Posted in Abuse, faith, feminism, Home, Leadership, Social Media, women

Will Amy Barrett become a Supreme Court Judge?

When I heard that President Trump was nominating Amy Barrett for the Supreme Court I thought two things, he’s ticking the “female” box–this should please some people, and the media is going to shred her.

Even so, it has surprised me how mean-spirited the media can be and how low they are willing to stoop and how they are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. I mean, claiming that adopting children from Haiti is somehow a sign of racism? The article was rather entertaining but I don’t want to promote it here.

So, forget that she is a woman. Let’s attack her motherhood. This gaslighting is now happening to other parents who have adopted children of color who are asking–are we racist? It’s insanity.

Another really amazing article drew attention to who attended one of her speeches–someone from a non-profit labeled “hate group.” Gasp! I’m sure that people from “hate groups” never attend speeches of Democrat judges.

And then it seemed really significant that she goes to a church that adheres to the belief of a husband being the head of a family, as if this accomplished judge was somehow oppressed in her career or personal life by the obviously supportive husband and father of her children. Another more balanced article related that Ms. Barrett manages her hectic life with the help of her husband who picks up the slack at home. But that won’t make headlines.

Yes, her every move and word will be under scrutiny. Maybe there will be a Facebook post from twelve years ago…. Incidentally, my web browser–duckduckgo–reported the other day that it blocked Facebook from tracking me. How does Facebook even know I exist after I deleted my account a year ago?

I wish these vultures would look in the mirror. They really are ugly. They might take note that by maligning a woman, a mother, a person of considerable accomplishment and apparent integrity, they are presenting as a foil and this may, in actuality, serve in Ms. Barrett’s favor. As a matter of fact, there were those warning the media not to be too vicious as this might backfire, but they can’t help themselves.

It really makes one wonder about the character of these reporters and those who are endorsing their behavior. It looks suspiciously like they are a “hate group,” and will stop at nothing to prevent Amy Barrett from becoming a Supreme Court Judge.

Foil character:  A foil character is any character in literature that, through his or her actions and words, highlights and directly contrasts the personal traits, qualities, values, and motivations of another character.

Posted in Abuse, Children, Coronavirus, COVID-19, parenting

Is the Coronavirus Judgment?

clinicOn March 24 LifeSite News reported Pope Francis saying, in a March 22 interview, that the coronavirus pandemic is nature throwing a tantrum ‘so that we will take care of nature’. Coincidentally, I just read the headline of an article in which Joe Biden similarly called the coronavirus panic “a wake-up call to climate change.” Have they heard from the same prophet?

Melanie Phillips’ responded to the Pope’s statement with incredulity. She said he was essentially, “investing the earth with the capacity to make moral judgments.” Phillips explains that, “At a philosophical level, environmentalism anthropomorphizes the earth as ‘Gaia’, investing the natural world with supernatural qualities as some kind of goddess to be worshipped.”

We run into a problem when the earth becomes a goddess. What sort of obeisance or sacrifice does this goddess require? What will satisfy her?

Al Gore, a prominent climate change proponent, endorsed Biden on Earth Day, April 22. One of the core tenets of climate change, according to Gore, is population control. The whole premise behind climate control is control of human behavior based on the belief that humans damage the environment. Hence, population control through any number of means.

Reducing the population of the earth through human controls sounds sinister, to say the least.

Patricia MacCormack, a professor of continental philosophy at Angelia Ruskin University, has written a book The Ahuman Manifesto: Activism for the End of the Anthropocene, in which, according to the Cambridge News, she “argues that due to the damage done to other living creatures on Earth, we should start gradually phasing out reproduction.” A LifeSite News article reads,

Mainstream radio programs regularly host long discussion with people who have decided not to have children to preserve the planet for the children, and MacCormack is just a bit ahead of the curve.

The article also contributes the following:

Not so very long ago, the term “death cult” was considered to be a sinister term, not an aspirational description of the human race. MacCormack may be fringe for the moment, but she is the future of climate change activism: Actively hostile to the human race, and an advocate of “phasing out reproduction.”

I think, if anything, the coronavirus is judgment directed at our moral bankruptcy and hostility towards the human race.

Remove purpose and morality and population control can spin out of control. Existential nihilism is the belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. It is logically followed by moral nihilism, the assertion that morality does not exist at all. Nihilism will make monsters of us all when we have nothing to live for and no compass for right or wrong.

An example of this is the callous controversy we witnessed this past year over care for live births after failed abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood has been in court on charges of profiting from sales of fetal tissue for fetal cell research. In 2016 there were 186 abortions in the US for every 1000 live births with over 1% happening after 18 weeks. In Sweden midwives failed to gain the right to refuse to perform abortions.

We are losing our moral compass. Take, for example, the cutting of provincial funding for a hospice centre in BC that will not provide assisted dying.

Around the world children are at home with their parents as schools are closed due to the pandemic. Here is an article about action parents recently took in the UK to protect their children in schools. If you want to read more of what is happening in our schools you can go here, here and here.

Another matter of concern we saw recently was the movie Unplanned being called “propaganda.” Theaters refused to show it or severely limited showings. It received an R rating, which is ironic, since a girl of 15 can have an abortion without adult consent, but she cannot watch the true story, sensitively presented, of Abby Johnson who was once the Executive Director of a Planned Parenthood clinic and turned pro-life.

Two other, specifically Canadian issues have stood out for me as well. Trinity Western University in the province of British Columbia fought a court battle to open a law school and lost because their student handbook indicates that students are to “adhere to a covenant allowing sexual intimacy only between a married man and woman.” The other involved an attestation supporting abortion and homosexuality that had to be signed by applicants for summer student jobs, including charitable organizations and churches. An opinion article describes how our religious protections are deteriorating.

We have seen inhumane backlash against Professor Jordan Peterson author of Maps of Meaning and Twelve Rules for Life, and Lindsay Shepherd a T.A. who was disciplined in November of 2017 for showing a clip of Peterson for discussion in a Wilfrid Laurier University class. Peterson objected to Bill C-16 as an infringement on free speech. We were told that the bill would not “criminalize pronoun misuse” however this is now being disproved by our courts.

Canadian leaders have turned a blind eye to blatant human rights abuses and the pre-meditated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate, in the interest of trade agreements. Government interference with justice in the case SNC Lavalin bribery scandal was unprecedented.

Our liberal prime minister can do no wrong. He can accuse others of racism but be excused for black-face, and groping. He refuses to show his face when a convoy of truckers from Alberta arrive at his doorstep and yet he can easily fly to Vancouver to march in a Pride Parade. Truckers who wanted to draw attention to job losses in the oil industry due to government decisions were maligned as giving a platform for hate.

There is no end of individuals and groups being accused of hate and de-platformed for their conservative views. Even I was threatened by Facebook when I posted an alternate view on Climate Change and a link to a letter sent to the UN by 500 scientists. Facebook warned that they would “reduce my distribution” if I posted the link. This to me was a huge red flag regarding the powers behind the climate change message. I have since left Facebook.

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The bias of “Sensitivity readers” is now determining what can and cannot be published in Canada. Read this revealing article about what is happening as our institutions of learning censor publication.

Family values are trodden underfoot every day and every form of deviation is allowed and encouraged in the media. There is a consorted effort to socially condition our children in schools, beginning in kindergarten. Parental opposition is not welcome. Sex education in schools is suddenly funded and controlled by the ARC Foundation without parental knowledge or consultation (in a pilot project in BC in 2017) and those who have questions or objections are vilified in the media.

In Canada we face the introduction of Bill S-202 banning conversion therapy and making it “illegal to advertise conversion therapy services and to obtain a financial or other material benefit for the provision of conversion therapy to anybody under the age of 18, and punishable by up to five years in prison.” In other words, if a trans person wants to change back to their biological gender, anyone offering counsel could be imprisoned for doing so. In the meantime a father has been told in court, regarding his daughter, that “referring to AB as a girl or with female pronouns whether to him directly or to third parties; shall be considered to be family violence.” Medical doctors have to change the way they practice because the view they once held of what it is to be male and female was “incompatible with human dignity.” 

Of all of these, my greatest concern is for children and the fact that Planned Parenthood and LGBT lobbyists have more say over what children are taught in schools than parents. Even the courts are no longer making judgments in the interests of the family. Weaponizing “progressive” gender ideology against parents and families is of paramount concern. Check out the IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Bisexual, and Intersex Association) website to see the level of organization and aggressive action being taken, using the United Nations as the instrument of implementation world-wide. These are the bodies of influence behind Bill S-202 which can result in parents being imprisoned for any attempt “to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or to eliminate or reduce sexual attraction or sexual behaviour between persons of the same sex.” See the Canadian government website as this bill had its first reading on December 10, 2019.

Yes, it could be that the coronavirus is judgment. Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” I hear that dying of the the coronavirus can be like choking and drowning. Judgment happens when God’s wrath is incurred. It could be that the cup of his wrath has steadily filled up and has begun to overflow. The spread of this virus, world-wide, may be what judgment looks like. If it is, then things could get much worse. The only antidote is repentance, turning from our wicked ways and returning to God’s righteous standard.

Note: Scripture is sourced from biblegateway.com and found in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:12

Posted in Abuse, addictions, anxiety, domestic violence, Love, Marriage & Family, Self Regulation, women

Reducing the Likeliness of Domestic Violence

horse ridersAs a person with training in counseling, I am writing this for adults in a relationship that tends towards abuse. Tensions rise to a point where there is a real threat of violence.

First I want to explain that violence is not just hitting. It is also shoving and restraining and blocking. Here I will deal with preventing escalation to physical violence. I acknowledge that emotional abuse is occurring in these situations as well. Below are starting points for resolving conflict that escalates. This is by no means a complete anti-dote, but it could provide some help in certain areas.

  1. Triggers. We all have triggers. These are the areas where we are sensitive. We can get angry when someone triggers us. Knowing someone’s triggers can help us to avoid going there. Triggers are areas that need work. However, the work takes a lot of time and effort, usually under the guidance of a counselor. In the short therm, certain confrontations can be avoided if we think ahead about not triggering someone in their sensitive areas.
  2. Bait. If your partner baits you, this is a pathological relationship. This is not normal. This personality actually wants an opportunity to act hostile and feels the need to be abusive. This is a relationship you have to plan to leave. You are dealing with a dangerous person so you will need to plan your exit carefully.
  3. Impatience. A lot of flare-ups can be traced to impatience. Someone reaches the end of their fuse. The answer is to get a longer fuse. The person with the short fuse needs to see this is their problem. Practicing patience can make a big difference. Learn to give the other person more time, more space, more understanding.
  4. Inappropriate Entitlement. We are entitled to respect. But this is not a one-way street. Both are equally entitled. Neither has the right to be demanding.
  5. Competition. A little bit of competition can be healthy. It becomes unhealthy when one person cannot tolerate losing, or being seen as less competent.
  6. Put-downs, insults. Look beneath this kind of behavior. It is a form of non-physical violence that attacks another’s person. Why are you putting the other person down? In some cases this is a bad habit that needs to be broken. It may be how someone was raised, and they don’t know better. They might not even know how their words are effecting the other person. Deflecting by saying you were joking when you hurt someone is a further form of aggression. Ask each other, how much truth is there behind these words? Does the person intend to be cutting? Also examine whether this is in fact a reaction to words or behavior that hurt them earlier? It is not easy to stop any form of aggressive or inappropriate behavior. It requires a person to humbly admit they have a problem and then commit to changing.
  7. Blame. The blame game is never a winning game. Figure out what is the problem, not who is the problem. Focus on solving one problem at a time. Address other issues at a later date.

What are some positive preventative actions to take?

  1. Be kind. Think of considerate things to do for the other person. Do them out of the goodness of your heart, without expecting anything in return.
  2. Give a compliment. People who abuse others tend to have a distorted view of themselves which is often the consequence of how they were treated by others, especially as children. They have developed various forms of coping with feelings of unworthiness. Show you value the person. Compliment good qualities. Start with, I liked how you. I like that you….When you did that it made me happy. People are starved for words of affirmation.
  3. Listen. Listen well. Let the other person finish. Let them express their complete thoughts. Then respond with, Thank you for sharing that. Or, I’m glad you told me how that impacted you.
  4. Empathize. Say things like, That must have been difficult for you to do/witness/go through. Or, I’m sorry that happened to you.

This is only a beginning. Your relationship is at a low point and will take a lot of work to rebuild. It may also be a situation you need to leave, for your own safety.

Understanding how vulnerable your partner may feel, can help you to be supportive. Just because a person is tough on the outside does not mean they feel that way on the inside. If a person is pathological, meaning they do not experience normal feelings of empathy for others and actually gravitate towards violence to get them high then you need to get out of that relationship. However, a lot of progress can be made when two people are willing to work at their relationship by being more open, communicating what you both want in your relationship, and showing you are for the other person.

It must be understood, and expressed to your partner, that violence will not be tolerated. In other words, “I love you and want to be with you, but if you continue to behave in this way, then I will have to leave you.” If you need to say this, then you also mean to follow through.

One last thing, which is by no means the least of problems, is the influence of mind-altering substances like alcohol. Alcohol tends to bring out the worst. If this exacerbates the problem in your relationship you can say, “You lose control of yourself and become a different person when you drink. When you drink to excess, you make me afraid.” In a normal relationship one partner will not want to cause the other person to be afraid and will in fact be willing to take steps to move the relationship in a positive direction.

Harmful behavior must not be allowed to continue. However, moving towards a more consistently loving and caring relationship will require commitment and hard work. It may be well worth it if there is an underlying desire to be together. Your future years together can be better than your past.

Posted in Abuse, addictions, Drugs, Food, Health, mental health

Don’t Make Choices That Will Weaken You

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Each day we choose our path. We make choices. There are things we can choose that will enhance the type of future we will have. It is essential to our wellbeing to look down the road and think long term.

There may be small things we do that make a difference. For instance, I order water to drink at a restaurant. As a result I have not only saved a lot of money over the years, but I have avoided sugars and empty calories. When I have the option of salad or fries, I most often order salad. If I have the choice between whole grain or white bread, I order whole grain. My body thanks me for giving it the nutrients it wants and needs. My nails and hair are healthy looking and my skin is clear.

I try to keep a calm home because I like it that way. I try to be organized and prepared. This takes planning, but then my life turns out the way I want it to be.

I know the high price of addictive substances, particularly in terms of physical and mental deterioration. I don’t want to dumb down my ability to think clearly. I don’t want my cognitive ability to be impaired, so I stay away from these substances. I add to my life those things that make me feel balanced and in control. I keep a record of how I am being affected by what I allow.

Life is hard, but it is better when we make choices that strengthen us.

Posted in Abuse, Church, Communication, faith, LGBT, Love, Marriage & Family

My Thoughts on Letter from Farris to Harris

This letter was published on July 27, 2019, open to the public, on Michael Farris’ Facebook page. See my comments below.

Josh,

My first memory of you was in Olympia, Washington standing in my driveway as a grinning kid when you were about nine years old. I saw you many times as your dad and I spoke at many conferences over the years.

How can I forget that meeting in the lobby of a hotel in Rochester, New York when you told me you had signed a book deal for “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”? I told you it was a bad title and wouldn’t sell. Of course, it outsold everything I have ever written by a wide margin.

The last time I saw you was at your dear mother’s funeral. (I can’t recall if you were at your brothers’ graduation from Patrick Henry College.)

We knew each other very well for many years. And I loved you like a younger brother. And still do.

It is established here that their friendship goes back a long way. It was a caring relationship. The writer is older. This makes what follows altogether more painful.

I don’t think I can reach you in private and what you have said and done is very public, so I am reaching out to you in this way.

First mistake. If you can’t reach someone privately, then don’t do it publicly. You think this is compassion or brotherly love? It is not.

You have walked away from your marriage. That’s not right. You have walked away from your faith in Christ. That’s even worse.

The writer fails to ask the most important question, “What happened?” I’ve made this mistake and I’ve regretted my insensitivity.

This says nothing about Jesus and a great deal about you.

That is a loaded accusation if I ever heard one.

Jesus told us there would be false prophets and teachers among us. Your story doesn’t invalidate Christ’s message because He predicted that people would do exactly what you have done. I just didn’t expect it would ever be you.

Now the writer is calling his friend a false prophet and expressing surprise and shock. Harris has made some adjustments in his thinking and he’s probably not through making adjustments. Yes, there is also pain and disappointment in the statement, “I just didn’t expect it would ever be you.” The writer had high expectations. But maybe this was part of the problem to begin with. Lofty ideals that were a bit unrealistic.

I do commend you for the intellectual integrity for recognizing that your secondary views (embracing the LGBT agenda, etc.) are utterly inconsistent with Christianity—as is your view that it is ok to walk away from your marriage for the reasons you have stated. Both of these proved that you had renounced Christianity before you said so publicly.

A lot of people are really struggling with how to respond to the LGBT lifestyle. We cannot condemn them for not wanting to condemn others or finding the biblical view difficult to embrace. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree on points. I think this writer felt compelled to carry out a mandate of correction.

As to Harris walking away from his marriage. That is one of the most painful and conflicting experiences a person will ever go through. Again, ask the question, “What happened?” This is much more helpful.

My heart aches for you in so many ways. It seems that you thought that Christianity was a series of formulas. Formulas for marriage. Formulas for systematic theology. Fear of choosing the wrong formula. Fear of failing to live up to your formula.

Of course his heart aches. But I think Harris will feel shattered when he reads this because someone he deeply trusted is not willing to sit with him and listen to his thought process and feelings.

So, if Harris really did think Christianity was a system of formulas, (maybe the writer knows something) then it may indeed be a very good thing that he is de-constructing his “formula” and trying to find out what it is he actually believes. People need space and time to do this. We as Christians can offer this to them and say, “Take your time. Seek God. He will show you.”

If his was a fear-based “faith” maybe by making some changes he can go deeper and find the true basis of faith, that goes beyond fear.

Having said that, it is not wrong to fear God, or to fear doing wrong. But there is so much more context we have to include. It sounds to me like the writer may be living according to formulas and fears. The two men did come from similar backgrounds.

You know that I believe in the general approach to courtship that made you famous and pretty rich. You included the story of my oldest daughter and her husband in your second book.

I still believe that purity of mind and body before marriage is the right ideal. But it is not a formula for a happy marriage. It is simply a guiding principle that has to be applied with wisdom, grace, and often forgiveness.

Here is a kernel of truth, but a truth-speaker may not be what Harris is in need of during his time of crisis, and I observe this as a crisis when his former close friend cannot reach him to speak to him in private. I think the writer is genuinely trying to be helpful and as Christians this is where we fail so often, and then we end up being offended, when it was our approach that caused the offense.

I would never reach this conclusion about you on my own but what you have said yourself can be fairly summarized as this: you thought your faith and your marriage were based on formulas. They never went deeper than that.

Jesus says about people like you that in the last judgment, He will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

You know that this means you never actually knew Him.

As immersed as you were in Christian culture and a career as a pastor, you never actually knew Jesus.

It gives me only heart ache to say these things to you. And Jesus will take no pleasure in pronouncing those words in judgment of you or anyone.

Ouch! Even if Harris said that, to repeat it in this way is just not kind. And what follows is not really our place to say. God is the one who judges our hearts. Of course, this is a conclusion I have come to after many years and making many errors. For someone trained in theology, the Calvinist view is that if you are once a Christian you cannot fall away, so the writer explains to himself that Harris “never actually knew Him.” I don’t believe this is true. It is also not consistent with what he wrote earlier. The writer clearly thought Harris was a Christian at one time. Now he calls him a false prophet, but says his message is still valid. Lots of contradictions here.

Quite simply, Harris is re-thinking his faith. He might throw it away. I don’t think he has done that yet. From what I have observed he is seeking for a more comprehensive truth. This is a scary place to be. But he can come forth as gold, after he is tried. This is the hope we need to hold out for someone we love as a “brother.”

You haven’t walked away from a relationship with Jesus. You have walked away from the culture you were raised in.

So, as I said, another contradiction. But this may be the only message the writer actually needed to communicate. Harris has walked away from a culture.

Jesus still loves you at this moment. And so do I and countless others. And I will love you no matter what in the days ahead. But my love is tinged in deep sadness.

Josh, you and your story are not the measure of the validity of Christianity.

Jesus is real. He doesn’t want you to return to your prior formulas. He wants you to come to Him for the first time and learn to love.

I can hear the heartfelt love in this letter, but the sad thing is that it will not be perceived as loving, at least I don’t think so. So I hurt for both parties. And I see that I have done what the writer has done, provided a critique. Finding the balance between correction and simple compassion is tricky. But I think none of the above was news to Harris and most of it didn’t bear repeating and was actually offensive because it showed a lack of understanding and a lack of support. It was motivated by fear, fear of Harris falling away and maybe fear of him taking others with him. Our God is bigger. He can handle the questions and struggles we have. Maybe it will lead to error at times. Maybe it will lead to greater understanding of truth. Let’s look at the whole person, all Harris has strived to do. That person is still there, wanting what is best. I believe this. And I believe God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Let’s come alongside the seekers. It’s not about our disappointment. It’s about offering hope.

I am praying for you, Josh.

With love and sorrow.

Mike Farris

Posted in Abuse, Children, Sex change, Sexual mutilation, Transgender

Sex Change Mutilation

alone-anxious-black-and-white-568027.jpgI have to speak out on a subject that is of very grave concern. In the name of gender change, doctors and medical teams are cutting off body parts of young teens and even pre-teens.

What shocks me is that these youngsters are not legally allowed to drink, or drive a car, yet they can make permanent, life-altering decisions about their bodies that require serious surgeries, hormone treatment, and puberty blockers, when there is no medical assurance of successful long term outcomes. In fact, the opposite has been documented.

We are seeing penises cut off, breasts cut off, hysterectomies being done. These children will be mutilated adults. They will never fit in society except as a class of their own. A class of misfits.

It is time we teach people to be comfortable in their own skin.

It is time that we recognize the true danger of the “choice” ideology and acknowledge that it has gone too far. It probably crossed the line a long time ago, but this is more serious than anything I have seen so far.

There is no changing back once such a radical surgery has been performed. Choice will no longer be an option. Think about that. There could be serious remorse.

It is a cruel trick for adults, who know better, to play along with a choice that literally, physically injures a child. These surgeries require undergoing the risk of anesthesia and infection. There may be a need for skin grafting and future surgeries. Surgery is always traumatic to the body. Usually the risk of surgery is weighed against the benefits. But in this case the outcome is not even desirable.

No matter how badly a child wants a “sex change” it should not be allowed and doctors should not consent to performing these surgeries. It is unethical.

Major alterations to a child’s body will most certainly result in long term emotional pain, depression, anxiety and confusion. The idea that a person can have an actual sex change is a blatant lie. There is change in appearance, but not a sex change.

A body will continue to have the same chromosomes it was born with and will be subject to these dictates regardless of interventions. A lifetime of suppressive medications will not change the sex of a body. These children are being set up for a lifetime of medicating themselves and fighting against the natural course of their bodies. Think of the toll that will take.

Do we love our children and want the best outcomes for them? Because if we do, we will not allow them to be deceived by the current ideology that they can have whatever they want, including sex change. It is just not a believable narrative.

Let’s take off the politically correct blinders and see this for what it really is. Child mutilation. It may be performed by “professionals” in a “medical facility” but that very fact shows a lack of professional insight and makes this picture all the more haunting.

Posted in Abuse, Marriage & Family

Is He Abusive?

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Image courtesy of marin/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been a reading a book entitled, The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, by Beverly Engel. This has led to me ask to what degree I have experienced abuse in my marriage. It has also made me question whether women (and men) have the insight they need to determine both the level of abuse in their relationships and the appropriate response.

I’ve also been doing some reading up on gaslighting and narcissism. Gaslighting is when one person makes accusations and insinuations that cause the other person to question their own sanity. A narcissist refers to someone who lives for attention. Life revolves around them and they do not have the normal feelings of empathy for others.

These kinds of deranged ways of thinking and behaving are the result of neglect and abuse in childhood, something I won’t get into here.

The question is, should you stay with someone who makes you doubt your own mental capacity? Should you stay with someone who repeatedly ignores your needs and is perhaps abusive in other ways?

How do you decide whether to leave or stay?

If a man physically abuses a woman, there is a clear line he has crossed. I, for one, would not tolerate physical abuse. I draw the line there. I would leave if my husband harmed me physically.

But mental and emotional abuse is not so easy to detect and to know when it has gone too far. Things get said in the heat of an argument. You get put down for something and you think, yeah, he’s right. I failed him. I should do better. Sometimes it is true. But when it becomes a pattern and starts to wear you down, that may be a sign that change is needed.

Habitual emotional abuse can go both ways. Women and men can both be narcissists. Either one can be gaslighting.

One way to determine if you are suffering from abuse is by comparing the person you are now with who you were before you were married. A couple of simple questions you can ask yourself are, has your confidence level changed, or have you become isolated and stopped seeing people, because of your spouse? If the answer is yes to either one or both, this reason for concern.

There are other indicators. Are things always your fault? Are you always the one expected to change? Are you made to feel inferior because of something you did or said, or the way you look, or the level of your education, or for any other reason?

In a healthy marriage one partner will be supportive and encouraging of the other partner. They will be willing to change when they recognize they are doing something that is potentially harmful to the relationship. They will also agree to be held accountable.

There ought to be a willingness both to see and admit the need for change and a willingness to change. But if one person has experienced abuse or neglect as a child they may feel very insecure and easily threatened by a request for change. Maybe they fear their partner no longer loves them, or will leave. For this reason it is important to preface a conversation about change with the reassurance that you want to stay in this relationship and this change is something you see as improving your marriage.

The goal is to have a great marriage. You can agree on that. Can you also agree on the importance of addressing what is hindering you from having this kind of marriage?

Any discussion of this nature has to come from a place of personal humility, not superiority. It is also necessary to recognize that you cannot make your partner change. The best you can do is paint a better picture and hope he or she will buy into it.

In our marriage, my husband has in the past tended to lose control of his temper. After a long time I finally confronted him and said this was not helping us to have a better marriage. He needed to control his anger. He saw that it was true and he agreed to work on it. From that point on there was an awareness on his part that he could do better and he did. Not only did he control his anger, but together we looked at possible triggers and we worked on those too.

It is important to spend some time and think through what needs to change. You may want to preface a conversation with something like, “I really need to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind for awhile. I love you, and I want to have the best marriage we can have. When you get angry, it makes me afraid and anxious. I don’t think that’s good for our marriage.” Or, “When you keep forgetting to take out the garbage, I feel like my needs aren’t important to you, like you don’t really care.” Or, “Sometimes I feel like other men care more about how I am feeling than you do. I feel like we are not really connecting emotionally a lot of the time.”

In a healthy relationship the other partner will see and admit a need for change. Because they are invested in making the marriage better they will also express a willingness to change. And remember, it is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong, but, what is best. Either of you can bring up the problem, but together you need to come up with a better plan.

Early in our marriage, when I brought up an area that needed change, my husband would immediately shift the conversation to something I needed to change. Tit for tat. This was not helpful. It brought confusion and meant the issue could not be fully dealt with. When we recognized that we could only deal with one issue at a time, we began to move forward and gain insight. We focused on the one issue, and, out of respect, we focused on the first issue that was brought up. The others could be dealt with at a later time.

A husband and wife will both have areas where change is needed. The all important question is, can we talk about this?

If one partner is always tiptoeing around the other, not wanting to rile them, or to hurt them, this is not a good indication. It might be necessary to say, “I feel like I can’t talk to you about things that are really important to me, because you will get hurt or angry. But, if we want to have a good marriage, there are things that I have spent a long time thinking about that I see as needing to change and we need to talk about these, or we will grow distant. I think that’s already started to happen and I don’t want us to be that way. Can we talk? Is this a good time? If not, then let’s do it another time. But let’s not put this off too long.”

Remember when we learned to do speeches in school? Well, here is a real life application of that lesson. You may need to think through and prepare a speech, actually plan the right words to use. You will find that some approaches are much more effective than others.

One more thing. Conversations like this should be rare. Too much time spent on fixing can drag a marriage down. The focus of the majority of your time together is to be on creating pleasant memories that will serve kind of like bank deposits, building a cushion, that will have a shock absorption affect in rougher times.

Do you talk together as a couple about the goal for your marriage? Do you paint verbal pictures of want your marriage to look like? Are you feeling better about your marriage this year than you did last year? Are you more relaxed, more content? Do you feel more loved?

Although some marriages need to end because of abuse, I think many times marriages could thrive if partners are able to get to the root of their problems and learn ways of working through things with the goal of an improved relationship.

Target the specific problem. Hold each other accountable and expect change. Your marriage is worth the effort.

But, if there is an unwillingness or inability to change in essential areas, you may be living in an abusive situation and you need to seek help or even consider leaving your partner. This is especially true if you fear for your own safety. In extreme cases you need to have a support group to help with a strategy.

Is he or she abusive? If you are being hurt over and over again, yes. If promises are made and repeatedly broken, yes. If you cannot trust your partner, yes. If you feel like you have diminished to a person you no longer recognize, yes. You need to seek help.