A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Thursday Thought — Entitlement

Does your partner expect you to live up to a high and unreasonable set of demands and expectations?  Yet at the same time does he act angry or victimized when you demand anything of him? Is he selfishly focused on his own needs, even if he was generous early in your relationship or is generous with other people?  Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, nothing you do for him seems to be good enough, and he always acts as if you owe him even more? The answers to these questions reveal a man’s level of entitlement, which is the fundamental outlook that drives men’s abuse of women.  It is your partner’s entitlement, not your faults or failures, that is causing him to be chronically critical of you and dissatisfied.

(excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s book, When Dad Hurts Mom, p28)

***IMPORTANT NOTE:  While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns. 

15 Comments

  1. Barnabasintraining

    You know, I just had an interesting thing happen to me while I was reading this. I realized when I was a young person and young believer, this is exactly who I had been made to understand God is.

    And that makes me wonder if one reason most Christians cannot seem to accept the evil of demanding a victim endure abuse is because that is exactly who they think God is too, so it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to them.

    The theology I absorbed went like this:

    Does your partner expect you to live up to a high and unreasonable set of demands and expectations?

    Yes. He is all about demanding bricks without giving straw but this is OK since He’s God. In fact, since He’s God, it’s better than OK and demonstrates how praiseworthy He is. Praise Him when you don’t understand. Who are you, oh man, to complain against God?

    Yet at the same time does he act angry or victimized when you demand anything of him?

    Yes. Except I would reduce the word “demand” to “request.” And angry isn’t so much the thing, per se, but making good and sure I understood any crumb I requested was far more than I deserve (where have we heard that one before?) and would be given with greatest reluctance. And He was all about loop holes and excuses for why He didn’t really have to do what He said He would do. Of necessity, every request turned into a carefully worded legal argument designed to prevent God from being able to appeal to the expected loop holes to get out of performing as He had indicated He would. So in the end the request did become a demand of sorts.

    Is he selfishly focused on his own needs, even if he was generous early in your relationship or is generous with other people?

    Yes. And how dare I complain about it?

    Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, nothing you do for him seems to be good enough, and he always acts as if you owe him even more?

    Oh good heavens absolutely.

    Of course God is a loving God so all of this is really love. Somehow.

    If I am not unusual in this then it is not that difficult to see why it is Christians and churches in general do not get it about divorce for abuse, and why they regard the position as heretical and/or blasphemous and/or anti-gospel.

    • BIT, I think your insight is very important. That stern autocratic distant God you described does seem to be what many professing Christians believe in. And because at the same time they maintain that God is loving, they are in denial about how, in practice, their God is an entitled virtual-narcissist who has unreasonably high and stern expectations.

      That denial (suppression of truth) finds an exact parallel in the dynamics of abuse. The abuser straight out tells lies to deny that he abuses; the victim denies by suppressing all cognitive dissonance about the painful, horrible reality of how her spouse is treating her, so as to be a good loving spouse who uncomplaining and unquestioningly bears the Cross God has given her. And both abuser and victim masquerade that their marriage is all love and light (until she comes out of the fog, or until he kills her. . . )

      Those who step (or crawl, bleeding) out of the denial-bubble and speak the truths that have been suppressed, cop blame and admonishment from those who are still in the bubble.

    • Gary W

      BIT, entire books could be written elaborating on what you say here. At Mt 5:8 Jesus tells us that the pure in heart shall see God. Theologians who project their own sinful judgments of their own earthly fathers onto our Heavenly Father are incapable of seeing God. They end up portraying Him as some sort of all-powerful cosmic narcissistic tyrant whose every thought and action is driven by His concern for His own glory. If we approach a pastor who is convinced that God is primarily motivated by a concern for His own glory, we should not be surprised when that pastor turns out to be a narcissistic tyrant and a supporter of narcissistic tyrants. After all, as you make clear, they are simply emulating a false god. They are emulating a false god they have created out of their own sinful judgments of their own earthly fathers in particular, and of fatherhood in general.

  2. Moving Forward

    There were four questions, so lets see, yes, yes, yes, and yes. He scores 100%! The question that struck me the most was that it was his generosity that reeled me in, but then I spent the next many, many years wondering why he had time for everyone else but me. At home its all about him, but out its all about how much he can do for others (which is ultimately about how much he can stoke his ego and have everybody love him).

  3. loves6

    A friend recently said to my husband that he should try to remove his expectations of me … the reaction to this comment, that I found out about a day later was totally strange. This friend is a good friend and was offering constructive help. My husband was furious and took it out on me. I had no idea what was going on till the next day he gave me a lecture about how he has expectations not (Eds: of?] me because I am his wife. It was a terrible situation.

    So yes he has expectations of me and yes he gets angry when I want my house renovations finished etc. Anything where he feels I’m criticizing him or making him look like a failure gets pure defensive and justified answers.

    My husband is a martyr. My husband gives to many people. He is loved by many. He gives his time and attention to people. A lot of his affirmation comes from work colleagues. He has hardly any friends….and likes it that way.

    I have given up cooking because he constantly tells me I need to do this or that. He is always telling me off like a child if I ‘misbehave’. I feel like I cannot do anything right a lot of my life.

    He is the king that rules his kingdom. I am but a mere wife that hurts his feelings, rejects him, doesn’t like him, complains and walls herself out. He is a wonderful dad and husband that loves his wife and children and would do anything for them. He takes care of his wife and protects her from harm. He has to just have faith and believe that someday his love will resonate to my hard heart that will not see his love. ( what a poor king my husband is)

    • Victoria de la Cruz

      Loves6, your description really resonated with me. A king!! Yes, that’s how my very entitled, arrogant, narcissistic X would present himself. But outside the house? Oh, he’s such a nice guy!
      He also treated me like a child to correct, or an employee to direct. In retrospect, part of the reason I stayed so long was I kept hoping that if someday I was ever good enough, he might treat me like he treats all those people on the outside (or go back to being the nice guy he was at first).

      Boy, was I deluded.

    • Gary W

      And, if I might pick up on BIT’s insight, what a poor god you husband (thinks he) is.

    • SeeClearerNow (prev NotHeard)

      How frustrating and scarey for you loves6, when you have a good friend that is prepared to stand and give your Snyder some accountability, but he only uses her good stand to further wound you. All behind your friend’s back of course. That’s so sad that he’s even made you doubt your cooking abilities! What would happen if, when he criticised some of your cooking, you offered him the use of the kitchen to make whatever it is that he prefers?

      • Dear SeeClearerNow, I’m so glad you are seeing clearer now!
        hugs from Barb

    • Valerie

      Loves6, your description sounds like Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I recognize it well. 😦 However, if he is a narcissist given to projection then he has also told you something very interesting in his accusations. (Projection is saying something true of them is actually true of you). He has then told on himself by saying he hurts your feelings, rejects you, doesn’t like you, he complains and walls himself out. You, on the other hand, are a wonderful mom that loves your husband and children and would do anything for them. You take care of your husband and protect him (undoubtedly you have had to cover for him many times). In his mind you just need to hold out hope that someday perhaps your love will resonate to his hard heart that WILL not (chooses not to) see your love.

      With a narcissist anything but flattery, awe or encouragement is seen as criticism and/or attack on their character. Any “why” question is a frontal assault in their eyes. “Can/will you…for me?” is taken as a command and they will NOT allow anyone to command them. “Are you going to…..?” taken as another expectation command that will usually end in their hostile defiance. My husband admitted to me once that he saw any conversation we had as an argument he must win. That was maybe the most truthful statement he made to me during the whole marriage.

  4. Deborah

    Thank you for posting this excerpt. Powerful.

  5. Ann

    Yes to all those manifestations of entitlement.

    A dear friend was dying and I was crying. I said I wished I could have done more for her during her illness to be a help to her. She lived out of state so I was not with her that much. He would balk if I said I wanted to stay a few extra days when I did visit her. I would call her, but rarely when he was home. Anti-husband bursts out in anger, “IT’S YOUR *JOB* TO TAKE CARE OF ME AND THE KIDS!” (the kids are plenty old enough to do for themselves).

    • Remedy

      Can totally relate to this…..the whole world revolves around his needs. Is that a reflection of Jesus’ life. I THINK NOT!!

  6. DaughteroftheKing

    I can’t even count how many times I asked myself, “What did I do this time?” Days of silent treatment, acting as if I do not exist, locking me out of our bedroom… all the while I am pleading with him to talk to me, tell me what’s wrong… then the explosiveness of “you should know!” Wha-huh? Then comes the “You care more about [fill-in-the-blank] than you care about US!” Ahhh, there it is, the all-important US. Within six months of our wedding I knew something was seriously wrong… with US. Eventually he had me convinced it was not us because he could not possibly be causing OUR problems, it was ME. And all I had to do was pay better attention to his needs, be more attentive to his moods, anticipate everything he wants and needs and then WE would be happy, like WE were at the beginning. I am so happy to be off that roller coaster, free and recovering from the insanity and the evil.

  7. Raped By Evil

    Self-entitlement is one of those fundamental things Pastor Crippen is consistently pointing out. That this sense of entitlement is always present in a true abuser.

    Some ways that it is expressed that may seem like it’s representing “concerned” behavior but is actually revealing the selfish and self-worshiping heart of the abuser.

    –Insisting on getting credit for every single thing that they do.
    –Seemingly giving credit to others for their wisdom or Christian heart or work ethic, but if you look closely, they aren’t giving credit for the truly valuable things about what that person said or did, but on something less important or peripheral–so as to actually STEAL from that person while making themselves appear to be supportive and discerning.
    –Curt or rude retorts to others that seem justified at the time because they have been overworked or put themselves in the position that they are overworked, with no explanation or apology for their inappropriate remark later on. It was their “right” to get angry because they have extra work to do….YOU on the other hand are expected to do AT LEAST the same amount of work as them without complaint or seeking help.
    –Anger that they have been witnessing to a person for an extended period of time and that person still hasn’t given their life to the Lord. (We can’t force people to come to Jesus and we don’t the get credit–all the credit and glory goes to God. Our desire to have others come to Jesus is manifold but some reasons are so that they won’t go to hell and suffer for eternity and so that they are able to feel the deep love of Jesus in their heart. One of my prayers is that if anyone comes to the Lord because they saw Him in me, that I NEVER KNOW IT if I think that I somehow contributed to it. JESUS is the attraction, and HE is the only reason that I have love in my heart to give to others.)
    –Pointing out that they NOTICE something about you, and you are supposed to give them the response THEY want. I.e. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been looking in the windows of our shop everyday and that you really enjoy our pretty flowers and especially the tulips. I’m glad you finally decided to come in. How do you like my beautiful shop?’ This seemingly thoughtful reply is actually an attack and a threat like, “I’ve got my eye on you and I can see things and you don’t know what else I can see about you.” If you tell them that this is creepy (which it is) they get angry because they wanted to be able to reveal their true selves to us, but they wanted us to either not notice or tell them that it was kind of them to notice us, so that they can then blame us because we were too dumb as evidenced by their CLEAR telling us their nature but us refusing to get it, or if we did get it and said the trite response then we deserve what we get. Always this–that any harm that comes to us by their abuse is because we deserve it and that they are entitled to abuse us–it’s their right.
    –They are jealous of other people’s happiness even if they know that this person has been through horrific trials and that God is the one who blessed them with good things. They are never truly happy when others overcome evil, even if these people have been good friends to them and rejoiced with them when they had good things happen. Their sense of entitlement allows no room for OTHERS–they alone are worthy.
    –They reach out to people who they consider less than themselves, thus appearing loving and concerned but people that they view as having the potential to be used by God in ways that may go above them, are ostracized in some way and they try to bring them down. If they can’t garner support from others to help in bringing this person down and can’t find a plausible excuse to do it without revealing their jealousy, they attack in another way and insist on rule following and putting their agenda forward. Any way they can get rid of this person is fair game to them. They have a history of APPEARING to come alongside others (those who truly belong to Jesus) and seemingly lifting them up so that we can represent Christ, but at this same point they are setting them up to fall. Once this person publically steps out, they are right there to take them down. So it APPEARS that they are the long-suffering survivor still there carrying the burden because they are still in their position of authority, but it is only because they’ve been able to kick the other people out.

    Pastor Crippen, you have been such a blessing to my life and you continue to be. I have searched and have yet to find another person who understands so fundamentally what you do about the BIBLICAL nature and truth of abuse and evil. That you still have a heart that loves God and loves others as well and that you continue to reach out to us and continue to try to inform your fellow pastors when so very few seem to want the TRUTH through God’s word, is so very beautiful. I know that you don’t do this alone and that your wife and your beautiful church help you and buoy you up. Thank you so much for doing what Jesus did first which was walking with the people and standing up for those labeled as outcasts and worthless but who TRULY had the right heart and right motivation. You have beautifully changed my life and many others as well and I thank you.

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