10 Questions to Ask Before Marriage

Divorce is looming for anyone that jumps into marriage without asking the right questions. Know thyself and know thy future spouse.

I’m compelled to write in the first person this time around.  Divorce emotions are coming out in full force and what needs to be written needs to be personal.  A drawn out contested divorce such as mine is difficult.  My responsibility has tripled since separation (my youngest was one month old).  It is too bad my younger self was not given a heads-up on marriage complications once children come along.  Now that my youngest is almost a toddler and teething; my patience has reached an all time low.  The drool, incessant cries and elevated temperatures come at nightfall and make me want to scream, because I never wanted to face parenting alone and I am so dead tired.  I never thought I could have such negative feelings as I do for the father of my children, not in a million years.  Oh wait, it was even worse when we were under the same roof after my first was born, because of the abuse that ensued once we both went back to work.   (Both parents working is another topic for another blog.)  I stayed quiet about the abuse in all areas of my life, because I thought every relationship has its peaks and valleys – the thoughts of an optimist.  By acknowledging how bad it was then, I already feel better in the present.  I only wish I had been more of a realist than an optimist.  My naïve nature during it all kind of disgusts me now.  If I had been more of a realist and faced the music I probably would not have had a second child from the seed of Jekyll & Hyde.  It hurts my heart severely to reflect on that notion.  I love my children and I wanted four children before the tides changed.

Oh, there is so much advice I have for my younger self.  No one was giving the advice I needed and I knew several newlywed blended families at the time our camouflaged frayed knot was tied.  Do people hold onto their past stories in secret, because they want to maintain a happy image to bury the hatchet or do people temporarily forget the divorce turmoil amid new bliss and love?  I hope it is the latter and not the former.  I also want to be the person that boldly remembers, so that I can help people make good decisions and minimize repeating a history full of mistakes (sometimes mistakes are inevitable and in a strong relationship mistakes make the relationship even stronger instead of destroying it).  FYIDivorce.com aligns with that goal.  If I could write a letter to my younger self, it would go something like this:

Dear Optimist,

You have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to marrying someone, especially if you have known them for less than a decade or even less, only two years.  You should wait and develop your career and goals before jumping into anything.  YOU HAVE TIME.   You have lasted this long without a committed relationship, what is a few more years?  Please try to answer the following questions before you say “I do,” acquire a marriage license and decide to make all your life decisions with someone else steering the ship.

  1. Does the person make you uncomfortable in public situations?  If the answer is “yes.” Please move on and kick this one to the curb before there is a proposal.
  2. Does the person isolate you from others in a group? If the answer is “yes,” please move on immediately.  This is learned behavior from a dysfunctional family.
  3. Does the person talk about themselves most of the time? If the answer is “yes,” this does not mean they’re a good conversationalist, it means they’re self-centered and prideful.  Take a hint, the person won’t change once your relationship is more serious.
  4. Does the person push your physical boundaries?  If the answer is “yes,” they’re indirectly disrespecting you and they will do the same thing in different contexts later.  Do not rationalize the behavior by saying “By doing this it makes things more fun or this is an indicator there will never be a dull moment.”  This is the biggest red flag, do not stay.  End it.
  5. Is the person critical of anyone in your family?  If the answer is “yes,”  stay clear of danger!
  6. Have you asked every question you can think of about their past?  If the answer is “no,”  make a list and start checking them off.  Write down the answers, so you have a record.  The history of a person determines how they will react in the future; it’s in their (nature) and in their learned behavior from childhood (nurture).  Make no mistake, familial ties run deep.  Any questions avoided, run like the wind and do not look back.
  7. Does the person have a busy schedule or are they spending most of their time on you?  If they are spending most of their time on you; they don’t have a real job, they are not living on their own nor do they know how to manage a relationship when real life hits them in the face.  They are only making you feel special, because they don’t have anything else better to do.  Do not be a fool.  Take it for what it is and say goodbye.
  8. Do you get along with the person’s family and do they feel like family?  If the answer is “no,” and all the previous answers direct you to move on, what are you waiting for?
  9. Has the person done illegal things in front of you?  If the answer is “yes,” you should no longer look to the last item on this list!  That qualifies as corrupting.  There is no way this person should even be dating you much less become your spouse.
  10. Do you often yield to that person’s desire?  If you say “yes,” you should know this person is controlling and has no interest in sharing a world, but wants to monopolize your life to feel validated and secure.  Once you show you have a voice, they will turn on you. Get out while you still can!

Please do not take this advice lightly.  You have a life ahead and every decision you make impacts your life.  Granted, even the bad decisions can make you a better person, but please avoid some turmoil by really understanding what it means to marry the wrong person.  Being with the wrong person is worse than being single and truthfully being single can sometimes be better than having a relationship.

With enduring love from your older wiser self ,

Realist

I wish I considered the 10 questions above before marriage.  Do not avoid these questions.  I read so many relationship books it makes my mind spin and I wonder if someone gave me this advice whether it would have fallen on def ears.  It is very possible it could have.  I drank from the love cup, it happens to the best of us.  All the questions above contributed to the demise of my marriage, because they all impact parenting.  When there are only two people in a relationship there is less conflict, especially if one person is always agreeable. I was the agreeable one.

Co-parenting with Jekyll & Hyde

Divorce is not pretty.  The more time goes on the more terrible the other person’s character becomes.  It’s scary.  What’s even more terrifying is that you are faced with this new person every time the court forces you to exchange the children.  This ache starts to happen in the pit of your stomach, you get a bad taste in your mouth and slowly you can feel your facial expression change from happiness while being with your children to utter disgust and contempt (See the blog: Divorce? Beware, it’s an Emotional Jungle)  as your feet take you closer to Jekyll & Hyde.  This response is totally natural after any type of abuse has occurred.  Luckily the disgust and contempt does not get plastered on your face as a permanent mask, at least this has not happened yet.  Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that quickly wash these negative emotions away inside and out.

It would be nice if everything could be washed away immediately, but that is not real life.  Imagine having someone verbally assault you every day and then having to face them?  Or even worse, that same person comes back the next day and says, “I just want peace and whatever is best for the children.  Why won’t you work with me?”  The following day the insults come whizzing by your head once again.  Every fiber in your body wants to scream out in agony at the pain those words cause.  Silence; however, is the only loyal friend in this situation.  This silence and limiting communication with the other parent is more accurately called parallel parenting not co-parenting.  Without any vocal words, somehow the other person maintains their cool on the outside and the world for a moment feels safe to the one verbally assaulted at least half the time.  There is absolutely no one to help in this situation, especially after supervised visitation is dissolved.  Side note: qualifications are not required to be a supervisor of visitation other than a simple completion certificate, but the service still costs an arm and a leg to maintain.  Supervised visitation is a story for another day.

Co-parenting with a Jekyll & Hyde type is rough.  When days seem to get better this type of person wheels you back to their shadowy world with very little effort.  Could be like quicksand; although, once quicksand consumes you, there is no coming up for air after.  It is more like a turbulent ocean. On some days the serenity and calmness take you back to a place of peace; however, once the tide changes and the weather shifts things can get quite dangerous and you wonder if you can survive another day of chaos.  Is this the happy co-parenting image that people are preaching about in the divorce industry?  This is what really happens in a high conflict divorce, but I do not hear the courts or anyone else talking about it.  Attorneys and the courts put fuel on the fire.  Be extremely thankful you are not in a divorce with a Jekyll & Hyde person, it’s really difficult. Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that help co-parenting or parallel parenting in this type of relationship.

Divorce Agony – The Wild Horse

If your divorce has lasted longer than a year, you will eventually stumble upon divorce agony.  There are so many emotions that are wrapped up in divorce.  I have described them as an emotional jungle and the 5 stages of grief, but once your divorce hits the long-term divorce mark such as over a year you will eventually reach divorce agony.  When you have been in a period of prolonged pain that twists your insides into new shapes, this feeling is agony.  The pain is intensified if the estranged spouse is an abuser (neglectful, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).

Divorce agony is like a wild horse confined to a cage and looking out to see a beautiful green pasture beyond its reach; the longing to be free is a desire that goes unsatisfied.  Confinement creates a sense of claustrophobia.  Things are cramped.  Space is closing in.  Turning around and around, but there is nowhere to go, but to stand in the same place looking out from the same viewpoint.  Sweet scents come in on the breeze which provide some minor relief; however, no real resolution to the situation.  There are moments when freedom seems obtainable; maybe someone from the outside looking in gives a glimmer of hope, however the moments are short lived and quenched quickly with reality.

Divorce with children is that reality in a contested divorce.  Divorce with children are those steel bars that do not seem to go away.  Children themselves do not create the steel bars that pin in the wild horse that longs to be free, the courts do.  The divorce industry calls these steel bars coparenting.  These steel bars are the constant reminder of the divorce state of your life.  The issues that caused the divorce in the first place are still active and relived through coparenting and regular interaction with the person that caged you in the first place which creates agony.  Coparenting itself is not the problem; however, the system does not customize coparenting according to relationship challenges.  Happy coparenting cannot and will not exist in a contested divorce, do not be fooled.  Also, it is common for a divorce to morph from an amicable divorce to a contested divorce very quickly when emotions run hot, be very careful there is no way to predict the outcome or plan for this switch.

Everyone will respond to divorce agony in their own way.  If you are susceptible to substance abuse, stay clear of any situation that will expose you or tempt you.  Do not let divorce agony impact your relationship with your child or children.  If you can afford counseling consider it and schedule it.  If you cannot afford counseling find an outlet, so that you are not facing this dreadful emotion alone.  By joining a divorce group, talking with friends, starting a new hobby, writing or journaling you can better cope with divorce agony and tame the wild horse.

3 Ways to Rise Above Abuse in Relationships, Divorce & Childhood

Abuse is probably more accurately described as the human condition.  Relationships and divorce act as catalysts that make the abuse remnants bubble to the surface.  People that go through a divorce face the flawed human condition head on.  These interactions are cyclical.  Past child abuse in whatever the form impacts the developing brain and as adults without mindfulness spills over into all relationships especially those who are close to us.  It’s imperative that we ALL rise above relationship abuse, divorce abuse and child abuse.

Rising above something that is difficult to identify personally or something that usually is an involuntary response to environmental stressors is almost impossible to do without help.  The brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body and brain surgeons are still stumped by most of its functioning.  Do not under estimate the power of awareness; the ability to redirect thought processes, and reprogramming learned (subconscious or conscious) behavior.  Eventually everyone is affected by abuse indirectly or directly; know how to help someone when they need help and know how to help yourself.  The first step in helping everyone with abuse is acknowledging there is a problem and having the willingness to work together to address the problem (if you are facing life threatening abuse call 911 immediately and extract yourself from the situation).  Leave the blame game at the door, shed the negativity jacket and take off your angry shoes.  Listen.  Talk slowly.  Allow others’ input without feeling their input is a put-down or a disrespectful interruption.  Rising above is absolutely critical if you are a parent.

  1. Everyone needs to acknowledge there is a problem. Avoiding a problem makes the problem worse.  Avoiding a problem seems easier on the surface; however realistically avoidance leads to more dysfunction – the relief you get by avoiding is a lie and only temporary.  If avoidance is used as a solution, the problem will manifest itself in a multitude of ways down the road.
  2. Everyone needs to take RESPONSIBILITY. If you have not been abused directly, you will eventually come across and interact with someone who has been abused.  If you have been abused directly you will have triggers that bring up past experiences that impact your present relationships.  DO NOT LET YOUR PAST control your present (easier said than done).  People that have not been abused directly have a responsibility to everyone in their lives to rise above and lead by example.  It is your job to be COMPASSIONATE.  It is your job to LISTEN.  It is your job to CREATE A SAFE PLACE for interaction.  People that have been abused, may not remember their past or why they feel the way they do in certain situations.
  3. Everyone needs to check their emotions. Everyone has moments of weakness.  It is critical to stop the cycle of abuse by being present and recognize when these moments are unfolding.
    • Are you unusually irritable?
    • Are you experiencing level 10 anger?
    • Are you abnormally tired?
    • Do you have a short fuse?
    • Do you flinch when certain things happen?

If you or someone articulates they are struggling in the above areas and you recognize it and/or hear them say it, STOP and LISTEN.  Neutralize the situation by being calm and sympathetic.  Reacting appropriately in these situations creates stronger relationships.

Practicing the 3 ways to rise above abuse in your personal life will break old patterns and restore equilibrium.  If you are a parent have your children practice these as well, so they can react appropriately.  In some cases, abuse may be extreme and these 3 ways to help will not be enough in your circumstances, do not pacify your situation or explain your situation away.  Reach out for help from your local community.  Do not isolate yourself from others.  Do not only reach out to one person.  One person will not have all the answers and it is good to have support in all areas of your life.  End the crazy cycle of abuse, you will be a trailblazer in a world where everyone typically lives for themselves, rise above abuse in ALL relationships by acknowledging the problem, taking responsibility and checking your emotions.

Guard Against the Derailed Divorce

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process. Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.

Making the decision to divorce is one of the toughest decisions people face in life.  Even when people are in abusive situations the decision to divorce does not come easy.  Divorce requires a lot of planning.  The person who leads the divorce march must accurately project future circumstances like financial security for the duration of the divorce, future living arrangements, assess current living risks, understand the impact the divorce news will have on the other party, the best scenario possible for your children and anticipate the emotional roller coaster that will ensue from divorce kick-off to divorce closure.  To be real, very few people cover all the bases and at times the emotional roller coaster can get derailed.  A derailed emotional roller coaster during a divorce is problematic for the children and puts your children at risk for abuse by you, by your estranged spouse, siblings or even from predators that seek children who are feeling lonely, unwanted, etc.

The first step in preventing this abuse from occurring is knowing and understanding the distinct types of abuse.

1. Emotional/Psychological Abuse

2. Physical Abuse

3. Sexual Abuse

4. Neglectful Abuse

5. Sexually Exploited Abuse

In some relationships, elements of these may already be present on a surface level – abuse is occurring, but not occurring enough to be identified as a problem or occurring only behind closed doors so no one really has any insight about the issues other than the people directly involved.  It’s terrible to think that children are exposed to this behavior at all, but the fact of the matter is child protective agencies receive millions of reports a year in the United States, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

What is Emotional Abuse?

It is the most difficult abuse to detect, especially by the parties engaged in it. According to the book, Understanding Child Abuse & Neglect by Cynthia Crosson-Tower there is a distinct pattern of psychically destructive behavior which includes: rejecting, isolating, ignoring, terrorizing and corrupting.  As you read this you may have some shocking realizations that this has happened to you in your life, your family or your marriage.  When a parent rejects a child they do so by dismissing the child’s worth or minimizing the child’s needs.  For example, never feeling “good enough” to be loved by the parent would be considered rejecting.  When a parent limits the child’s social engagements, outside communication and makes the child solely dependent on them this would be considered isolating.  When the parent plops their child in front of a television/phone/tablet all day as the babysitter, does not interact with the child, does not teach the child and stunts the intellectual development of a child this would be considered ignoring. Constant berating, verbal assaults, creating a climate of fear and making the child believe the world is out to get them would be terrorizing and finally, an example of corrupting – the adult encourages damaging behavior such as watching violence or witnessing a drug deal.

Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.

Emotional/psychological abuse is probably the most prevalent in families and especially families of divorce.  Children that experience emotional abuse grow up to be adults that have difficulty recognizing or correctly identifying the emotions in others and have trust issues.  The idea of empathic deficiency comes from this article, “Linkages between Childhood Emotional Abuse & marital satisfaction: The mediating role of empathic accuracy for hostile emotions” from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.  This can also explain why some people more readily divorce than others.

What is Physical Abuse?

This is any type of physical hurt inflicted on another; however, it does not include the form of discipline like spanking.  If spanking leads to bruising, the spanking goes beyond discipline and can fall into the physical abuse category.  The medical community identifies physical abuse as battered child syndrome (BCS).  Physical abuse can be prevalent in a divorce, because the stress can lead to learned coping strategies like indulging in alcohol which increases the likelihood of abuse.  Some family and friends may not be able to handle the separation and could disassociate themselves with the divorcing parties, making the divorcing parents feel even more isolated during the most stressful time they have ever experienced in life.  If people have less reliable relationships for support, the stress can boil over onto the children.  Additionally, if the couple goes through the court process with attorneys there is an additional financial strain on the relationship which also adds fuel to the already smoldering fire.  The dynamics of each person should be considered as well.  If either spouse has abuse in their background (it could be unknown by both parties – the brain blocks bad memories); this increases the chances of abuse as well.  If you were raised in a military family, especially if one parent was deployed or served during wartime; there could be abuse in your history.  Take note: having children can be a trigger for you if you have abuse in your history.  Anyone can identify the behavior warning signs of abuse.  If you see children that exhibit certain behavior it could indicate they have been exposed to an abusive situation.  Babies could have a shrill cry or do not cry at all.  Young children show no expectation of being consoled.  Children end up having a low self-esteem and very little confidence in their own abilities.  Some children can start regressing by wetting the bed, using baby talk and sucking on fingers.  Other children could have stuttering or speech problems, ADHD/ADD or general acting out.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Any sexual violence, exposing any sexual act to children (this includes inappropriate touching, seducing, precarious situations, testing the child’s boundaries, showing images, etc.).  There are two types of sexual abuse intrafamilial abuse and extrafamilial abuse.  Concerning child abuse, intrafamilial (incest between members in the nuclear family) abuse is much more common than extrafamilial (non-family members) abuse.  Over 90% of the time the abuser is someone the child knows (Crosson-Tower, 2014, p. 115).  When there is incest in a family it does not automatically make the perpetrator a pedophile.  There’s also some theories of covert incest where there is no touching involved.

What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.

When there are marital problems and the spouse is no longer fulfilling the needs of the other spouse or one spouse rejects the other, some people turn to their children for comfort as a coping mechanism.  What perpetrators fail to realize is that there are consequences beyond a court of law for their actions.  Mia Fontaine from the Atlantic put it this way, “Incest is the single biggest commonality between drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, teenage and adult prostitution, criminal activity, and eating disorders. Abused youths don’t go quietly into the night. They grow up—and 18 isn’t a restart button.”  Divorce triggers feelings of rejection, loneliness and loss; be sure to teach your children what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, because they will not be under your supervision while they spend time in another household and divorce by nature is a stressor that triggers people to act out of character.

What is Neglectful Abuse?

Neglect is an act of omission.  When a child is neglected physically it could be as simple as sleeping instead of giving the child dinner.  Another example, if there is more than one child in the household, parents may often lean on the older children to perform their parental duties such as feeding the children, bathing the children and nurturing the younger children (this is called parentification); because the divorce situation becomes too much for them to handle the responsibility.  Divorce is notorious for causing depression and if there are young children involved depression can occur very easily in both parents; because the mother is recovering from giving birth.  If the mother is not treated for postpartum depression, the depression can last much longer and could be described as continued postpartum distress.  This scenario sets the stage for neglectMedical Neglect can occur as well if the parents fail to get medical help when the child needs it (this does not include missing immunizations or well child care visits). Neglect can happen in mature families as well.  Families with older children may take their older children’s independence for granted and forget they need to be extra attentive during a divorce not the latter which falls under Emotional Neglect.  If anyone decides to keep the children from school for an extended period of time or fails to notice their children’s absence from school – that’s Educational Neglect.  Ask friends and family for help and support if you are in this phase of life.

What is Sexually Exploited Abuse?

People are tricked to believe they are in a mutually loving relationship and the relationship gradually progresses beyond their control and they are coerced to perform sexual acts in exchange for money.  Single parent or divorced households struggle financially and under stress some people resort to doing things out of character to cope with their situation.  Rebekah’s story is a good example.

Divorce may seem to be an effortless way to cut ties with your spouse, but be very careful you do not put your children in harm’s way during the process.  Your children could be at risk for Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Neglectful Abuse and Sexually Exploited Abuse.  Divorce changes a person to their very inner core.  Divorce is a refining fire.  For some that means the heat will uncover strengths the person did not know they had, make them a better parent than they were before and allow them to self-reflect on their mistakes so they are not repeated in the future; however for others it will send them on a downward spiral and possibly change them for the worst (there are always those middle ground people too, that continue with life maintaining status quo unchanged).  If attorneys are involved in the divorce, the attorney will reflect the person they represent in most cases.  Unfortunately, just like anything in this world the tools of law can be used to help or hurt a situation be sure to think before you act with any request for order or paperwork filed, because whatever you do you are indirectly affecting your children for the good or for the bad.

If you suspect a child is being abused please call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-Child, you can report anonymously and you could save a life.

Family Law – The Desert for Raw Emotions

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider. Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.

The best deterrent to ending your marriage is the Family Law system.  Family Law itself is the greatest punishment inflicted on married couples in their lifetime.  Of course, married couples don’t realize the doom that awaits until they decide to divorce.  The person looking for the divorce wants to immediately end whatever disruption that is in the marriage by severing the relationship with the other person; however, this feeling to separate to end the pain of the relationship does not justify the divorce, but demonstrates that person’s inability to cope, adapt, change and most of all forgive and bounce back.  In cases of abuse it is much different.  Often the one being abused doesn’t divorce, because they are controlled by their abuser or they think it is against their religion.  The brave punching bags (people that are at the mercy of their spouse’s fists or flying objects, verbally abusive words, psychological games and abuse, neglect or isolation or withholding stimulation such as conversation for extended periods of time), these people are extremely tough victims that have the courage to file for divorce.

Abusers rarely file for divorce because they like controlling their victims and divorcing defeats their sick passion for control or domination.  If they divorce there is no one left to control, belittle and put down to make themselves feel better (abusers have low self-esteem).   In some cases, the victim can convince their abuser to divorce them if their abuser is extremely concerned with public perception or the abuser is hiding something they do not want public.  The abuser will sometimes file to have perceived control over the outcome of divorce thus giving them the upper hand or saving their reputation.  Many states have adopted no-fault divorce to keep the situation surrounding the divorce quiet; however, if you’re married to an abuser they will be sure to use their abusing tactics whether or not the state is no-fault, so be forewarned, abuse does not go away in a divorce or during the separation process it just takes on a different form.  Liberal states do not care about abuse in a divorce case unless there are criminal cases attached and the abuser has a criminal record.

The Family Law system is incredibly broken.  Some states like Mississippi still do not have no-fault in their divorce proceedings; however, recently they passed a Domestic Abuse Reform bill according to The Clarion Ledger – Part of the USA Today Network.  However, even this amendment doesn’t account for numerous kinds of abuse that occur in families (neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).  Additionally, what if there is ongoing abuse of the children within the relationship by one spouse?  In liberal states, the courts do not care unless it is so bad there is a criminal case and conviction.  Best interest of the child doctrine is only used loosely in liberal states and IS NOT LAWBecause best interest of the child is not law, judges are not required to follow it.  Absurd, right?  Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services or all the other state variations that name the agency that steps in to supposedly prevent child abuse (every state and even county have a different child abuse prevention agency), will only get involved if the situation is bad enough to remove the children from both parents.  The general consensus is, “keep the children in the home, because the foster care system makes things even worse.”

Men, if your wife is deranged and you can see your children have been neglected; however, your wife has no criminal background you will not get sole custody of the children.  Women, if your husband is abusing you and the children and there is no criminal documentation of the incidents you will not get sole custody of the children.  Men and Women who have zero abuse in your relationship, please DO NOT go to court and claim there is abuse.  One of the main reasons men and women in abusive relationships are not protected by the system, because people are notorious for lying and duping the system to one-up their spouses.  DO NOT be these people, you are hurting others indirectly and you are hurting your children if you have children.  Divorce elicits a number of jungle emotions that are unhealthy for a family which is another reason why divorce should be your last resort if there’s no abuse.

If you’re considering divorce, please reconsider.  Make your spouse a priority, work on your marriage and above all avoid the Family Law desert, especially if there is no abuse in your marriage.  If you are in an abusive relationship, get out.  There are many resources online that can help you define whether you are in an abusive relationship; Family Services is one of many.  Some abuse can be mended with counseling; however, unless the abuser truly finds God or there’s an act of God that makes the abuser change, like they get struck by lightning or have a near death experience the likelihood of change on their own will either be a trap (manipulation) or behavior modification that will only last for a season.