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Nearly every post I write is aimed at nudging individuals or couples toward deeper intimacy and healthy sexual connection.
Maybe their sexual intimacy is already pretty good, but they are looking to strengthen it more.
Or maybe their sexual intimacy is slightly off track (frequency, variety, miscommunication), and they are looking to shore up those aspects that have been neglected.
Occasionally, though, there are days when I must -- absolutely must -- write specifically about marriages that are crumbling under much more than occasional sexual disconnect.
Some marriages are struggling (often in secret) with the devastation of emotional abuse and/or spiritual abuse.
Such struggles tend to be harder to identify, because the symptoms are less obvious than what we find with physical abuse.
Add to this that in situations of emotional and spiritual abuse, wives in particular are more likely to receive guidance that may sound biblical on the surface, but really isn't.
Maybe she reaches out and vulnerably shares her pain, fear and concern with a church leader, Bible study group or another Christian, only to be told to simply "pray more" about her marriage or "study the scriptures on what it means to be a godly wife."
In emotionally abusive Christian marriages, one spouse is likely using God's Word manipulatively to threaten, coerce or demand compliance (sexually, emotionally, financially, etc.)
I'm not an expert on emotional and spiritual destruction in a marriage, but I want to point you to someone who is.
Over the years, I've grown to greatly respect the work of Leslie Vernick. She is a Christian counselor with extensive understanding about emotional and spiritual abuse, particularly in Christian marriages.
She has helpful ways to discern if something truly is abuse, as opposed to dissatisfaction with marriage.
Her work has hit home with me as of late, because I sometimes receive emails, comments and questions from people who find themselves in situations that are textbook examples of what Vernick has found in her work.
A common feeling of people who are emotionally abused is that they have no voice, have "lost" themselves, and do not have the freedom disagree with their spouse on anything.
If you or someone you know is being emotionally abused, I HIGHLY encourage you to get Vernick's book "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope." She also wrote the book "How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong."
Even if you only suspect emotional abuse is happening, get the book. With great clarity, Vernick walks the reader through signs to look for, as well as ways to respond.
Vernick also blogs and offers other resources at her website www.LeslieVernick.com.
She's the real deal and offers godly wisdom that is needed in too many marriages.
I have no doubt God is using her to equip emotionally-abused spouses to navigate and, in some cases, break free from dangerous situations.
Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.