For the spouse who feels controlled or dominated by their mate, let me say, this is not God’s intent for the marriage relationship. This can be religion and/or self-centeredness at work. Your heavenly Father never intended marriage to produce a demeaning, or devaluing environment for either spouse. On the contrary, I believe God’s intent has always been for a man and a woman to come together and work hard at love, honor and respect for each other. Let me also say that if you are being or have been victimized by your spouse, rebellion to your circumstance will only compound your problem. By rebellion I mean if you develop an angry, judgmental and critical spirit toward your spouse, you will deepen your problem. Whether you outwardly show your rebellion or not makes no difference. This is an attitude of your heart that can increase strife and separation in the relationship. If you have developed a rebellious attitude in your situation, let me encourage you to get with a prayer partner and repent, asking God’s forgiveness. At some point, you must also forgive your spouse. You may have to begin that process of forgiveness by going to you prayer partner and your heavenly Father and asking for their help, encouragement, and strength to be able to forgive. Each situation will dictate its own resolution. James 5:16.
Let me suggest that setting healthy boundaries is a much better option for a spouse being victimized by domination and control. Saying ‘no’ to abuse, to dishonor and disrespect, to domination, manipulation and control is not rebellion. Setting healthy boundaries must not be born out of pride and rebellion, but out of your realization that you are a child of the Most High God and you deserve to be treated with love, honor and respect. You must also realize that you cannot expect love, honor and respect if you are not willing to give love, honor and respect.
If you have developed an attitude like ‘I’ll change if and when you change,’ your future is dim. To correct abusive situations, both the predator and the victim must change if there is to be complete resolution in the relationship. As difficult as it may be in many situations, the victim must press their situation to crises if there is to be any hope of change. Please realize that if a person is the victim of physical, sexual or severe emotional abuse, they must have professional intervention including law enforcement. They should never attempt confrontation on their own. If you have been severely abused by your mate, get out and get help. If you have been threatened, do not continue to live in fear. Get out and get help. This is part of setting healthy boundaries. This is part of saying ‘no’ to abuse. The purpose is to stop the predator in his tracks and require change.
The second purpose is to free the victim and encourage change on their part as well. Predators and victims alike must have a change in attitude about themselves. They both must be convinced that their actions are unacceptable; that includes the victim. Unless the victim’s woundedness is healed and their strongholds broken and their sin repented of, they will continue to draw predators to themselves and remain victims. This is also true of the predator. Unless their woundedness is healed and their strongholds broken and their sin repented of they will continue to draw victims to themselves.
So you see, simply divorcing from a bad situation and moving on without change in yourself will leave the spiritual dynamics in place that brought you into the unhealthy situation in the first place. Godly professional counsel can help willing predators and victims find and experience a true life of love, affection, and acceptance that is available in Father God. The experience of life and love that God created for the marriage relationship is much, much bigger than most of us have experienced, yet they remain available to us all. This is another reason why setting healthy boundaries is so important. Could it be difficult for a person to recognize love, honor and respect if they seldom or never received love, honor and respect? You bet it can be. And that is predator and victim alike. That is why outside help is usually essential. New life is available to all who are willing to pursue it. Expressed love is essential to life. God planned it that way, but we are not all free to receive love. Because of our woundedness, many of us have closed our hearts to love and intimacy. Remember I am talking about Christians and the marriage relationship. If we cannot first receive love, then what capacity would we have to give love?
In talking about predator and victim, can you see that if a person is either, they demonstrate by their actions that love hunger is an issue? Love hunger has a tendency to blind us to our own sin against love and also blind us to other people’s need for love. That includes our spouse and our children. So remember, setting healthy boundaries is a wise decision. You need to be wise in setting and enforcing those boundaries. This is where outside, unbiased help can play an essential role. Unbiased help is the key here. If your best friend is co-dependent with you, the advice they give may not be the best advice. Please consider pastors, mentors, prayer ministers, counselors and spiritual parents when establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries. The word of God says, “Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:13-15