Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

I’ve been pondering this part of the love chapter from Corinthians 13. It’s bothering me and maybe that’s good.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. 

In spite of how bad my marriage can be, my husband is not all bad. He can do nice things. He can be charming and witty. He is highly intelligent and can speak well on variety of subjects. He can be generous. But I used to naively think that when those nice times happened it meant a change. That things would be better. I’ve never had an apology.

So I tried to keep no record. And I was led to believe that all the reasons he was angry were my fault.

Ripper_Grunge[1]In spite of my masters degree in counseling psychology, I’d never taken a class on abusers and the psychology of emotional, verbal or physical abuse. I had never heard of gaslighting. According to Wikipedia it’s defined to “a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

So for all my education, the fact is, I was gaslighted as a kid too. So it took far longer for me to recognize this for what it was. Abuse.

My spouse is financially controlling. He refuses to give me money. He hides his money (even though I live in a marital property state).  He’s blamed his financial failures on me. Any struggles in his business are never his fault but someone else is always to blame.

There will be months of getting no money to buy simple things, like feminine products, dog food, shampoo or even a box of hair color since I’m not allowed to get my hair cut. So when he’s about to leave town and hands me a $50 bill I say thank you but am not deluded in thinking that he has suddenly become a loving and caring husband I’ve longed in my heart for.

Then there are the repeated broken promises. More like manipulations to get his way that he never fulfills. Or just another way to string me along to pull the rug out from under me and watch me crash. Again, usually around areas where he would have to spend money. “We’re broke” is his frequent excuses as he indulges in whatever his heart desires to buy.

I work hard to forgive. I leave the justice for my husband’s abuse in the hands of God. With no repentance there is no relationship between us beyond negotiating the care of our children. But when the good things come I know have to remind my romantic wishful heart of the core of who my husband is: a narcissistic abuser.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. I don’t have a physical list. I have friends who know the truth who can remind me when I get agitated about his mind games. They can remind me that he’s lied about money before. That he’s hiding money and using these concepts to abuse me. And they also remind me that God has always been faithful. God has always provided for my needs.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. There hasn’t been love in our marriage for a long time. Yes, my husband is an image-bearer of God. So I’ll work hard, with God’s help to treat him with respect even though I rarely receive that in return. But in order to stay grounded in a truth and fight the gaslighting, I have to remind myself of the harsh reality of the emotional/verbal/financial abuse. I don’t have bruises or broken bones to show.

Now because some will read this and tell me to leave – I’ll say this again. When God tells me to go, I will. In the meantime I will remind myself of the TRUTH. My husband is in name only. He does not love me as God commands. He may not even be capable of that. But God loves me and when HE says it’s time to separate, I will take that step in obedience to Him. In the meantime I will carve out a life for myself outside of that relationship. I will lean into God and seek to grow through the pain.

And I will keep a record.

 

Broken Promises

We get married and promise to love and honor and cherish. A man promises to provide and take care of his wife. To love her as Christ loves the church.

For many of us, that is not our reality.

Now to be sure, we fail as well as wives. We have our sinful tendencies and it is hard to humble oneself to apologize to a spouse who may use that against you in the future. At least that’s the way it is for me. But I apologize anyway.

Some have said I have a reason to divorce because of the broken marriage covenant. My spouse has abandoned the marriage bed (years ago) and treats me with derision and contempt and is financially and emotionally abusive (after 21 years of marriage he knows exactly where to strike).

And just when I think I’m doing well, satan will use my spouse to try to derail me from the ministry that God has called me to in the midst of my difficult circumstances.

See, my husband has broken the marriage covenant but that doesn’t necessitate divorce. I joked with one dear friend of mine that I was sold a false bill of goods on my wedding day and why isn’t there a lemon law for husbands? He led me to believe he would love, provide and care for me. But he has refused to do so.

Broken promises often negate a contract. But marriage is a covenant. And God shows in His word that many times when He has covenanted with his people – they have broken their end of the agreement. God has stayed faithful. Sometimes there have been consequences – but He has never abandoned the people He has called to Himself.

By extraction, as His child, He will never abandon me. That’s one of His promises. He will provide for me. And He has. He will be good even when I cannot see it or I feel pain. He never promises wealth or a life free of suffering. He promises to be with us always.

My spouse may not keep his promises but I am, with Christ’s help, trying to keep mine. I will treat him respect even when he as failed to earn that. He is an image bearer of God and for that alone He deserves to be treated with respect. And I want to model that for my kids. “Love your enemies” is hard when that “enemy” lives in your home.

I do all of this to honor Christ and HE has sustained me! He has provided. He has been faithful to His promises to me. He loves and cherishes me in ways my husband is unable or unwilling to do. I can entrust Him with the future of my marriage. He has blessed me with church leadership and dear safe friends to encourage me on the path as well. I often need Jesus with skin on – and just at that moment He has been there providing that.

Can you trust God to keep His promises to you? Will your life give testimony to that as you lean on Him in your struggles? I hope so!

Blessings,

LGB