Reclaiming Hope and Safety in a Destructive Marriage


How do you know you’re in an emotionally abusive marriage?

You are regularly:

  • Dismissed.
  • Deceived.
  • Dominated.
  • Degraded.
  • Diminished.

A random careless comment from your spouse is one thing. But when you are regularly mistreated, it’s a pattern. A destructive pattern.

As a matter of course, you’re not free to be yourself. You’re not free to express your own opinion or your own ideas without being shot down, ridiculed, or labelled as ungodly, unspiritual, or stupid. You’re not encouraged to be the person that God has called you to be.

When women realize that they’re in an emotioanlly destructive marriage, they often have one of two reactions. They either respond by pushing back with destructive behavior of their own, or they emotionally shut down and pretend all is well.

There’s a third option. A plan of action.

First, if you need to seek safety, do so. Physically remove yourself from danger and seek help.

If you’re safe, Queen Esther is a great example of how to move forward with wisdom. (See the book of Esther.) She had a tough message to share with her husband, one that she feared he wouldn’t receive well. She prayed. She prepared. She developed a plan. Then, when the timing wasn’t right, she postponed her conversation with him.

Leslie Vernick, a licensed clinical social worker who is committed to rescuing people trapped in destructive relationships, is our guest on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Reclaiming Hope and Safety in a Destructive Marriage.” Listen to our conversation on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.

She shares strategies for creating three qualities that every healthy relationship embodies.

  • The first quality is mutuality. Both people in the relationship invest in it to make it work.
  • The second quality is reciprocity. Power and responsibility within the relationship are shared.
  • The third quality is freedom. Each individual has the freedom to be him or herself.

To help move their marriage in that direction, women need to develop four C.O.R.E. strengths:

  • Committed to truth.
  • Open to growth.
  • Respectful to your husband without dishonoring yourself.
  • Empathy.

No couple holds all 52 cards in their marriage. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can easily fall into a trap of making our marriage all about me and what I want. As a result, we never achieve the oneness that God intended. Or we destroy it.

If this has been your experience, we grieve for you. And we’re praying that you’ll get the help you need through your church, an accountability group, or even professional counseling. Tune in to our broadcast with Leslie Vernick for additional guidance.

And remember that we have caring Christian counselors on staff, and it would be their privilege to offer you biblically based solutions for your circumstances. Contact us today for a free consultation. Don’t delay. Call us, leave your name and number, and they’ll get back with you just as soon as possible. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

Leslie Vernick has written a book called The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. It is available for a gift of any amount. Visit our website. If you can’t afford it, we’ll find a way to get it to you.

Photo from Shutterstock



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Jim Daly with Paul Batura

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