So good to be back with you this week. Thank you, Dawn, for your thoughtful and helpful posts on alignment. So important. When we are misaligned, our entire gait is off and we cannot walk in CORE strength or in God’s truth.
I want to give you an early head’s up that my Three Month Walking in CORE strength group will be starting again in September. This group class is only offered twice a year and it always quickly fills to capacity. I value you and want to give you the information on it before opening it to the public. If you’re interested in hearing more details when it is open for registration, click here.
I mentioned to you that for the month of July I am taking a semi-sabbatical from coaching clients. What I am doing with my time is writing, studying, and marinating some ideas and asking God how to wisely steward my resources. It’s been interesting having no set schedule for these first two weeks. I’ve loved the freedom, but I find myself a little sloppier than usual with sticking to my routine because there is no routine. My personality does better with some routine so this has been a little challenging to find a new routine for my days.
So I appreciate your continued prayers that I would use this time wisely and finish all that God has for me to accomplish and learn during this little break.
This week’s question: I have so enjoyed reading all your information and feel ‘understood’ and have more hope as far as a strategy goes now.
I chose to leave our home. I felt so unsafe because my husband of a few months was going into the most horrendous rages I have ever seen. No particular thing would trigger him, it was whatever made him angry. He would get so angry that his teeth became loose from grinding them. He’d be swearing and saying the most disgusting things to me and threatening to kill me one day.
He apologizes and cries but it hasn’t changed. I went back for a week after he had quite a bit of counseling only to have a huge outburst again. The problem I have now is that normally he would be contacting me loads of times a day but since we’ve been apart it’s gotten unbearable.
I finally had to block him but he’s found other ways of making contact. Sending me scriptures or just saying how much he loves me etc. He does not listen to reason or boundaries. He just bulldozes over everything no matter what we’ve tried to put into place. What do I do?… I don’t feel up to speaking to him at all right now as any response from me is a hook back into the dance. I’m exhausted. Please help?
Answer: Speaking up to him is long over. You have spoken up to him in the past. Numerous times. His counselor has spoken to him, a lot. I’m sure other people have spoken to him and spoken to him and spoken to him and he hasn’t changed. His constant barrage towards you shows me that he still feels entitled to contact you despite you asking him to stop, as well as your boundary of blocking his calls.
Not only does he verbally bully you, but he has scared the daylights out of you when he threatened to kill you. He is not a safe person to be with, probably not ever. He has demonstrated that he isn’t teachable. He’s sorry but that’s about it. He’s not learning what he needs to change in order to handle his feelings in a more constructive, and appropriate way. He’s still trying to put the focus on you by throwing scripture at you or telling you that he loves you. That’s not true. He doesn’t love you. If he did he wouldn’t treat you this way. What he loves is you loving him. He misses that. He wants that. He demands that. You are his supply and without it, he feels desperate. He’s clawing to get you back.
Everyone gets angry. But his inability to handle his anger is not only harmful to him (his teeth may fall out) but also terrifying to you. You do not need to continue to subject yourself to his continued abuse.
You said you blocked him so how is he continuing to contact you? And, are you responding? I would suggest you go “no contact” at this point. Do not respond to his e-mails, texts, or phone calls. I would also strongly suggest getting a restraining order against him since he threatened to kill you. This will put legal consequences into place if he continues to harass you. You said, “he bulldozes past boundaries no matter what you put into place.” Why haven’t you put a restraining order on him up to this point? If he bulldozes past a restraining order, he will end up in jail. As Henry Cloud writes in his book Necessary Endings, “Jail does some people good.”
But safety is only your first goal, healing yourself is your second. Of course, you are exhausted. I’m sure you are also traumatized by all of this. Sanity is your next goal. Not his sanity – you have no control over that, but yours. What is it about you that gets hooked back into this destructive dance with him again and again? What’s going on with you that you didn’t immediately file a restraining order when he threatened to kill you? What’s going on with you that you are still speaking to him at all? These questions are not meant to shame you but to help you take a look at your part of this destructive relationship. Yes, you are a victim of his abuse, but when you are a repeat victim again and again and again, you must begin to ask yourself, “what part do I play here?”
Let me explain. You play no part in his abusive behaviors. There is nothing you have done to make him treat you this way. You may have upset him – that’s normal in marriage. Spouses upset one another. A wife doesn’t always respect her husband the way he wants her to. And a husband doesn’t always cherish a wife the way she wants him to. There will be times of pain and sin in every marriage. That is part of normal.
But when someone responds to disappointment or another person’s sin in a destructive and abusive way, that is totally his responsibility.
Most husbands who are upset with their wives don’t threaten to kill them. Most husbands who are disappointed with their wives don’t cheat on them. Instead, a husband talks with their wife, explain why he is upset, and they work the conflict through to a win-win solution.
But here is where I want you to take a look at your own dance steps in this destructive relationship. In order for you to grow through this experience and gain greater sanity, you must ask yourself these questions: What’s going on with me that I have allowed myself to be treated like this again and again and again? This man has repeatedly shown me that he has no regard for my feelings, my boundaries or even my life, yet he says he loves me. What’s going on with me that I keep engaging with him? What’s going on with me that I can’t go to no contact? What’s going on with me that I’m tempted to give him chance after chance after chance even though I know nothing has changed? What’s going on with me that even though I know I am depleted and exhausted, I will question my decision to stop engaging?
I have some ideas about what’s going on. We’ve talked about it again and again on this blog. The shaming. The guilt trips. The feeling unworthy to stand up for yourself or the biblical teaching that is slanted toward a wife sacrificially giving up herself only to enable her husband’s sin to continue without consequence. Obviously, you’re somewhat through that or you wouldn’t have already separated and put at least some boundaries down. But what else keeps you hooked? Or stuck? I would suggest that you might have a trauma bond with him that needs to be addressed and broken. And, the first step is going “no contact” and working on you, not on his needs or his feelings or what he wants.
This is the work you need to do now if you want to move through this experience and end up a healthier person. If you don’t do this work, sadly you are much more likely to repeat the same patterns in a future relationship. Don’t let that happen. You were made for much more than to be a victim of repeat abuse.
Friend, when you answered those questions for your own situation, what did you discover that kept you getting hooked back into the same abusive dynamics again and again and how did you break free?