goes beyond opposing abortion to taking a stand against everything that opposes life.  Similar to the outrage expressed by the Old Testament prophets, the church must become indignant over abuse within Christian marriages.  The church must take action to “deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11).
When the church steps forward to model God’s compassion to abused women, an urgent issue is the need for safety (Nason-Clark, 1997, pp. 119-121).  Safety includes the care of the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of the abuse victim and her children.  Safety also includes a response setting that will not only meet the woman’s needs, but also provide safety for anyone who offers her assistance.  Emotional safety is created when the woman can talk without being judged or condemned.  One dilemma is that male clergy may have a difficult time providing a safe haven for a woman who was abused by a man.  This creates the need for women to be available for this ministry.  Specifically, clergy must offer practical assistance that includes a safety plan, safe housing, and assistance with financial needs (Tracy, 2011, p. 5).
The prevalence of abuse suggests that counselors may often have the privilege and challenge to work with abused clients to develop strategies to rebuild their lives. The first priority in counseling victims of abuse is to develop a safety plan.  When providing therapy for victims of abuse, counselors will address the toxic shame, powerlessness, deadness, isolation, brokenness, lack of intimacy, and unforgiveness that are among the devastating consequences of abuse (Tracy, 2005).  “Nothing can generate clouds of toxic shame like abuse” (Tracy, 2005, p. 76).  Because shame is a major component of abuse, it is imperative that Christian counselors have a biblical perspective of abuse within marriage.  Given the power differential in the counseling relationship, the counselor’s suggestion that an abused wife is disobeying God by leaving her husband will only add to the massive shame with which she already struggles.  Conversely, allowing the abused client to experience God’s compassion in the therapeutic relationship promotes healing of the abuse.
In conclusion, domestic violence is a prevalent and devastating reality that the body of Christ, in general, and Christian counselors, in particular, must address.  Scripture makes it clear that God’s original design for marriage was a permanent union between husband and wife.  Within the context of this covenantal relationship, a husband has the opportunity to lovingly provide for his wife’s physical needs, protect her reputation, and protect her from abuse.  When he fails to do that and instead neglects and abuses her, he breaks the marriage covenant.  Even though God hates divorce because of the pain it causes, He is compassionate toward victims of abuse and permits a certificate of divorce.  God’s compassion compels the body of Christ to also respond compassionately to the needs that are created as a consequence of abuse.  In doing so, broken victims of abuse are given the opportunity to heal and rebuild their lives.

 References

Alexander, T. D., & Baker, D. W. (Eds.). (2003). Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press.
Alsdurf, J., & Alsdurf, P. (1989). Battered into submission: The tragedy of wife abuse in the Christian home. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Brown, C. (Ed.). (1979). The new international dictionary of New Testament theology (Vols. 1‑3). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Eilts, M. N. (1995). Saving the family: When is covenant broken?. In C. J. Adams, & M. M. Fortune (Eds.),Violence against women and children: A Christian theological sourcebook (pp. 444-450). New York, NY: Continuum.
Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (2009).  Ariel’s Bible commentary: The book of Genesis. San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries.
Haj-Yahia, M. M., & Eldar-Avidan, D. (2001). Formerly battered women: A qualitative study of their experiences in making a decision to divorce and carrying it out. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 36(1/2), 37-65. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?hid=119&sid=7c0ccef0-be9c-4e1c-ab4c-cd7f328dbc83%40sessionmgr112&vid=7
Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (Eds.). (1980). Theological wordbook of the Old Testament(Vols. 1-2). Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
Hugenberger, G. P. (1994). Marriage as a covenant: Biblical law and ethics as developed from Malachi.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Instone-Brewer, D. (2003). Divorce and remarriage in the church: Biblical solutions for pastoral realities. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Keener, C. S. (1991). …And marries another: Divorce and remarriage in the teaching of the New Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Kroeger, C. C., & Nason-Clark, N. (2001). No place for abuse: Biblical & practical resources to counteract domestic violence. Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press.
The Lockman Foundation. (1977). New American Standard Bible. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman.
Luck, W. F. (1987). Divorce and remarriage: Recovering the biblical view. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.
Nason-Clark, N. (1997). The battered wife: How Christians confront family violence. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Nason-Clark, N. (2004). When terror strikes at home: The interface between religion and domestic violence. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 43(3), 303-310.  Retrieved fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&hid=25&sid=1dcaeccc-bd14-4020-bbc6-076b7012998e%40sessionmgr14
Roberts, B. (2008). Not under bondage: Biblical divorce for abuse, adultery & desertion. Ballarat, Victoria, Australia: Maschil Press.
Sider, R. J. (2005). Rich Christians in an age of hunger: Moving from affluence to generosity. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Tracy, S. R. (2005). Mending the soul: Understanding and healing abuse. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Tracy, S. R. (2007). Clergy responses to domestic violence. Priscilla Papers, 21(2). Retrieved fromhttp://www.mendingthesoul.org/2007/04/clergy-responses-to-domestic-violence/
Tracy, S. R. (2011).  Domestic violence: How should the church respond? Retrieved from http://courses.ps.edu/file.php/206/DVConf3ChurchRespHO.pdf
U.S. Department of Justice. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence: Findings from the national violence against women survey. Retrieved from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181867.pdf
Wenham, G. J., Heth, W. A., & Keener, C. S. (2006). Remarriage after divorce in today’s church: 3 views.Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
World Health Organization. (2009). Violence against women.  Retrieved fromhttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/

Friday, August 23, 2013

Message From A Man...You Are Not Crazy

The author's name is Yasher and he tells it like it is:

A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy”

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

Sound familiar?
If you’re a woman, it probably does.
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse or boyfriend?
When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.
And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.
I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.
I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.
Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, " You blow everything out of proportion and take everything I say so seriously," "You’re so stupid," "Can't you take a joke, I was joking," or "No one will ever want you," to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.
The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.
Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness or guilt—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.
An email received by Debbie (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight, her lowly job, her handling of the household, and the children-whom he ignores most of the time anyway. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, "You’re overly sensitive. You take everything out of proportion, I’m just joking."
A person named Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily to unnecessarily shoot down her performance and her work product. Comments like, "Can’t you do something right?" or "Why did I hire you?" are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn’t know that based on these comments, Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says, "It doesn’t help me when you say these things," she gets the same reaction: "Relax; you’re overreacting."
Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.
But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, "You’re so sensitive," to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.
While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.
And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.
Why?
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.
It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: it renders some women emotionally mute.
These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They have been conditioned to swallow it or face the consequences. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.
When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, "Forget it, it’s okay," or "I'm sorry I guess I did over-react," or "I just felt bad and didn't mean to take it out on you."
That is allowing your abuser to be dismissive and manipulating. Worse, it  isn’t just about dismissing your feelings, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.
No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.
They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.
You know how it looks: "You’re late :), " or "We need to talk :)"
These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.
Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.
From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.
Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”
Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.
As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.
I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy.”
I recognize that I’ve been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends—surprise, surprise). It’s shameful, but I’m glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it
While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It’s about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.
When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion at wrong behavior, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.
So for many of us, it’s first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.
But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?
Guilty as charged!

I like what the author has to say, but in defense of men who are not deliberate abusers, sometimes I have said a woman is crazy simply because I could not understand the reason for certain outburst or feelings(you know how we hate to be caught off-guard)...however it should never have been said so...no excuse for it guys. We must learn to communicate better. There is a difference in the way men see things as the way women see them. In thinking back to a few real good decisions made I had deferred to my wife as Abraham had to Sarah and she proved she is pretty darn smart about things I lacked wisdom in.

See you next blog,
Ted

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Does Submission To A Spouse Really Mean?

This  post is taken from Divorce Hope, a Christian site dedicated to making Christians aware of their responsibilities without shackling them with undue guilt and shame.

Submission to our spouse is never greater than our submission to God and His wisdom. Some people actually think God gives us the liberty to have another god before us. That is just not so (See Exodus 20:3). We must always submit to God first. He knows what decisions to make. As we submit to God and to one another He uses these situations to mature us, to bless us, and to reveal our own weaknesses. This results in our seeking Him all the more. “For when I am weak, THEN I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:10b).

There are all kinds of daily situations where one must submit to another. Husbands and wives need to make decisions daily about certain things. These decisions are not always to separate the good from the evil, but deciding what’s the best thing to do in a particular situation.


For example, we may need a car, but what kind? How much do we spend? These kinds of situations are where we grow together as husband and wife while submitting to one another. We must gain understanding of what kind of car fits our needs so we can make a wise decision. At times it is not always clear which course of action to take. This is where praying together in agreement comes in — seeking Gods heart together. Even though a better automobile may be needed, which one is the right one for us?

Suppose the wife felt in her heart that God said, “THIS car is the one”. But the husband isn’t sure which car to get. What could happen next? The husband could override his wife and say no, or the husband could trust the Lord through his wife and submit to her after they talked it out, even as Abraham submitted to his wife, Sarah (See Genesis 21:12). In these kinds of daily decisions, IT’S BETTER FOR THE HUSBAND AND WIFE TO BE IN AGREEMENT AND SUBMIT TO EACH OTHER EVEN IF IT’S THE WRONG CHOICE. The choice could be wrong because of a lack of knowledge. It is better to submit to each other, instead of not being in agreement, which causes strife. It is God’s heart to make right a wrong situation when the couple is in agreement seeking Him even if they did make the wrong choice. It is God’s heart to make right a wrong situation when the couple is in agreement seeking Him even if they did make the wrong choice. It is better to be in agreement and make a wrong choice with a clean conscience than for one spouse to disagree and make the “right” choice and be in constant strife. “For where envy and self-seeking [strife] exist, CONFUSION AND EVERY EVIL THING ARE THERE” (James 3:16).

Having God's Heart In Submission Does Not Mean Submit To A FoolWhen we submit to someone, we are actually submitting to the Christ in them or the satan in them. If we submit to someone who is self-willed more than spiritually minded we are submitting to a Biblical fool. Let me clarify. In each verse of Scripture we just read concerning submitting to another, there are commands to submit only to that which is of God: That which does not violate the Word of God, our conscience, or that which God has dealt with us about in our own personal lives concerning His purpose for us. When we know we haven’t violated the Word of God, we have a clean conscience and our heart is open and receptive before Him. We know we have then properly submitted, even if the spouse doesn’t agree. We are not to make gods of others in our attitude of submission. God is jealous for that position alone (See Exodus 20:4,5). The Church seems to have forgotten that God doesn’t want us to have any other gods before us, no matter what form they come in, even if they are our husbands and wives.

These times of submission to one another are to teach us humility, to give us opportunity to expand the character of God in us, and to be a visible witness of who and what God is like. God uses all these character defects in us to build more patience, to grow fruits of kindness, to destroy pride and to grow in us all those virtues of Jesus. We do not want to escape these kinds of situations. God wants us to pray our way THROUGH them so WE will be changed. Perhaps then, we may be able to help the one with the speck in their eye (See Matthew 7:3,4)



See you next blog,
Ted

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Do You Suffer From Poor Memory And/Or Anxiety? Your Spouse Could Be The Source

Maybe you used to pride yourself on your organizational skills and memory. You had to keep up with a multitude of things because you had a large family or family members in need of help and not much help from a very self-involved husband(or wife)! Over time he(she) took away your self-confidence, your health, and your sense of well-being because he(she) is a practicing FOOL OF BIBLICAL PROPORTION! Over time you have suffered from health issues, memory loss-anxiety, and have questioned your own sanity at times. You suffer the affects of PTSD to some degree. I know about it, so does every soldier who ever went to war! Ladies(men) you are living with your enemy!!! By the way the real cost is to your children, because one or all will become just like your abuser.



A Narcissist's Emotional and Verbal Abuse Harm To Your Brain
http://www.narcissismaddictionsabuse.com/Narcissist-Emotional-Verbal-Abuse-Harm-Brain.html
Dr. Diane England, PhD

It wasn’t that long ago that most neuroscientists thought we were born with most all of the neurons we’d ever have. While we might gain a few more during childhood, they believed that after that, all we could look forward to was the death of brain cells. Now we know differently. We are aware of neurogenesis, a process whereby new neurons are birthed in a part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is part of the limbic system--also known as the "emotional brain." Why? Well, because it controls most of the involuntary aspects of emotional behavior that are related to survival. These include feelings that fall into the painful category such as fear and anger, as well as more pleasurable such as affection. Furthermore, the hippocampus is involved in the processes of learning and memory.

The fact that is such a thing as neurogenesis is the good news. But there is also some bad news to share if you are living in a toxic environment filled with your partner’s narcissism, addictions, and abuse.

How an Emotionally Toxic Environment Affects Your Brain

I probably don’t have to tell you that when you’re living with a narcissistic man who engages in verbal abuse and emotional abuse regularly, that your life is stressful. You might also find yourself ridden with anxiety and feeling depressed as you strive to deal with all you face. We now know, through magnetic resonance imaging, that stress-related disorders such as recurrent depressive illness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Cushing's disease are all associated with atrophy of the hippocampus. Furthermore, stress appears to decrease capacity for production of new neurons, too.

The hippocampus is involved with memory. While it participates in verbal memory, it plays a particularly important in the memory of "context," or the time and place of events that have a strong emotional bias. Memories associated with strong emotions--such as fear—are marked in such a way that the memory retains its vividness in a very persistent way. This is what happens in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

We typically associate PTSD with soldiers who have been in a combat zone. But women who’ve been in abusive relationships can suffer from PTSD as well. Like those former soldiers, they will often end up having brains that are hyper-vigilant, In other words, the brain is always scanning the environment for patterns similar to those in the memories associated with those strong emotions. This is the way this part of the brain is striving to ensure the individual’s survival. But it becomes overreact or responds to things that are not dangerous. The situation does not truly call for a fight or flight response that the brain ends up triggering.

You might believe that whatever it is that your senses take in, that the stimuli is first delivered to the part of your brain that is most rational. Then, once it is there, it is logically evaluated. As a result, the brain triggers a reasonable or appropriate reaction for the situation. In other words, you might consciously choose to engage in fight or flight behavior because your safety is threatened and this type of immediate action is required. Then again, if this rational part of the brain realizes that the pattern might have spelled danger in the past, but there is no imminent danger this time around, your body won’t react with the fight or flight reaction. However, it doesn’t always work this way. Instead, that more rational part of the brain is bypassed so that the automatic fight or flight reaction is triggered. Only after this has happened will the more rational part of the brain have an opportunity to decide, through conscious choice, what is a reaction truly appropriate to the situation.

Some have referred to this type of event, where the more primitive part of the brain is initially triggered versus the more rational part of the brain instead, as a hijacking of the brain. And in truth, this hijacking of the brain is most apt to occur in people who’ve experienced traumatic events in their lives. And remember, when you are being constantly abused by a narcissist spouse, you are ensuring ongoing trauma.

The trauma of the verbal abuse and the other forms of abuse you suffer may also result in cognitive impairment or memory problems. In fact, when I was married to an abusive narcissist and suffering the onslaught of his regular verbal abuse and emotional abuse, I know I suffered a decline in my cognitive abilities. I not only had more difficulty remembering things, but I also found it challenging to talk in complete sentences. Certainly, it was the worst around him. Was that because I was fearful of stating a complete idea because I knew he’d likely attack it as soon as I’d spoken it? Perhaps that had something to do with it. Nonetheless, I came to realize that this happened more often than just when I was with him. It came to occur when I was with caring friends, too.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was living in an environment that was resulting in the death of neurons and, of course, ensuring that new ones weren’t developed through the process of neurogenesis, either. Fortunately I did maintain enough cognitive functioning to realize that this was indeed a toxic environment in which to live and furthermore, things were probably going to continue to grow worse rather than better. I felt the environment was destroying my spirit and strangling my soul. I didn’t know to be concerned about the well-being of my brain. But then, we didn’t know about all this at that time, either.

Hopefully, you will be willing to acknowledge if you are living in an environment that is likely causing harm to your brain. This might not be a pleasant reality to have to face and accept. However, since many people won’t change until they’re awakened by something rather traumatic, perhaps realizing how you’re causing your brain to deteriorate just might be the wake-up call you need, don’t you imagine?

Wake up and smell the coffee ladies, You are living with a monster who is sapping your life out of you! Just because he isn't always that way does not mean you are not abused!

See you next blog,
Ted

Monday, August 12, 2013

Still Waiting For A Good Marriage With A Bad Partner?

The following is an article from Self Growth, by Dr. Diane England, PhD. It is a very thought provoking article for women who may or may not have realized they are married to either a Borderline or Malignant Narcissistic Personality. Having been a pastoral and biblical counselor, I can tell you that the after-effects are devastating over a period of years and could cost you your sanity and your health. Please heed what Dr. England has to say on this subject:

When you said your vows, what were you expecting? I suspect if you were like most women, you thought you were entering a partnership. You would enjoy shared power, right?
I bet you've discovered something quite different, though. I bet he likes to have power over you, isn't that so? And to ensure he achieves and maintains this, he might well use emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, and even sexual abuse, too. I am talking about non-consensual sex.

The thing is, you might not even realize that your relationship with your narcissistic spouse is filled with these forms of abuse. You might feel badly or experience emotional pain much of the time, but still not understand why. You might well believe your narcissistic spouse when he tells you how you are the problem, and if you just changed and did these things he wanted, well, life would be grand.
For him, that is.

He keeps emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, and sexual abuse in his marital toolbox because they work for him. Meanwhile, you believe that the two of you have a partnership. Sorry, but a relationship with a narcissist is not about partnership. Those suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism don’t know what that means. They are self centered. They lack empathy. And more than anything else, they are grandiose. Whether successful or not, they feel entitled to have what they want when they want it. Rather like a very bad two-year-old.

The narcissistic throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, too. The difference is, they scream more than how they hate you; those suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism are inclined to scream obscenities and/or imply other hurtful things. All of them help your self esteem to plunge, plus make the anxiety butterflies swirl, wouldn't you agree?

Let me back up a minute here, though. Perhaps you might want to argue that your spouse has never been diagnosed with any mental health problems, and especially not Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. Please realize, however, that narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic symptoms can occur in varying degrees. So, someone need not be diagnosable as having full-fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder to display what you’ll see referred to in various internet articles as unhealthy, pathological, or malignant narcissism. However, even lesser degrees of narcissism can be problematic in your relationship.

I might not have to tell you that. Then again, have you ever suspected your spouse’s emotional abuse and sexual abuse, for example, were associated with pathological levels of narcissism?

So, how many of the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder must your narcissistic spouse meet in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for you to be the victim of his narcissism—which could be fueling his abuse plus perhaps alcoholism or drug addiction?

Sadly, too often, these all come together in one neatly wrapped package.
But back to the question I originally posed; I really can’t answer it.

What I will say, though, is don’t keep you eyes shut because in the beginning, things were so good between the two of you. You might have believed you had finally met your white knight. You might have been so enamored with him because of the whirlwind romance that included flowers, candlelight dinners, outrageously expensive gifts considering the time you’d been together, and romantic getaways that also included great sex(this does not apply to most Narcissist-only the most adept).

No, don’t keep thinking if you can only get it right, or do all the things he asks, those days will probably return.
I rather hate to tell you this, but you’re probably wrong. Oh, he might act that way now and then to keep you hooked in and believing you’re about to rediscover Camelot, but he is only seducing you—again.
A narcissist is like a leopard; he can not change his spots. Okay, he might be able to change if he really wanted to do so. But if you are in love with a narcissist, you need to understand that you’ll likely be seeking counseling on how to leave a narcissist long before he’s inclined to seek help on how to alleviate himself of his narcissistic tendencies.

If you have a narcissistic husband, listen very carefully: Narcissists seduce you with their charm, and the great sex. Once they have you hooked, things change—and not for the good.
In fact, is the great sex still so great? Or instead, is it about him and his needs and wants? Also, you might feel he has to give a great performance, and you’re always expected to commend him for a job well done, too. And rather than feeling closer to him, instead, have you felt you've become more and more merely an object to him? There is even a chance the great sex has switched over into sexual abuse, because they constantly need it. Perhaps the transition has been so gradual, however, that you haven’t actually seen the truth about what was happening—or where you have ended up as a result. But if you stop and think about your sexual relationship with your narcissistic spouse, you might realize you've been doing things that don’t appeal to you sexually, but only to him. In fact, they might make you feel degraded.

He not only doesn't bring flowers anymore (except when he feels he is losing control), but it is probably worse than that. You’d realize that if you got real about your marriage.

Yes, it is probably hardly a relationship in the sense that you define the word. Are you always worrying about what might please or displease him? And to ensure you do neither, do you do things against your personal values?

You probably want to avoid his narcissistic rage. And again, you hope if you’ll only do as he wants, things will be like they were in the early days—when you held hands and made love in what you thought was a romantic haze.
Again, it is time to get real. That was an act to suck you in. Now, though, if he is walking around being his self centered and grandiose self, engaging in emotional abuse and verbal abuse that causes your self worth to slip away daily, he is nonetheless likely being the man he will continue to be.

If you are codependent, you might well be able to somehow survive the emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and sexual abuse. You might keep telling yourself that the sexual abuse is not sexual abuse because you actually are okay with what he asks of you—as kinky as it perhaps has become.
I suspect you might be shut down and out of touch with your feelings, however. You also might be taking pride in your ability to cope with things you shouldn't have to cope with anyway. And if that is the case, realize you are not the first and last woman to make this discovery. Frankly, I myself have been there; I took pride in my martyrdom. But really, what’s the sense in that?

I decided I didn't like being in a relationship with a narcissist. I also knew I never wanted to be in a relationship with one again, though I suspect I met one or two along the path on my way to recovery from codependency.
Your life is yours to live as you please; you have to make your own choices. I suspect, though, that you give your life—and your narcissistic spouse—a good hard look. You might realize you've been bonded to a fantasy that was probably never more than that. Meanwhile, you stay stuck loving a narcissist while he serves up a mixture of emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse—and some great times, too—to keep you hooked in and doing exactly what he pleases.

Why should you expect differently? Remember, he is self centered, he is self absorbed, and he lacks empathy. And because of his grandiosity, he feels entitled to do as he pleases. In turn, everyone else is here to serve him and meet his needs.

They must be kept in line and under his thumb. Yes, these are the spots of the narcissist. And no, they probably will not change. So really, is spending your life loving a narcissist the best use of both your love and your time?


I hope you’re moving your head back and forth. Ladies, if you are waiting for your Narcissist to change you are in for a very big disappointment. The only thing they change is tactics at getting what they want. If you leave them they will most likely hound you to distraction to come back. You are their source from which they draw their strength to abuse, but leave them you must.


This is an article written and posted to www.SelfGrowth.com in October, 2007. While you can still find it there--as well as other articles written for that site--I decided to include it here and to show the comments it had generated as of August 1, 2011.(Now, you can add your own comment at the end of that listing of previous comments.) It was nice that so many took the time to share their comments--and it would be nice if you do the same. Others will invariably be helped by not only reading the article, but by seeing yours and others' comments, too. If they ever thought that they were alone in what they've been facing, well, they shouldn't be after reading what all of you who've taken the time to post have had to say. --Diane England, Ph.D

See you next blog,
Ted

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