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My Abusive "Christian" Marriage

My Abusive "Christian" Marriage

I couldn't believe this was my reality. And I couldn't see a way out.
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"Did Daddy do that?" my daughter asked. Lying on the floor in the doorway of her room, I was stunned as I realized my daughter had just witnessed undeniable physical abuse. Tom's* anger had escalated into unrestrained rage, and he'd thrown me into our daughter's bedroom. Con-fused, I began to question my situation: Was I really experiencing domestic violence in my Christian home?

I'd denied the truth so long I was unable to recognize what was really happening. The abuse had started subtly and grown insidiously. My husband and I claimed to be Christians, so how could our marriage be abusive? Unable to give my four-year-old daughter any more excuses, I said, "Yes, Daddy did that." Then I locked us in her room and crawled in bed with her until she fell asleep. That night I resolved to stop the impact of domestic abuse in my daughter's life—a difficult decision that finally pointed me in the direction of healing.

Control Issues

It was inconceivable to me that I'd ever be in such circumstances. Born and raised in a loving pastor's family, I was steeped in conservative evangelical culture. As a "good girl," I got good grades, participated in extra-curricular school activities, and was a leader in the church youth group. I lived to please others, worked hard to offend no one, and had an internal drive to create a wonderful life. Though I had a relationship with Christ, I lived as if the good life depended on my good performance.

I met Tom at the Christian liberal arts college we both attended. He was handsome, intelligent, and interesting—always looking for adventure and fun. His father was a pastor, so we'd been raised in similar Christian cultures. Tom often discussed theology and doctrine, and he cared genuinely about people's salvation. Our wedding was a large, elaborate, God-centered event. I envisioned our marriage to be a shared life of service and impact for God's kingdom. I also believed that if I performed well, my marriage would go well and we'd have a good life together.

Though, looking back, I realized Tom was very self-centered while we were dating, I hadn't seen any red flags about the abuse that was to come. But early on I saw signs that life was going to be very different from what I'd envisioned. After returning from our honeymoon, Tom expected to use the entire closet in our bedroom while I used a closet in another room. He said this was because he'd moved into the apartment first. We went to the bank to put his name on my checks, but he didn't want my name on his. He monitored my purchases, even though I was working full-time and we weren't struggling financially. He was more concerned about controlling what I bought than how much money I spent. If I didn't comply with Tom's expectations or get his permission, he'd become angry and yell. For example, when I purchased drinking glasses and a shower curtain, he raged at me because he'd expected to choose those items himself. I'd eagerly anticipated freely organizing and decorating our home. Instead, I began to adjust to the practice of gaining approval for things such as hanging a picture on the wall.

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Displaying 1–3 of 323 comments


August 05, 2014  6:55am

Thank you for sharing, you have given me insight on marriage, when it goes wrong, I have turned down so many guys that I am getting tired of waiting, I will be 33 by november and all my mates are married, I have courted and dated guys, who had hot tempers, criminal tendencies, jailed, without knowing until I agreed to date them, some of them until after we broke up, cause I sensed they were wrong, sometimes I wonder if there are normal men in our generation, like our dads....you have just encouraged me not to close my eyes and just marry for marrying sake.....although I wonder if normal guys exist...deep down inside I know they do, cause my dad and brothers are human, they exist to show me that it is possible....i will keep holding on until our paths cross...

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July 24, 2014  8:41am

I was drawn to this mail because it has become the norm of men abusing their wives and yet no one is helping this situation. I have lived in an abusive marriage and am now 19yrs down the road. But at moment, i cannot call what i live in as marriage!! For the sake of children and God, i stay. It started with some beatings, sexual immorality, chauvinism, dictatorship and degradation. Developments are constant anger, fear, rejection and failure of conjugal rights. If am to share my story it would be so long. Is separation the only solution? What generation of children are we bringing up? What stern rules can church put on such men and help women to stabilize in their marriages? Is our Jesus duped the most rude if we allow such to continue among christian men since He is the head of the family to whom the man should emulate? Sorry for many questions but i feel a jigsaw with the help of our God can happen.

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June 23, 2014  1:11am

This is my story too. And I too, prayed for God to fix my husband, fix my marriage, and fix me. I finally left after 10 years when I became terrified enough. Unfortunately though... I fell into a similar situation a year later. No one warns you about the after affects of mental abuse. Your judgement, self-esteem and sense of what is true/false are twisted and torn apart. PTSD is common after abuse. It literally changes your brain chemistry making it difficult to make logical decisions and to feel "normal" again. To anyone else in this situation, don't sit and wait to hear from God. If you are wondering if you should leave... LEAVE. God doesn't call you to silently endure this. You are NOT helping your husband by staying. Those words wouldn't have convinced me though, so I know everyone has to do it in their own timing. But please remember that the less this behavior is tolerated, the less of it there will be in the world. It's not ok. And please, be good to yourself.

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