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Domestic Violence

Susannah

Susannah
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Unconditional Love Revisited


When I went into counseling to fix my abusive marriage, I was told by my therapist that I was codependent. “What does that mean?” I asked. “It means you love too much,” he replied. “How can you love too much?” I cried. “Aren't we supposed to love each other? Isn’t that one of the most important Christian principles? Aren’t we supposed to walk that extra mile and turn the other cheek? (Mt 5:39-41). Doesn’t love bear all things and endure all things? (1 Cor 13: 7). “Not always,” he replied. I was dumbfounded. After all, he was a Christian counselor.

My therapist went on to suggest that I get a divorce. I refused. I wanted to honor my marriage vows, and so I stayed married to my husband. “I will just keep loving him unconditionally,” I thought to myself, “and that will heal him and our marriage.” Unfortunately, the more I loved my husband unconditionally, the more abusive he got. He gave new meaning to the expression, “biting the hand that feeds you.”

Eventually, I realized I was putting my children in danger by staying married to this man and so I divorced him. Then I spent years going to a support group for codependent women trying to figure out whether unconditional love was good or bad. What were my conclusions? Well, today, I believe that unconditional love is good and important, but that it is not always the best course of action. Sometimes, to love someone, you must place conditions on your good will. Marriage would be an example. Love in a marriage should be reciprocal—flowing in both directions. And while Christ may ask us to love our enemy, we do not have to marry him.

Furthermore, while I might have to place conditions on my good will, I do not have to give up the “love” part of unconditional love. By this I mean that I do not have to give up the tenderness I felt for my husband—the feelings that led me to “bear all things” for so long. But the feeling of love cannot always be accompanied by turning the other cheek. That cheek can get pretty swollen. Sometimes we have to take a step backward and love from a distance. We have to say to our partners, “I will love you without conditions, but I will not live with you. If you respect me and treat me in accordance with Christ’s doctrine on marriage, I will stick with you through the bad times. If you abuse me, I will have to abandon the marriage.”

Saying that unconditional love is important, but not always practical, is not easy. I don’t want to abandon the ideal of “bearing all things” in the name of love. However, I will say that I am happier and more fulfilled now that I realize I deserve to receive love as well as give it. I also look for opportunities to continue practicing unconditional love, when appropriate. I help others without expecting anything in return. I try to love my neighbor (Mt 19:19 NIKJ), walk that extra mile, and turn the other cheek. (Mt 5:39-41). I will just not bear all things within the context of marriage unless my husband is doing the same.

Author’s note: For more information about this I refer you to, Love Must be Tough, by James Dobson. Pastor Dobson, a Christian psychologist, explains in great detail why some people respond in a negative and unhealthy way to unconditional love. His speaks mostly about adultery so just substitute domestic violence for the term adultery.

 
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humble soul

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And may I add that occasionally the victim of domestic violence is the husband, not the wife. This tends to be more in the form of emotional and psychological violence rather than physical.
Not that I disavow women suffering awful trauma from their husband. There was a story of a woman who stayed with her unstable mentally deranged husband until one day, he killed their son as a form of revenge towards her and then killed himself, possibly also as a form of revenge or guilt trip. That woman is now a leading figure in calling for support for women as victims in marriage.
 

humble soul

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If loving others requires hating yourself, stop.
Look more deeply. is that love or just co dependency? Are you really helping the person you think you love? or just enabling their bad behaviour to continue.
sorry this might be an inappropriate example but here goes.
I love my dog. But if I let him behave however he likes towards me, I am not loving him in the right way. I must create boundaries. he needs to earn my respect. He will not get my attention if he is badly behaved.
It is much easier for us to love animal or human being when they are well-behaved.
 

Susannah

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Thank you for your post. I will never forget when I first worked with a man who had been beaten by his wife. Then I met women in prison who had killed their husbands and not because they were afraid of their husbands, they were just bullies. This link will take you to a secular sight that discusses men as the victims of domestic abuse.

Men as Victims
Women as Victims
 
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Susannah

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We are in the process of creating a new forum for addicts and codependency will be discussed. Meanwhile here is good site for Christian codependents. Stay tuned . . .

 

WIP

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“Didn’t Christ ask us to love each other unconditionally? Isn’t that one of the most important Christian principles?
I don't know where Scriptures say this. Jesus said, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31 NKJV

I'm not sure that "turning the other cheek" means to grin and bear it. I think what Jesus meant was that we are not to return the slap in kind but to walk away from the conflict instead.

Does loving our neighbor as ourselves mean that we are to take abuse from them? That would not be showing love for ourselves.

Just some thoughts.
 

Susannah

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You make some good points. Loving unconditionally per se is not in the Bible, but when I was told to love my enemy I got the idea that God wanted us to love everyone even though they were our enemy. That translated to me as unconditional. So I can revise the article or just leave it not as a scripture quote but the impression I got from past pastors. Thanks for the input.

P.S. I took out the word "unconditional."

You are also right about turning the other cheek and it is great to find someone who agrees with me. We do not stand there and accept abuse. We walk away. We get divorced. We report predators. And when we are ready we forgive.
 

humble soul

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You make some good points. Loving unconditionally per se is not in the Bible, but when I was told to love my enemy I got the idea that God wanted us to love everyone even though they were our enemy. That translated to me as unconditional. So I can revise the article or just leave it not as a scripture quote but the impression I got from past pastors. Thanks for the input.

P.S. I took out the word "unconditional."

You are also right about turning the other cheek and it is great to find someone who agrees with me. We do not stand there and accept abuse. We walk away. We get divorced. We report predators. And when we are ready we forgive.
I think many of us misinterpreted "turn the other cheek". thinking that it was somehow heroic to let others walk all over us. .
then we can be full of resolve to fix our meekness by being aggressive. the pendulum swings. until finally we learn to communicate assertively without aggression or avoidance.
 

humble soul

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Thank you for your post. I will never forget when I first worked with a man who had been beaten by his wife. Then I met women in prison who had killed their husbands and not because they were afraid of their husbands, they were just bullies. This link will take you to a secular sight that discusses men as the victims of domestic abuse.

Men as Victims
Women as Victims
It would be interesting to get comparative statistics. 95% husband as bully? 5% wife as bully?
I think some feminists would choose to ignore any stats which would portray women as perpetrators of domestic violence. Or simply ridicule men for not being assertive enough.
 

Susannah

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You are so right. I was an editor for a professor who wrote about women and domestic violence. I confronted her about men as victims and how some women like to provoke men (not that this is an excuse). She was a feminist so she refused to add a chapter in her book about this.
 

humble soul

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You are so right. I was an editor for a professor who wrote about women and domestic violence. I confronted her about men as victims and how some women like to provoke men (not that this is an excuse). She was a feminist so she refused to add a chapter in her book about this.
our free to air tax payer funded tv channel has never done a story of men as victims in marriage.
they only do stories of women/wives suffering in marriage.
 

humble soul

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activism and power in politics requires the same clear narrative continue. Exceptions only spoil the narrative.
 

Susannah

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There is one really great movie about men as victims. It's called "Men don't tell.". I've watched it twice. It made me cry.
 
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If loving others requires hating yourself, stop.
Look more deeply. is that love or just co dependency? Are you really helping the person you think you love? or just enabling their bad behaviour to continue.
sorry this might be an inappropriate example but here goes.
I love my dog. But if I let him behave however he likes towards me, I am not loving him in the right way. I must create boundaries. he needs to earn my respect. He will not get my attention if he is badly behaved.
It is much easier for us to love animal or human being when they are well-behaved.
Being so badly abused and witnessing such perverted behavior, my boundaries were destroyed. I was a bad father and a bad husband. My youngest has a heart of gold as does my wife. They stuck it out. Praise God.
 

Susannah

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Secular people need to change but as a non-believer they have difficulty changing because they do not have the Holy Spirit. . With a Christian abuser there is more hope.

People can change. When I met my husband he was a drug addict. My therapist told me to dump him. But he had so many other good qualities that I told him I would stay if he would give up narcotics. He did and we were happy until he passed away.
 

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