The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

Leslie Vernick
Waterbrook Press, 2013

This is a timely book, as our society attempts to grapple with the horrifying toll of downloaddomestic violence on women. Leslie Vernick has had 30
years experience as a counsellor and – though she agrees that men can be victims of domestic violence – she has written this book specifically for women. In fact, she has written it for Christian women who are trapped in an abusive and manipulative relationship. In our church fellowships we pretend that we are free from the violence problems that plague those outside the church, but that is far from the truth.

Vernick differentiates between disappointing marriages and destructive marriages, and has two series of questions to demonstrate to the reader into which category her marriage falls. The book gives examples of emotional abuse and how to deal with it before the victim succumbs to a breakdown or to suicide (25% of white American women’s suicides fall into this category, and 50% of those of African-American women).

“An emotionally destructive marriage is one where one’s personhood, dignity, and freedom of choice is regularly denied, criticized, or crushed. This can be done through words, behaviors, economics, attitudes, and misusing the Scriptures.”
Leslie Vernick

She details the way men can destroy their wife’s credibility within the church by convincing leaders that “she is having a breakdown”, “she is bipolar” and the like. By the time a woman tries to get out of the horror that her marriage has become, she can be in a fragile state. Having begun her marriage with the intention of being a godly, submissive wife, she ends it feeling like a piece of trash. If her children continue in such a home, they will have their idea of marriage grossly distorted.

This book needs to be read by all men (and women) in leadership positions within churches, and lessons need to be learned about why women leave what looks to be a happy marriage. It needs to be given to a woman who chooses to leave this type of “marriage”, so that she will be assured that she has done the best thing in leaving, and that she is loved and valued by the Lord, if not by her husband. She needs to be treated gently and her story heard, rather than discounted because she has been declared to be “unstable”.

The church is not free of this abuse. It is not as visible as physical abuse, but probably has a far more serious effect on its victims.

Purchase it here from Reformers Bookshop


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