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Toxic Tuesday: My Destructive Marriage

 

My last Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry mentor, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The mentor told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell, you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of my mentor I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help my mentor confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our mentors from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow and I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he was just mentally ill with an addiction to pornography and with help he could get better.

My hope for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first of hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry mentor and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems and mental illness. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until last summer…his reign of terror is over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

6 thoughts on “Toxic Tuesday: My Destructive Marriage

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