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Help! I Love My Abusive Husband So Much! [Episode 244]

Help! I Love My Abusive Husband So Much!

Share with a woman who needs hope!

Today I’m answering some more listener questions, including, “What do I do when I love my abusive husband so much?” “Should I give my abusive husband resources and books to read about his abuse?” and “Can my abusive husband change?” I KNOW you’ve thought of that last question yourself, so stick around, and let’s have a conversation about these important topics. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An analogy about Grown Man, Grown Woman, and Little Boy.
  • How to break the cycle of abuse. 
  • Why leaving your books about emotional abuse lying around the house may not be the best idea. 
  • Why OCD, narcissism, and other personality disorders do not excuse abusive behavior. 

Related Resources:

  • We have a lot of podcast episodes on the topic of “Can my abusive husband change?” Take a look at our archives: Episode 1, Episode 22, Episode 27, Episode 39, Episode 51, and Episode 196
  • Flying Free, my private, online membership program for Christian women in emotionally abusive marriages, is the perfect place to learn how to change yourself instead of beating your head against a wall trying to change your abusive husband. Give yourself three months in the program, and you’ll see incredible growth. 
  • Flying Higher is my online membership program for Christian women who have divorced their emotionally abusive ex. Come rebuild your life with other women just like you!
  • I wrote a book called Is It Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage for the woman who is confused about why her marriage is so incredibly painful and is wondering if it’s all her fault. Read my book today and find out for yourself today!

Suscribe to the Flying Free Podcast

Hi. This is Natalie Hoffman of, and you’re listening to the Flying Free Podcast, a support resource for women of faith looking for hope and healing from hidden emotional and spiritual abuse.

NATALIE: Welcome to Episode 244 of the Flying Free Podcast. Today we are going to answer some listener questions, so let’s dive in.

LISTENER: I am trying to convince myself that divorce or official separation is the right option, but I still love my husband dearly. The red flag that popped up recently is he is refusing to allow our seven-year-old to go to therapy for anxiety and trauma, and he says if I push it, then he’ll stop going to his own therapy. And now that he’s in therapy himself, meaning he’s gone to one session instead of just agreeing to it, saying he’ll go, and stalling and not making the appointment, but now that he’s made the appointment, I need to put in a lot more effort in our relationship to match the effort that he’s putting in when he doesn’t want to be in therapy in the first place.

Our apartment is a triggering place for me to be. I can’t be there for more than a few days without being completely overwhelmed, even if it is tidy and clean and organized. So I’m living with my parents, but he refuses to spend time at my parent’s house and yet says we can’t work on our marriage if we’re not spending time together, which I agree on that. But I shut down when I’m at our apartment and I don’t know what our options are. I want to do what’s right for my family, for my kids especially, but I love him. I love him so much, and I feel stuck.

NATALIE: Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the truth when we’re living in the middle of it. So when I’m working with women in the forum, they’ll often express how stuck they feel because the way they see themselves and the things that they believe about themselves are all mixed up with so many lies that they’ve either grown up believing that were embedded into their programming as children or that have been programmed into them as an adult through various experiences that they’ve had or relationships that they’ve had. So they are not able to see an accurate view of who they are, who their husband is, who their kids are, what kind of culture they are swimming in, or anything very clearly because the lies get all mixed up in the truth, okay? 

So a simple question that I often ask them to help them gain a little bit of insight or clarity is, “Let’s say that this thing you just told me about was happening to your child — to your little girl — or to your best friend. Tell me what would be true about this situation if it were happening to someone else, but not you.”

And that usually opens up their mind to see that they would never tolerate certain things for their child or for their friend, and they would never believe that their child or their friend deserved to be treated in the ways that they think they deserve to be treated, but they believe that they do. And I want people to start seeing themselves from more of a bird’s eye view or a third-party perspective so they can see that they, the person who has their name, if they look at themselves as if they’re looking at someone else, they’re just as human and precious and deserving of respect and love in this world as any other human being is, because they value those things, right? We value other people. We value things like loving and respecting others, but for some reason, there’s a disconnect when it comes to ourselves. And the interesting thing is that the only person that God has given them 100% responsibility for, to take care of and steward that life and protect, is themselves. 

Now, this is a lightbulb moment for many women. In fact, it is the number one lightbulb that absolutely must turn on if any of us wants to change our lives and the course of human history, because I teach that when you change your life, you are changing human history. 

So I’m going to tell you a story about three people, and I’m hoping that this story will help you disconnect yourself a little bit so you can see yourself from a more of a third-party perspective. So the story has three characters. I’m not going to give them names… Well, I am. I’m going to call them Grown Man, Grown Woman, and Little Child. So the first person is called Grown Man. Now, Grown Man, in this story, believes that everyone else needs to take care of him. They need to allow him to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. The whole world revolves around him in his own mind. And if they don’t, then he thinks they’re mean, and he’ll tell them so: “You’re mean.” Or he’ll say that they don’t love him, or they don’t care about the relationship, or they don’t care about the marriage because they’re not letting him have his way.

Grown Man does not believe that he needs to invest in the relationship unless it’s in his way on his terms. Grown Man is not intrinsically interested in investing, in understanding, or comprehending the perspectives of the other two members of his family and their experiences. But he does expect them to give up their own safety and their own perspective and their own minds and their own opinions and their own ideas in order to manage his emotions and make his life the way he wants it.

So they are like little characters in his little universe — little toys. They’re not allowed to be in safe places, they’re not allowed to get help — only he is. They are just toys for him to manipulate. They are his property. They owe him their lives, and he owes them nothing. Instead, he owns them. So when they ask for help or they request some space, Grown Man tells them, “Oh, you are so bad and selfish and unloving for expecting that.” Or when they ask him to work on himself, he’ll just accuse them of not working on themselves and not making it easy for him to do the work of an adult. Grown Man is not a grown man. He’s an emotionally stunted abuser

And actually, that’s a problem for everyone who buys into this man’s universe, everyone who gives this man and everything he believes credibility. His abusive, entitled mindset is a problem only for those who give him credibility and buy into his reality. He’s like a little tornado, and anyone who gets too close gets sucked into that crazy vortex and then experiences chaos. And that’s a problem, right?

So the next person in the story is Grown Woman. Now, Grown Woman believes that Grown Man is credible and is saying the truth and that his ideas about how he’s basically the center of the universe are probably true. She believes he’s right. When he programs her to be responsible for him, she buys into his story that it’s her job to love him, cater to his whims, give him whatever he wants, keep him calm and happy, and cover for him. And she believes that if she does this that he will love her, and that’s what Grown Woman wants. She wants to be loved, she wants to be seen, she wants to exist in the universe as a worthy person who deserves love and respect just like anyone else. That’s what we all want, right? 

But the problem is that she thinks that if Grown Man loves her, this other person loves her, then she’s going to be happy and she’s going to have all the things she needs. Now, that’s not true, but that’s what she believes. And because she believes this, she’s going to continue to bow to his wishes even though it never works and it always seems to blow up in her face — even though that happens over and over again — because she’s been programmed with this idea. She’ll just keep trying it.

Now, by the way, even though her brain has been programmed and keeps running in this loop, her body actually knows what’s true. That’s why she’s so triggered every time she goes back into the space of her apartment where all of the abuse is taking place. So she might be able to lie to herself in her thoughts — and I’m not saying she’s doing that on purpose, that’s just what brains do. Her brain can’t help it — it’s what all of our brains do. Our brains go on a programming, and if the programming is all a bunch of lies, our brains don’t know the difference — they just believe what it’s been programmed with. 

So her brain will keep looping on that, but her body is not going to lie to her. Her body is actually screaming the truth. And she’s semi-started listening to her body because she’s gotten away. But now that she’s away, her brain is going back to that loop going, “Well, but maybe, possibly, let’s try again.” 

So another person in this story is Little Boy. He needs help, but nobody can help him because all of the focus and attention is on the Grown Man and his little tornado vortex — everything he believes. Their whole entire universes and worlds are revolving around this Grown Man. And Grown Man isn’t going to help Little Boy because Grown Man wants and gets all the attention. And the Grown Woman wants to help Little Boy, but she’s limited in her ability to help him because she’s still caught up in being revolved around Grown Man. And she’s still afraid that Grown Man won’t love her if she sets boundaries. And she wants Grown Man to love her and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to do that. Grown Man’s love is her focus. This means that Little Boy gets whatever is left over. 

Now both of his parents — I want you guys to understand this, this is very important — both of the adults in his life are looking for someone else outside of themselves to manage their emotions, and then there’s nothing left over to help him manage his. 

And here’s the difference, though, between these adults and this little boy. Both of the adults have fully developed brains and are resourced because they’re adults. They have autonomy, they have choices, they have the ability to get a job, they have ability to make money, they have ability to provide, they have an ability to do things in the world and to move in the world. But neither one is willing to access their own inner resources, and so they continue to look outside of themselves to get their needs met. Grown Man looks to everyone else around him to make him the center of attention, and Grown Woman is looking to Grown Man to get her needs met for love. 

And is that working for either of them? No, it’s not working. Neither one of them is getting what they need. Neither one of them is offering love to the other one. I know this woman said she loves her husband, but what her husband actually needs is not what this woman is giving him, and we’ll get to that in a little minute. But this also means that because they’re not getting their own needs met within themselves, they don’t have very much left over to offer this child.

Now, this child does not have a fully developed brain. He does not have life’s resources. He does not have autonomy. He does not have choices. He can’t go out and provide for himself. He is completely at the mercy of his two parents. 

And this is how I see it: There isn’t anything anyone can do about Grown Man. I believe Grown Man is a bully. He’s selfish, entitled, he’s a narcissistic tyrant, and he is that way, why? Because it works for him. So far in his life, when he acts like that and demands his way, he gets it. He will never, ever have an opportunity to learn how to dig deep into himself to find the ability to grow and evolve and change and get unstuck as long as everyone else around him is giving him what he wants and never allowing him to reap the consequences of his destructive behavior. So he is stuck at a three-year-old emotional level and he doesn’t have anything to give to anyone else because he’s never learned how to grow up and be an adult who gives to himself and meets his own needs.

Do you see this? He’s like a parasite, like a little flea on a dog. He’s sucking the life out of his wife to get his own needs met instead of learning how to take care of himself for his emotional needs and learning emotional regulation skills and all of that on his own. He is forever going to rely on anyone else outside of himself, and therefore he will forever remain a stunted child. 

So the hope in this story does not lie with Grown Man. And the problem is — and we’re going to get to this in one of the last questions — the problem is that we’re always looking at the man in the situation… And it could be the woman. So if you’re a man listening to this and you listen to this or this podcast because you’re married to an emotionally abusive woman, just flip the genders. I help women. That’s why I talk about men being the abusers or the perpetrators and women being the victims or the survivors. But if you are genuinely in an abusive relationship, of course you can just flip the genders, okay? 

But I’m just saying the hope doesn’t lie with the abuser, because the abuser is a little bully in a grown man’s body. And I would actually argue that nobody in his life has ever truly loved him. They’ve only enabled him to remain stunted in his growth. I think he’s as unloved as it gets.

Okay, so now we’re going to look at Little Boy, all right? Little Boy is going to grow up emotionally stunted as well unless somebody comes along in his life, an adult comes along in his life, who is able to love him in the way that he needs to be loved. This cycle is going to continue with this child potentially growing up to be like his father, a tyrant and a bully, because he will have observed his entire life that it works to be that way because it worked for Dad to be that way. Or he could potentially grow up to be a perpetual victim and end up marrying a woman who is a tyrant and a bully because he observed how Mom lived her life and how trying to make that life work for her did work for her. She made that life work for her and stuck it out. And he might think that’s what he needs to do as well.

So one of those two trajectories of his life could potentially be his destiny unless the story is interrupted somehow. And like I said, the abuser is not the one who’s going to interrupt the story in order to break this intergenerational cycle. So that leaves Grown Woman, in my opinion. I think in this particular story, the hope in the story is for Grown Woman to learn what love actually is. Right now she thinks that love is trying to make another person be kind and caring by giving him feedback, covering for him, helping him to be happy, trying to make him nicer by her altering her behavior so that he is not put out or in any discomfort that would make him upset and angry and a naughty person. 

But that’s not love — that’s manipulation. Now, it’s not abusive manipulation, but it is manipulation. We’re trying to manipulate someone else’s behaviors through our own, and it is dysfunctional codependence.

But here’s the thing. I have so much hope for Grown Woman because I’ve seen thousands of grown women wake up to see how they have been really swept into this kind of lifestyle. And then they bravely and radically begin to look at the reality of their situation, accept it, and then make decisions accordingly.

So I think Grown Woman has the best chance of actually growing up in order to give her children the best chance of also growing up to live lives of emotional safety and stability. But here’s what Grown Woman needs to do. First of all, she needs to radically accept what’s true here, her reality. She needs to acknowledge the truth that Grown Man is abusive to her, he’s using her, and he’s mistreating their child. And then she needs to make a big adult decision, a decision that aligns with her own core values. A decision not about how she’s going to manage Grown Man and continue to revolve around him, but about how she’s going to manage herself and show up for her own life. This is going to require her to cut her abuser loose and stop making him the focus of her existence at the expense of herself and her child. And then she needs to focus on her own healing and on getting help for her child who desperately needs an adult to show up for him. 

Now, if you’re listening and Grown Woman sounds a lot like you, then I want you to know you don’t have to try to figure out how to change all by yourself. I can help you, and I can do that within a large community of other grown women who are walking this exact same journey. I was Grown Woman. I still am sometimes. And if I can change the entire course of my own life and the lives of my nine kids, so can you.

So I want to encourage you to join me inside of the Flying Free program if you can. Almost every week I hear about different programs or classes or seminar series. They come across my Facebook feed or my Instagram account, or sometimes I even get emails about them. And these things are supposed to help women heal and recover. And I am sure they’re all wonderful and helpful in different ways. But when I look at how much people are charging for some of these resources, sometimes I choke. $600 for a two-week class or $6,000 for a three-month training. And then when you’re done, it’s over. There’s no more support. There’s no more follow-up. 

I have women who have been in my program in Flying Free for four years and longer and they’ve spent less than a thousand dollars for all of that time. This is years’ worth of ongoing help and support. Literally, they could come into the forum every single day if they wanted to and get help. Weekly coaching, classes, workshops — all of this is included and it’s $290 for one whole year of education and support. And that’s the cost of about two to three therapy sessions. But if that’s too large of a chunk of money, you can join for $29 a month as well. And you can take as many classes as you want for $29 a month.

You get everything all at once. I don’t drip our courses or classes. I let members come in and feast if they want you to. They can listen to years’ worth of past coaching calls, live Q&A calls. All of the things have been recorded and are on replays in video and audio format. I also make it easy to cancel at any time by providing a cancellation link in every single Monday morning member email I send out. This program is organized, it’s easy to use, and it’s life-changing, and I want to share what one woman has to say about it. 

LISTENER: I wanted to say how much the Flying Free program has helped me in the last year. It’s been helping in ways that I expected, but also a lot of ways that I didn’t expect. Like the parenting class is so different than any other parenting stuff that I heard before. And I knew that I needed to change away from the stuff that I was always fed and the evangelical parenting kind of ideas, but I just didn’t know that there were ways to treat my kids with so much respect and kind of giving them control, giving them agency, and seeing what they do without trying to micromanage or control things.

Right now in my life I am in real poverty, and things are really hard because I didn’t realize when I left that I wouldn’t be able to work. I didn’t realize how bad my chronic illnesses were. And so I left only to find out that I can’t even work a basic job. I couldn’t even work at McDonald’s or anything. But as I piece things together and try to limp along, it never felt bad to pay the fee to Flying Free to be in it because it’s been my lifeline, especially just being able to not feel isolated. 

If I ever feel overwhelmed or feel like I’m the only one who has this horrible life trying to piece together things after it feels like this man who I married just completely smashed my entire life and made my future horrible… That’s how it feels a lot of the time. But then I can come on here and I can take the classes, which I go back to again and again. Or going on the forum and reading things — it’s always helpful. I feel so settled down every time I do that because I know that other people are getting through it and I know that other people are surviving, even if they’re in a really bad place and they haven’t built a wonderful new life yet

It’s so good to know that we’re in it together because right now, I’ve never known anyone in my real life that I’ve met face-to-face who had a husband like this or who had to launch out this way from divorce. The divorced people I knew, they had more of a healthy marriage before and they have a better co-parent with their husband, and in this group, people get where I am and they get how different it is and how everything I care about is completely different than those people. So anyway, I just couldn’t be more grateful. 

NATALIE: Thank you so much for leaving that testimony. It’s really encouraging to me, and I hope it encourages those of you who have felt like you’re on the fence about joining and you’re not really sure you’re going to get that much out of it. “Is it going to be worth it?” I get it — being careful to spend your money where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. And so I appreciate hearing that this person took the time to share from her heart all that this program has meant to her. And it’s not just what she’s getting out of it right now; it’s how it’s going to change the course of her life moving into the future. Not just her life, but the lives of her children as well. So let’s listen to the next question, okay?

LISTENER: Hi, I was curious as to whether you ever suggest having an abusive partner read resources and books about emotional abuse from a victim’s point of view. Does it ever change a heart for them to see it explained or to see how maybe their actions and words are actually patterns that can be identified in the lives of other couples, that other husbands might do and act the same way when he thinks that he’s just being original or that this is just exclusive to our marriage? It feels like I would love for him to understand better, and yet it also feels a little unsafe in that by reading those resources, he might be able to manipulate and know how to speak and act in a way that would belie the symptoms and characteristics shown in a resource like that.

So I just wondered, has that worked for people? Has it been a good source of opening up communication, validating what victim or wife is saying about how she feels, or does it end up usually backfiring? 

NATALIE: Yeah, it always ends up backfiring. And I say that very confidently, not just from personal experience, but also from working in a private forum for many years and hearing hundreds of stories of how victims, they tend to do the same things over and over, and then it’s the same result every time. This is one of those typical things that a survivor feels compelled to do when they are at the beginning process of waking up to the abuse that’s going on in their relationship. It’s a painful waking up, but it’s also a relief because now you kind of have language to describe what’s been going on and you want to tell people. You want them to know.

And you still have this hope because your brain’s been looping on this for so long. You still have this hope that maybe they will get it, okay? Your brain automatically goes to this thought: “Oh, so this is how I can fix my marriage,” because hasn’t your brain been doing that all along as soon as you find something that might be the solution? “Yes!”

So when you wake up to the abuse, your brain is going to keep on doing what it always has done — it’s in a loop — and your hope of change is going to require you to interrupt that loop. If you really do want the situation to change, you actually have to interrupt the loop that says, “Oh, it’ll change by changing my husband if I can just get them to change. So if my husband just knew what he was doing, then he would stop, right?” No. If you look back at the evidence in your relationship, you will see that you’ve already tried to get him to see what’s been going on in your own words. Just because he has now clinical words to use, or now that you have clinical words and you offer those clinical words for him, it’s not going to make any difference to him, okay? 

In fact, well, I’m going to tell you what happens next. So I did this when I started reading books and waking up. I shared little pieces with my husband. I told him, I just straight up told him, “I figured it out. What you’re doing is actually emotionally abusive.” And I left my books out. I didn’t try to hide them or read them covertly. I just left them out. And guess what? He did pick them up. Even though he was not a reader, and I don’t think he read a single book the entire time we were married, in the over two decades we were married, but he did pick them up and he did skim through them. 

And you know what happened next? He just started using the lingo in the books on me. So, for example, if your husband speaks harshly to one of your children and you bring that to his attention, you give him feedback on that, before he might say, “You’re such a nag,” or “You’re making such a big deal out of nothing,” or “I’m the father, and you just stay out of my business when I’m dealing with the kids.”

But now he might say, “Well, you’re being emotionally abusive to me,” or “Well, you’re just trying to control me,” or “You’re crossing my boundaries now.” And what’s even worse is that they’ll use this terminology in any marriage counseling that you might try to get as well. 

Which, by the way, I never, ever recommend getting marriage counseling if you’re being emotionally abused. Ever. It’s like the very worst thing that you can do. It’s a hundred times worse if you go to a biblical marriage counselor. And I share some of these experiences in my upcoming book, but if you don’t want to take my word for it, I get it. I didn’t really believe some of these things myself. I had to try them out just to see. You go try it and then you can write your own book about it. I promise you will get a painful, juicy story out of the experience. Or instead, you can just not do it and spare yourself the agony.

Again, this is not just my own personal experience. This is the story of hundreds of women just like us. It’s like a broken record. Someone can tell me their story, and they do, and I know what’s going to happen next depending on what decision they make. I know if they go in this part of the fork of the road what’s going to happen and if they go to that part of the fork in the road what’s going to happen on that road because I’ve watched it happen so many hundreds and hundreds of times and because this is a thing. 

Abusers and survivors react and respond in very predictable ways until one of them breaks, interrupts, the cycle. The abuser never interrupts the cycle. It’s always the victim who decides to say, “Enough is enough, something’s got to give, I’m going to interrupt this cycle somehow.”

So the way off the merry-go-round is to interrupt what you would normally do, what your brain is screaming at you to do. And instead of doing what your brain is saying, which is the same old, same old, you get help and support to do something different. So instead of sharing all of these amazing insights with your abuser — which is basically like letting your kidnapper know that you just found the key to the basement he’s locked you in — so instead of doing that, what if you just focused on your own education and growth and transformation — and I would never leave books out like that again; I would keep them to myself — and let him focus on his if he wants to, which most likely he does not?

So speaking of whether or not your husband wants to change or can change, let’s listen to the last question.

LISTENER: Natalie, I want you to know that finding your podcast has totally been a lifeline to me. I’ve been recovering from a hysterectomy the past two weeks, so I’ve had a lot of downtime to listen, and I have been soaking up all of your episodes about covert narcissism. I found out about a week before surgery that my husband is a covert narc. We’ve ruled out everything: emotional immaturity, neurodivergence — we’ve looked at everything and we are down to covert narc, covert abuse. I really appreciated the questions and the clarity in this episode, and I’m definitely going to implement what you taught. 

I do have a question where I feel like my situation is a little bit more hairy and a little bit more tricky, and I want to make best use of my situation and the things that are at my fingertips. So my husband was treated for OCD at the beginning of the year at a treatment center and he’s on medication as well, and at the treatment center they picked up on the personality disorder and transferred him over to a DBT treatment center, and he’s been there since February. He will be there till next April, so we still have nine months. He’s doing private and group therapy. He seems semi-willing, but I would just love to hear if you have thoughts and maybe some questions that I can ask that would still maintain my safety yet would help me to flesh out, is he in treatment because it’s fun for him and it feeds his victimhood, or is he really changing? Thanks again for everything. You are fabulous. Bye. 

NATALIE: Okay, so I’ve talked a lot about the question, “Can he change?” here on the podcast and in my private forum. We talk about it in some of the classes that I teach in Flying Free. It is one of the top three questions that women of faith want to know about. Why? Because if he can change, then there’s hope for the marriage and your entire life doesn’t have to fall apart. You can keep going, you can keep things the same, and that feels good to us humans. We don’t like change. We especially don’t want our entire world to turn upside down. So survivors are very invested in this question of whether or not their husband can change. It’s like their whole future depends upon it. 

I don’t think this particular situation is actually any more tricky or hairy than any other situation I’ve heard about. This particular abuser got diagnosed and held accountable and decided to go to DBT therapy, most likely because someone along the way gave him the impression that if he didn’t do that, then he might suffer some consequences. Maybe he’d lose his marriage or his family relationships. Most human beings are willing to jump through hoops to keep things the same, and abusers are no exception.

Now, I personally think there are a lot of abusers who have undiagnosed personality disorders, and they will never know about it. But whether or not your abuser is a covert narc, has been diagnosed as being bipolar, or has NPD or BPD, or is a psychopath, or maybe he’s on the autistic spectrum, or maybe he’s just emotionally immature, none of that matters, you guys. None of it. Their diagnosis or their lack of diagnosis, their going to therapy or not going to therapy, their love bombing or their not love bombing, their drama or their feelings or their choices, them, them, them, them, them, none of that matters for you. 

What matters for you is super simple and not dependent on anything about them. And it’s this: How does their behavior — it doesn’t matter why they behave that way; we’re just going to look at the behavior itself — how does their behavior impact your life, and do you want your life to be impacted in that way? And if you don’t, what are you going to do to minimize or protect yourself from that impact?

Notice how I’m taking the control out of the hands of the abuser — yikes. Do we really want our lives to be at the whims of a bully? No, we don’t. We want to take back our power and control. I’m taking it back away from them and their drama, and I’m putting it squarely in your arms, in your hands. So what we’re doing is we’re switching the focus from the abuser and his little tornado to the survivor, and that’s what you need to do, too. You have to stop perseverating over whether or not your husband can change, and you have to start asking yourself whether or not you are going to change. 

And when I talk about your change, I’m not talking about you changing to be a better person so that he will be nicer or change his behavior. That’s what you’ll hear in your Bible counseling or even in some therapy, and for sure you’ll hear it in your churches, okay? They’ll be saying, “Well, you need to change and be a better person, and then your abuser will change or your husband will change.” That’s not true. I’m talking about you changing so that instead of you hiding and pretending and being a shadow of yourself and basically disappearing and not living your full life and your full potential, that you change and transform and go through a metamorphosis into the next adult version of yourself where you can be fully and completely who you are without apologies and without fear of repercussions. That is the only kind of change that’s going to get you unstuck and moving forward into your own life, the life that God gave to you. So we have to stop asking, “Can my husband change?” and we need to start asking, “Can I change? Am I willing to change?” 

So let’s talk about this particular guy. He’s got a personality disorder sounds like. People with personality disorders like this guy, he can learn skills to manage his emotions and his relationships, and DBT therapy is a therapy of choice for this type of diagnosis, but they will always have that personality disorder and they will always have to manage their symptoms. And whoever is in their life will be required to go along for the ride. That’s just the reality of the situation. 

Right now this person said that her husband is “semi-willing” and he’s doing “pretty good.” And yes, most people like this do pretty good when they aren’t triggered by the challenges of real adult life like building an adult relationship with a wife and parenting children. Most abusers do great sitting in a pew in church. Not a whole lot is required of them. Most of them do pretty good at work, depending on what kind of pressures they have there. Most of them do pretty good when they’re pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store or when they’re sitting on a couch in therapy getting a lot of attention or anywhere else where they are not experiencing the pressures and challenges of normal, everyday life at home.

This is much like a child does fairly good, pretty good, at the park when he’s sliding down the slides, holding a sucker. Well, you might not want your child to slide down a slide holding a sucker, but you get my point, right? But the child is not doing so great when he’s required to clean his room or take a bath.

So can your husband change with some DBT therapy? I don’t think so. DBT therapy is going to give him some skills, it’s going to intellectually teach him some things that he didn’t know before, but whether or not he will end up putting those things to good use in a way that actually impacts your life positively, that brings safety to your life, into the lives of your children, that creates an environment where you can blossom and be exactly who you are, even on your bad days, and he’s able to handle that, it’s not likely.

And I am speaking as someone who has a child with diagnosed BPD and has had years of DBT group and individual therapy. And I also have a child on the autism spectrum who’s had years of therapy that has enabled him and also the therapy that the child with BPD has — these therapies have enabled them to be mainstreamed, to have friendships, to relate in all the usual ways, but my son still has autism. He’s still going to show up with autistic traits and behaviors. And those of us who live with him every day, we have to give a little. We have to offer some concessions. We have to work together with him to manage some of those behaviors. Does that make sense?

All right, so if you’re listening and you want to talk more about this idea of “Can my partner change?” it’s a huge question, and I have talked about it quite a bit on my podcast in the past. So I’m going to tell you where you can go to learn more about this. Actually, the very first episode that I ever recorded for the Flying Free Podcast, guess what it’s called? “How Can You Tell if Your Abusive Partner Has Changed?” and I talked with Bob Hamp. And he’s just a great guy and he had some incredible insights into this. So if you haven’t actually started at the beginning, just go back to Episode 1 and listen to that, and just tons of truth bombs in that particular episode. 

So beyond that, though, you can also go to Episode 22. This one’s called, “But Maybe God Will Do a Miracle and Change My Husband!” And by the way, when I give you these episode numbers, you can either go to your favorite podcast app and look it up, but some of the podcast apps don’t put the numbers on them. They just put the titles. So then it’s harder to find. But you can also find them on my website if you go to and then the number of the episode. So and — that’s going to get you to this next one — or this next one is 27: “If I Leave My Abusive Marriage, Am I Giving Up On the Power of God to Change My Husband?” Or Episode 39: “I Can’t Stop Hoping He Will Change His Abusive Behavior.” Or Episode 51: “Can My Alcoholic Husband Change?” And then the last one is a more recent one, Episode 196: “How Far Should I Go to Give My Emotionally Abusive Husband a Chance to Change?” So that’s or whatever episode you’re looking for. 

And by the way, I realized I forgot to say when we were talking about Flying Free, if you want to learn more about Flying Free and work with me and many other women, including some other amazing coaches, you can go to All of the details are there. There’s a ton of reviews over there. All the FAQs are there and you can complete an application to join us. We do have an application process. It’s just a little bit of a rigmarole to get in, but once you’re in, I promise you, you’re going to be so glad that you joined — if you apply yourself, obviously. 

Sometimes people join and they don’t do anything with it. Maybe they’re too busy or maybe it just wasn’t the right time. But I promise if you join and you do the program the way it’s meant to be done, three months from now you’re going to be more completely yourself, who you truly are in your core self — you’re going to discover who that person is — than you are right now. That’s what I can promise you. And you might be showing up in very different ways in your life. And I’m telling you, it’s only going to take you about three months. A year from now, it’s just going to be exponentially even better. So head over to and find out more.

Hey, beautiful butterfly. Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe, and then consider leaving a rating and review so others can find us. To connect with me and get a free chapter of my book, head over to, and until next time, fly free.

"I have been listening to Flying Free for many months now. These truths are what I’ve been so hungry for, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Jesus invites us to put on our sandals and walk with him (not behind Him), to learn how He does life and relationships. It’s a breath of fresh air!"
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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Gail Wood
    October 14, 2023

    Always amazing insights