Surviving a Destructive Marriage and How God is Restoring It

Recognizing you’re in a destructive marriage is both devastating and enlightening.

I found my marriage in an unexpected place. Or should I say I woke up to some serious issues that had been brushed under the rug for years? I don’t know if it’s a combination of the way I’m wired mixed with my own life experiences, but I’ve always been one to “keep the peace”.

Apologizing When You Aren’t in the Wrong

I didn’t want to “rock the boat” or make things worse. So often, when issues would arise, I would minimize them or even apologize when I hadn’t done anything wrong. Now, on the surface, and even as a Christian wife, apologizing when you haven’t done anything may seem “saintly” or “godly” or “holy”. But it really isn’t. It only robs your marriage of the opportunity for healing and growth. It robs your spouse of taking responsibility for himself and his own actions.

I believed that my apologizing showed my value for the relationship more than “being right”, but in reality, it only caused more destruction. Because it didn’t allow for the issues to be owned by the one they belonged to (in this case, my husband) and so they never got resolved.

Anger, Resentment, and Confusion

What added to the issue, and took a long time to figure out, but each time this happened, I’d stuff anger and resentment deep down in my heart. I was angry that not only did he not own his mistakes, but he allowed me to take responsibility for them. The anger and resentment would temporarily go away…until the next time we had yet another incident. Then it would all come back again and it would only continue to grow.

I remember during an incident one time thinking, “How can someone say he loves me so much and treat me like this?” I really wrestled with this. It added so much confusion to our relationship. I was living in a destructive marriage and had no idea what to do about it.

Owning Responsibility is a Large Part of Growing

I had my share of mistakes in the relationship that I owned up to. But often, I was owning up to what wasn’t mine to own, too. By taking his issues as mine, they were left unresolved because the power wasn’t within me to fix them. I couldn’t make my husband act a certain way or take responsibility—only he could do that.

When I realized what was happening and how this behavior, that I believed was “peacemaking” was actually hurting us, I stopped. I stopped apologizing when an issue wasn’t mine to own, and I allowed my husband to own what was his. So, if he acted out of anger or stress, I would not apologize for his actions. I stopped making excuses for him to other people. I was the last to fully see I was in a destructive marriage.

Know Yourself Apart from Your Husband

It’s so very important to know yourself in matters such as these. Trust your instincts and your intuition. If something feels “off” it probably is. Explore it further. If you feel at times you’re going crazy, you probably aren’t. Write down fights or conversations that are confusing and try to get as many details as you can. So much of the confusion is in the details.

My husband’s behaviors were abusive and destructive. Manipulation. Gaslighting. Love-bombing. Guilt. Threats. Lying.

Me “trying harder” as a wife only reinforced these behaviors. My husband needed to feel the weight of the destruction he was causing in order to stop.

I only helped contribute to our struggles by protecting my husband from himself and everyone else. I thought I was helping him, and helping us, but I was only further hurting him, myself, and our marriage. So I had to do my part and step back from rescuing him from himself.

Both Spouses Need to Work to Heal a Destructive Marriage

When all this came to light, we both set out to work on it; to work on us. My heart was heavily guarded. For the year prior to these struggles coming to light, I had slowly built a wall {emotionally} to protect myself. But the more my husband worked on his part, slowly the bricks began to come down.

Abuse doesn’t just happen and sometimes it’s not even fully realized by either party. It comes as a result of deeper issues or trauma that need resolving or healing. When those issues are worked through, the destructive behaviors cease as a result.

And while he’s been working, so have I been.

I dug deep down to remember the girl I was when we met. When our future was ahead of us and the possibilities so bright and hopeful. To this day, I fight to bring her back to the surface.

God intended marriage for good and His desire is for us all to have a beautiful, biblical union. But I think it’s also important to recognize and remember, we live in a fallen and sinful world. As people suffer individually through the sin of others, so will marriages as a result. God is faithful and can restore, but both spouses need to be willing for that to become a reality. Sometimes, that is not always the case.

My Heart Struggled to Trust

While my husband occasionally has bad days and sometimes rarely bad weeks that send me spiraling back into a trauma state, we continue to hang on.

My heart struggled to trust and feel safe. But I tried and trusted God, hard as it was. We were in a place where we needed to work on ourselves as individuals first. I needed to allow God to work in my heart and heal the parts that have been broken.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I highly recommend seeing a trusted counselor to help you sort through all the confusion. Find someone to talk to. Do not isolate yourself or bottle up your concerns.


Christin Slade


A Must-Read for Any Christian Wife

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Phylicia and Lisa share with us real stories and ideas that will encourage you to light that spark in your routine of marriage and be intentionally flirtatious. 

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