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.

 

With Family Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

I was thinking about crazy-making this past week and this one situation keeps coming to mind and I thought I would share.

A few years ago as we were needing a place to live and things were not looking good, I had sat in my parent’s kitchen visiting with my mom. My mom said that if we got desperate and needed a place to stay we could come and stay with her and my father in their home. I sat and nodded thinking all the while “Over my dead body will I come and live here!”  As I left  she added, “Your husband is not welcome here .” Well, not a big deal, (I thought silently to myself) I didn’t really like him that much anyway – and I wasn’t planning on moving there! I just nodded, said thank you and left.

A day later I got a phone call from my mother. “How dare you ask to move in here. There is no way you are welcome here. You should just get a real job and divorce your husband. I cannot believe you would even presume to think you would be able to just move into our house.”

Huh?

Oh, wait a minute. I apparently asked for something I never ever wanted? Why would I go live in a home with a verbally abusive – and obviously crazy-making mother who never liked me or my children anyway? Why would I subject my children to that?

I was dumbfounded but it highlighted something I suspected was true. My mom played mind games with people. She’s had a fight with her mother-in-law for eons and tries to get her children to side with her on how “evil” Grandma is. I’m probably the only one who sees through the game playing. I’m sure she’s nice to my Grandma just like she was to me and that WHAM! All of a sudden the unwarranted accusations fly and she tells it to all and sundry to show how evil Grandma is and how wonderful my mother is.

Right. (I’m shaking my head here.)

I’m sure my siblings have heard how awful I am too. Needless to say – we are not close.

I love my Grandmother because I can see the same confusion in her that I felt when I got that call and everything was twisted around. Psychological abuse. Gas-lighting. Whatever you want to call it. It’s just nasty and evil.

Did I mention my mother is a psychotherapist? Or maybe she’s just – psycho. Any wonder I’m married to a man similar to her (no wonder they despise each other!). Interestingly enough, my sister who is employed and recently divorced – is now living with my parents along with her son and dog. Apparently she was welcome but I’m not?

Sometimes it’s hard to see our reality as true when we are hit with this kind of stuff. I’m more and more seeing for what it is and as sad as that reality is – it’s also freeing to me.

Do you have any examples of this kind of crazy-making in your own life that you need validation for?

Blessings,

Lilly Grace