If You Pray Hard Enough, Will God Stop Your Husband from Abusing You?

by | Jan 22, 2020 | Abuse | 81 comments

Can you change an abusive marriage just by praying hard and having enough faith?

A while ago a woman sent me in a letter criticizing me for saying that it’s okay for women to divorce in cases of abuse, because I should be telling women to have faith for a miracle and to pray hard.

I answered that question in my podcast a few weeks ago, and I had several people mention that it was an important segment, and asking me to take that segment and turn it into something they can share.

So I’ve made a video with the question and my answer, and then I’ll post it below as well!

Here’s a shortened version of the question she wrote–“we should have faith that God will do a miracle and fix an abusive marriage”:

Reader Comment

​Sheila, I like your blog, but you are wrong in telling women in abusive marriages that they should divorce. Divorce is not permitted for abuse.

But, also, you forget that God can work miracles. You should tell the women to have faith instead! I was in an abusive marriage, and I prayed hard and sought godly, biblical counseling. We separated for a few weeks, and then God changed my husband’s heart, and he repented. God worked a miracle, and we are now reconciled. You are causing women to miss miracles. Tell them to have faith and to pray.

And here was my answer:

If you pray hard enough, will God fix your abusive marriage?

From Iron Sharpens Iron: Podcast

Thanks for reaching out! I’m so glad that God has done a miracle in your marriage! That’s wonderful. It’s so exciting when God truly changes hearts, and when people are humble enough to let Him.

At the same time, your story is very rare. It is not that God cannot change hearts; it is that he does not force hearts to change. And many, many abusers (in fact, the vast majority) do not change. So very many women have prayed and prayed for decades, and no change has come. It is not that your prayers were greater than theirs; it is that your husband was humble enough to listen to God. So many husbands are not.

I do not think divorce should be automatic in cases of abuse, and I’ve never said that it should be. But it definitely is allowed, as it is for infidelity and abandonment. Abuse is a form of abandonment, and God does not make us stay there.

It is also true that part of the abuse cycle is “love bombing”. Abusers say what they need to say in order to get their spouse to let them back into the house or get them to forgive, and then, once the marriage seems secure again, the abuse starts once more. That’s very, very typical. That may not have happened in your case–everybody is different. But that is the general cycle of things.

That’s why telling women that if a man repents they must forgive him is so dangerous. Trust must be built over time. That’s really what David meant in Psalm 51 when he says “against you, and you only, have I sinned.” He didn’t mean that he had only sinned against God (he obviously sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, too). But what he was saying was that even if his relationships weren’t restored; even if his reputation wasn’t restored; even if others didn’t forgive him; he would still repent and get real with God. He wasn’t just getting real in order to get his relationships/status back; he was repenting because he truly meant it.

That’s what an abuser must do. He must repent regardless of what happens in his marriage, and he must show this over time. He must show that he is not just repenting to get his marriage back, but that he is truly a changed person. That cannot be done quickly. It must be shown over a long period of time with the help of a wise counselor or mentor. This must be done in order to protect the safety of any children especially. And only then should reconciliation take place.

And if that repentance never happens, then God does free people to divorce, because it is not the woman ending the marriage; it is the abuser who already ended it by his actions.

Again, none of this is saying that God cannot work miracles. It is only saying that your marriage is a miracle simply because it is so rare. God can heal people physically, too, but He does not choose to very often, as most with relatives with cancer will tell you. It does not mean that God can’t; it just means that God rarely does. And in the case of abuse, He does not force people to open their hearts to Him. They have to choose to have their hearts softened, and few abusers really do that.

I am so glad that your marriage was restored, and that it is being blessed.  I hope that you have some wise people walking alongside you who can see if the abuse cycle ever begins again, and to ensure that you are not in an extended period of love bombing. These things are so dangerous, especially when children are involved. But the safe thing to do here is to warn women about the simple facts of abuse, and tell them that in Christ there is freedom. For most people, the miracle will not be the abuser changing. But that doesn’t mean a miracle isn’t happening. I have known so many women who have broken free of abuse and found great freedom on the other side, as their children finally begin to flourish without the fear and the shame, and who finally are about to flourish themselves in their own callings, now that the abuse does not take all of their emotional energy.

Let me say one more thing.

I had a son who died, despite the fact that we prayed so hard for him, and that others prayed so hard for him. I am at peace with that, and I understand God’s plans in all of that, and I’m okay. But what was really hurtful was when, at the time he was hurt, other moms came to me and said, “God cured my child! He will cure yours, too, if you have enough faith.”

I did have faith. I did pray. But God chose not to heal. 

Other women are praying, and crying out to God, and doing everything right, and their husbands are still abusers. Please treat these women very gently. God worked a miracle with you, but the reason it’s a miracle is that it is so rare. Do not generalize your situation to other women. Please don’t say, “If you just humble yourself or have enough faith, God can change your husband.” Instead, say something like,

“Don’t make marriage your idol. Run after Jesus. Let the marriage go. And then, if God wills and if your husband repents, you may just find that you can pick it up again.”

But don’t make it about them having enough faith. They do have faith. But God does not always change hearts. So show them how to run after Jesus and put Him first. Show them how to protect their kids. Show them how to get their eyes off of their marriage and onto God. Show them how to give their husband over to God so He can do the work. And show them how to let go. And then, if God chooses to do a miracle, they’ll be able to rejoice. But if God doesn’t, they’ll still be able to rejoice, because they have grown closer to Him and have stopped making an idol of marriage.

As we talk about how change can come about in marriage, and how iron can sharpen iron, let’s remember that the responsibility to change someone is not really in our hands. God doesn’t even hold it in His hands. He gives us free will, and some will choose not to change. That’s not on us.

Do You Have a Difficult Time Standing up to your Husband?

God wants us aiming for His will. That sometimes will mean that we need to confront our husbands when they’re doing something wrong.

Struggle with how to do that? Are boundaries a difficult concept for you? 9 Thoughts can help!

So we should try to point others to Him and to be iron that sharpens iron; but ultimately, our highest calling is not to keep a marriage together or to change another person; it’s to run after Jesus and seek Him, no matter what else happens.

I really do get tired of these messages of “just pray hard enough and just have enough faith.” God is not a cosmic vending machine, and God does not force His will on people. The best act of faith is not having faith that God will do what you want; it’s having faith even if God doesn’t. 

Do you have faith even if God doesn't answer your prayers as you would like?

What do you think? Have you heard this message? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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81 Comments

  1. Jess

    Yes. Thank you for writing this. I have had a similar experience over and over again because I have depression. I was diagnosed at age 18. I am now 31. I was very young in my faith walk at age 18 and I truly believed for myself that I could “pray the depression away”. I tried (and in my eyes, failed) for many years. I was so angry with God and mostly angry with myself because I started to believe that it was all my fault, that I did not have enough faith or pray hard enough to earn God’s favor.
    This was extremely heavily compounded by many many Christians who reinforced that message by telling me that if I continued to have faith and pray, that God would heal my depression. Those people hurt me more than the depression itself. I prayed daily (multiple times a day) that God would heal me. The depression only grew worse because I hated myself for “not having enough faith to be healed.” About 10 years in, I started to think maybe I was missing something. I started to learn more about who God is. I started to let go of the bitterness and anger. I started to believe that God is good no matter my circumstances.
    Here’s the thing, I still have depression. I still struggle with doubt if my circumstance is dependent on my faith (or lack thereof). I still regularly have people in Christian circles who tell me that I need to pray harder and believe more. But, I have stopped praying for immediate healing. I have started praying that God would open my eyes and heart to His will, that he would grow and sanctify me through dealing with depression, that he would use my testimony to glorify Himself and point people to Him. Because that is who God is.
    People like to say Roman’s 8:28 means everything will work out for good. And they think that good is happiness and comfort. But God’s ultimate good is to make us more like Christ. A lot of times that hurts. A lot. But I am learning (stubbornly and slowly most days) that I can trust God to do what is best for me. And as much as I wish it didn’t, if that includes depression right now or forever, that doesn’t change who God is or how much he loves me. Sheila, you summed it up so perfectly in your last sentence…
    The best act of faith is not having faith that God will do what you want; it’s having faith even if God doesn’t.
    Yes and amen.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s beautiful, Jess. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so interesting to know more about your faith walk. I know what you mean about people who tell you that you don’t have enough faith actually hurt more than the problem itself. I’ve been there, too. May God keep showing you more of Himself!

      Reply
    • Bethany

      My brother used to believe something like that, until his wife had some dealings with depression. They talked to a therapist and learned alot more about mental health. Which was interesting to hear about! But unfortunately he messed up our relationship by privately labeling me as mentally ill, and never said anything about it until a vulnerable time. I can’t talk to him anymore, not until I walk through forgiving his stupidity.

      Reply
    • Robert Gonzales

      This is beautiful Jess! I agree that the ultimate goal is to be changed into the beautiful image of Christ . I Think it’s important to consider Proverbs 3:5,6. If you have done everything to save your marriage I believe it’s permitted to divorce. I believe the adultry Jesus is talking about is not only physical but spiritual. The wedding vow is to love , honor and cherish your spouse. If the man has stopped doing that and has fallen into the ways of the world, lies, pride , anger , abuse , then I believe that is cause for divorce. Jesus says to love God with all your HEART , SOUl , MIND and STRENGTH. A wife is not able to do that if in an abusive relationship 🙏🏽✝️♥️🙏🏽

      Reply
  2. libl

    My old church covertly taught this. While they wouldn’t admit it, it really was the overall perception: that if you weren’t getting your prayers answered as you were asking them, you weren’t faithful enough, you weren’t praying fervently enough, and/or you had hidden sin. We even had the deacon say to us, “I don’t know why God isn’t delivering you from (our health issue) because I’m praying!” He was implying that his prayers were always answered because he was an upstanding, strong Christian.
    Prayer in that church was often loud, heavily emotional, full of tongues babbling. If we weren’t getting answers, we just “prayed harder.” Maybe an alter call. Maybe oil. Maybe lots of music. Maybe no music.
    Even the Catholic Church allows for civil divorce due to abuse in order to be protected. (You just can’t marry another person, unless a valid annullment is granted.)
    Yes, God CAN work miracles, but He doesn’t always. Plus, He is a God who implemented free will. Therefore, He may open doors for an abuser to repent, but the abuser still chooses whether or not to walk through.
    Anyhow, that “pray the right way, pray enough, have enough faith” mindset is part of the health and wealth “gospel,” and the uber-grace theology, and the Zionist utopia on earth ideology.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It really is such a dangerous message, libl! I hope you’re in a better place right now. Your old church sounds so manipulative. I’m so sorry!

      Reply
      • libl

        Thank you. Actually, we are currently unchurched. I can fairly say 90% of the churches where I live are deeply compromised or allowing sin, or just plain off the charts. I’d say 5% are sincere, but based on personalities, unstructured, unchecked, and more country club than reverent church. 4% are good churches but have theology, we just can’t agree with. That leaves a 1%. I found a church, but hubby isn’t sure.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I get it. I wonder if it’s easier up in Canada? I don’t know. I do think that there are so, so many out there like you. I wish you could all get to one small church and make it a big heathy church! 🙂

          Reply
  3. Nathan

    A message that I usually get is that God will help sustain us through bad times. As a radio host once said, He won’t necessarily “tweak the Universe” to make things better.
    As she herself said…
    > > But, also, you forget that God can work miracles.
    True, but history has shown that God very rarely WILL work miracles. I’m very happy for that woman, but she needs to realize how rare her situation is. The vast majority of the time, the situation will NOT change, no matter how hard you pray.
    And the idea that God only answers the prayers of really strong Christians is false.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan!

      Reply
  4. SJR

    Maybe divorce isn’t always the answer. I did notice that the lady separated from her abusive husband until he repented. So, maybe separation is the answer. Then if there isn’t repentance and a change, divorce is the next choice. Thank you for saying that it takes time to trust again. Just saying you changed isn’t reason enough to continue in their marriage. You need proof that the change has happened and that takes time. Sometimes LOTS of time.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It really does need lots of time! What she’s suggesting is very dangerous advice.

      Reply
    • AspenP

      I think separating is appropriate first. Some abusive spouses need the shock of feeling the full weight of their consequences for their behavior. It is not ok to be treated this way and I will not stay here physically to allow that. Give the spouse the opportunity to choose and prove change.
      They might not, but the abused spouse can have a completely clear conscience that they have given the abusive spouse every opportunity to repent and actually change. The abused spouse will also be more free to pursue their own healing and counseling.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly, Aspen!

        Reply
    • Lauren Hildebrant

      The laws of each state may affect what people choose to do. Custody of children may come into play. Separation may not allow for the wife to have full custody whereas divorce may. A point to consider, especially if the children are in harm’s way.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, this makes leaving so much more difficult. I can’t imagine being in that situation. I honestly can’t.

        Reply
  5. Sadly Lacking

    Oh yes – the litany of ever-so-helpful “wisdom” from churches. (The place where you go when you are hurting and need help). I’ve been told- I don’t have enough faith, I just need to forgive, my heart is hard toward God, pray more and read my Bible, and just be grateful it isn’t worse. I’m not in an abusive situation where this “advice” could be deadly, but neglect is difficult. Not only dealing with it, but then being told it’s my fault for not being enough has crushed me. So THANK YOU for pointing out the fallacy of this type of thinking. I love that your blog gives voice to so many of my struggles.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad you find solace here. I hope you can find a healthy church community, too. They are out there! But I know that so many churches do more harm than good, and I pray that people will flock to the healthy ones, so that these hurtful ones lose influence.

      Reply
  6. AspenP

    Yes especially to inadvertently making your marriage an idol (I feel like usually this is picked up from the church pushing the institute of marriage or adding pressure to stay married so as not to further hurt the Christian divorce rate, etc).
    Leslie Vernick once said in one of her Facebook Live messages, “God loves YOU more than He loves the institute of marriage” and I thought that was a beautiful message to those in abusive marriages. God sees you. He loves you and He is not honored by you sticking it out year after year getting hurt. An abusive husband broke the marriage covenant long ago. This is just legally acknowledging that the marriage has already ended.

    Reply
  7. Amy

    Thank you for sharing this!!! I was in an abusive marriage and tried the “just have more faith” route for several years. I was desperate and suicidal when I finally got the courage to leave. Our divorce was final 10 years ago last month, and I have seen no evidence of change in his life (we have a daughter together, so I get opportunities to see if change has occurred more often that I would prefer).
    The church, and especially churches that could be labeled things like conservative or evangelical, have essentially ignored abuse in marriage and have only furthered the abuse by making marriage an idol. Thank you for standing up for abused women!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry you’ve walked through this, Amy. I’m glad you’re in a good place, and I hope your daughter isn’t too wounded by contact with him.

      Reply
  8. Nathan

    > > I just need to forgive
    Our pastor says that forgiveness is NOT accepting, justifying or enabling bad behavior. It’s that we cleanse our hearts of anger, desire for revenge, and so on. In other words, he says that forgiveness is for OUR benefit, not the benefit of the abuser.
    So it’s perfectly okay for an abused wife to say to her husband “I forgive you, but we’re still going to separate, and if you don’t repent and fully change, we’re going to divorce”.
    Forgiveness is NOT “I forgive you, so I’m going to stay and let you continue to hurt me while I just try to pray harder”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very well said, Nathan! I love that take on forgiveness.

      Reply
    • Mark

      I think forgiveness is the wrong word for this. I would say “grieving”. We grieve a wrong against us, or something that we’ve lost. We grieve what could have been, or what should have been if this hadn’t happened, but we don’t necessarily absolve the other person for what they’ve done.
      At that point, we are ready to forgive – but we don’t rob the other person of their need to repent and seek that forgiveness.
      When the church uses the word forgiveness, it’s very confusing to victims, because often it’s the imagery of “forgive and forget” or “as far as east is from west” or not holding it against someone, with the obvious conclusion that someone who has grieved the wrong, but for whom the abuser has never repented is still harboring bitterness and is angry against the abuser.

      Reply
    • Jasmin

      Wow this has helped me so much. Reading your words has made me look at the things I am going through right now in a whole different way filling me with more peace. That Change happens to those who truly want it and truly repent to God. Thank you! I know I will be ok whether my partner comes back to me healed or not.. it’s up to him and if he truly wants it that’s between him and God. All that matters is I won’t be putting up with abuse anymore. And I know God is with me always and has my back and will protect me.

      Reply
  9. Blessed Wife

    A person’s prayer life is truly between them and God. It changes their other relationships because of how it changes THEM, not because God changes another person on their behalf.
    You’ve talked a lot, Sheila, about the importance of boundaries in relationships. This is so, so right!
    It is the consequences that enforce those boundaries that make abuse cease to be comfortable for the abuser, and that is what makes them want to change, if they ever do. These consequences must be something the victim themselves can implement, not something that the abuser can isolate them from. If the abuser believes they can reinstate control of the victim if they can just get them alone again, the goal will be to get the victim alone again, not to change themselves. If the abuser has to face the fact that staying with the victim will not mean being able to control the victim anymore, that presents them with a different choice: repent and live in peace with this person, or find a new victim.
    God is all about healing, strengthening, and drawing those who seek Him closer to Himself. As you say, we should be trying to point others to Him through our actions. But His protection and deliverance are found primarily through His showing us how to get it, not through overriding another person’s free will to give us what we want.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Beautiful! Totally agree.

      Reply
  10. Active Mom

    I think it’s important to note that in cases of infidelity and abuse it’s not up to the spouse who sinned to decide that they are going to move forward with reconciliation. The spouse who sinned can get counseling, change behaviors etc and that doesn’t mean that the spouse who was wronged HAS to reconcile. It also doesn’t mean that the wronged spouse is sinning if they don’t reconcile. Sometimes the damage can’t be fixed regardless of whether the sinning spouse shows remorse, etc. I had a friend in youth group when I was a teenager whose father had cheated on her mom. Years went by before the affair was exposed. He went through counseling, repented etc. She also went through counseling. At the end of the road he was expecting and almost demanding she reconcile because he had done what he felt God told him was necessary. The church tried to tell her she HAD to reconcile as well because he had shown remorse etc. However, the main pastor had to intervene and remind people that God never said she had to. Her healing was between her and God and this is exactly why God granted divorces in cases of infidelity and abandonment. Sometimes the wronged person can’t go back and “retry.”
    I understand everyone’s need to preserve marriages where possible. I also understand that some marriages can come back from horrible trauma and be stronger. I just don’t think we should say reconciliation is the main goal all the time. The main goal should be repentance and change in behavior for the sinner and healing for the wronged spouse. From relationships I have seen reconciliation is taught as not optional if the sinning spouse changes.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very well said, Active Mom!

      Reply
      • Recovering from betrayal

        Thank you Active mom. I may very well be in that boat. It’s so validating to hear that reconciliation isn’t a requirement.
        So far husband is repenting of porn addiction but not of the emotional abuse that went along with it. It took months to get him to admit the addiction and it’s been a year and he still isn’t admitting the abuse. Even if he does repent at this point- it’s a lot of years of abuse without repentance and I’m not sure reconciliation is good for me. So I’m honoring how I currently feel and holding my future very loosely to allow God to change my heart and mind if He chooses. It’s the best I can do right now.

        Reply
        • Charissa

          Thank you for rightly dividing the word of truth and living in reality.
          I stayed too long, and the damage done to my soul seems irreversible.
          I didn’t lose faith, because God didn’t do what I wanted; I lost hope and believe He abandoned me. I lost everything after being abused by my husband and his Christian family. I was humiliated, shamed, mocked, and now I don’t even live life like I should. Very rarely do these type of people change, not because God’s not powerful or able, but because of everyone around them enabling them. It takes humility to repent, and I have found that in narcassistic abuse, humility is not something that they ever cultivate.

          Please pray for me. I have ptsd now, and Church is a trigger for me. I feel weak because I don’t know how to overcome this. I repressed most of the actual memories and they only come in dreams, but I have very real emotional triggers that cause me to completely shut down and dissociate. It’s also very difficult for me to regulate my emotions at times.

          The ironic thing is most of these people writing you value to covenant of marriage more than people. They reject scripture applying to the way a husband and wife should treat one another, and put people in danger with their erroneous statements.
          Jesus, was the One Who prompted me to leave. He told to leave through His Word after I kept trying to love harder and be more obedient. I fasted and prayed; He prompted me to leave and stated the abuse I was under was a form of witchcraft. To gaslight, manipulate, abuse, and humiliate someone on order to force them to comply with you and obey you is evil. And eventually, that marriage will become an idol. That wife or husband being abused will no longer seek after Jesus, but the approval of their spouse and they become their master.

          Please pray for me. I feel so unloved. I went through a season of Job where I lost everything; my health, people I love, friendships, and Christians even stated it was my fault or they feared being close to me. Maybe not the extent of Job, but a very similar situation and I still cannot seem to find hope. Now, I am just a lonely unloved woman who has been abandoned by everyone.

          I struggle feeling sorry for myself, but the real problem is I lost the will to truly live. Even when I obey to be obedient; my heart is cold and sorrowful.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Me too.
            I’ve experienced the same type of betrayal as you. Literally lost everything. People don’t understand that from the outside I look “normal” but I’m just a shell and what they “see” isn’t real.
            I still don’t know how to recover from the ptsd and the physical damage that the narc abuse did to my brain. I know I’m physically broken. God hasn’t healed me. I don’t know if he will. I doubt it.
            I trust no one and I’m currently mad at God because I can’t figure out how to trust him – but I know “I’m supposed to” – but I don’t know to because I can’t find a definite promise that he actually fulfilled in scripture every time.

            The only answer the church gives is essentially wait until you die for justice. This is a real cop out answer for someone wanting to believe god is kind and loving while trying to scrape up enough money to feed her kids while the ex makes a quarter of million dollars but won’t pay child support. And no one cares.

            I want answers to these hard questions and the church body doesn’t have any good answers that can stand up to rigorous testing and logic. So is there anyone out there who’s got a good answer that I can tell my kids for why God lets an abuser thrive and succeed while single moms and children suffer for someone else’s sin?
            Anyone?
            Anyone?

    • Lea

      “At the end of the road he was expecting and almost demanding she reconcile ”
      I saw someone say the other day that someone who expects or demands something from the hurt party, in the way you’re describing, hasn’t properly repented or reformed. They still are demanding and entitled, and that’s the opposite of true repentance. I think that’s pretty fair.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, exactly. That’s how I’ve always interpreted Psalm 51 where David says “against you, and you only, have I sinned.” Obviously he sinned against Uriah and Bathsheba, too! But by focusing his repentance towards God, he was saying that he would repent REGARDLESS of what happened to earthly relationships/reputation. He wasn’t repenting to restore anything earthly. He was repenting because he meant it. That should be the attitude for repentance. It isn’t to restore something; it’s to honestly turn away from bad behaviour, regardless of the consequences.

        Reply
  11. Nathan

    It’s interesting (but in a bad an scary way) how much of this bad advice cross connects.
    The women here (and elsewhere) who say that their church told them “if he abuses you, you need to pray harder” have heard something VERY VERY close to the message in “Love and Respect”, which tells us that anything bad that a husband does is the fault of the wife for not respecting or praying enough.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! It’s all fruit of the same poisoned tree.

      Reply
      • Mary

        My daughter has experienced the situation in which she tries ever so carefully to reach out to a church member for marital help, just to get beaten down with those words like
        “pray harder, better, more patiently“ or “just keep him happy in the bedroom… while the abuse continued. Christian Counselors! Don’t stop after reading Eph 22-24. Contine through Eph 25 -28 and onward! If a husband is being abusive to his wife in any way, he is not living in a God-fearing relationship; only abusing also
        the scriptures and insulting God, breaking the bonds of marriage.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Amen!

          Reply
  12. Sheep

    Well said Sheila,
    I was in an abusive, adulterous marriage for many many years. Once I realized how bad things actually were, I prayed without ceasing for years that God would work a miracle, that He would make me a better person that she would somehow love, that He would change her heart. I would tell God how I know that He loves marriage, and that He loves us, and that it is His will that our marriage stay together and become a wonderful thing. I prayed for understanding to know why these things were happening. Sometimes I prayed so hard and so long that I thought I would sweat great drops of blood.
    You know what??? He did answer my prayers, but not in the way I wanted. He did make me a better person, but He did not “make” her change. Our marriage wasn’t healed, but He did heal me. We did divorce, but I’m happier now than I have been in such a very long time. He didn’t tell me why, but He is God and He doesn’t have to. I’m content. He took away my fears, and I’m at peace. I see it as God giving me a second chance to have a marriage relationship someday that truly honors Him.
    But even if that does’t happen, I can still be content to rest in Him.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Sheep, I’m so glad to hear that! Your story IS a miracle. It may not be a miracle the way that you first wanted, but to rely on God anyway and grow in Him–that’s truly beautiful.

      Reply
  13. Kim P

    Loving this series! Well-balanced, practical and challenging! Thank you for explaining why this message to wait it out and pray can be damaging to the majority of women whose abusers will never change. (So happy for the reader’s miraculous outcome as well.)
    There are abused women who have put my faith to shame; their reliance on Christ and the depth of their faith and prayer life is astounding. To tell these women to pray more and have more faith would be like a songbird telling a hummingbird to beat its wings faster. They’re. Already. Doing. It. My walk with the Lord has been challenged and strengthened by their example, whether they chose to stay or go. (*I mean no disrespect to the reader with my analogy; I can see why she wanted to share her message.)

    Reply
  14. Amber

    Shiela,
    Thank you again for speaking up with such compassion about a very sensitive topic. I have lived through an abuse as a child, everything but physical and my mom endured much worse in her childhood. This a facet of abusive marriage that your reader needs to understand is that many abused women come from a history of abusive childhoods and the effects of their trauma prevent them from thinking critically, recognizing their abuse (my mom made excuses for my step dad bc his abuse was not physical as her dad’s was) and many times they stay in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze.
    Furthermore, if the victim stays, they are sending toxic messages to their children who are at the least witnessing the abuse, but most likely experience the abuse themselves. They may go on to perpetuate abuse in their adult lives or believe that they deserve the abuse (a lie I had to break during a season of dark depression).
    My mom finally separated from my step-dad for 9 months when I was 19 but it didn’t take him long after she moved back in to stop all of the acts of repentance (going to church, counseling, reconciliation meetings with church leaders, etc.) and returned to his manipulative ways in the form of financial abuse. In our case 9 months was still not long enough to test his repentance but thankfully my mom had developed enough support to separate their finances so that he wouldn’t spend them out of house and home. She was chastised for separating their fiances by a financial expert in our church but received no help to ensure their bills were paid otherwise, as he was not submitting to Godly accountability. On the contrary it is because of her that he still has a roof over his head…Your reader should consider that before giving a simplistic trite answer based on her experience.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’re so right about the effect on children, Amber! In most cases of divorce, children end up worse after the divorce–EXCEPT in cases of abuse. Where there is abuse or very high conflict marriages, children do better if parents separate. We really have to not treat marriage as an idol. I hope your mom is in a better place now!

      Reply
      • Anon

        Any chance you have the study on divorce in cases of abuse, Sheila? I’d love to read up on it! Women I know won’t divorce abusive husbands because they have kids in the home and don’t want to make their kids worse.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, Judith Wallerstein’s groundbreaking research found that divorce hurts kids EXCEPT in cases where there is abuse. In that case, kids do better after divorce. A great resource for this is Gretchen Baskerville’s Life Saving Divorce.

          Reply
  15. April

    Thank you for this, Sheila. I just want to reiterate a lot of what has already been said. An abused spouse is already praying and has great faith that God will save her marriage, change her husband, change her, give her strength to endure – usually for years without any change. If she has no other option, but to stay have faith and pray more for something that is unlikely to happen, it takes away hope. Not to mention the toll it places on her body, mind and faith. It’s just another way to keep her trapped.
    Yes, God can work miracles, but sometimes the miracle is setting the oppressed free, and allowing the abused spouse to not be abused anymore. I think when we say that the only thing “miraculous” that can happen in these marriages is reconciliation, we miss out on a lot of things can God can do in the abused spouses heart, mind and life. Jesus is against cruelty and all about setting free the opressed.
    I really feel for the lady that wrote you. I apologize for being skeptical, but it is extremely common for abusers to fake repentance – say and do all the right things, to get their wife back under the same roof. They are master manipulators and often charming. Also, when they have been called out, often they tend to change tactics. So, the abuse is still there, but it doesn’t look identical to what it did before, so we have a hard time pinpointing what it is. Abuse dynamics work that the abuser puts himself in the place of God, manipulating the spouse to worship him and the marriage. He has to be willing to give that up, which will be incredibly difficult. I really hope that she doesn’t find herself back in the abuse cycle.
    If a “reformed” abuser is demanding reconciliation from you, that is a big red flag. In fact that is abuse in and of itself – abuse is about control – and evidence that he has not repented.
    Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation. Yes, God has called us to forgive and live at peace. You can do both of those things while not living under the same roof as your abuser.
    Signed, a woman trying to get herself and children out of an abusive marriage – where I begged God for years to bring change and healing. Who separated and went back (twice!) when he said he changed, only for the tactics to change and the abuse to continue. Telling me to pray more and have more faith just adds to the already impossible burden.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, April, I’m so sorry! I hope you’re in a good, healthy Christian community (not one that will heap you down with burdens). It sounds like God has given you so much insight and growth, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will keep doing His miracle in you, and will bring you to a perfect place of peace. But I also pray that you will find practical, and not just spiritual, help, too.

      Reply
      • April

        Thank you so much, Sheila! I am grateful that the Lord has brought some great support into my life.

        Reply
      • Chi

        I am in a emotionally abusive marriage. I was in a long distance marriage before he brought me here to UK. After spending some time with him here I discovered a different person entirely. He needs a wife to just cook and have sex with him. He is completely unfaithful and has committed adultery with over 7 women in less than a month during a trip outside the country, he left his phone carelessly and I screenshot all his conversations and evidence He even did it with a lady I assumed to be a good friend, a married woman. He is completely unrepentant and tells me I’m here on a spousal Visa and he can send me back anytime. He makes me pay almost all the bills in the house including half the rent. I have lost a lot of weight, I have prayed, fasted and cried to God for a miracle for more than a year now. My heart has been heavy and bitter. I’m fighting to get rid of bitterness but it’s not been easy. II’m stuck in his hopeless, useless marriage because the only abuse that is recognised in uk is physical abuse and he knows it, because he tells me as long as he is not hitting me and there is no physical evidence I have no case and that phone evidences are illegal. I am exposed to STD as he forces me to have sex with him.
        I am completely helpless.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I am so, so sorry, Chi. I’m not in the UK, but what your husband is telling you I don’t believe is true. Please contact a domestic violence hotline and ask for some help. This isn’t okay. You do have rights, and even if it’s not physical violence, it is still abuse (especially if he spread an STD to you.) Please call for some help.

          Reply
        • Felicia

          Chi,
          I hope you’re ok now. I see your comment was written years ago.
          I was thinking that you could reach out to the embassy for your home country and see if you have a recourse for a spouse who brings you to the UK under false pretenses. That he says he wants a wife and promises love but he holds the Visa over your head to abuse you and force you to cook, clean, and have sex. I wonder if this could actually be considered a form of trafficking. I don’t mean any insult by this, and it is so heartbreaking. His abuse of you is terrible and illegal and the fact that he is holding the Visa over your head…almost makes me wonder if there aren’t some extra resources for someone in your situation. I would look to any embassy or organization representing your home county in the UK to see if they have resources for this situation and of course local domestic violence organizations. What he is doing to you is a crime and it has a name. Don’t listen to what he tells you about UK law. You go consult experts yourself. He has lied to you about everything else.

          Reply
  16. Nathan

    April, I’m so sorry that you’re in that situation, and I hope and pray that you and your children can get out and get to a good place.
    You and others are right when you say that sometimes the “miracle” isn’t always the one you expect at first.
    Also spot on about those who will say ANYTHING to keep the relationship going. It’s called “love bombing”.
    Finally, I’ve never gotten the concept that God will finally say “yes” if only you pray HARDER. I’m not even really sure what that means.

    Reply
    • April

      Thank you, Nathan. It really doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, does it?

      Reply
    • Arwen

      Nathan, God always answers us but the answer is not often the one we want to hear so we assume He’s not answering us. But He is answering, it’s just not the one you want to hear. Joni Erickson Tada, has said that from the beginning God gave her the answer to her disability but because it wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear she went around believing for a long time that God hadn’t answered her just yet and she was waiting for for the answer to come. But in the end she just had to face the reality that God had answered her already many years ago and it was up to her to come face to face with reality.
      King David prayed and prayed for God to spare his son and that God will answer his request. Which God did but not in the way David wanted. And David was completely fine with that. He received his answer (which was a No) so he got up and got himself together and continued on with life. Most Christian unfortunately don’t want to believe in God that says, NO!

      Reply
  17. Arwen

    Sometimes i wonder if i should start a firestorm on Sheila’s comment section. Oh, well, i like being honest anyways. This whole idea of not enough prayer and not enough faith nonsense started with these Pentecostals, Word of faith, and Prosperity Gospel movements. They have caused so much pain and suffering with their toxic theology and unfortunately have spread it to developing countries too. Even Joni Erickson Tada, was told throughout her life that it was because of her lack of faith and prayer she was still in her condition. Unbelievable!
    Jesus told us we only need a faith as SMALL as a mustard seed to move mountains but these people tell us our faith, must be the size of Mt. Everest! It’s toxic! People who have the strongest faith are people who live in the most tragic of circumstances. Not the wealthy and religious leaders that we in the West have been duped to believe.
    I’m also glad you brought to the letter writer’s attention that it was HER husband’s repentance that brought about change not SOLELY her prayers. She seemed to have missed that. He went to counseling, they separated (meaning she sought safety for herself away from him), etc. She forced her husband to reap the consequences of his actions. Faith + Works = Fruit!

    Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      I believe it actually goes back much further; at least to the middle ages. Charlatans would tell the hurting and desperate to pray by a “saint’s” finger bone or whatever, and if it didn’t heal your illness, well, you just didn’t believe enough. Your fault, nothing to do with their product.
      An ancient scam is still a scam.

      Reply
      • libl

        To be clear, the Catholic Church does NOT teach that relics of saints are talismans of sorts. Unfortunately, just like in factions of Protestantism, people get into ideas and habits of wrongful understandings/interpretations, and especially superstitious.
        The Catholic Church’s actual teachings on sufferings and God’s will have been a healing balm to the evangelical wounds I received concerning the trials I have faced.
        I’m NOT saying Catholic vs protestant. I’m merely clarifying that there is Truth out there, but humans, and even factions of denominationalism, which is often based on certain hot-button theologies and opinions, mess it up.

        Reply
  18. Wynd

    A distant relative of mine ( a century ago) had Cerebral Palsy. Her family had gotten the message “If you only prayed harder / had more faith then she would be healed” their whole lives, and taken her to every doctor and healer they could find with zero results. Finally there came a bunch of faith healers in a travelling tent meeting who “had the Spirit” and were healing people and taking up the poisonous serpents and carrying on and collecting a good many donations.
    Her father, not wanting to get his daughter’s hopes up yet again, not wanting to be told yet again that she was at fault for not having enough faith, went up on the mountain and caught as many rattlesnakes as he could on short notice. He showed up at the tent meeting the next night.
    “Maybe you got the Spirit, and maybe you ain’t” he said, as he emptied the bag of rattlers on the stage. “If you pick up one of these snakes, instead of the tame ones you’ve been a-kissing on, I’ll bring my daughter so you can heal her.” His bluff called in front of an audience, the lead speaker picked up one of the rattlesnakes, which immediately bit him in the face and killed him. The tent meeting disbanded pretty quick after that.
    —————
    This story is relevant whenever people bring up the “if you have enough faith” argument. Sometimes God brings healing, sometimes God gives perseverance, and sometimes God’s provision is a doctor to cut out the gangrene or the cancer. God always keeps His promises; however many churches and teaches make their own promises on God’s behalf – IF you do (this), THEN God will do (that) – with disastrous consequences.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Perfect, Wynd! And what a terrible burden to place on parents of children with cerebral palsy, too, and for the person herself.

      Reply
  19. Nathan

    The idea of “God WILL say yes, but only if you have enough faith and/or pray hard enough and/or are a “good enough” Christian” has caused a lot of sadness over the centuries.

    Reply
  20. Maria

    Sheila, great post! One little thing is a line that could be misinterpreted and cause confusion. Here is the line:
    “The best act of faith is not having faith that God will do what you want; it’s having faith even if God doesn’t. ”
    In context, it’s obvious that you are saying to have faith in God even if he doesn’t do what you want. But if a reader focuses too much on the second half of this line, they might get confused and think that you are saying that God doesn’t have faith.

    Reply
  21. Jennifer

    Thank you Shelia for this!
    The first time, i stayed in the abusive marriage. The church put more pressure on me, at first I would think it was just because I was a believer. But then as time passed I realized maybe it was because I was also the woman. Although this is with the same man and I was unaware of all and what abuse cycles were during that time, I allowed him back in because I thought he had changed like he said he did. But instead he went back to his old ways really quick and the abuse started again. I was told again by the church that if I did not go to marriage counseling the marriage would end and it would be my fault. That crushed me .(i stopped going to church. I listen online, but Im not ready to go back. )as the abuse continued, time passed I did my research on the abuse, I listened to God I was able to separate a second time from him this time proceeding divorce. I cannot tell you that when I prayed for the abuse to stop and asked God to split the seas so that I could walk right through it .That was my miracle. Jesus came to save people – not marriages. And God loves divorced people. This has nothing to do with me praying harder praying more diligently seeking asking and knocking because it is not by what I do or don’t do- its who he is and what his plans are. He always promises us ,that he is with us and I can testify for that he is with me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a wonderful testimony, Jennifer! I’m glad you’ve found the real Jesus who truly values you and loves you.

      Reply
  22. Lauri

    Thank you Sheila for sharing. I have been in an emotionally destructive marriage for 34 years. We have separated three times. We are currently separated for a year. I don’t want a divorce. I have been to counseling and retreats to save my marriage. It takes confession, repentance and change.
    My spouse refuses to admit any wrong doing. He can’t see how his blowups, his tone, his silent treatment and smashing things could be abusive; Put downs, arguing and negativity were the norm. I Finally stopped the abuse. I am sorry it took me so long. I was one of those women who prayed, believed and hoped for a different outcome. My pastor says I have done all I could do.
    I continue to grow and work on my codependent behaviors and I am learning to stand up for myself. I cannot change him and he says he will Never admit to wrongdoing. We cannot move forward with reconciliation and this makes me sad, but I am confident that God will use this for His glory.
    Thank you for hearing us and for understanding how hard this is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Lauri, may Jesus carry you! This must be such a hard time for you. It’s so hard to let go. I’m glad you’re finding freedom, though.

      Reply
  23. Joseph's other son

    This is interesting Sheila, my story is not about abuse, more about mental torment, and perfect examples of both instances you have talked about. One where God didn’t step in (when I wanted Him to) no matter how much I prayed, and one where He stepped in instantly after changing me. I got divorced after 13 years married to a woman I adored. She just didn’t really like me a lot soon after marriage, and often told me that we would split up at some point in time and then get back together. I prayed for years, I cried in my bed at night sometimes for weeks on end. Eventually I even did some things that were well and truly against my beliefs and huge sins to try and win her over as that is what she “needed” from me to be herself. The last time she kicked me out I didn’t go back and grovel, I was too tired, I just left and cried for 11 weeks on my parents spare bedroom floor. I fought so hard, explaining that love covers all sins, but she just wanted what I gave to our family, she didn’t want me . It broke me. I spoke to her parents and I prayed, and at this point God decided to answer. I was standing in my parents shower, crying and praying out loud as I had done every morning for 11 weeks. God answered me.
    He said, “Its ok, you can let go”. It hurt so much, but in an instant a burden was lifted off my shoulders, and all of my attention from that point turned to providing my kids the best possible life under the circumstances.
    During my marriage which was for the bulk of it completely sexless (also without intimacy) my predisposition to use porn became an addiction. My eyes were open and I knew what I was doing, I just couldn’t stop. So I prayed for healing from addiction, believing that it can happen, but not seeing how it was possible. I tried to stop, but failed many times. Forward a good few years.
    I was blessed to find a wonderful woman as a wife who loves and shares everything with me. Life is full on, we have two kids of our own and three from my first marriage, so it can be tough at times. I was still using porn until two years ago, much less, but still couldn’t help it. I told my wife about it and told her that I hated it. She was very disappointed but understanding, and encouraged me to pray more and to believe that it was possible. Her actions stirred the change in me that made me believe that God had an alternative to my addiction even if I couldn’t see it. We prayed, and in an instant God healed me. It was truly a miracle! I woke up and the “need” was gone. For the first few months there was no temptation, almost like God shielded me into being healed. Now that temptation does come around again, God has given me the strength to repel it and I feel no fear that I will fail. None.
    My point is: In my first marriage, it felt like God never answered my prayers until it was too late, but the fact is He did answer them, and the timing was perfect. Even though the one thing in life I held in higher regard than anything else (my marriage) was broken, I was freed. No miracle, just a sad conclusion that somehow set me free.
    My porn addiction was healed in an instant after much prayer and a change in me. Truly a miracle – if you don’t believe me ask any addict if the can imagine waking up one morning and to not be addicted anymore..
    God ALWAYS answers your prayers! So you do need to have faith and pray all of the time, because taking matters in your own hands doesn’t work if you are not led by God. It doesn’t meant that to save you God has to save your marriage. It is not God’s will for your marriage to break up, but I am fairly confident that if He will lose you in marriage, He would prefer to save you out of it.

    Reply
    • Keisha

      Men who have porn addiction tend to be abusive as well. My guess is she had very good reason to want to be away from you. Porn is also cheating and forever changes how she sees you and sees herself. When you’ve seen even 30 minutes or more of porn, you’re statistically guaranteed to see women being sexually assaulted…so you were supporting a great deal of evil. Of course God would free her from you. Your wives have never been the problem. You were.

      Reply
  24. Kathi

    Thank you for your very thoughtful response, Sheila.
    One person’s abusive relationship doesn’t look like another’s. It’s dangerous to advise that what worked for one should work out for the other. Truth is that only the victim knows what it best in her situation.
    I also think that telling someone to pray is too simplistic. Abuse is too complex to pray for everything to change. If the abusive spouse is not changing, it could be the answer that God provides is for the victim to take action.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Kathi!

      Reply
  25. laycistercians

    Never give up and keep the faith. Jesus will never leave you. We should embrace our strength beyond words. Thank you so much for sharing this. God bless you!

    Reply
  26. Roseanne

    Why are there no websites with testimonies of God removing an abusive husband from your life? I only heard one story from someone, but that’s it. I know there must be tons of testimonies of prayers being answered for evil men to be cast out of someone’s life forever, but where are they?????

    Reply
    • Anon

      I’ll start: I wasn’t even saved at the time! I had no faith in God as such. I was a witch. I was worshiping pagan gods who I thought were gods at the time but really just demons. The guy I was with called me names, took my money, porn addiction, cheater, liar, manipulator, cruel. He would talk me out of my dreams to bolster his. He tormented me for amusement. A dangerous guy. I also had his baby (condom broke). I was a loving and devoted mother from the start. I hoped we could be a family. He was nice enough sometimes to make me believe it could be true. I was miserable. I hated life. He thought it was funny. My pagan gods also thought it was funny. They kept demanding more and more of me just like he did. No love. Then I’d had enough. I found a way out. I escaped with my child. In the aftermath, family court proceedings, living with family members trying to get myself reestablished financially, God spoke to me and He saved me. He told me to become Christian and I did. See, He had been there with me all along. He cried every year I cried, even when I had no faith in Him. And He established me and made my path secure. I went back to college and got a great job after some trial and error. My child is happy. We are free. And his dad is out of the picture. God sees to our safety always. He freed me, and I didn’t believe in Him at the time. That is how powerful His love is.

      Reply
  27. Brittany

    Hi Sheila,

    I’ve been looking into this topic for a bit now as my husband has physically assaulted me multiple times over our marriage (lots of hard slaps in the face, kicked me, strangled me, kneed me, or even did a “fake out” kick to my head.

    For a long time he was very very resistant to seeing our pastor. Refused to have counselling for himself, or for our marriage, insisting that I was the only one who needed counselling out of us both.
    I guess I just tried to push it all to the back of my mind. We had a baby, she’s almost 1 now. (We’ve been married for 2 years)

    For many months I begged him to see our pastor with me, because our marriage was very tumultuous, or to find a therapist. He refused.
    When our daughter was 7 months old he came at me to punch me in the head and I backed away as fast as I could and he settled for kneeing me in the stomach. Our baby saw the whole thing.

    After this I finally went to the police. He was removed from our house and I have a DVO against him. After this he started seeing our pastor and leaning on his men’s groups. His grandparents and his best friend insisted that he should be at home with me making it better, so our marriage csn heal.
    I fought this for a while because I didn’t feel safe around him, but eventually gave in.

    We began seeing a marriage counsellor together, and I’ve been seeing my own individual therapist who specialises in DV issues. He saw a therapist for himself once, and then didn’t bother again until his job depended on it.

    My issue is, although he *seems* to be doing the right things, and I was all for reconciliation..it just doesn’t sit right with me.
    I don’t feel safe.
    He outright tells me that he’s worried about our stress levels because he might do something awful if he gets too stressed again.
    I appreciate the self awareness, but this doesn’t make me feel safe or secure at all.

    I’ve heard from a mutual friend that when seeing his men’s group he makes the marriage issues out to be as if it’s mostly my fault. That was really disheartening. It gives me little hope for any actual change.

    He sees the physical abuse issue as a marriage issue, an “us” issue. And that if his wife was better at not stressing him out then the physical abuse wouldn’t even be a factor.

    I want to leave.
    He appears to be repentant but I feel it’s only a surface level thing. I don’t feel safe. I don’t want to be with him.
    I ignored everything he did at tb start and now I’m disgusted that I’m living with someone who, in his own words tried to kill me at one stage (the strangulation).

    We have a daughter. I don’t want her growing up seeing our relationship as her model for love.

    Can you divorce a spouse that has been abusive even though they claim to be repentant/changing?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      If you don’t feel safe, you need to listen to that! That’s your intuition speaking, and intuition is really just our God-given spidey-senses. Listen to it!

      It doesn’t matter if he says all the right things. If he were really repentant, AND he were patient with you as you healed, you would feel safe.

      But you shouldn’t even be in couples’ counseling if he is abusive. I’m a little worried you’re not getting good counsel here. If he is saying that the physical abuse is a marriage issue, he simply is not safe. And you have a child to consider.

      I wish you well and I wish you safety! I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. So sorry.

      Reply
    • Keisha Marie Moss

      I think you should read Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” You’ll see that what he’s doing shows clearly he’s not changing at all. It will also help you to see the other various tactics he’s using. The book has been a life-saver for many! You can read it on Kindle as well.

      Reply
  28. Jessica

    Thank you so much for this post and video.I have recently been separated from my husband of 6 years. I have 3 kids and he is emotionally and verbally abusive.There has also been physical destruction in the home. I fear fornour safety and thebrage that may ensue if I tell him it really is over. I have never been physically assaulted. However I constantly was walking on egg shells and trying to please him. Nothing was ever good enough and I tried so many years to be the perfect Christian wife and to get him to join me on our journey. I finally just gave up and admitted that I wasn’t happy and would no longer like to be in the same household as him.We are separated and everyday is easier and easier for me to stand up and set boundaries. However we are talking to our pastor and now. I am feeling like I am crazy again and I have to convince my pastor that I have a right to do what I’m doing. The pastor is suggesting that I let him back in the home so that I can see how much he has changed. It has only been 3 months and he is continuing to push his way back into my life through text messages or phone calls or guilt trips. He doesn’t care for our children enough and says that I am not letting him and that I am destroying our children. I shouldn’t even have to explain myself anymore. I’m exhausted. I want to finally break free. I want to not have to convince our pastor that I am not being vindictive. He was suggesting that I’m not listening to God and that I’m listening to the world and to myself for wanting to be apart from my husband. I got so upset and sad. I felt like nobody heard me. All the while my husband is crying next to me saying he understands how hurt I must feel and he will do anything to prove to me that he has changed. I don’t trust him. I don’t trust him at all. He can turn the tears on and off in a heartbeat and hos pain only comes from losing control. I have home video of him at home before moving out while I was at work and he was texting me how sorry he was and how bad he feels for the way he has treated me and how he wants to be the man I thought I married. He was even quoting scripture. I watched hom text it all out with a blank non emotional face and demeanor,
    throw his phone on the couch, popped his feet up on the coffee table to lean back and continue his game of Call of Duty on the PS5. He played from 9am to 4:30. The house was a mess and I still needed to handle kids pick up after work and dinner. Thank you so much for this video. I don’t know how else to say it. Thank God for you and thank you for making me feel like I’m not a bad Christian. I love God. I believe that Jesus died for our sins and I truly believe that I can be a person on Earth that does so much good for others. However I can’t do those things when I am in the presence of my husband. The person I am that loves other people and wants to help and be supportive and friendly and kind to all, is not appreciated by him. He gets jealous or very angry for time not spent directly on him. I’m so done being scared of being one edge and gaslight and used and I’m so sad that so many women and men in the church push women to give in and accept the behavior because the Bible says that it is what we need to do in such a difficult situation. I just can’t comprehend the amount of people that this mindset has pushed away from God. That’s one of the sadder realities of this kind of treatment.

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  29. Sally-Anne

    This response is coming late as I just read this post but there was a comment by a reader named Chi who said that only physical abuse will be sufficient evidence in Court proceedings. If she is considering divorce, the laws in the United Kingdom have been amended and parties can apply for divorce based on no fault divorce, meaning the wife does not have to prove abuse in a marriage as cause of breakdown.

    Sally-Anne

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  30. Evelyn

    “ God can heal people physically, too, but He does not choose to very often, as most with relatives with cancer will tell you.”

    That’s a lie from the pitts of you know where. I OFTEN see people healed from illnesses. His miracles are NOT RARE. I can assure you that. I send my condolences for what happened to your son.

    I don’t think it’s a better idea to say God’s miracles are rare, because that’s a LIE. I think it’s better to just say whatever is in God’s plan, is God’s plan. Not that he didn’t choose to do a miracle, because He is like a rare lottery machine that only the few get blessed enough to have. His mercy and miracles are ABUNDANT. Someone can read that and that sow a seed of lack, scarcity, and lukewarmness.

    Please be careful with your wording.

    God bless you and your loved ones regardless,
    Evelyn

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  31. Anne

    Thank you so much Sheila. The night before we married the love bombing stopped as he became enraged I wouldn’t say the word “submit.” I was a new Christian – hadn’t even been baptised – he was a worship leader. I didn’t understand the Biblical term of submission (clearly he didn’t either). I tried to explain that if I said it I would feel like I was lying to God and to him and that I didn’t really feel like a submissive type of person. I ignored the warning bells. Within six months I was told I needed to work for him and not apply for my dream job. I did as I wanted him to be happy with me. I worked and didn’t get paid. He became more and more controlling, showing signs of anger issues smashing things, and then I had my first miscarriage and he said nothing (I had another 4 and there wasn’t even one comforting word). I fell pregnant again finally and he pushed me – I ran away. We were in a strange city. I didn’t know where to go or who to go to and I had no money as I had worked for him for 3 years with no pay. I didn’t want to stress my parents. I returned. I prayed, and prayed…the abuse got worse and worse. My depression would get so bad there were times I would take a marker and write all over my body the horrible names, swear words and derogatory things he called me. The hurt and rejection ran so deep – I wanted to die so I didn’t need to feel the pain any more – but I was now the mum of 3 precious children. The abuse was physical, emotional, and psychological. I bought him parenting CDs to listen to on the way to work but he never opened a single one and 15 years later they went to the charity shop. I operated in a fog having been brainwashed by him that divorce was the very worst thing any child could experience as he was a victim of divorced parents. For 15 years I went from psychologist to counsellor, etc. all of them, Christian or not, wanted me to leave; I believed marriage was forever and continued to move from one to the next – I wanted to find the one who would tell me I could change enough to make it work. Finally our middle son ran away. My psychotherapist told me straight out to go home and research cycle of abuse. I was horrified. He attended some counselling with a woman who was a psychologist for a men’s DV course. He then told me he was fine and she said he didn’t need to do the DV course. Within a few weeks he had lurched at our youngest son, thrown a cup of coffee over me as I went to protect him. He told me he would financially destroy me if I left. Somehow I got him to leave. He organised some Christian counsellors, I believed him and they made me feel guilty and I took him back. That was the end of his efforts and the end of the counselling. But I didn’t give up. I would do anything to make our family work. We went to our pastor for counselling. Have more faith, pray more, etc, etc. He stopped physically abusing me but the emotional, psychological, spiritual abuse escalated and I wished that the physical would return as it was less painful. I asked him to move out, he told the pastor I wanted a divorce. I said to my pastor I think we need to separate to let him work on himself and so I can be mentally safe for my children. My pastor would not help me – he saw it as divorce. One day I told my husband I wished I hadn’t intervened when he had started communicating inappropriately with a work colleague as then I would have had Biblical grounds for divorce – he was infuriated and left us. This unfortunately upset my 14 year old so much – I was in turmoil. I had managed to make sure my children rarely witnessed the abuse. I had tried to present their father to them as a good father. I had organised outings and Dad dates for all of them while I stayed home, as we didn’t have a lot of money & couldn’t afford to all go. By the time he left, I was diagnosed with C-PTSD. For month after month I miraculously survived on no more than two hours of broken sleep a night. My body even resisted sleep medication as it didn’t feel I was safe at night which was when most of the abuse and violence took place. Our pastor did not check on us at all. Finally after months his wife sent a message. I shared with her that I felt they needed to look into domestic abuse counselling as normal couple counselling doesn’t work for abusive relationships – I explained how some of our pastor’s practices (eg. reading aloud my text messages asking for help when my husband was doing certain things in front of my husband during counselling sessions) made me feel unsafe. She followed up with sending me youtube clip after youtube clip on offence. Finally, we had another Christian counsellor and she told me to ask him to come home after deliverance prayer. No surprises how that has turned out. He didn’t commit to full submission to Jesus and the Word. We are now living separated under the same roof. I am under the care of a specialist Christian trauma counsellor with many decades experience. This week he reviewed the DV assessment I did with another counsellor somewhere along the line. My husband thoughtfully handed down his old mobile phone to me to use with photos of him with his arm around a young woman he invited to an important work function in another state without my knowing. It also had all the exchanges between him and the other woman. Finally, I was able to read these to another man – the trauma counsellor, who was able to validate my feelings that these exchanges while not explicit were inappropriate for a married man. I actually had Biblical reasons to divorce him without this but now I feel it is black and white. Suddenly, I feel the joy and the peace of the Lord again after 22 years, and I am so full of hope! I can suddenly sleep again! My husband never loved me. He couldn’t because he was so damaged by such self-centred parents and a history of adulterous men in his family. I am not his saviour – Jesus is but he refuses to choose Him – he would rather lose his family than his pride. He told me he would try again, when he was trying to get me to help him prepare for his friends he had invited over, but that I had to accept and love him unconditionally how he is. He told me God loves him just as he is and he doesn’t need to change. He said, “I haven’t read a marriage book in 20 years and I haven’t changed. I am not going to read a marriage book in the next 20 years, nor am I going to change.” I am studying again and will be finished when my youngest finishes high school. I will be able to look after myself financially since he used all my savings and used my property as security to purchase his business and a car. And, there will be no one to sabotage the work God has called me to do – to share the Gospel and bring the Good News to the broken. I am so grateful to God for this revelation and healing. I know He turns all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Please be gentle people. Abused women often put on the bravest most positive fronts. You will find them serving and helping others. They are trying to protect their children and others. Often they don’t even have the vocabulary that goes with domestic violence and abuse. They operate in a fog with an individual who is constantly manipulating and confusing them and making them look bad to their children. They are constantly walking on eggshells. They are often optimists, praying with faith and ever hopeful. If they confide in you – that in itself is a miracle and it may be a sign that they are in serious danger and can’t cope anymore – don’t ever minimise what they say or what is going on. One Christian friend told me that most marriages have a certain amount of abuse in them…..I can’t even begin to tell you the damage this did to me and to our friendship. Listen to these women, love them, support them and rally around them. I prayed, fasted, worshiped, leaned into the Word more and more, did everything my pastor told me, read books on being the submissive wife for over 20 years….I asked him for 10 minutes a day – it was all I needed to feel seen & make believe I was loved. He wouldn’t even give me that.

    Reply
  32. Rett

    What does the Bible say about divorce and abuse?
    “When a man chooses to be abusive, he breaks the covenant. An abusive man forfeits the right to remain married…” The third time the Bible commands divorce is in Ezra 9-10.

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  33. Cheryl Shay

    I was in an abusive marriage: then when I moved out my husband repented, found God and got sober… it took a lot of counseling in conjunction with a book written by a man entitled “ violent no more” all the verbal and emotional abuse needs to stop also! When he retired, he returned to drinking, and he did not treat me badly for four years, and for the end he started looking at me and glaring at me with a mean look in his eye, I was terrified of him. once the woman knows what they’re capable of all it takes is a slam door or an object thrown to terrify and control.. set the end, he smashed the stain glass in the front door. I called the cops to come out while I pack to move out. But one thing I like to tell people as often times, women are murdered when they try to leave. I actually witnessed a murder! The woman had moved in with her mother. She knocked on the door with flowers in one hand I got in the other she ran outside. He shot and killed her and then when attorney and I went to that lived in my neighborhood she specialized. She was getting ready to divorce her second husband. He just shot her and killed her and killed himself. City how women leave needs to be very safe in the domestic violence, shelters help women don’t like some women actually have to go into some kind of name change in witness protection.

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