April 22, 2007
I am 40, a woman, and have been married for 20 years. I have 3
children (18 ,16, and 12). To be honest, they are the biggest reason
I am trying so hard to make this work.
I don't believe my husband was abusive in the beginning. it was a
slow thing; I remember clearly the first time he verbally assaulted
me because I was so hurt and shocked. We were already married, so I
just tried to overlook it. But things just slowly got worse, I
guess. Yes, that'd usually how it goes...
I am a Christian, so I believed my walk required me to be loving and
composed no matter what. An excellent goal for
all of us! I thought my quiet, faithful demeanor would
take care of things. I wanted very much to please my husband, and
the Lord. So I learned how to cope. I created what I have called a
'safe place' in my mind where I could be and the rest of my body
would function on auto-pilot. I could laugh, teach, work, everything
with my real, most deep self safely locked away from the hurt. I am
thankful for that, because often during an explosion from my husband
I could stay composed and cool in front of the kids, which I know
helped them a lot. It did.
I realize that was hiding from reality. But I didn't
consciously realize what I was doing until my 'wake up call.' At
that time I finally realized I was verbally/emotionally abused, and
sought help (my counselor is a God-send). Excellent!
At first my husband was
furious I was going to talk to someone, but I didn't let him stop
me. Excellent! Now he is a meek lamb and is trying to change, he says. I hope
so, but do not trust him as of yet. Of course
not! That would be foolish. It will take a very long time for him to
change enough to be trustworthy.
The worst part: he made it clear early on that sex was a, if not
THE, major thing that pleased him. I just figured that was how men
were (to me it is icing on the cake, but not the main item). I
believed it was something both parties should enjoy, but tried to
never have to say no, no matter what. Things went crazy. By the time
of my wake up, I was robotic about sex. it was the 'hope' I had that
if I just finally did it so as to please him, he would go back to the
nice man I married. Yes... Also, sometimes it bought me kindness for a day
or so. Yes... Often I did it in hopes to avoid his cutting anger and the
pain he inflicted on my soul. He did use it as control, I see now.
though he made it such a priority, he would not initiate. And
because I was so fearful of the consequences of him not having it, I
would try to initiate almost nightly. He had
control down to an art... And I made a great show of it,
to my own shame. Or, to your credit! You did
what you believed you needed to do, and good for you for doing it
well! I believed that was part of being a good, Godly
wife. Exactly! But he would often refuse me, and then the next day say he
didn't realize that's what I was trying to do. I have since said I
would like to do to another man what I did to him and see if that
guy got the hint. And I'm sure he would. Your
husband enjoyed hurting you. He made you understand that you "had to
have him," whether or not you wanted him, so he could have the
pleasure of denying you. Ouch! How cruel and callous!
His typical posture was the mummy stance. He'd lie there with the
covers up to his chin, glaring and waiting.
Ugh. I would have to beg and
work very hard to get my 'hope.' Once when I came home
from traveling and had no sleep for 20 hours, he lay in bed glaring
as I undressed. I knew what was expected and did it. Then he said
the next day he'd been waiting to see what I'd do, and that I had
'done the right thing.' Your feelings never
mattered. Only your obedience and commitment to pleasing him
did. I was always being tested. I was not being
loved. No, you certainly were not. But I kept hoping, as dumb as that sounds. yes, I am very
shamed and humiliated. I feel so foolish and low.
Please don't judge yourself so harshly. You
did what you had to do, for as long as you could, to make your
husband happy - because you believed this was your obligation under
God, to your husband, and to your children. I truly admire your
conviction and fortitude; your amazing ability to do what you did!
What tremendous strength you have! Be proud of this gift, and know
in the future you will use it to healthier ends.
Understand that you look back and see
that you were misguided. Your mind followed an ideal, rather than
your body's interpretation of that ideal. But we can only do our
best - which you certainly did - given the understanding we have at
the time we made the choices we made. Your motives were sound and
true. You never understood the importance of listening to your body.
Oh, what most of us would give to be able to go back and, with our
present knowledge, do some things differently! But, of course we
can't. So, treat this as a lesson. You are now understanding that
the body cannot be deceived, but the mind can.
My safe place enabled me to do this.
Yes. A safe place you created because you were
engaged in an an extremely difficult task for the sake of your
children and your marriage. You obeyed. I could practically feel
nothing mentally or physically, but could put my body through the
motions and pretend away. I had to have that safety.
Yes, you certainly did. Now it is gone.
I lost it last month when after a particularly bad 2 weeks of anger,
I made up my mind to give him the night of his dreams. I looked as
beautiful as possible, and though I was afraid and filled with
dread, I tried to bring peace to our home. he refused me. Then
he began verbally accusing me. I snapped. Of
course! I pulled out wads of my long
hair (which he never let me cut without his approval), and then
stabbed myself over and over in the chest and thigh with a
mechanical pencil. Thankfully, the wounds were just painful and
bloody; I did not critical damage anything. But if there'd been a knife
handy... Thankfully no knife was handy... And
that's what it took for your body, the body that God gave you, to
tell you that your mind, however well-meaning, was misguided.
Sometimes it takes a little "nervous breakdown" or mini "mid-life
crisis" to see that. This is a good thing. But it will hurt. Growth
hurts. Growing pains...
I woke up. Reality is here. It is ugly.
Yes. Now he is trying to change.
My pastor says to have faith and let God work.
Yes, have faith and let God work. But I feel I am being
asked to love my rapist. Did your pastor tell
you to sleep with your husband? If he did, I am very sorry for he
does not understand Human nature. If he simply told you to have
faith and let God work, that is good advice. Trust your body, that
body that God gave you. Let your body be your guide, and stop
trying to rush His work!
I told my husband I had been like a hostage
selling her body to prevent her death. I can not put into words how
painful the knowledge of what I allowed myself to become feels like.
And I just do not know if I can ever move past it and be a true wife
to my husband again. Good for you for being
honest with your husband! In so doing, you become God's tool in
saving your husband: perhaps your husband will choose to heed the
call - which will take very, very much time and effort on his part.
Or not. God gave us free will and we can take the high road or the
easy way out. The stakes are high. However, what he does is up to
Be patient and have faith. Be
patient because it took you 20 years to reach this place. Expect it
to take another 20 before you can rightfully become your husband's
wife again. That is, of course, if he can progress enough
emotionally in that time for you to trust him and love him again. Do
not rush. About the only promise I can make you is that if you will
ever be able to become your husband's "true" wife again, it will
take much, much time. He will have to deserve your trust. Now
he does not.
My mind wants to do right; but my body is screaming in terror of him
ever touching me intimately again. Hear
your body. It is talking to you! Trust it. The mind can easily
become misguided. The body much less so. He did everything just perfect.
He did not force me physically; he did it mentally.
Exactly. The wounds are invisible. This is why
verbal and emotional abuse is often so much worse than battery. At
least with battery you have societal approval. With emotional/verbal
abuse, you have nothing. No one can see
my scars and blood. I can. And I'm sure your
counselor can, whether or not that is expressed to you. And I'm sure
the many women who share similar experiences who frequent this site
can. No one can know how I had to do what I did in
hopes of avoiding the vicious soul lashings.
Yes we can. You did what you did out of love and out of faith. You
did not know yet that you also had to listen to your body...
Has anyone overcome this part? Have they been there?
determination almost makes me want to kill myself. I just can not
proceed so quickly as he thinks I should.
Don't! Let God heal you. Let God take the time He needs. Don't
forget, the time you need to heal is the time your husband needs to
heal. He cannot cannot heal his ways overnight. This will take
years. What your husband did to you was wrong. Dead wrong. Coercion
is not Godly. Control is not Godly. Taking pleasure in another
person's pain is not Godly. Participating in the emotionally
sadistic charade he led is not Godly.
I feel desperate.
You have Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder, or something along those line. It is normal to be so
affected after having been through what you've been through!!!
For you to engage in sexual activity now with your husband is
wrong. Your body knows that. Sexual activity between married
people is about love. It is freely given. It is not coerced. It is
not an emotional manipulation. It is not about giving your body
before you are ready just because your misguided mind (or pastor, if
that is the case) thinks enough time has passed.
Your husband is a sick man. He
used your best features, your empathy and sense of duty, against
you. Your job is to become whole now, not split off into a
little space in your psyche. That is not what God asks of us, at
least not the God I know.
Love is about trust. Where there
is no trust, there is no love.
You will know when and if you are
ready to be with your husband intimately again. Your body will be
sure. There will be no hesitation. It will not be about your mind
telling you that you "should" be ready. It will not be about wanting
your body to be ready. It will not be about momentary inklings that
your body may be ready. Your body will feel consistently ready. And
it will not feel that way before your husband has had the time he
needs to emotionally and spiritually become whole. When you are
ready, you will want to be with your husband body and soul - which
is the heart and soul of marriage. You will feel that way because
you will know and trust that your husband is a different person.
Keep in mind, he may never truly
change. Many men make a show of change early on and drop it as time
passes. True change takes time. Also, keep in mind that some men
simply can't or won't change. Minimally, your husband should be in
individual therapy if you two will try to work things out. The
bottom line is that you may never be ready. And that is OK.
I love my children. My oldest daughter (18) knows all that has
happened. She is a rock for me. You are
fortunate. The other 2 are having a difficult
time with the situation. Of course. I am still here at home. and I am honest
with them, but it is impossible to not show the stress. Kara
Dear Kara, It is OK for your children
to know. You cannot protect them from life; what is happening in
your marriage is about life. It is stressful and painful. The best
anyone can do is model for our children how to cope with life. Own
that you - with the best of intentions - were misguided. You can own
that you are coming out of that now, and that there are consequences
that are a natural part of life. Pain is a part of life. It is
suffering that is optional. You stopped your suffering the day you
tried to stab yourself. Don't let your mind create more suffering
for you by insisting your body follow suit before it is ready. Your
body may never be ready. And if that is the case, so be it.
Never forget it took 20 years for
this situation to come about. Give it 20 years to resolve. Whether
or not you two can live in the same house while you are each healing
(assuming that your husband truly chooses to heal) is up to you and
depends on many factors (such as is he still aggressing against you
emotionally or otherwise, are you able to be in his presence, etc.)
which you don't bring up.
Learn to listen to your body
because it speaks the truth. Do not compromise the body that God
gave you. After all, it's not even your body to misuse. It's yours
on loan. What is yours is your will. Let your free will follow your
Cloud & Townsend's
Boundaries in Marriage
Boundaries: When to say Yes, When to Say
No, To Take Control of Your Life -
write from a Christian perspective and these books will help you to
understand where your responsibility to make your husband happy
ends. Your husband should also read these books for his own sake,
whether or not you two stay together.
By the way,
your husband doesn't have to agree; your pastor doesn't have to
agree; your children don't have to agree. You are the only one who
can know when you are ready. Just be honest with yourself and try
not to cave into your tendency to make things work at your expense
this to your therapist so you can talk about it.
to read the posts. Dr. Irene.