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Boundaries, Control and Manipulation

Discussion in 'Separation and Marriage Restoration' started by Kimberley74, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. Kimberley74

    Kimberley74 New Member

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    Married
    My husband and I have been in counseling for over a year now without making much progress. A few months ago, our therapist suggested that we move to individual counseling. She has recognized some emotional abuse coming from him and I stayed with her while he went to another counselor. She is helping me be more assertive in situations with him... and she is on my side. He is controlling and manipulative and treats me like a child a lot of the time. I am doing the best I can right now to gain some strength from my own therapy and pray that he will eventually be helped by his own individual therapy. I am especially enlightened with the Boundaries (Henry Cloud) books and seeing where a lot of hurt has come from my husband not allowing me to be free, and me enabling this behavior. A situation has come up that I'm just not sure how to handle in light of boundaries... any advice would be appreciated!

    I was hurt about 5 years ago by my church. I worked there for 10 years, and was let go. I won't get into that story but suffice to say, it was a difficult time for me and since then I've had hard time continuing to attend. My husband didn't want to change churches, so I go, but it's really just for him that I go and get my spiritual nourishment mainly from other sources. Recently, in the midst of Covid, the topic of changing churches came up again and I was hopeful. We are staying home and watching sermons online but it seems like a great time to explore some other congregations virtually. As I mentioned before, my husband is controlling. In theory, he says I can do whatever I want but when I don't attend church or mid-week service, or really anytime he doesn't get his way, he makes me feel guilty through manipulation or punishment. Understand, I am not against going to church at all... but in the busyness of the week with 3 kids and a medical condition that leaves me exhausted sometimes, I need a quiet night at home. The church we currently go to has a Wednesday night Bible Study that is 30 mins... so in his mind since it isn't an actual church service he is OK with me missing out on it and he can let that go.

    In looking at churches, I found a church I really wanted to try so I sent him the website so he could look it over and read about it. A few days went by and I didn't hear anything from him about it so I asked. He basically said "well, I think this church will cause problems for us. They have a full Wednesday night service and I am going to want to go, and you aren't." I said "Well, what is the problem with that? We can't do our own separate things sometimes on Wednesdays?"... to which he replied, "If I'm going to go to church alone, then I get to pick the church."

    I have no idea how to handle this. As a grown adult, I feel I have every right to decide on a given Wednesday if I am going or not. I basically feel treated as a child. In reading the Boundaries books... I am confused sometimes on how it can be applicable to certain situations, this being one of them. In my mind, he is punishing me for creating a boundary for myself and what I do on Wednesdays, and making me feel like a child who has the consequence of just being out of luck in having any say as to what church we choose.

    How do I respond to him? What would be the healthy thing to do here?
     
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  2. NerdGirl123

    NerdGirl123 Active Member

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    Explain how his words and behavior are making you feel. Then go to whatever church you feel comfortable going to, whenever you feel comfortable going.

    His attitude is baffling to me. You aren't made into a good Christian by attending church on Wednesday nights. You aren't made into a bad Christian by staying home on Wednesdays. The Church is the people, and the Spirit lives within us. Being inside a building does not make us closer to God and being at home doesn't make us further from God. He just sounds a bit controlling and domineering and stuck on legalisms. Making your wife feel like garbage about not going to church on a Wednesday night doesn't somehow make him a better Christian, husband, or father. I hope he can realize that and chill out.
     
  3. Kimberley74

    Kimberley74 New Member

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    United States
    Christian
    Married
    Completely agree with your thoughts around the church. He grew up very fundamentalist and I have had to nagivate around this for most of our marriage. Enabling it has really done a number on us as I am not very assertive. There is so much control and manipulation around everything I do. I did think of maybe making my own decisions about church like you said but it will not go over well. I just want to make sure I do it in a healthy way with the ultimate goal of eventually coming together and not an act of revenge.
     
  4. NerdGirl123

    NerdGirl123 Active Member

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    It's not revenge to make your own choices. You're a grown woman with a mind of your own. You had a hurtful experience at your current church, which I assume he knows all about. It's a pity that he doesn't view that wound that you experienced with gentleness or compassion, and understand that another church would be more comfortable for you. It's not as if God and the Spirit aren't present in other groups of believers! The way people get cliquish about 'this church vs that church' drives me crazy sometimes lol.

    In my opinion, if you tell him how you feel, and he refuses to budge to meet you halfway, then you're justified in doing what you need to do for your own spiritual health and well being. That's not revenge. That's just being a woman with a mind of her own who makes decisions for herself. I'm sure he isn't losing any sleep over his freedom to make his choices and his wants and decisions known. Don't feel that your voice, your wants, or your needs are less valid because you're "the woman".
     
  5. Kimberley74

    Kimberley74 New Member

    3
    +0
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    So after praying about it, I've formulated a response to him. I'm not sure if I'll text him this or just talk to him about it, but this is essentially what I want to say. Advice welcome :)

    "I am really hurt and sad by your reaction to my church suggestion. If you had found a problem with the belief statements, or something of that nature, I would have understood and moved on to find something else that we could both be happy with. However, it seems you are prohibiting me from having a say in the matter at all if I don’t agree to attendance on Wednesdays. Contrary to what it seems you think of me, I am interested in growing spiritually… even though it doesn’t look to you how you want it to look. Just because there is mid-week service does not mean I feel it is my duty as Christian to go. For our current church study, it initially was a lot of extra driving and time for a short 30 min study and while I was already doing a lot of driving with the kids, I craved the quiet evenings to myself. Things have changed now and schedules aren’t so busy. I have done book studies and Bible studies outside of church that I feel are just as relevant to me. I don’t feel like going to mid-week services are a required or essential part of church life. I’m not even saying I won’t go either. I’d definitely give it a chance and if I felt like it was something I want to continue with, I would go. I just refuse to have it be something for which I’m just doing to check a box. I always hate to use this as an excuse or cop out, but the energy level surrounding my disability is sometimes a factor as well. Regardless of whatever I decide on the matter (ie my personal decision and boundary), or whatever reasons I give for it, it’s MY choice. The fact that you are saying I no longer should have as much of a say in choosing a church not only feels controlling and manipulative, but very hurtful. My ultimate hope was for us to come together and find something we both feel good about. Somewhere that would enable us to to both grow spiritually. That you would allow me the freedom to make my own decisions about attendance without being judgmental. If we cannot come together, I feel like I have a few options to choose from. I can wait, and be passive yet prayerful, and hope that you find and decide on a church that we are both happy with. While I feel that this option doesn’t really deal with your hurtful response, it could end up working out in the end. The other option I have is for you to come together with me and compromise and take my Wednesday church attendance out of the decision. Thirdly, and least desirable of all, is that you refuse to compromise, and choose a church regardless of how I feel about it. In this last instance, I might feel the need to go my separate way from you on Sunday. Though I don’t want that, I feel like it would be the healthy thing to do for our relationship and my spiritual growth. I sincerely hope and pray you will consider coming together with me on this."
     
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