“Are you withholding sex from your marriage? A man needs to have sex every 72 hours, and if you are not available that could be one of the reasons why your marriage is having such problems.”
I sat in the chair with my mouth dropped open to this pastor’s counseling words, and left the office more dismayed than when I entered it. I could not believe his preposterous statement. We had been attending the small church for over a year and it had taken me some time to get comfortable enough to go to the pastor for help. The pastor agreed to “counsel us” but after I left his office, I felt very little hope.
I had unwittingly signed up for an abusive marriage; the problems began almost immediately after the wedding. Though there was never any physical abuse, the verbal and emotional blows to me as a person were equally devastating, except unlike physical abuse; the wounding left deep scarring that seldom healed.
My expressions of feelings of despair and heartache were ignored and easily dismissed with.
“Hey, I’m perfectly happy. You’re the one with the problem.” Another time he said. “I don’t know what your problem is, I don’t beat you.” He did emotionally!
Of course he was happy. He was the one doing the lying, cheating, drinking, gambling, manipulating, controlling, criticizing, partying, ignoring, avoiding, abusing and oppressing.
What kept me in such a destructive marriage? The three children I adored and the lack of family support. I had a baby and two other kids, all barely under five at that time.
And because I was raised in a home lacking any sort of love, but full of verbal, emotional and physical abuse; it took me a while to realize just how destructive my marriage was. I can’t think of a time in over fifteen years that I felt loved in that marriage.
At first, I lived in denial, thinking all I had to do was to try harder, then later I kept the peace by sacrificing my needs and stuffing the pain. For the sakes of my kids and my own sanity, I placated and submitted myself to that kind of life. After a while, resentment, indifference and bitterness arose.
I was in the ideal environment to be victimized. I had no supportive family whatsoever. The misery of my marriage kept me in a state of deep depression, along with the busy life of being the real sole caretaker for my three small children; I was alienated from possible friends and support.
My terribly lonely life consisted of, from morning to night: cooking, cleaning, feeding the baby, diapering, laundry, child care, and washing dishes since we had no dishwasher. The kids were always clean, well dressed and well cared for. The house was descent. Dinner was always on time, yet when my former husband came home all he noticed was the basket of laundry dumped on the unfolded laundry on the bed, or the few toys on the living room floor.
That’s when I finally went to the pastor of the church for help.
After a couple of “counseling” sessions, even my husband was taken aback by the pastor’s odd attitude.
“I don’t get it,” he said, “I admitted several times that you have been a great wife and that I have been the problem in this marriage, and that everything you have been saying is true yet he still keeps asking you what you are doing to be the Proverbs 31 Woman. He hardly seems to hear what I say.”
At first, I thought it really was just me, but after that comment from the man doing the abusing, I cancelled any further sessions.
The man who was supposed to be my advocate was just another accuser I did not need in my life.
It seems that today there are many people who have a problem recognizing emotional and verbal abuse as domestic violence, but it is a domestic violence just the same. This especially happens in churches when women are told to submit, to love anyway, to die to one’s self, to turn the other cheek; while the abusers, the husbands, gets away scot free. Though I have seen it the other way where the woman abuses the husband, for this article I concentrated on the husband being the abuser since that is what I experienced in my marriage.
In the Old Testament times, women were often treated as if they were just barely above animals and still are in some countries. However, God is very clear as to how a husband is to treat his wife.
Husbands love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1st Peter 3:7
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church. Ephesians 5:28-29
Sadly, many husbands don’t realize that when they are impatient, and give their wives angry looks, and speak with irritated and harsh tones, they wound their wives and negatively affect how their wives feel about them.
Years later, after the divorce and a terrible time of raising the kids on my own with no child support, I lost heart and became the seed that sprouts amidst thorns. My growth was stunted. My Christian walk took a detour down Prodigal Lane. I was stuck in a very unhealthy relationship and could just not break away from it no matter how hard I tried.
I had not been to church in several years. Eager to get my heart right with God, I visited one particular church with a friend and was deeply moved to rededicate my heart to the Lord after the pastors touching message.
Desperate for support to break from this relationship, I went to talk to one of the church counselors the following week. I told her I really needed prayer and asked to have the pastor anoint me with oil and pray over me. (James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.)
I told her about my struggle raising my kids without any type of support and on my menial wages, and of other struggles I had; and I told her about my relationship with this man and how badly I wanted out but couldn’t seem to break the bond. I considered my inability to break off the relationship like a sickness.
“The pastor is a busy man but I can pray for you. As for the relationship, you’re just going to have to make up your mind to get out of it on your own. I don’t see how I can help you there. And if you are looking for money, we don’t have any we can give you so I hope that’s not why you’re here.” She said this with a very icy and unsympathetic heart.
Once more, I sat in the chair with my mouth dropped open and left the office more dismayed than when I entered it. I felt hopeless; she treated me as if I was a drug addicted person looking for my next fix. I was desperate for support but did not return to any church for several years.
Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 15-22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
James 5:16a Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
Ephesians 4:1-3 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Luke 22:26 But not so with you. Rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
As fellow blogger Jennifer mentioned in the comment below, the story does have a good ending. Though both of those experiences were very hurtful, it did not keep me from eventually going back to church. With much hesitancy, I finally decided to try again and I am glad. We now go to a church with a terrific pastor and staff. I know a handful of people who have been deeply wounded, so wounded that they have never been able to get past it and go back to church. And that is a terrible shame.
The words of these verses say a lot of how God feels about those situations.
Ezekiel 34:4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.
Matthew 23:23-24 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2014 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.