Shadowspring, what motivated your husband to seek help? Most men are so satisfied with getting their way, they wouldn't THINK of changing anything.
The answer to that question is so long and convoluted that I started a blog to answer it! ;-)
People are so deeply multi-layered and complex. The best any writer can do is come up with a snapshot of a person. With a blog, I am hoping that many snapshots will give a clearer picture of the people involved, but let's face it. The best photograph is a poor device for understanding a living breathing person.
I shall give it a quick try, though.
My husband is a good man at heart. He loves God. He wants to do what's right. In fact, the plus side of his missionary kid upbringing is that he does love God.
I would wager to say that if the church had been teaching truth all along -that the responsibility of men to truly love their wives was a sacred calling and serious responsibility, and that no wife was ever called to submit to less- then my husband could have been helped to be the man God called him to be much earlier!
But alas, the church instead teaches things backwards- that woman (who by these teachings is given no authority or influence) carries all the responsibility, while man (who by these teachings are given all the authority and power) are free to indulge their sin nature whenever they choose, and the wife is just to "submit" to this and pray for change (but not work for change). And the sinful nature of man loves it so, and that is why this false teaching remains so prevalent.
So that's one reason. Another reason, is that I think my husband would do anything to avoid the stench of failure, and if we divorced, it would be the first divorce in his family on either side! Talk about pressure! Another time the whole missionary kid thing worked out in my favor.
And there is a third reason. There is a part of him that has always truly loved me. I am the best friend he has ever had, and all the reasons he married me in the first place (smart, cute and loves the Lord!) are all still in place. :)
After many years of seesawing back and forth between him trying to follow God and slipping back into complacency, between working on our marriage and resigning himself to a crappy relationship, the s*** hit the fan this past year.
Our daughter got involved in an abusive relationship. Now my husband is a smart man, and he knows the connection between father figures and to whom a daughter is attracted. That was a huge wake-up call for him!
And the second was that I was giving up on ever getting through to him permanently and preparing to leave him. His abusive behavior was getting worse. It went from passive hatred to open resentment, progressing from mere nastiness to actual physical intimidation.
He did not like this in himself. He knew it was wrong and yet he was blaming me for "making" him act this way.
And so I told my plans to leave to a dear friend of mine (beautiful Christian feminist) who asked me to try one more marriage ministry, simply because she did not want to see me plunged into poverty. I think she also believed that there might be hope for my husband as well. She has known us for many years. And so I decided what did I have to lose.
On the continued recommendation of yet another amazing friend of mine, we signed up for a Marriage Intensive by Joel and Kathy Davission. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS MINISTRY!!
Here my husband was confronted by a Christian man with the real truth about Christian marriage, a woman's role (as ally, not inferior), what abuse really is, and who is really to blame for problems in the marriage.
Joel and Kathy Davisson broke through the wall of denial.
But that is not the end of the story. (In fact, in some ways after this the abuse became worse- the passive of passive-aggressive was exposed, leaving only aggressive.) It is really the beginning of the end, if that makes sense.
Once my husband admitted his hatred and resentment, the next question is "where did THAT come from?" followed closely by "how can I get rid of it for good?".
Though we found some answer to the first question at Joel and Kathy Davissons Marriage Intensive, the answer to the second question remained elusive. And if that one wasn't answered, there would soon be no marriage left.
It became imperative to my husband to get help. Joel Davission freely admits that as a formerly abusive man, he was confronted with the truth and found help in Paul Hegstrom and his ministry Life Skills International.
After a local domestic violence counselor did nothing more for us than drain our bank account, in desperation I called the hotline number for Life Skills.
Happily for us, there is a 26 week course offered by Life Skills within an hour of our home. My husband has been attending faithfully since September. He is showing continued healing, continued spiritual growth and continued joy as a result of attending this Life Skills 26 week program. Life Skills International is giving my husband the insight and tools that he needs for lasting change.
So there it is in a nutshell. My husband is/was highly motivated to help our daughter; highly motivated to avoid divorce; did not want to lose me from his life and truly does want to live a life pleasing to God.
What can a wife do to end abuse? Take a stand against it! Be willing to leave rather than be abused. Leave if you have to in order to be safe, and I mean emotionally as well as physically. "Submission" to abuse is assent to be abused. I will say it again: refuse to accept abuse. That is the most powerful thing a wife can do to end the abuse. Indeed, I think it the only thing a wife CAN do to end the abuse.
If a man wants to save his marriage, I recommend both Joel and Kathy Davisson and Paul Hegstrom's Life Skills International. ( I can't get links to work for some strange reason.) Google them and if you like what you see, start recommending them!
If a man does not want to change, he does not want to save his marriage. My counsel to all women in this situation is the same: leave. Abuse never gets better with time, only worse.
I wish for every wife to be appreciated and loved. When a man chooses to be "the man of her dreams" he will find that he is married to "the woman of his"- taken from the title of one of Joel and Kathy Davission's books. :)