Differences Between an Abusive Marriage and a Healthy One

For many women who are struggling to understand how marriage can actually be wonderful, I have compiled a short-list of what is normal and not normal for a Christian marriage

So often, I say to my wonderful husband (David), “No one has ever done that for me before . . . ” And he looks at me with love mixed with mercy mixed with pity. He says something like, “No one has ever filled up your gas tank?” I remember my Daddy doing that a few times but it had been years. David fills up my tank on a regular basis and acts like that is normal. In fact, he delights in it. He is always surprised when I over-thank him for normal acts of kindness that should be part of the every day Christian marriage. It has made me think about how little I knew of “normal” for such a long time.

 

So many times, women who have left abusive relationships hop right out of the frying pan and into the fire because a man comes along who is a tiny bit “better” than the former abuser. It is so difficult to see that this new man might not be that great because (1) a former victim of abuse does not necessarily believe that she deserves, or can do, better and (2) that “tiny bit better” seems monumental. She needs someone outside of her world and paradigm to say, “He is not that great, friend. You deserve better.” One of the most difficult and painful parts of being in this ministry is watching women leave an abusive relationship to return to another one. And we believe it is because former victims of abuse NEED to understand that healing takes time . . . . detoxing . . . a new perspective that is truly Christian.

So often, I say to my wonderful husband (David), “No one has ever done that for me before . . . ” And he looks at me with love mixed with mercy mixed with pity. He says something like, “No one has ever filled up your gas tank?” I remember my Daddy doing that a few times but it had been years. David fills up my tank on a regular basis and acts like that is normal. In fact, he delights in it. He is always surprised when I over-thank him for normal acts of kindness that should be part of the every day Christian marriage. It has made me think about how little I knew of “normal” for such a long time. My “normal” was skewed and painful. I found myself in the center of swirling selfishness, inconsistency, blame and (near) hatred. For many other women who are struggling to understand how marriage can actually be wonderful, I have compiled a short-list of what is normal and not normal for a Christian marriage. It is imperative that “our” mamas know some of these things or they will find themselves back in another relationship where “normal” is actually not normal — but abusive. These are only some of the truths I have learned in the past three years of marriage:

 

  1. It is normal for a Christian husband to treat his wife with dignity, as an equal heir to the throne of God and a partner in this life here on earth. She has her own thoughts, ideas and passions. Sometimes these passions join together and other times, they do not. It is NOT normal nor biblical for a wife to simply be an extension of her husband. It is not normal for her to not have her own opinions or ideas or goals. 
  2. It is normal for a Christian husband to be kind to his wife, to acknowledge her hurts and her tears and to apologize if he harms her. It is not normal for a husband to tell his wife that she is being oversensitive or ridiculous. It is not normal for a woman to wonder if she is crazy or defective because her pain means nothing to her husband.
  3. It is normal for a Christian husband to treat his wife as a fragile and beautiful vessel. He gives her extra sleep and cares for and warms her body and soul. He is strong for her and able to handle her deepest struggles. It is not normal for a man to ridicule a woman for her weakness . . . or make her hate herself for being a woman. A Christian man is forever in awe and wonder over his wife because he is captivated by her.
  4. It is normal for a Christian husband and wife to talk about things together and make decisions together. It is not normal for a husband to make decisions without the valuable input of his wife.

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