Abuse and Divorce: It’s Not An Exact Science

In the Twitter wars–in which I have been quite active–the Deebs, Amy Smith, and some other fairly knowledgeable folks–are pounding on the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Paige Patterson, John Piper, Matt Chandler, and other complementarian (comp) leaders over their position on divorce, particularly whether it appropriate to recommend, particularly whether the Scriptures permit it, and what the Church ought to do for one who is being abused. Most of the context is the husband abusing the wife.

My view: at the very least, the minister needs to help the abused spouse find safety, and report the abuse to authorities, encouraging the abused spouse to press charges and force him (or her) to face the justice process. The abuser must also be subject to Church discipline if indeed he (or she) is a member.

Once abuse becomes physical and/or sexual, the score gets lopsided in a hurry. Can the marriage be saved? Yes. But it would require that the abuser have a come-to-Jesus session and submit to accountability like he or she never thought possible.

But make no mistake, divorce is a possible outcome, and in fact may be a necessary evil. I don’t like that fact, but it is what it is.

On most of that, the Deebs and I–and most of the other watchbloggers–are in agreement.

OTOH, others weighed in, suggesting that emotional abuse and financial abuse are legitimate reasons for divorce.

On the financial front, what part of “for richer or poorer” don’t you understand?

As for emotional abuse, I don’t think that’s an exact science. Ame can chime in here–as she has been on the receiving end of such abuse by her late first husband, and also has seen no small number of women frivolously claim “emotional abuse” to justify leaving a marriage they simply didn’t want.

I will also chime in, as there is much talk about how we must support the victims.

I support the victims, every one of them, including the children.

And that is why I contend that “emotional abuse” isn’t an exact science, particularly when you consider the ramifications of what children experience in divorce, as well as post-divorce life.

Before you ladies start tagging me, I’m gonna tell you to shut up and read on before you pass judgment. And if you can’t do that, then GTHO.

I was one of those victims. As a kid, I went through two divorces.

In the first one, my mom claims my dad was abusive. I do not recall him being physically abusive in those days, although he definitely got loud at times. Even then, I’ll grant my mom the benefit of a doubt here, because–well–she is my mom.

What happened after that for me was, for lack of better words, a Charlie Foxtrot.

It was the early 1970s, the Sexual Revolution was on, and–after the divorce–my mom would get a boyfriend: DA.

I didn’t like DA, and the feeling was probably mutual. I say that because of an experience I had one night.

Connecting the dots, I can conclude with reasonable certainty that he drugged me with LSD.

That night, I was having what appeared to be a very bad nightmare. I was in a forest, and everything was attacking me.

I woke up, but it didn’t stop: everything was still attacking me. I remember walking, screaming, and still being attacked. I remember my mom telling me it was just a nightmare.

But I was awake…and it wouldn’t go away.

I couldn’t [expletive or ten deleted] make it stop!

Eventually, it wore off, although I had occasional flashbacks until I was 13.

A year or so after that incident, my mom sent my brother and me to live with my dad.

And while I can say that my dad was far from perfect, I can honestly say that I was materially better off with him: he provided a household that had stability, he pushed us to work hard in school, and he was supportive of my choices in life. We even became running buddies later on in life. Yes, he could be difficult; that is why I enjoyed going to college away from home. He has mellowed out over the years, though.

I’ll grant that my mom was being emotionally abused. I would also contend that what I experienced after the divorce was worse than her emotional abuse. During that period between the divorce and the time we went to live with my dad, it was hell: lots of instability on top of what I described.

Some of you might say, “Well, that was just one incident!”

Yeah…and the flashbacks were a gift that kept on giving for several years. The worst part: not being in a position to defend myself, and not having anyone to defend me, and then being powerless to stop it.

But my case was miniscule compared to B.E., a former girlfriend and running buddy of mine.

When she was young, her mom was in a bad marriage, although it wasn’t physically abusive. She left her husband, claiming emotional abuse.

B.E., however got the bad end of that stick. Her mother would go from relationship to relationship, cohabiting with various men.

Aside from enjoying her mother, those men also helped themselves to B.E.

B.E. would grow up and embrace many self-destructive practices–drinking, cutting, drugs. She wound up in a homeless shelter where she would receive Christ and get clean and sober–she and I dated during that sober period–but would then float on-and-off into self-destructive behavior (hyper-spending, bulimia, and even occasional drinking). She mercifully broke up with me during the height of her bulimia bout.

So while I would grant that emotional abuse can be really, really nasty, I can also say that the threshold at which that becomes a trigger for divorce is pretty high.

I would also contend that we should have a marginal incentive to keep marriages together, particularly given that–from the stats I’ve seen–children generally do better with both parents at home. This is because crappy husbands can still be good fathers. And children deserve fathers and mothers.

Most of all, the Church ought to be marginally predisposed to keeping marriages together, because, well, Jesus taught exactly that: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” And no, there is no pretty way to spin our way out of what Jesus said on the matter.

That’s not to say divorce can’t be necessary in cases of abuse–divorce is evil, but it can be a necessary evil–but let’s accept that we must (a) hold abusers accountable to the extent that we can (including the justice process), and (b) still combat the divorce culture that gives the Church a divorce rate that is nothing short of shameful.

Class dismissed.

44 thoughts on “Abuse and Divorce: It’s Not An Exact Science

  1. I actually do have quite a bit to say here … first that I agree with you.

    Divorce sucks. it’s not good. it’s terrible for the children for life. the terrible never goes away.

    i’m not sure Christians have the authority to divorce. however, if an unbeliever leaves, you are to let them go. it has been suggested that my first husband was not a believer, and that ‘the spirit in him was at war with the spirit in me.’ that very well may be the case. we will find out someday when we cross over to the other side. sadly, he’s already there.

    i’m divorced because he filed and left. even with the serial promiscuity with prostitutes and the emotional and mental abuse, I would have stayed in the marriage. I did not want a divorce. I wanted the hell to end, but I did not want a divorce. I remember driving away from the attny’s office telling him I didn’t want this divorce before it was final.

    twelve years later … remarried to a good guy … I still hate that he divorced me. I hated it with every fiber of my being. our kids still suffer from the divorce.

    and he got worse after the divorce and did terrible, terrible things to our girls that have physically, mentally, and emotionally wounded them for life – things they will likely never fully recover or heal from.

    top that off … my mom left my dad around a year after my divorce, and my parents divorced after 40+ years of marriage … and even though I’d had a distant relationship with them for a long time due to their abuse of me, their divorce has sucked for all of us adult kids in terrible ways that keep on giving more and more suck.

    divorce is evil.

    if a woman and her children truly are not safe, they should be removed to a safe place, but i’m not sure even then divorce is the answer.

    what I do believe is that what falls under ‘biblical’ divorce is extreme and not nearly as much as we’ve tried to made it out to be.

    the bottom line … ‘abuse’ is abused. the case for divorce is extremely limited. divorce ALWAYS hurts the children continuously – meaning the hurt never.freakin.ends. and divorce ALWAYS continuously hurts the two who divorce.

    I know he’s controversial out there, but Artisanal Toad gets a lot of things right, and his chart is worth studying: https://artisanaltoadshall.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/how-marriage-begins-according-to-god/

    • That’s what pisses me off: it seems that a lot of these folks are imposing a false dichotomy here: “either you support divorce for every reason we list to our satisfaction, or you hate women.”

      Never once have they said a damned thing on behalf of the children.

      Jacob Denhollander–husband of Rachael Denhollander, the fine Christian who blew the lid on the Larry Nassar scandal–made an excellent point (and I’m paraphrasing): the issue here isn’t whether you are for divorce or not–as wives can remain married to their husbands even when they are in prison–but the issue of whether you support helping the victims of abuse in this process.

      I have little good to say about Piper, Patterson, Chandler, or any of the “complementarian” leaders on this: Beth Moore’s letter exposed the underlying culture of contempt for women that the boys need to address, as it isn’t helping their credibility in this larger discussion.

      Their position on the permanence of marriage is Biblically-defensible; I do, however, take exception to the extent to which they lift a finger on behalf of the victims. The right way forward can be very messy and complicated and even costly in these situations, but that’s what the Church ought to be doing.

      • I read once that studies proved that kids are always better off in an intact – no divorce – home, EVEN if there is abuse.

        there was certainly abuse in my house growing up, but my parents didn’t divorce till I was in my 40’s. we were much better off growing up in an intact home, despite what my crazy, narcissistic, delusional mother thinks.

        there certainly are extremes … but they are extremes. we need to properly define extreme.

  2. there have been countless times I’ve gone back in my mind and wondered if I could have stopped him from divorcing us. as evil and terrible as he was, and as terrible an environment as it was, if he wouldn’t have pulled out that decree that one night and said we needed to divorce, I would not have filed. I had already made that decision. I had already decided I would not divorce him.

    my girls have not been subjected to anything like what you were (i.cannot.even. … when what you wrote catches up with me …), but the hell of divorce has not escaped them.

    the will be the first to tell you there was nothing I could do. they’ll be the first to say, “Mom, I KNOW Daddy, and there was nothing you could have done.”

    but it still doesn’t ease the pain in the depths of my heart and soul.

      • truth and wisdom right there, Jay. thank you.

        – – –

        there are verses in the bible where God grieves the pain He must allow His people to experience due to the consequences of their sin.

        i get that. it is painful to watch someone you love experience the consequences of their sin. it was painful to watch my first husband experience those consequences even though he more than asked for them. maybe that’s just b/c i’m a woman?

        also … that verse about being kind and it heaping hot coals on someone’s head? yeah. well, people don’t like hot coals being heaped on their head. it hurts. it’s painful. and it makes them angry. so the kinder i was to him, the angrier he got.

        • Only the supernatural intervention of God may even have the chance of bringing him to repentance.

          Remember that you had a dream where God showed how he cared for you. And all tears will be wiped away in the end.

          • Jay, you are right. thank you.

            yes, only God.

            yet, God does not force Himself on us. at some point he needed to allow and accept God’s help … which would have meant denying himself and all he’d chosen to believe.

  3. That’s what pisses me off: it seems that a lot of these folks are imposing a false dichotomy here: “either you support divorce for every reason we list to our satisfaction, or you hate women.”

    what they don’t realize is that supporting divorce IS hating women b/c women suffer terribly in divorce – and it’s a continuous suffering. and a broad-reaching suffering. it.never.freakin.ends.

  4. We have to carefully parse out “divorce” in the eyes of the state and “divorce” in the eyes of God. My ex has been welcome in our old fellowship with affair #2, whom she is married to. She is “married”. (background for those unfamiliar with my history: she had an affair with #1 and left or left and had an affair with #1; its murky.). The reason I bring this up here is that insofar as the church is concerned, which spans from church acceptance of things to church discipline, _all this is entirely separate_ or ought to be from mere social conventions like a new marriage certificate. So, if their is “abuse” which is vaguely defined and it is justification to divorce and remarry both in the eyes of the church [it does not matter about the eyes of the state, in all 50 no excuse is needed], we must have an understanding of what that means.

    The “abuse” might be something that suggests the two should be separated so that they have a better shot of working things out in the eyes of God. It also might be “abuse” that suggests that legal interventions like state divorce are necessary to make that physical separation legally and pragmatically as possible as can be. It might also be “abuse” like refusing to buy a new kitchen. I have in literal and factual truth seen an example on an internet board where a husband not buying such was “abuse”. And that was a christian forum.

    We can ‘snark’ about that or muse about human frailty, but i predict there will be all kinds of mental contortions to make things “abuse” that are not “abuse”. I say that granting that real abuse happens. To both genders.

    • yes, real abuse happens to both genders and probably at least equally – meaning women are not more abused than men.

      also … one must consider whether, in the eyes of God, ‘the church’ has the authority to create marriage and therefore whether it has the authority to end marriage.

      in the eyes of God, marriage begins with intercourse with a virgin – not when a preacher pronounces a couple man and wife. if this were taught properly, it would make perfect sense to kids. i never could figure out why the preacher saying we were married made us so … till i understood it was sexual intercourse that did it.

      • But yeah…defining abuse in terms of “he won’t pay for that new kitchen” is a great example of how this gets abused.

        I found it galling that, when I mentioned the divorce culture, I got the response: “What is divorce culture??? I keep hearing that marriages end over trivial things, but I haven’t met a single divorcee that hasnt tried everything to make it work… including returning to an abusive marriage. They don’t understand the sins that cause divorce in the first place!”

        My response: “I’ve met many couples who divorced over petty things having nothing to do with abuse, adultery, or abandonment. And I would define divorce culture as [the] “norm” evidenced by the spike in the divorce rate over the last 50 years.”

    • In this case, we are talking about divorce in both respects: the Church and the Government.

      The latter is perhaps a necessary evil due to, in the event that the former occurs, there is a need for oversight regarding the disposition of assets and debts.

      But the larger issue is the point at which the Church can endorse divorce due to abuse, and–if this is even an acceptable option–what that threshold ought to be.

      I think you raise a point I often make: abuse is kind of like obscenity. A SCOTUS justice once remarked, “I know it when I see it.” The problem with that is it does get to be subjective.

      I mean seriously…let’s say a wife is getting smacked around on those occasions where her husband is getting drunk. It’s easy to say, ceteris paribus, that she has grounds for divorce.

      Trouble is, ceteribus is not always paribus.

      What happens if there are kids involved? That could change the whole calculus of this, as the cost of the divorce to the kids may not justify whatever benefit the wife may receive by getting out of the marriage.

      In that case, while reporting him to authorities would certainly be a good idea, it might not justify dropping a nuclear bomb on the marriage, as she might be hurting her kids worse than she is helping herself.

      Complicating matters, what if he is not a believer? That’s a problem in the sense that he is not really accountable to the Church. (That’s another reason why I am adamantly against “unequal yokes”.)

      • i lived in my own bubble and didn’t realize the prevalent extent that people were abusing the broad parameters of abuse and divorce. i also had no idea the extent of the terrible advice handed out as i had such a great therapist. i’ve realized my experiences were not the norm.

        even then … not all the advice i was given was as biblicly accurate as it should have been.

        – the foundation – understanding marriage begins with intercourse.
        – which totally changes the dynamics of ‘dating’ and searching for a prospective husband/wife.
        – which totally changes the dynamics of marriage.
        – 1 Peter 2:13-3 speaks to abuse in marriage and being married to an unbeliever: 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent [p]by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For [q]such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and [r]do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the [s]king.

        18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are [t]unreasonable. 19 For this finds [u]favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds [v]favor with God.

        21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 [w]and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself [x]bore our sins in His body on the [y]cross, so that we might die to [z]sin and live to righteousness; for by His [aa]wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and [ab]Guardian of your souls.

        3 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.

        7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with [c]someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

        8 [d]To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but [e]giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For,

        “The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
        Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
        11 “He must turn away from evil and do good;
        He must seek peace and pursue it.
        12 “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
        And His ears attend to their prayer,
        But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

        13 Who is [f]there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you [g]are blessed. And do not fear their [h]intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but [i]sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a [j]defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and [k]reverence; 16 [l]and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if [m]God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the [n]spirit; 19 in [o]which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the [p]water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God [q]for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.

        – and then matthew 19 which says that in the beginning, before Moses, there was no divorce due to the hardness of hearts … that what God has joined (what God does when a virgin has intercourse), man should not separate: 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c] 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

        7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

        8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

  5. This video by the founder of women’s domestic violence shelters is good:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnUwxxijr3g

    Confirms how physical violence is very often a human issue with both men and women being perpetrators. But also shows how to properly deal with the problem rather than demonizing one sex or another.

    This woman was also physically threatened by feminists for stating the truth about domestic violence.

  6. so … here’s a true story for you.

    a friend of my Oldest’s – she and her friend are both 20 years old, and they became friends in middle school. Friend’s dad became really bad and started doing bad things. mom and dad began sleeping in separate bedrooms in same house and there were times mom locked herself and kids in her room to protect them from dad.

    mom stayed in the marriage and in that room.

    my daughter had lunch with friend today … and friend said that her dad has apologized to mom, and they are beginning to work on their marriage.

    THIS.

    and i cried. huge tears. because i soooooooo want that to be me, to be us. i hate divorce. and i keep wondering … what if i knew better? what if i knew how to respect him better? how to honor him better? how to submit to him better? what if i told him no when he tried to divorce me instead of going along with it? what if i stayed anyway. our lives would be SO.MUCH.BETTER.

    but all i can do now is grieve, once again, what my girls have lost … and i cannot even begin to add up all they have lost b/c it just snowballs every.single.freakin.year. it.never.freakin.ends. never.freakin.ends. the pain … it never ends.

    and my daughter’s friend gets to have both her parents, together … never divorced. and my daughters have to live the rest of their lives with the continuous hell of divorce.

    • Here’s my cynical, knuckle-dragger $0.02 on your case….

      From what I’ve observed over the years, and from what I knew about your ex, it wouldn’t have mattered how much you had submitted to him.

      You could have worn nothing but an apron in the house, and kept everything perfect.

      You could have had his dinner ready the moment he walked in the door, every night.

      You could have worn him out in the bed every night.

      You could have submitted to every one of his porn-driven fantasies.

      It wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

      Knowing what I know of his background, you caught a shark in dolphin clothing. And there was probably no way you could have seen it.

      He had the perfect pedigree that every Christian parent would otherwise want their daughter[s] to desire in a husband. His parents were missionaries; he knew how to say all the right things; he had the education and intelligence. But he had a mother lode of proverbial–and perhaps literal–demons tormenting him.

      You were supposed to be the cure for that in his mind.

      And he despised you because you could not cure him. If only you would do [X], if only you would do [y].

      None of that would have mattered.

      • And FWIW, I say that not to porn-shame anyone.

        Almost everyone on this thread has accumulated some degree of porn-related baggage, and those accumulations are not all voluntary. Some folks got started when they saw the porn their parents had stashed in the house. Some got it by accident on the Interwebz–I thank GOD I did not have the e-porn available that teens have today, as I would have been in for a world of hurt–and others got exposed by predators who were grooming them for their own purposes.

        But we need to be honest here: it’s not the spouse’s job to cure your lust issues. Marriage CAN make it easiER, but if you have a pathological fetish–and there is a fine line between having desires that can be brought back into balance, versus a destructive fetish–your spouse and your children are going to end up being victims of that.

        • i have learned that one *can* look at porn and not become pathologically addicted … like there are some who can drink and not be alcoholics, etc. i think it’s a much more slippery slope with porn that alcohol.

          however, i’ve learned that what some have considered an addiction – like looking at porn occasionally but can take it or leave it – is nothing near what he experienced. his full addiction was all-encompassing and mind-altering and chemical-altering. it caused him to live in a parallel universe of fantasy that was false and didn’t exist, and by living that way he could never reconcile reality with his fantasy.

          i’m sure it started out innocent in the early 1980’s (which is about when it began), with magazines, posters, etc. but his personality was naturally addictive … and if he was bipolar as many suspect he was, that would explain his tendency to addictive behavior.

          sigh. it’s all so harsh, isn’t it.

        • The other side of porn-related baggage is the incel forums that end up stewing and creating a toxic environment that impact some men due to their inability to get women and encouraging them towards mass murder. Resulting in men like Minnassan and Elliot Rodger.

      • About the only way you could have stopped that was not marrying him in the first place. And the only way you could have seen the red flags was to suspect the LACK of red flags. But who the heck does that?

        • it would have taken a super discerning person to catch the red flags that were there at that time, and there aren’t many of those around (or at least when you seem to need them 😉 ).

          i knew making a decision on whom to marry was a big deal, so i talked to my marriage and family professor, i talked to a college counselor, and i talked to my college pastor. the college counselor gave me one red flag but i discounted it due to other things – and looking back it wasn’t even anywhere near what the real things were. other than that, they all gave me the green light.

          my parents didn’t care for him … but, that was a wash for me b/c of who they are. HOWEVER, if they hadn’t abused me and had loved me properly and gained my respect, then i would have respected their opinion and hopefully ended it before the wedding.

          what-if’s will kill a person 🙂

          • Jay … i don’t remember how far back you came into all this and therefore would know a lot of my story from the postings and comments over the years. i do have a personal blog where i’ve written out my story. it’s a bit long and yet still not inclusive, but it does give a bigger picture. if interested, you can read it here.

          • It would take a scenario to get him majorly out of his comfort zone and break him. That wouldn’t bring out the lust issues, but probably some of his mercurial streak.

            That would at least allow you to see the chinks in his armor and then yuou could make a better assessment of what he could be like on a bad day and decide if this is what you’re willing to live with.

          • yes, i agree. and i think only a man could do this. i don’t think a woman could create the scenario … nor do i think a woman with interest in the man would be able to discern his reaction properly. it would definitely take someone objective.

            which is why a dad’s role in a girl’s life is sooo important. my dad really skipped on so much, but on this particularly. i think he ‘saw’ something there, whether he could define it or not, but he had treated me so poorly that i would not believe him – b/c my dad was/is like him.

          • the lust issues would have been difficult to discern at our young ages in the 1980’s unless we had lived together for a length of time before marriage. and even then, at that time, i didn’t know what the heck was going on b/c one did not even speak the word ‘pornography’ at that time, nor did i really know what it was (yes, i was very naive). but my dad recognized it.

            also … someone just shared this with me, and it made me cry – so reflective of what i experienced.

          • He probably fit that model. From everything you’ve described about him, he almost certainly had some NPD traits. Probably a closet NPD. Because missionary kid.

            I think he was probably at war against those lusts, but he wrongly assumed that you were going to the cure for his issues. He probably thought his problems boiled down to just a need for sex that, in marriage, would get met.

            Trouble is, if he had compartmentalized women the way an NPD does, it was much worse than a sheer desire for sex.

            There was no way you could have fixed that. In fact, if you had tried to get kinky with him, it may have only made things worse, because he would have lost his “Madonna”.

            If you had gone prude, that would have pushed him to more perversion.

            A happy medium would have been neither kinky enough to appeal to his need for a “whore” nor prude enough to appeal to his need for a “Madonna.”

            In other words, barring a miracle, that train was going to wreck. Nothing you could have done would have prevented that outcome.

          • Amir – that’s a very good analysis. he did tell me once that he hoped getting married to would ‘cure’ his issues and was severely disappointed when it didn’t. i can look back and see that disappointed reaction on our honeymoon and certainly even more clearly within the first six months. sex for him was like a continuous, UNsuccessful mission to rid himself of his demons. i had no idea what was going on. not only was i young – just barely 21 when we married, but this was the 80’s – no internet, and these things were definitely NOT talked about anywhere. i searched marriage books and marriage sermons, and NO ONE had a clue. i finally got the guts up to ask a speaker at a women’s retreat once a VERY general related question, and all she could answer was, “Send him to the men’s retreat.” ummm … yeah. and without going into detail, after we were married and i was able to share everything with him, my now-husband simply said, “He was an idiot.”

          • btw – THANK YOU for your support over the years. you have supported me and made me feel so.very.safe, and i cannot express how HUGE that is for me and how extremely appreciative i am for that. 🙂

          • @Amir
            ”It would take a scenario to get him majorly out of his comfort zone and break him. That wouldn’t bring out the lust issues, but probably some of his mercurial streak.”

            Say what would be a good way in your humble opinion to put that man out of their comfort zone to bring out their real character?

          • i’m interested in Amir’s thoughts on this, too – is it possible to bring that kind of man out of their comfort zone to see their real character? or are they too smart and figure it out and protect themselves? my ex was super smart – it was like a chess game he was determined to win at all costs.

      • you are right. sigh. i just wish … sometimes …

        it breaks my heart for my girls when i know what could have been and what is. they don’t see it, but i do. i guess it will always be my burden/cross to bear.

        and i think i need to get to the place where i accept that, even if he’d stayed, it would have been bad. so there is pain either way for us. and that doesn’t make it ‘bad’ per se, it just makes it what it is. i so wish i could take away my daughters’ pain – they have been through so much. and i wish i could give them what they missed while they were going thru hell. but i can’t.

        and i have to accept that God is bigger than all of this … and that He will purpose all of it for His glory and their good as they give it to Him.

        gosh … it’s so hard to be a Mamma, sometimes. i see their peers doing great things already, and my girls won’t be ready for things like that for a long time as they continue to catch up from the dark years. sometimes … my heart breaks through my tunnel vision – not looking to the left or to the right of where God has us – and gets all knotted up.

        some harsh lessons in there.

        thank you, Amir. i needed the encouragement. i prayed that God would show me what’s true. so thank you 🙂

      • That man would have required the supernatural intervention of God to even be driven to repentance in the 1st place.

        • That man would have required the supernatural intervention of God to even be driven to repentance in the 1st place.

          yes. and he had every opportunity – you cannot imagine how much opportunity he had. and he turned his back on all of it.

          when my girls and i talk about his life, we see it as a tragedy. he was brilliant, had a super sharp mind and one of the shortest learning curves out there for anything new. but he refused to face and deal with his demons, and they eventually overtook every fiber of his being.

          we’ve come to the place, four years after his death, where we can enjoy the good about him and accept the bad – all without experiencing deep pain each time. and that’s been a good place for us to come to.

  7. Jay asks:

    Say what would be a good way in your humble opinion to put that man out of their comfort zone to bring out their real character?

    I can answer it in two words: canoe trip.

    Put Ame and him in a canoe, with him being in the back. And have them go about 5 miles, having to work together.

    She will get frustrated and tell him what to do, etc. Just like a wife who hasn’t figured out what submission is all about.

    He will be trying to control everything, just like a newlywed-to-be who hasn’t figured out that his leadership will get challenged by his pretty bride-to-be.

    But make sure you record it, so you can get a count of how many expletives they fire at each other.

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