Heart the Heart by Esther Fenty

MY ONCE LOVING HUSBAND HAS TURNED INTO A BRUTE

I have been married for several years, have three teenage children, and thought I had a good marriage.  My husband and I are open and honest with each other, and talk about everything. In recent months, I have noticed a major change in my husband, in how he speaks to me and behaves towards me, that’s making me question whether I want to be with him. He started to change when a new guy took over the Men’s department. He strongly believes that women should be submissive to their husbands, and that men can hit their wives if they feel they are getting out of line. I’m ashamed to say that my husband had never hit me before this man came on the scene, but has now hit me several times. I am so hurt by how my husband has changed. Due to a large number of complaints about this man, the pastor asked him to step down, but the truth is, my marriage has been left in tatters and I am no longer sure I want to remain married to a man who’s turned into a brute. I suppose I’m writing you to ask where can I go from here.

Catherine, Birmingham

Esther Fenty says

Although you do not say how long you have been married, you must have been married for a number of years to have three teenage children. Thus, it would be very unusual for your husband to have suppressed this side of his character for this length of time without your knowledge. Therefore, whilst it is possible that he might have believed that this present behaviour was the appropriate way to act towards his spouse all along, but feels that he has been given a license to act on his thoughts, there may be other issues which need further investigation.

From the description of the honest and open relationship that you had in your marriage, your husband appears to be able to communicate his views freely. I would therefore have serious concerns about his integrity if he has allowed himself to be influenced by the views of this one person, even if he were to change his behaviour now that this person is no longer the leader of the Men’s fellowship. Thus there could be a spiritual problem. Is he still in fellowship with the Lord and with you? He might need your support to refocus him, and your devotional times together could focus on discussions about what the Bible says about marriage.

On the other hand, there may also be other triggers, such as stress at work, which might explain but not excuse his behaviour. In addition, the appearance of this man and his teachings might have triggered something from the past, with which your husband is struggling. It is also possible that there is some area of marital conflict, which he has not been able to share, and he is hitting out in frustration. Again, open discussions would be the way forward.

Your husband may also need a medical investigation.  Some neurological disorders are associated with mood swings and changes in personality that can lead to aggressive behaviour. In addition, some medications may lead to aggression and violence. Therefore, any medication that your husband is currently taking should be examined.  It could be a coincidence that the change in behaviour occurred with the arrival of the Men’s leader.

If, after considering all of the above and that your husband has suddenly turned into a ‘brute’, you will want to consider whether your marriage is worth saving. One option would be marriage guidance counselling. However, domestic violence is a serious issue, and perpetrators find it difficult to change. No woman should be subjected to it!

I feel used by my fellow Christians

I really used to enjoy my role as head of the Women’s department at my church, working with women to help them develop professionally socially and spiritually. Of late, however, I’ve begun to tire of the work I do, primarily because I feel people don’t see me the person; instead, I’m the woman they come to when they want support, encouragement and inspiration but nothing else. Hardly anyone in my church invites me anywhere, and the people I serve never ask me how I am. I’m feeling lonely, forgotten, and want to throw in the towel. What can I do to feel good about myself and what I do?  Abi, London

Esther Fenty says

Perhaps you need a good, relaxing holiday, where you can reflect on your ministry and your purpose in the Women’s Department. You may find that, after giving so much of yourself, you now need to be ministered to, and choosing a centre for a 2- or 3-day retreat may be helpful. You might discover how to move forward in your work, or that it is time to move on to another area of ministry.

Holiday

It is not unusual for the people to overlook you, especially if you are the one who appears to be knowledgeable, professional and supportive. It is not that they do not care, but they do not know how to show it. You could start by inviting them to a social event, and see how or whether they reciprocate.

Find your self-worth within the Word of God. He loves you, knows your name and does not forget you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Perhaps, these are the very pearls of wisdom that you already share with the women in your group.

Look for your support outside of your church. There are many denominational women’s groups that you can join, where you can be ministered to and offered support.

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