The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, by Leslie Vernick

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION:   You can’t put it into words, but something is happening to you. Your stomach churns, your heart aches, and the tension in your marriage is making you feel weary and a little crazy. The constant criticism, disrespect, cruelty, deceit, and gross indifference are eroding your confidence and breaking your spirit. 
For any woman caught in an emotionally destructive marriage, Leslie Vernick offers a personalized path forward. Based on decades of counseling experience, her intensely practical, biblical advice will show you how to establish boundaries and break free from emotional abuse. Learn to:

· identify damaging behaviors
· gain the skills to respond wisely
· promote healthy change
· stay safe
· understand when, why, and even how to leave
· recognize that God sees and hates what is happening to you

Trying harder to be a perfect fantasy wife won’t help fix what’s wrong your marriage. Discover instead how you can initiate effective changes to stop the cycle of destruction and restore hope for the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  (from her website) "I am a national and international speaker, author, licensed clinical social worker, consultant and relationship coach with an expertise on the subjects of personal and spiritual growth, marriage improvement, conflict resolution, depression, child abuse, destructive relationships and domestic violence... I’ve been married to the same man for 38 years and we have two grown children, and three grandchildren."

MY THOUGHTS:  Having grown up in a Christian family, part of a strong community of believers, I've heard and even given my share of marriage advice based on the Bible.  Looking back, I see that some of it wasn't healthy or even biblical, but based more on a spiritual list of what we'd imagined a Godly wife to be.  The problem with that list was it prioritized an ideal more than realism, and many women suffered needlessly, thinking it was "for the cause of Christ".

This book put into words many of the thoughts that have been seeping into my mind about such advice lately, pointing out that emotional abuse is real, and that ignoring it or being a good enough wife doesn't make it go away.  Beginning with an explanation of the difference between an disappointing marriage and a destructive one, the author clearly points out how to determine which you are dealing with.

She then spells out what is present in a healthy relationship and a destructive one over the next few chapters, before launching into the practicality of dealing with an abusive marriage.  Throughout the book, her explanations and advice are backed up with biblical references and spiritual understanding.  She recognizes the misguided counsel that exists within some Christian circles and explains why this is not consistent with God's Word.  Especially helpful is the information found in Appendix B, "Five Common Mistakes People Helpers Make".

Not only would this book be a great help to anyone in an abusive marriage, but it should be required reading for every pastor, Christian counselor, or ladies minister.  It is the most practical I've found in dealing with problem marriages, and I wish I'd found it years ago.  Several circumstances come to mind when I've listened to a hurting wife explain what she's going through, distraught and tearful as she told her story.  The practical checklists and explanations found in these pages would have helped define the level of severity of what was happening and outlined action steps for dealing with the problems.

The author's website is full of extra resources that correspond to this book and to relationships in general.  Dozens of free articles and videos provide relevant information, as well as her blog dealing with the topics of this book and relationships in general.  She takes time to answer reader questions and deals with tons of sticky situations, such as all those special cases filling in the "Well, what if...?" question.

I listened to this as an audiobook read by the author.  A few minutes into the introduction I realized there was a lot of information I'd like to be able to reference for later use.  I ended up taking notes throughout the whole book, outlining key points and the action steps for each chapter.  Had I not chosen to do that, I would definitely have wanted to buy this book in print form after listening to it.

It was necessary to rewind often, as the author read very quickly through some sections, and I had a bit of a hard time making out what she was saying.  Something that bothered me as well was when she changed her voice to imitate someone speaking through tears or whining.  It may not be an issue to someone else, but it began to grate on me after the first couple of times hearing it.  Apart from that, her passion for helping hurting women caught in destructive cycles shows through in her voice.

**This book was provided to me through christianaudio's Reviewer Program in exchange for my honest review.

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