Dare 29… Abuse and Persecution…

A few days ago, I received this in reference to my post on dealing with someone who verbally assaults you:

My husband has in the past referred to me as ‘a piece of skin that he uses for sex’. I was so hurt about this but still chose to extend grace to him and continued the relationship with all its benefits. This only served to make him more comfortable with his viciousness towards me, he interpreted it as a sign of weakness. Just last week he told me several times that I was an ugly B – and that I didn’t know how ugly I was and that I needed to have plastic surgery. He told me he was too good for me and that he and his whole family spoke about he could end up with someone as ugly as me after all the beautiful women he had dated. His words have made it so difficult for me to feel safe enough to be intimate with him and because of that he is labelling me an unchristian wife for not meeting his needs. This is a man who has not apologized or retracted any of the disgusting things he has said about me for the 4 years we have been married.

At what point does the grace you are trying to extend to your husband just amount to enabling him to abuse you further? If a husband has by his words or actions caused division in the marriage, should this be overlooked and should the wife still cater to his every need while he goes on behaving badly? While love is unconditional, are we honestly expected to allow our husband to treat us in as degrading a manner as they feel like and then continue to extend the benefits of marriage to them while they completely ignore their responsibilities to the marriage? Is that really being the helper God intended for him….because as much as you say it’s not….it still sounds like you’re asking us to be doormats….

I cried with her.

And prayed for her.

dishing judgment

But there is hope – he claims to be Christian. This beautiful girl is being verbally abused by the man who is supposed to cherish her. I don’t know what the other side looks like (there’s always two sides) but if this was me (and it’s not, so this may be worth what you paid for it, which is nothing) I’d confront him, Matthew 18-style. And I’d remember that God loves him, too, even though he is very unloving (to say the least) in his behavior. I’d also remember that his words were lies, inspired by the enemy, and that he was being useful to satan – but only if I let him.

Given his behavior, he sounds REALLY immature. So even the gentlest of respectful confrontations in response to another cutting remark, ie: “Honey, I’m sure you don’t mean to demean me with your words, but they hurt me and I feel diminished as a person when you say them. Please stop,” will probably only serve to make him more angry.

But it is worth doing, because he claims to be Christian. And this is what the Word tells us to do when a brother sins against us, and this man’s behavior seems seriously damaging. And sometimes, Love must be tough. Jesus-style.

I know that my communication suggestions upset and offend – but when have you ever argued someone into behaving like a Christian? Or becoming one? Either the Word is true or it is not. And if it’s not to you, then none of what I suggest is going to do anything but irritate you anyway. “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1. The entire book of How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie and The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute and a whole host of other communication and human relations books are based on these principles.

Smart negotiators do not stir up anger.

Smart communicators don’t either.

This stuff is all in the Bible, and in The Respect Dare, and in 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage (my new book).

It’s not “sugar coating” or “schmoozing” unless your heart is manipulative. It is called “good human relations” and it’s fifteen levels above “please” and “thank you.”

Anyway…

So when/if it doesn’t go well, she can escalate things to the next step in Matthew 18, which is to have the conversation in front of a witness. A counselor, another Christian man he respects, but SOMEONE ELSE needs to be there. And then she will need a ton of girlfriend time – because unless he sees the light from that encounter, he may get even more angry.

And then, when/if she sees his lack of repentance, and lack of change, she needs to involve her church leadership – as in their pastor, a wise elder or two, etc. She might be met with a beautiful outcome like this woman was when she confronted her husband about his pornography use. He also wrote a post about his experience.

Unfortunately, few women are brave enough to take this step. And few churches will handle this well. But they should.

He may respond with even more anger – but at least she’ll know what she’s dealing with. A growing Christian man will feel saddened for hurting his bride and likely change his behavior at step 2, often at step 1. One who may have head knowledge but no fruit leaves her with the “treat him like pagans and tax collectors” verse – which may mean “know what you are dealing with” but stay in relationship, or depending on her circumstances, if she is afraid (and men often become violent after the progression of verbal abuse) she may need to separate for a while (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) with the purposes of working on the marriage and restoration.

And sorry, no I don’t buy only the “shun” interpretation. This passage is in MATTHEW. He was a tax collector. Do the math.

I also don’t buy that it is only for “church discipline.” The original texts did not contain the headings that have been added.  And yes, I know there are those that will disagree with me, saying that it is un-submissive for a woman to confront her husband’s sin. Bet Sepphira wishes she would have.

I’ve seen women called by God to endure the most horrific of circumstances, things we in the west don’t often face. Just a few days ago, Christian men were lined up and executed in front of their wives and children, who were then taken captive to be used as human shields in Iraq by Isis. Children are being beheaded. This is real. It’s been going on for weeks. Christians have always suffered persecution for their faith, and so we shouldn’t be surprised when it shows up even today, even in the average American home.

Yes, I’m tying these things together.

We are in a war. And I believe, sure as I’m sure I’m breathing, that this country needs an army of women to gently, quietly, bravely stand for the Truth, to be ambassadors for Christ in their homes. Jesus-style, with gentleness, kindness, boldness, and bravery, to model Him to others – especially these men who like think they are Christians (and may be) but treat their wives in such horrible ways (and worse – oh so much worse).

The answer is always the same – know God. Make your relationship with Him your number one priority. He will lead you into battle, whether it is on your knees in prayer (always), or in gentle confrontations with the man who says he believes but is mean to you and your kids, or whether it is leaving for a while so you can all be safe.

Let us not kid ourselves – we watching an age of persecution begin – and understand some of it is already hitting America. Pray for your husbands – that they fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. Know Him deeply yourself.

And while we are at it, please, please, pray for our sisters and brothers and their children in Iraq.

It is all part of the journey. I hate that sometimes. But I’m really glad you are here. I hope you are subscribed – I’m putting together a little video on conflict that I can’t wait to share with you next week! And I’m sorry that I didn’t blog specifically on Dare 29 this week. However, if you check the link (also referred to above) you’ll see how confrontation played into one woman’s experience of pornography addiction with her husband. It’s amazing what God did.

Would love to hear your thoughts on all this today…

Love to you,

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titus 2 women leadership

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

26 thoughts on “Dare 29… Abuse and Persecution…

  1. Ive been married 20 years, my husband has flown into angry outbursts and treated me poorly infront of the children all of those years, now at 18 and 19–they lack respect for him. He recently suffered a stroke and I am caring for him much of the time. He still has outbursts claiming that I dont do enough or am “so perfect”….The marriage is a mess, I do not feel respect for him–but instead feel responsible for him due to the vows we took. Can this thing be salvaged? He is a christian but not mature

    • Barb,
      I am so sorry that your husband has suffered a stroke. I pray that God will use this to soften his heart.
      You ask if this thing can be salvaged. I say YES! It can not only be salvaged but can be SO much better than what you are accustom to. It can even become loving, fun, inspiring, and he can become your friend.
      Will it be easy? No. Will it be fun? Probably not. Will it seem normal? No. Will it be worth it? In my opinion, YES!
      My husband suffered an accident over 15 years ago that cost him his ability to ever work again, so I can understand living with a man who has that taken from him in a heartbeat.
      I found The Respect Dare and started it. I struggled. I quit. I tried again. Then I found Daughters of Sarah. We were actually separated while I took the class. It changed me and our marriage so much that what we have now looks nothing like our old life. It wasn’t easy, it was DOWN RIGHT HARD! I had support from other women who encouraged me to keep working at my marriage. Our children are now 33 and 34. They have seen such a change in their father. He gas a relationship with them and their children that would have never been possible before.
      So give God a chance to do a miracle in your life and his. I’m glad I did.
      Love to you,
      Stefanie

  2. I think this is ridiculous. Too many times women suffer in silence and in the name of God. My bets are always on God. Things don’t get handled properly in the church and there is nothing you can do about it. I think common sense and a good domestic violence course is in order.

    • I’m sorry that you feel things don’t get handled properly in the church. I found that in my case my church was very supportive to me AND to my husband. They loved us both enough to bring to us the things we each needed to work on. I did attend a domestic violence support group. They did give me good ideas and supported me however they did not encourage me to try to reconcile with my husband. I knew that God had directed me to leave him with the intent to work things out. We did and we are happier now than we have ever been. In fact, I never even imagined marriage could look like it does to me now. If I had ignored the church and only listened to the support group, I would be divorced and miserable. I pray that God would lead you to this type of church fellowship.

      • Thank you for that prayer. Yeah, I admit I am disillusioned and cynical about the church at this moment. I know there are good churches and people out there! I just had to make some proactive choices of my own for a change. Up until last summer I did what I was told all my life! I can’t believe God ever intended for me to
        Love that way. I’m thinking for myself.

    • If he is a Christian and she’s already done step 1 of Matthew 18, then she has a trusted Christian friend who understands Matthew 18 (preferably male, btw) sit in on and mediate a discussion between them. If he still treats her like this, she then goes to her pastor or an elder at her church that can mediate discussion between the two of them. If he still continues in his treatment, she treats him “like the pagans,” which then causes us to look at 1 Peter 3:1-6, and 1 Corinthians 7:11, which specifically tell wives to have a gentle and quiet spirit about them with the unsaved husband, and that she should not leave, but if she does (which means sometimes she might – and I’ve seen God tell wives to do this) it is for the purpose of restoration. If he leaves her, however, she is free to remarry.

      Praying for whomever your question is about.

      Love to you,
      Nina

    • Get to know Christ better. Daily, on her face style. God will show up and provide answers. 🙂
      Love the question. 🙂
      Love to you!
      Nina

  3. God absolutely loves women. I think many times men see women through the eyes of man. Where women are less. But in God’s eyes we are all equal.
    Women gotta be very very careful Who they marry. Because the man they marry becomes their protector. You gotta Ask yourself is this the man I want protecting me? Is this the man I want to submit to till death?
    I tell my husband there is NO other man I could have married that I could have submited to, only him:) That’s why God gave me him:) He make it easy to submit since he’s such a good man.
    Submission is protection. So those who are not married yet…. be careful. Be wise. And stay on your knees while you wait on God to bring you the right protector.

  4. I have a verbal abuser I am married to. He is a yeller in front of our 4 year old. I asked him not to do those things in front of her because she is afraid. I thought he was acting this way b/c he has not worked all the years (4) that we have been married. We went to counseling and my pastor wanted us to do a love dare kind thing (his book) and come back after completing it. My husband assured my Pastor he would coorperate but has not. He now has a job and he still acts this way. I was the breadwinner all the years and now he barely wants to contribute to the household bills. In the bible it says if a man dont work he dont eat. Well it is beyond that. I get accused of affairs with other men and women at work. He stays out late at night and come home accusing. When I confronted him and shared how he makes me feel, he goes into yelling mode I am truly feeling like a doormat.

    • Ne Ne, I am glad you are here.

      And I’m sorry you are going through this. Might I suggest a few things? First, be blameless – get respect down in your behaviors. Here’s a post that will help with that: http://ninaroesner.com/for-wives/101-ways-to-respect-your-husband/

      Second, grab this book: Crucial Accountability by Joseph Grenny and a few other authors. They are Mormon, just a heads up, but the methods they teach are Biblical and respectful.

      Confrontation needs to be done in a specific way from a respectful person communicating in an environment where the other person can hear. These things are Biblical – and they work.

      Praying for you,
      Nina

      • Sorry Nina, but I have to respond to your reference to Morman books being biblical. They make mimic some biblical things but Mormonism is a false religion and as Christ followers we should have nothing to do with their teachings. I’m sure that there are christian authors out there with suitable materials that are truly biblical.

        • Cathy – thanks for the opportunity to clarify. I don’t mean to imply that Mormon books and the Bible are the same. Any book that talks about kindness could be sooke n about as having a Biblical principle, but that doesnt make the faith of the author Biblical – just that lrinciple. I can totally understand your concern about cults. I don’t, however believe that it is acceptable to label everything that is non-Christian as false or evil(and I know you didn’t say that, but it can be a thing for some) because then we would have to throw modern medicine and a ton of other good things that I believe God created out.

          I am not going to get into a huge debate about this, but I have studied the Bible extensively and know what it says about how to treat others and how to communicate. The Grenny materials, while not of my faith, line up with Biblical principles. They also don’t talk about their religion and I doubt anyone will become converted as a result of reading one of these business books.

          At my core, I believe we all need to know God and the Bible so well that truth can be discerned from secular materials, regardless of the faith of the authors.

          I put the caveat in my post, however, because there are those people who cannot even be exposed to certain things without heading down a path that isn’t Truth. We are wise to make good decisions based on what we know and know we don’t know about our faith. Having said all that, however, I also believe that our God has created everything good, and His Truth will eventually be seen by many, and recognized, regardless of their faith. He is too big.

          Modern medicine is a great example of this. If my child is going to have very specialized surgery, and 2 out of 3 of them have, I care most about the skills of the surgeon – trusting that God’s excellence is going to be in him, regardless of his faith – as compared to only having a Christian surgeon operate, even if he was good. I want the specialist.

          This has given our family a ton of opportunities to witness to some brilliant but non believing people who are gifted by God. And yes it was the case where only 4 people in the US did the surgeries my kids needed – if that makes sense. Yes, God could have healed our kids regardless, but we “just happened” to live in the city where one of these people practices. 🙂

          I am not saying Grennys work is comparable to that of a specialized surgeon, but maybe we can agree that good is good regardless of what human wrote it, and all good comes from God.

          He IS good. He creates it. Anyway, my 2 cents, maybe worth what you paid for it, which was nothing! LOL

          And I am serious – go read Crucial Conversations and find me a Christian author who is as concise and clear and has these Biblical principles (they do line up – not Mormanism, but the book contents) communicated as clearly. I will be happy to give credit and recommend a fellow Christian author. I just haven’t seen them, even though I’ve seen a lot.

          But I haven’t seen all – so I look forward to hearing from you!

          Love to you,
          Nina

          • Nina, I’ve read the books also and they don’t speak to religion at all. If God can use rocks and donkeys, He can use someone of another faith to speak truth even if the speaker doesn’t know he’s being used. They are very helpful books. My copy of Crucial Conversations has a waiting list at my work. 🙂

  5. I think that until you live with a very narcissistic, emotionally abusive husband it’s too easy to say be respectful but not a doormat. Do you not understand that a man like this will view speaking up even in respectful ways as being disrespectful? And they believe that you are disrespectful if you dare disagree with them. They believe that submission is for making you do whatever they want. There’s no reasoning or understanding with them. They refuse to listen to counsel or church leaders. I highly recommend the books by Leslie Ve rnick to helpunderstand tthis issue better.

    • We do, and we fully agree. Leslie Vernick has some awesome resources. We’ve referred to them in the past, and you are right to recommend them here. And you are also right in that you can’t reason with a foolish man. Limits and consequences are often the only things that “work.” For us to ignore Biblical advice, however, and not speak the truth in love (and most people don’t even understand what that looks like), doesn’t give both people the opportunity to be a witness. We can have difficult but truthful confrontation that doesn’t result in abusive behavior by others – I have seen masterful women do this and have done if a few times myself. Fear often makes women doormats – while understandable, we are not to be afraid. I’m sorry if my post offended you or gave you the impression that women are to submit to abusive behavior. Fighting back doesn’t solve the problem, either, but operating in the Spirit (Who is not a wuss) does. I think I need to write a post to clarify.
      Glad you stopped by.
      Nina

  6. My husband is a kidder/joker. Many times his jokes cross a line. I am not the only one he does it to so I know its not personal.. He does it to his sisters and his friends.. We have had serious conversations about it, when he has gone too far with me.. He says sorry and tries for a little bit to be better. He reverts though, as we all do with our behavior.. Gentle reminders usually work, but sometimes I feel like I am pulling my hair out

  7. I have lived this life, and spoke to numerous priests along the way. My husband only changed or even acknowledged a problem after I left for awhile. Separation with the intent to repair the relationship is ok . The church does NOT support staying ina relationship that is abusive and verbal abuse hurts as much as physical. There are rules for marriage and what u descibe is not a marriage. Love is separating with the intent to work on YOU AND working on the relationship. I am praying for u both.

  8. Nina, my first thought when I read this was to tell her that she should leave him, live elsewhere, for her own safety. But you are probably more right to suggest a Matthew 18 approach. If that doesn’t work, I believe separation could then come, and she will have done literally everything she could do to make things work.

    There may be more to this story, but I can’t imagine what.

  9. Needed THIS today. This is tough stuff. It is easier to be a doormat than to confront your husband’s sin. I feel like i’m not showing grace and God’s love(unconditional) to husband.
    Thank you for listening to the leading of the holy spirit because you have no idea how much you helped me and many others Nina.

    • Huiying –

      Yes. It IS easier sometimes. There is a fine line between doing our own thing and obeying Him, sometimes. Just continue to grow in Him, and do not be afraid. Know God, He will lead and confirm. And in the middle, be sure to respect your husband, encourage him, etc. Love has two sides, a “hard” side and a “soft” side. It must have both to glorify God.

      Love to you, beautiful. SO glad you are here! 🙂
      ~Nina

      • I also agree that at times it was easier to be the doormat. What I have found, after separation, tough love, and reconciliation, is that what I have now is an open and honest relationship with my husband. There is respect and love on both sides.

        Thank you for speaking the hard truths to us at times.

        The Respect Dare and Daughters of Sarah taught me so much about myself and gave me strength and courage to regain my dignity and self-worth. I can now love as Christ commands me too.

        Stef

  10. I do not know the total situation, so it is hard to comment. I would just say: That hurt my feelings. If he laughs (or whatever) I would still say “That still hurt my feelings.” I do not think I would discuss it further that that. It seems like the marriage needs some work. Is there ANYTHING he does right, that she could appreciate? Does he go to work? Does he take out the garbage? Does he fix the car/truck/whatever? I would just start appreciating what he does do right. Maybe he feels he can’t do anything right, and has resorted to name-calling. Also, is she looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for approval, or trying to get it from her husband. It usually does not work when we want our husbands approval more than God’s approval. Also, does she have women friends she can hang out with occasionally – a cup of coffee, an exercise class, a walk, or whatever. It helps to have alternative sources of “getting validation”. It should be a friend who has a husband and is respectfull to him. Just a few ideas. A few good books that could help are: Love must be tough by James Dobson. He also has a CD set called Love Must Be Tough from Focus on the Family. Plus, any books on Respect. Stop looking at what hubby is/isn’t doing and start doing/being what I need to do/be. I do have power over my thinking, behaviour, and actions. I do not have power over someone else. Gee, I guess I have more than a few thoughts – mostly learned “the hard way”.

    • I completely agree – and am so glad you said all these things. We are to be respectful, regardless of his behavior, but ALSO not doormats. So glad you reminded us of the positives we are still to love, as we are followers of Christ.

      Love to you,
      Nina

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