How pre-marital counselling kept this woman entrenched in an abusive marriage — by Kathy
One of our readers, Kathy, wrote this in a reply to a question Jeff C asked her in a thread. We thought it was so helpful we have obtained Kathy’s permission to make it into a post. I have put the hurtful and damaging messages from the ‘c’hurch into bold font. This story also illustrates how God can wake up a victim and give her a wall to protect herself from her abuser. Now, over to Kathy:
In answer to your question about my experience with church, the principles taught in premarital counseling will keep a woman pretty entrenched in abuse, and that’s what happened to me. I alternated between focusing myself on pursuing God with everything in me, and loving my husband as best as I could. I see now I couldn’t do both, because my husband couldn’t tolerate so much of my devotion being given to God, so he would turn up the heat until I was too exhausted and depressed to do anything but weakly pray for help. I used to feel guilty about my weak walk with Christ, but He’s assured me He knew my heart, and was never disappointed.
I heard things like:
“Men need their ego stroked, find the one thing he does right and build it up.”
This just showed him how little he had to do to get acclamation.
“Continue to love him and serve him faithfully, won’t it be beautiful when he is won over with your beautiful love?”
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I tried, and my spirit inside me came dangerously close to dying. I still remember the day I realized that I could either let my spirit die and be his flesh-covered robot, or cut him off from my heart. That was the start of my journey out of darkness. I felt bad about that decision and ended up opening up to him again; the next time I came to that point I let God do the heart hiding, and he has put a huge hedge of protection around me. I am continually astonished at times when he has said something that used to have me crying and miserable for days, now I can watch it happen and I see how mean he is, but I’m protected from the emotion. It’s like I’m watching a movie, rather than playing a scene. I have no reason for why I’m so calm at this point of my journey besides God literally holding my heart together. It’s still very painful, but it’s such a different kind of pain, a healing pain.
“Marriages have problems, there will be times you don’t like being married, but love is a choice not a feeling”
True when he’s not abusive. Although I’ve started to wonder if ministers haven’t spread some of this jargon just to make church sanctioned abuse easier to carry out.
I’ve had people tell me there’s still hope because he has his good days when he’s really nice, or that he says he still loves me so much and all is not lost.
A family member pointed out that I made my decision to give him the “get help or goodbye” during a time of emotional distress and I should reevaluate now that it had been a few days.
My parents are fully supporting me, and that is a huge blessing.
I’ve been asked “did he ever hit you” more times than I can count. No, he didn’t, but it still hurts.
The church is woefully undereducated in abuse, so many women are crushed by abuse that is approved by the church. I know God must be grieving this, and I know it is a pervasive cancer. I love my Lord, my family is on a path to spiritual freedom that was started by my mother ten years ago. Her efforts have protected me from experiencing the full severity of abuse I know was possible, and they’ve helped me exit my fog after only five years of marriage. Through her labors I have drawn closer to my God during this misery, rather than losing Him. There are churches who are starting to get the message, but not enough.