Category: Abuse

Q&A: The Verbally Abusive Spouse

Q: My husband is very harsh with his words to our kids and it worries me sometimes. How can I help him with this?

Gary: I think the starting place is to simply say to him, “I know you don’t mean to do this, but when you talk to our kids that way it hurts me deeply. I know the kids are also hurt by your words.” Suggest that he talk to a pastor or a counselor and learn to express himself with words that are less painful to you. Put the situation on the table for him. Now he is at least consciously aware of what his actions are doing. You’re not yelling at him asking him to stop yelling at the kids, you’ve merely asked that he take steps to change his behavior.

Spending Time With Your Children

In our society child abuse is at an all-time high. Screaming matches between parents and children are common in thousands of homes. A part of the problem is that parents and children are strangers. The instruction that God gave ancient Israel is Deut. 6:7 is still timely. God said that we are to teach our children His instructions when we “sit around the house and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.”

A bible story and prayer as the children go to bed; a brief devotional and prayer at the breakfast table; exploring God’s creation as we take walks with our children; discussing the day and listening to our children’s questions as we “sit around the house.” You cannot improve on God’s plan.

Negative Attitudes Toward Sex

Some Christians have a negative attitude towards sex. It may have come from a distorted education about sex, an unfortunate sexual experience as a child, or sexual involvement as a teenager that brought disappointment and guilt. What is important is to understand that we choose our attitudes. The first step in overcoming a negative attitude is exposure to the truth. The truth about sex is that within marriage it is God-ordained and designed to bring mutual pleasure. As in all of live we are called to live by the truth. We admit our negative attitudes and feelings but we don’t serve them. With the help of God we live according to his revealed truth.

Q&A: Protecting Children in an Abusive Marriage

Q: Should a person stay in an abusive marriage for the children’s sake?

Gary Chapman: I think it depends on what kind of abuse we’re talking about. If it’s physical abuse, no. I don’t think it’s a loving thing to stay there and let that happen. Verbal abuse has different levels. If it’s constant verbal abuse, and you’re put down, the kids are put down, again, that’s not healthy. I think there’s a place to say, “I love you too much, I love our children too much to sit here and do nothing.” Sometimes it’s necessary to physically separate yourself and the children from him or her until they are willing to get help with the problem. We’re not abandoning them, we’re loving them. It’s taking tough steps to communicate to the other person, “I love you too much to let you continue with your destructive behavior.”

Turn Them Over

Must I continue to forgive when a person hurts me again and again? Jesus once said, “If a person sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) The important word is the word repent not the word seven. Peter later asked Jesus, “seven times in a day?” And Jesus said, “70 times 7”. It’s not the number that’s important it is the repentance. We forgive as often as people repent. If they don’t repent, we turn them over to God. God will bring punishment to the unbeliever, and discipline to the believer. It is not our place to seek vengeance. We release our hurt and anger to God and we put the person in His hands.

Why it’s Hard to Forgive

Why is it so hard for us to forgive? I think it is because we are made in God’s image and we have a deep concern for justice. Forgiveness did not come easy with God. That is what the cross of Christ is all about. Because Christ paid the penalty, then God can forgive us and still be just. How do we experience God’s forgiveness? We confess our sins and accept what Christ did for us. So, when others sin against us, forgiveness is not easy. Our sense of justice demands that they pay for their sin. We want to be reconciled, but we do not want to ignore wrongdoing. However, when they confess, we remember that God forgave us when we confessed, and we choose to forgive others. Love is always ready to forgive.

Memory and Forgiveness

What would you say to the wife who says, “I have forgiven him, but I am deeply pained when I remember what he did.”? Would you quote Hebrews 10:17 where God says, “And their sins I will remember no more.”? Would you tell her that if she has not forgotten, then she has not forgiven? I hope not. Forgiveness does not destroy our memory. Our brain records every event we experience. Memory may bring back the feeling of hurt. But forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a promise. Forgiveness says, “I will no longer hold that against you.” When the memory comes back and the pain returns, take it to God and say, “Father, thank You, that is forgiven.” Don’t allow the memory of the past to destroy your day.

Forgiveness is not Always Acceptance

There is a difference between forgiveness and acceptance. You may accept many things about your spouse that you do not particularly like. In fact, such acceptance is necessary in healthy marriages. But forgiveness presupposes that you have been wronged, treated unfairly. In the Bible, such action is called sin and sin cannot be accepted. There are two responses to sin; we can confess our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness or we can continue in our sin. The one who continues in sin will not be forgiven. In fact, God will bring discipline to the Christian who continues in sin. His desire is that we turn from our sin so that we can experience His forgiveness, and have warm fellowship again. In a healthy marriage, this will also be our desire.

Q&A: Hot Tempered Husband

Q:  “My husband is quick to anger and curses and yells when we fight. I feel like it borders on abuse. What can I do?”

Gary Chapman: This sort of thing should not be accepted as normal. The best thing you can do in this situation is to is apply tough love. Say something like this to your husband, “I don’t know if you love me or not, but it certainly doesn’t feel loving when you get angry and you curse at me. I love you too much to continue to sit here and let you do that. I’m going to move in with my mother and when you are willing to deal with this issue, then I am willing to engage with you in marriage counseling. I am not abandoning you—I am loving you. However, this type of behavior is not acceptable. I think you know that as well as I.” Then, you proceed to follow through with that tough love. This is probably the most powerful thing you can do for your husband.

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