Standing Up to Dysfunctional Relationship


standing up in dysfunctional relationships

When I began to stand up for myself, the people around me were in shock and they didn’t like it. When I think back on it, why would they like it? In the past I tried to bend over backwards to do whatever they wanted. I agreed with whatever they wanted me to agree with, and if I didn’t agree I kept my mouth shut about it. I cooked what they wanted and I cooked when they wanted. I complied, just like I had learned to do as a child. I believed that my compliancy made me likeable. I believed that it kept me safe. I tried to be all things to all people, but I denied even to myself that I was doing it. I thought that I took care of me too. I assured myself that I liked living that way, that I was a servant of God, that I was selfless and generous with my time. That is my definition of dysfunctional relationship today.

Everyone was used to that Darlene. Everyone liked that Darlene just the way she was. Why would they want me to change? Most people, from the minute they met me they wanted me to be someone else. They wanted me to adapt to who they wanted me to be. And then it wasn’t good enough anyway. They wanted me to be what they wanted but they didn’t even know what they wanted. More definition of dysfunctional relationship.

For several years I thought about going to therapy, but I didn’t want to spend the money; I viewed it as “taking money away from my family”.  I also had a belief that I couldn’t spend the time on myself, that I was raising three kids and that to invest time on working on me and my issues was selfish. But things got bad enough that I felt I had no choice. It was either do some work on myself, (and feel selfish) or lose everything I had anyway.

First person that I stood up for myself with was my husband. It was freaking scary! I told him that I wanted to stay in therapy and he didn’t want me to. He said that we couldn’t afford it but I think it was because he didn’t like that I was changing. He liked things the way they were ~ his way. I told him that I was going to finish the whole process. Period.

Another big thing in the beginning was when he made a reference to something I wanted to do and he said that it had nothing to do with “us”. When asked to clarify he said that it had nothing to do with our goals and dreams. I told him that he had never once asked me what any of my dreams and goals were. He was well into his dream/goal and plan for his business as a beef cattle and hay producer when he met me and he just assumed that I should be part of it with him, so I was, because that is what a good wife does I thought. I thought I should become his support, you know, stand behind him. This was fine for a while, but I gave up everything that I liked in favour for what he liked. I no longer thought about myself as an individual. But I felt like I was suffocating under his life. There was nothing of ME left unless it was what he wanted me to be. So raising the kids and being involved in church groups or teaching Sunday school or activities with our kids met with his approval, but spending time on the computer or visiting a friend out of town was not acceptable.

As I started to grow stronger in therapy I realized that I was really held back by everyone my whole life, including my husband.  So in order to live in the change I was trying to achieve, I told him. I remember how the truth of this statement (that he never asked about my dreams) shocked him. I still remember his face when I said it while we were in a joint therapy session. He looked angry, he genuinely did not understand why I would want to do or even be anything separate from him. He expected marriage and a marriage partnership to be just like the one that was modeled for him, the one between his mother and father. That was his belief system. And because I was used to being what others wanted me to be for most of my whole life, it was easy to find myself in this situation in my marriage too. That was my belief system.  

Because we were in a joint therapy session, and because we had the help of the therapist to guide the conversation, my husband was willing to listen to me about my feelings and he realized that it was true; he had not considered my dreams, just as his father had not considered his mothers dreams, goals or wishes. He just expected me to join his dream, to be part of his goal, to work towards it with him ~ for him ~ but not to have a separate dream for myself. He thought love was ownership. He treated me like he owned me and he even thought it was his right as a husband. I thought I was happy to live that way, because I thought it was the definition of love and relationship, but I was dying and our marriage was dysfunctional. There was no equality, there was no partnership.

The truth is that I had never even asked myself what my dreams and goals were, because as I described in my last post, I was trying so hard to guess what everyone else wanted me to say, who they wanted me to be, what they wanted me to do. But somehow I realized that I had to start to find out who I was if I was going to break free of the oppression of depression. It I was going to finally wake up and live. And I was going to have to learn to stand up for myself in the true definition of love and relationship.

Eventually my husband and I realized that we had become part of a cycle of psychological abuse and dysfunctional relationship passed down through the generations and that we had to stop it in order to prevent it from being passed on to our own three children. We realized that we had modeled our belief systems to our kids, just as our parents did for us and it was time for us to grow up and learn the real definition of love and model that for them before it was too late.

Real love does that.

Not everyone is willing to change like my husband was though; stay tuned for more reactions.

As always, please share your comments and stories of your own.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time.

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Family



Yes! Yes! You sound like I used to be Darlene, and sometimes it is easier to fall back into that place of compliance while inside you are screaming screaming and screaming some more until you just snap. I’m tired of snapping and so is my husband…we are working on things as well – better communication (true listening), sharing and understanding that we are who we are but together we can decide how we want to be for ouselves, for us as a couple and for our family. Us together is greater than us apart, but us doing things doesn’t take away from anything either. Great post and I’m so happy you and your husband had the courage that you have shown in moving away from the dark things together!


[…] Related Posts Standing Up to Dysfunctional Relationships […]


Beautiful and alarmingly true. I am lucky that my husband is also willing to take the journey with me…it is amazing how much our relationship has changed..for the better. I never knew, honestly never knew…it’s like I just really got married even tho we’ve been together for 14 years already. It’s like we can truly enjoy each other now…especially since we’ve recognized and eliminated (or are eliminating) the outside interference that came along with the family control that was remaining from the abuse in our pasts. It is so eye-opening…I wish I could just show everyone the truth…but I know for it to be meaningful I can only be there for them – they have to find it themselves.


WOW – first person I recall standin up to was my “X” husband, who at the time had thrown me down a flight of steps ( I was pg), who had also threw a knife at my head, marked everythin he could w/a line and labeled it “mine not yours” ( I was eatin baby food and scraps from trash but I learned to drink certain things he’d labeled his, then hide the fact I did, w/water). I mean this man literally drove me more insane by hidin things on me then sayin I did it, hittin me upside my head when a telephone , rapin me while pregnant, always comin in drunk I mean I’m almost tin tears sittin here typin this crap b/c it’s like relivin it all over again but I remember after our son was born and he began to pull up…I recall a fight my “X” tried to pick w/me and how our son @ the time had pulled himself up on the table near his “father”…and the “X” went to smack him! I grabbed him and put him in his playpen to keep him safe but then the “X” threw a picture frame towards our baby in his playpen, glass broke and shattered IN the pen. I was so angry by this time that I didn’t care how many times I’d been punched, kicked, slapped you name it…I picked up our son, took him next door, come bk and boldly told my “X” “if you want to hit somebody, then hit someone your own size! and I took it b/c MY son was all I had in that marriage anymore and NO DAMN body was goin to hurt him, not even his sorry butt of a father!!! I’m sorry I lost it here k I ‘ms orry


I will also add though…that life remains an adventure and a journey that is not necessarily easy and I have learned to keep aware and recognize any indicators of control or manipulation so that I can make choices and decisions to keep myself free. I am no longer afraid of being alone…and that makes all the difference. I realized that I didn’t need to conform to succeed…in fact the conforming was hindering my personal success. Success was defined in everyone else’s terms anyway…success for me (once I figured it out) has nothing to do with anything that everyone else had laid out for me…it had to do with freedom and independence and LOVE built on acceptance and respect for my freedom and individuality. The realization that I am okay despite, not because, and that no matter what…I will be okay.



Isn’t it wonderful once we get over the fear of telling others there is going to be a change going on? it’s hard for people to accept me at times because I am happy about my healing. Not happy about the abuse, but happy when I get free of something that makes me a stronger person. The excitement of what fantastic piece of Patty is going to come forth over shadows the pain I have to relive. It amazes me how much I have changed and the best parts of me that are being exposed. it’s like coloring a picture that truly comes to life.

As always, you are fantastic and I am so thankful to be able to read such wonderful stories that are so uplifting and so honestly real. Thanks kiddo. you are much appreciated.



Hey what happened, I just went and got some lunch and come back to all this activity! I love it!

Hi Shanyn,
I remember when my husband and I were struggling (fighting) about the new way that our relationship was going because it was very hard for him.. (he didn’t exactly have any motivation to change becasue he had it his way for so long.. but I stood my ground) and anyhow, he thought that my standing up to him, was critical of him. He thought that I was pushing him around because I wanted some decision and some say. I remember when I finally got through to him that I was with him because I CHOSE to be with him, not because I was married to him and made the committment to him, becuase I had now decided that my life was more important then the beliefs that I used to have about divorce being wrong etc. He got it… He really finally understood that I have a choice, we all do.. that I am married and stay with him because I WANT to. Not because I have to. This was a big step towards our healing in our relationship. Deep down he thought that if I had a choice, I might leave. We all have our belief systems..

Thanks for your comments and for reminding me of that little memory!
Love Darlene

You have brought up an extreemly good point which winds it way through my entire blog all the time and that when you refer to “the outside interference that came along with family control”. Standing up for the truth and for ourselves is a choice I make (and sometimes I fall back and I don’t make it) each day. I gave up on justifying my reasons for what they called “rebelion” or “trouble making” or just being a “bag” all because I wanted to have equal value in relationships. Thank you so much for your comment and for including this point in it.
Hugs, Darlene


It is okay if you lose it here. You may share here as often as you like. I am sorry that all that happened to you. I am glad that you took care of your child and I want to just say here that the way that your X behaved, he should have gone to jail for that. All of that is illegal. No one is alowed to treat another person that way. Sometimes we don’t realize that we even have rights as human beings. That stems from our belief systems too. Thank you for sharing your journey and for being here and for your courage.
Hugs, Darlene


So so true and yes such hard work that therapy , self helping stuff isn’t it . But wow in the end how freeing !
Do You not feel blessed Darlene and know so true how we are the few !
I do feel literally my butt was saved !
I can see now and appreciate no matter how painful it was to let go of those negative relationships it opened up so many healthy positive ones ,I renewed friendships I had left behind for the negative people in my life who were full of addiction etc. now I am so blessed to be reconnected those true friends were always there waiting with a helpful hand .I just needed to reach out and accept the help .They in no way supported me to remain the never ending victim , I feel so blessed they could be strong enough to be truthful ? my dh & children benefited by all that hard work and they can now go on to continue the new and healthy cycle ?
So many stay stuck in that awful cycle , so afraid yet if they’d only deal with that ultimnate fear they’d break free !
This so goes with my fav quote from Anais Nin ?
I look forward to reading more .
Thanks so much


Another great point! That was a huge turning point for me too. When I decided that I didn’t care if I had to be alone, I was going to get me back, get my life back, that is a boundary that we draw in the heart. It isn’t just words anymore, it is deep in our heart and people know it. AND you are right on with everything else you say here too. Thank you so much for sharing again and expanding on your first comment! This is so powerful!
Hugs, Darlene

Thank you for sharing your heart here today. I am so blessed to have such wisdom on my site!!
and a very BIG THANK YOU for your lovely words of appreciation towards me! they make my heart swell and fill me with encouragement and I feel the same way about you!
Love Darlene


‘The Opression of Depression’, what a great phrase!

Your story Darlene is similar to mine. Standing up to my former husband (and many other people) was very scary indeed. I was well versed in being submissive and passive. I had always feared that if I made my husband angry by doing just that, challenging him; that the result would be that he would become so enraged that he would kill me.

We did commence relationship counselling but with very little success, because of a whole host of reasons. By then anyway I knew that I had had enough; that he would not, nor could not change, so I did and I told him that I no longer wished to be married to him.


Hi Kathryn, welcome!
I was afraid of that too, not so much about violence although that was certainly something I was afraid of; I was afraid that he would leave me… not because I was afraid to be alone I don’t think, but I was afraid that it would mean that I had no value if I wasn’t in his control. I think that is what the fear of voilence stemmed from too.. that if I stood up to him he would be violent because I went agianst him.. I have that in my past too.

When I stood up to my mother is was worse. I was actually afraid that I might not be able to deal with it if she rejected me.. (which she did and it only made me stronger and more sure of myself because I no longer lived under her reign)

And as you say, sometimes it is just too dang late. Too much water under the bridge. I was willing to accept it iether way because I HAD to stop living like that.
Thanks so much for your contribution to this post!
Hugs, Darlene


Thank You for this post Darlene 🙂
your post are inspirational and encouraging
you explain a lot of thing’s that I have shooken my head to, in agreement. I come from a dysfunctional background, thanks again for your post.


Every time I read one of your posts I wonder if you were secretly writing about me! 🙂

I wasn’t religious and did spend some time on things I liked, but for the most part spent the first 10 years of my marriage as a people pleasing doormat. It’s what I was trained to do. I didn’t believe I was worthy of better…hell, I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with our codependent dysfunctional marriage. Like you, once I started figuring things out and insisting on certain changes….well, not too many people liked that one bit, least of all my husband. We were also able to re-define our relationship with the help of a marriage counselor + individual counseling. But when it all started, I didn’t believe for one second that we’d be able to work things out. My (narcissist) mother was also extremely resistant to the changes I made. She had no choice but to accept it, or at least pretend to. 🙂


Hi Darlene,

Thank you for posting this, it helps me a lot to read your post and reflect on what it has meant in my own life.

“People pleaser” – I’ve certainly been accused of that more than once in my life. And I know it goes back to the forms of abuse. If I’m good, maybe he won’t hit me. If I do this act, then maybe I won’t have to do that act. If I show how much I like him, then maybe he (the perp) won’t throw me away like everyone else has in my life.

When I was in therapy, the therapist noticed that I was having trouble vocalizing a lot of what I felt about the abuse of the past. So he told me to try writing it out in narrative form. No, that wasn’t any better. So he said to try writing it out in poetry form and see if that was easier. Wow, the floodgates were open now. It just poured out. And one of those poems I wrote was about the perp and how I felt about him. In reading it, it was so starkly obvious how much I was totally dependent on his presence in my life then, how totally he was in my head and knew exactly what to say to keep me that way (he was, BTW, a psychologist by occupation, so it makes sense he knew how to manipulate like this). Looking back, that whole episode was the ultimate dysfunctional relationship because I, as the victim of this s*xual abuser, had been made dependent on him. After he moved from town abruptly, I was left to wonder what was wrong with me that he wanted to leave like that.

I know the title of this entry is Standing up to Dysfunctional Relationship, but what happens when we’re in relationships like that and we don’t even know they were dysfunctional until decades later? I think the hardest part of that one has been coming to terms with the feeling of betrayal when I figured out that he really was just using me. Just like the others, he was no different, another user.


Hi Kyla,
Thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts. It really is great to hear from others who have been there too, isn’t it? and that goes for me as well. Sometimes when I read the comments I feel like crying; (sometimes I do cry) it’s a mix of sadness and sometimes anger for what happened to others, and a mix of gratitude that we can talk about it together and understand each other. There is so much power in that.
Thanks for leaving this comment,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Eddie,
I was just thinking about this stuff earlier today. If I do this and that, they will not hurt me or if I do this and that they won’t reject me and OH MY GOSH they did anyway. I find that still almost unfathomable that this is the way it worked out.. I was easy to walk away from. I bent over backwards trying to please them, and in the end I wasn’t worth it. AND yes… I was dependant on them! But they (almost everyone) taught me that I had to be. (from a very young age!) I learned that it was compliance and dependence or rejection. And as my life went on, I kept on being dependant until I finally realized that I deserved better.

Thanks so much for sharing tonight Eddie. It makes me a little crazy when I think about “professionals” who have learned their craft so well in order to misused it in a sick way. Thank you also for realizing that although this post is about my marriage, it is also more importantly about relationships and the warped belief systems that we develop because of abuse and mistreatment.

Hugs, Darlene

p.s. (I am going to write my next post in this series about others who unlike my husband, actually did walk away. I might have trouble picking a story.. LOL )


Great post!! I’m the husband that Darlene is refering to in this post.
Darlene– I remember several sticky times during counselling and I can remember that session like it was yesterday. I was so puffed out and fed up with all the changes and just could not for the life of me figure out how come you were so un-happy. We were going back and forth about you doing some things, for yourself, seperate from me and I said how does that fit in with our goals and dreams and you said “you have never asked about nor considered my dreams” I was furious that you would stand up to me like that. Everything that I was working so hard for was for my family. The long hours, bad moods and pressure from work were all towards my goals. At the next moment after being furious, I was embarrased and ashamed of myself. My perfect bubble was burst open. I had thought of myself as a kind and caring man, a good provider and a compassionate husband and father. I WAS NOT–I was abusing my family on the pretence of love–what I thought was love was not. My belief system was to work hard-sacrifice a little and everything would work out in the end. “Everyone stay out of my road and leave me alone and then there would be time for you” was my mantra. Little did I know the end of our marrage was too near long before it was supposed to be–according to me. I had been very selfish and self centered when it came to “US” My closed mindedness and meanness had just about cost me my family.
It has taken a long time and a lot of relating to gain back some of the trust lost from my family. I have put in a lot of hard work to change my belief system–the belief system that had been embedded in my every cell of my body since I was born. I know the true meaning of LOVE now and thanks for putting up with the old me untill I could emerge as the new me!!


Oh this is just beautiful!! I love it…Thank you both for letting us in this part of your lives. And to all of you that have the courage to heal and be real. Love you guys and thanks again.


You are blessed to have a man who would even consider that maybe his belief system was not right.


Wow this is an awesome blog (like all the others it has shed so much more of the truth as you say Darlene Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time.) Your husband’s comment to this blog is totally awesome! I hope more men read this blog and read what he had to say! Our dreams and hopes are wonderful to have but if they overshadow those we love in other words meaning to make others conform to it then these things become a way of control and the meaning of true love does get lost in it!

I desire the same openness in my own marriage and I do try but I can only do my part I can’t do my husband’s part for him though at times I wish I could yet i know that just like me he to has to rewrite his own belief system and I can’t do that for him but I can be supportive, loving, encouraging, and compassionate to him!

It is hard to overcome what has been brainwashed into us I say brainwashed because it does pertain to the belief system! But even though it may be hard it can be done with a lot of work, patience, compassion, and understanding!

Thank you Darlene for this post and thank each of you that commented on this post!


That’s great that you both were willing to work through it together. Either one of you could have easily chosen to let the other go rather than go through it together. Still not sure what makes the difference between those that are willing and those that aren’t – but that makes all the difference in the world. Same thing is happening in my marriage and believe me there are days I think there’s no use…would be easier…but we’re both working very hard and have the same goal…and we’ve come a long way baby (and in an amazingly short time, too). It’s really wild once I noticed what had gone on in my past that had allowed me to become who I was, right away I felt a weight lifted…and it was amazing that when I “got it” and shared it with my husband I could see the same…”aha, I get it too” reaction and immediately the way we interacted and thought seemed to just…change. Not to say that we don’t still fall back…but we notice and are smarter about making the choice about how to react…and understanding what really just happened…truly amazing and wonderful…almost like we really just met the real us.

Thank you Darlene and Jimmy for sharing! Love to see a true love story 🙂


Just read the blog and comments here and moved to tears by everyone’s contribution, wonderful to experience the courage and openness expressed here, thank you everyone!



Wow Darlene! You are so lucky to have a man who admits his wrongs and works for change WITH you. My ex Narcissist/Husband left after I became disabled and would not & refused to be his slave anymore. Even just a month ago – someone I have been close to for years turned on me like a rabid dog when I did something I needed to do for myself and my own mind. People really hate it when you start taking yourself back. My late Narcissist mother did, most of the psychopaths I knew did, a few ‘friends’ and even bosses did when I would no longer tolerate being abused.

GREAT post!


Jimmy…thanks for sharing that! You and Darlene are really helping so many people. Bright blessings for you both!


Great to hear from you and it is great to hear other success stories! It gives everyone even more hope. I didn’t think it would work out either, but for the first time in my life I dug my heals in the ground.. and somehow I knew that either way it would be better for me in the end. If I had to live will all the abuse and control and being nothing more then a slave, what kind of life did I have really?? (Not that I thought about it that way at the time…

Christina W. I gotta tell you, sometimes is shocks me when Jimmy contributes to this blog… but I am so glad that he does!

Pamela, it was a long long road. Jim fought me for over 2 years and tried in every way to prove that he wasn’t the problem and that I was. He thougt I was the one who was controlling him. I have a lot more little snapshots to write about our journey!

Nikki ~ It is worth working towards a real relationship. I look back and sometimes wonder how we did it, but I have never been sorry that we did. I wanted wholeness, freedom and health in every area of my life, and I made a decision that I was going to strive for that. I had to do a lot of changing, mostly in the area of standing up for myself and taling a look at what the real truth was. (for instance like I said above, Jim thought it was me, I thought it was me.. but when I realized it was NOT me, I fought to remain true to the truth.

Thanks everyone! Hugs, Darlene


Man it has been a long haul. I really appreciiate you posting your side of the story, and admitting that you did this and why and what you were thinking at the time. It is so powerful for others to hear your side too, especially how you thought what you were doing was best and that you really believed that it was okay for you to act that way. Thanks for your contribution ~ Love Darlene

Thanks for your encouragement John. It is great to have feedback from a Counsellor ~ a mental health professional ~ who says that this blog and comments has moved him to tears. There is just something really validating about that. Thank you!

Wendi ~ I think that the difference is part courage and part willingness. Many people can’t be bothered to do the work. It isn’t easy but it takes a decision on both sides. At first I told Jim that I was going to change and all I asked was for him to let me. I said he didn’t have to do anything… but that only lasted about 3 weeks. I realized that it would not work if he didn’t do his part. (I was always so willing to be the only one who did the work, the one who carried the whole burden and responsibility of the relationship in every relationship… )

Barbara ~ Yes, I know it is true. People really resist change and I realized as time went on that I had to take the risk. The first step for me was to decide that I didn’t care what the outcome was, I was going to draw my line in the sand. Other people would make their decisions but that would NOT effect mine. Some people accepted my changes, and some didn’t. Either way, I am FREE now!

Shanyn ~ Thanks for your encouragement! It really means a lot just to be cheered on!

Love to everyone. Thanks for all these great comments.
Thanks for being here!


After we left a spiritually abusive church we started seeing this as well. My life for 15 years had been spent working hard towards the pastor’s dreams for the church and I realized that my dreams had been put on the back burner. So these past two years I have pursued my own personal interests with full support of my family. 😀


Hi Lisa!
Yes, I saw the same kind of thing in the church we were at too. I am glad that you bring this up in regards to dysfunction can be in ANY relationship. Relationship is relationship and is not supposed to be one sided. I am so grateful when people apply my blog posts to other situations.
Thank you so much for your comment, and YAY that you have the suppor of your family!
Hugs, Darlene



I’m a family therapist.

As I started reading your post I was getting ready for the “normal” ending: you were going to complain, your husband was going to feel attacked and he would withdraw, you’d find a counselor who listened better than your husband, and you’d get a divorce. But you told him in the counselor’s office, and he HEARD you. Once he heard you, he took steps to change. Jimmy, your response is wonderful.

I have seen this happen in my office, and I hope others get the message that it is possible.


Hi Tom, welcome to my blog!

I love it when therapists contribute! I am a big advocate of therapy since that is what worked for me. =) I told Jimmy a lot of things in the therapy office… sometimes I took my own car and met him there, because I was afraid to be alone with him afterwards. I was willing to do whatever it took ~ not to make my marriage work, but to get my life back, to be me again and remember that I started therapy because of chronic depression and dissociative identity disorder and didn’t have a clue that anything was wrong with my marriage. The first few months that I went to therapy I never even talked about my marriage!

I am not writing this because I want you to know Tom, but because I want my readers to know that I made the decision to become whole and healthy first.. that first I decided that I was worth saving and it just so happened that my marriage was a problem.

Thanks so much for your comment and I hope that you contribute here often!

Victoria Mcfarland
August 24th, 2010 at 12:16 pm


I LOVE this post.I too feel that you are writing my story. I am going to ask my husband to read your post tonight and pray he will do so. Most of the time he will not read anything I ask him to read. However, last weekend I left he and the kids at home ( in anger) because I am SOOOOO sick of being everything for everybody and not knowing who I am or even what my dreams are.It has helped some in that we are deciding what our dreams are for ourselves so that we may build OUR dreams together. As i began to spend time alone ( and love it!!!) things beganto look much clearer. I wrote down what my dream life would look like ( or so I thought ) and read it to my husband and children.NO RESPONSE! After literally being treated like a garbage disposal by hubby and children ( they did not even realize), I lost it!! I reacted in a way that I still feel was a bit shameful ( yelling, cursing, and leaving) but it began a healing process inside of me. I returned 2 days later a different person. Yet, the work of seperating me for ( them ) is exhausting. It would truly be easier to just go back to the way things were, but my soul was dying. My soul and dreams had begun to die 13 years ago bit by bit, but recently the process seemed to speed up. Although there is no physical abuse and to many I am spoiled ( not having to work, resting when I want during the day, etc) I was being verbally and psychologically abused. If my husband reads this, he will disagree, because to him , like your husband , he is out working hard to provide a nice life for us, that is enough. But the snide comments when I suggest returnign to school or the comments about my weight gain,though not openly hostile and so insidious that you could wonder “Does he really mean that?” we piling up inside my psyche. I too determined that I am not afraid to be alone and actually enjoy my time alone. I am now taking myself out to eat alone, watching movies alone, etc. I not only stood up to my husband , but to the “machine” , the Stepford wife persona that is so prevalent where I live. After giving 30 -60 hours a week to the PTO at my children’s schools last year, I have chosen to step back. So far I have not doen one single thing with the PTO, only being involved directly with my children. This is considered ” selfish” to others, but I found out after giving my all last year and having a breakdown, that they were not appreciative and I STILL was rejected. it has made a huge differe4nce in my relationship with my children the past 2 weeks. I now have time and energy to sit down and read to them, do homework with them, and just spend time talking.

I also have time to sleep late, deep breath and read books. I have told my husband and children that while I am still here for them , I have to find me first, define my wants likes and dislikes before, I can figure out how to integrate that picture to include all of our dreams.My husband and I also decided that we will not continue to live our lives based completely on what our children want ( a HUGE step for me). We are even considering a move out of state to be in our beloved mountains although my 14 year old declared she hated me at the suggestion. I feel free in a way I have not felt for years!

So much more inside, but not enough energy to tell more at his time.
Thanks to all of you for sharing your hearts and lives with me.


It took me a long time Victoria to learn that I must self care before I can care for others and that the self care Must come first! 🙂


I just want to say to everyone that it strikes me funny that so many people feel like I am writing their story. Even Men feel that way. (this is what made me decide to create Emerging from Broken in the first place ~ because I was so shocked that so many people said this to me.)
I believe that this is because we have all swallowed such similar false beliefs about love, relationship, respect, equality and a whole lot of other false definitions.

Now about your post! LOL Yes to everything you have added and me too. My kids didn’t realize it because it had gone on for so long. I however thought they SHOULD realize it for some reason. I thought they should notice all that I was doing, but in reality, this is what they believed was the mothers role. Because by my own actions and belief system, I taught them it was! They followed my husbands lead, because even children could see that he had it way better then I did, so why would they want to follow me??

Today (and this took a few years!!) my kids pull their weight in the chores department, all three can cook, and we are all learning to have “real relationship” based on the true definition of love, equality, respect and family. I am so happy to say that we all LIKE each other. We hang out, sometimes just visiting, sometimes we play board games ~ our whole family and all three kids are teenagers ages 13, 17 and almost 19 with friends and many interests of their own. (which we respect!) I never thought life could be this good!

Thanks for sharing your story Victoria. I really love what you are doing for yourself! HUGS!

YES you are so right. I could not model anything for my family, I could not teach my children to do anything that I was not doing myself. I had to value me if I wanted them to value themselves. Even my husbands version of self value was very damaging. (because while I taught sacrifice me, he taught self centeredness, and he bullied them too) Self care comes first.
Thank you for your comments too!
Hugs, Darlene


Great post Darlene, and great comments Jim! I hear ya so loud and clear on this and can’t believe the freedom I feel now that I’ve taken myself back.


Hey Tracy!
Great to hear from you and YES it’s so fantastic isn’t it!
Thanks for leaving a comment Tracy, we’ve come a long way since we first met and it is great to celebrate life with you!
Hugs and love, Darlene


This sounds a ton like my relationship with MY husband. He is 36 years my senior and the generational gap adds another layer of insecurity. Because he is older, and I have so many other unrelated issues, involving the childhood molestation by my father for 12 years, I’ve always felt unequal in my marriage to begin with. Though I am the one that is mostly in control of decisions, issues, children, EVERYTHING and he is very passive and emotionally distant to ALL of us; I’ve still always felt his disapproval about most things. MY dreams, MY emotions, MY health, anything involving me came last, and I became accustomed to putting myself last, IN EVERYTHING. Nothing for ME was necessary. I insisted the children show respect to their father, he never opened his mouth in my defense. His family never accepted me and often made unkind remarks to or about me, he never spoke up at all. It sometimes feels as though he had no respect for me at all though I bore him 6 children, raised and home-educated them alone.
I give your husband SO much credit for reaching the point he did. To become supportive, and search his own soul and self discipline is very wonderful to see. He must love you an awful lot to do the work required to change. What a special relationship you must have now.


Hi Diane,
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I can relate to so much of it!! I did all that too and my husband let me take the fall for everything. He let the kids think that I was the bad guy and he never defended me to his parents; he let me take the blame if they were upset with a decision HE made, the whole deal.

As much as I would love to bask in the thought that my husband did this for me, (I wanted that more then I wanted anything… that he would do something just for me!) the truth is that he did it for him. When we first went to therapy together, immediately his own issues came up. I was really ticked that he had to go to counseling about his issues with his father, when I thought that I SHOULD come first for ONCE in our pathetic marriage where he came first for all those years. But our marriage issues had to be put on hold, which he looked at his own childhood.

BUT.. today I know that if he didn’t do it that way, he never would have done it at all. Our marriage would have ended, because I had drawn such a strong line. Jim had to see the hope of freedom from his own issues, before he really worked on our marriage. He had to believe that it would be better if he did his own work. In doing this for himself, he was set free, just like I was, and then we came together to work on our relationship.

Thanks so much for being here. Freedom is possible but it doesn’t always look like what we think it will.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] last post (click here) was about standing up to my husband regarding our dysfunctional relationship, that I was mistreated […]


Something that I have found true for me is that when I work on my own childhood issues, the relationship issues with my husband often take care of themselves. I don’t say that to mean don’t work on your relationship issues. Believe me when I say that you should work on any abusive or dysfunctional relationship issues that you have. Many, if not all, of my relationship issues came from my childhood issues. Relationship issues are often built upon the lies about love and respect that we were taught as children. Mine sure were.

Yesterday was the 38th Wedding Anniversary for my husband Daniel and me. I love that I came here and read this today. I am way behind in my reading online.

In our 38 years of marriage, some of the worst years were those first ones when I realized that I didn’t know who I was. I can so relate to what you Darlene and all of the people who have commented here say on the topic.

For many years, I played the role of the controller and my husband was the passive-aggressive one in our marriage. With the controlling, I was right out there trying to control everything and everybody out of my fears of being rejected and abandoned. My controlling came from my fears of not being loved and not feeling safe.

My childhood of incest taught me that the world was not a safe place. My dictator dad and passive aggressive mother gave me my role models for getting through life alive. I didn’t say happy. Nothing about my first years of marriage was happy for me. I was too afraid to be happy.

I think I will save the rest of what I want to save here for a blog post of my own because this comment could become very, very long. I am off to read your next post before going to write my own. Thanks Darlene and Jimmy both for sharing your message of hope and freedom from the past. Yours is a beautiful story.


I am looking forward to reading your post Patricia, (please click on Patricia’s name in order to see her blog)

I can relate to what you say here Patricia, so much of all my adult issues really did begin in childhood, that is why I always go on and on about the belief system. We have these really “wrong” role models, and we don’t know it, because our lives are ‘normal’ to us. and that “Normal” is what we become used to even if it is dysfunctional.

Thanks for stopping by to read and leave a comment! HAPPY 38th wedding anniversary, wow, and congratulations!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, here is the link to my post:
The name of the post is Childhood Issues Can Create Dysfunctional Relationships For Adults.


Thanks Patricia,
I read it and loved the additional information! Thanks for posting the link,


Can relate far to well. I truly believe as you stated that love is not enough. It takes dedication to oneself and each other. I am glad your husband listened to you.
Hugs across the pond


Thanks Paula,
I am glad he listened to me too, our lives are so much better!
Hugs back! Darlene


Hugs back from me Darlene and Thanks for your wisdom and support.


This blog is just what I’ve needed to find. Why is it so hard to honour my own needs? I am at the end of that person who feels responsible to make things work out for everyone. All along I’ve been the nice girl, done the right thing and denied my own thoughts & feelings in the process. I have no energy left to do it and although I know I’m in a good place- no longer hiding, I find it is incredibly difficult getting through those conversations with people who are used to me saying yes to them. Each time I have to say no I’m an emotional wreck for hours after. I feel like a bad person even though I know that if I don’t look after myself now I will go crazy. I find myself saying no to everyone who I have felt has had expectations of me, especially those I have felt manipulated in any way by. Thanks for sharing your story so I know I’m not going crazy and that it is okay to learn a difficult new skill. I just want to be true to myself in the things I say yes to and I’m learning that that’s okay.


Hi Julie,
I understand what you are talking about! I was exactly like that too when I started to stand up for myself.. I would even feel sick to my stomach for hours after. Looking back I realize that what that was, was me second guessing myself. I was so trained to be what and who “they” wanted and so sure from childhood that the way to stay safe was to always comply, that I think the emotional sickness stuff was about “waiting for the bomb to drop”; I was bracing myself for the horror that I was ‘sure to follow’ if I said no. It took a long time for me to trust that it wasn’t going to happen, that I would stay safe and that I could take care of myself.
Thanks for sharing with me.
Hugs, Darlene


Thanks for your comments Darlene. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. It feels a lot lonely sometimes. Also how much hope it gives me to know I’ll come out the other end better off and more emotionally mature.


Yes Julie,
there is quite a community building here and on the facebook page for Emerging from Broken. Having all these voices really inspires hope!
I am really glad that you found us too!
Hugs, Darlene


Oh, wow! I grew up being the compliant, obedient child who could be counted on to do things without complaint. I was taught to “not make things worse” by speaking up and to not “rock the boat.” My accomplishments were downplayed so as to “not make others jealous” or “not make them feel bad.” My desire to be loving and compassionate was used to manipulate me. My compliance gained me approval from those in authority although my greatest fear was of losing the love of those who loved me.

However, when I got engaged and stood firm on the belief that while parents can give advice, they must not take control of their adult children’s marriages, I fell from their approval and lost their love. I was lied about, condemned, and rejected. My Mom turned my whole family against me. (I learned I can face my greatest fear and survive.)

I am thankful that my husband has stood with me and supported me. We went through a couple years of struggle because my husband struggles with boundaries as well, and even in the church there seems to be a belief that love means absolute submission to those in authority, and that to disagree or set boundaries means being judgmental and unforgiving toward others. However, we both loved each other and wanted to change so we were able to withstand the pressures and work through these issues. Now we have a relationship of mutual respect and give and take. We are encouraging and helping each other grow in setting healthy boundaries in our lives.

I find it’s difficult to set healthy boundaries because I have been taught so thoroughly that it’s unloving and unforgiving to do so. Often when I tried to withdraw from my manipulative Mom/family, I got a lot of pressure, guilt, or anger. For example, often my sister called me, telling me our Mom was sick (a ploy often used to guilt me) or that “God wouldn’t want you to be bitter and unforgiving…” thereby blaming and guilting me with my love for God and my desire to be loving. In reality, I was the one making the effort to have a relationship with my family while my actions were judged as “a mere drop in a teacup” and never enough to earn their “forgiveness.” Often I struggled to close the door against abuse because I felt as if by doing so, I was acting like them.

I keep trying to remind myself that healthy boundaries are not unloving, I have the right to my own opinions and choices, and refusing to be a victim of abuse is not unforgiving. Little by little I am learning not to accept abusive behavior, but sometimes it feels like I’m trying to walk in hurricane-force winds. The outside pressures from people who seem to believe that love means always giving in, and the inside pressures telling myself that I am unloving, unforgiving, and not good enough are strong, but I keep reaching toward wholeness…


You are having some fantastic understandings today! Thank you for sharing them here!
It was really important to understand that it isn’t love to accept abuse or mistreatment. The people who dish it out do not have love in thier lives either. They are broken and dysfunctional and the ONLY way they will ever have a chance at wholeness and love is if they see that their actions are wrong. That they way that they define love (and insist and demand it) only applies to the victim and that is not how they love back. And it isn’t up to me to teach them that, but I know that when I put up with abuse I am accepting abuse and they get away with it. They have no motivation to change if they have it the way they want it. (complicated stuff, but that is the nut shell version)
Hugs, Darlene

Leave a Comment