***Disclaimer from Anne: I am not putting my stamp of “Yes, he’s the model recovering addict.” My hope is that we can learn from his story.
If there are any addicts listening, this can give them hope that, if they choose to, they can stop being abusive, they can stop cheating on their wives and participating in any form of infidelity.
BTR advocates for the safety of women and their families. Our hope is for families to be together and live happy healthy lives in peaceful homes.***
To an emotionally abused woman, the happy, healthy marriage may seem out of reach.
She watches movies and TV shows, where the husband and wife are mutually respectful in their equal partnership, and dreams of the day that her marriage is like that.
When she comes back to reality, she feels disappointed and hopeless.
Her husband will never change.
He’ll never SEE her.
Downtrodden, she returns to her life as her husband’s emotional punching bag.
Then, one day, she hears about Center for Peace.
She hears about how the program is cultivating healthy marriages.
She hears about how husbands are finally seeing their wives and they’re real worth.
She hears about how relationships are healing.
She finally has some hope.
At Betrayal Trauma Recovery, we’ve always believed that anyone is capable of change.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Center for Peace, an abuse cessation program, to give abusers a chance to change their behaviors, change their lives, and bring peace into their home.
Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, continues her conversation with James, a Center for Peace client, as they discuss how the Center for Peace program is helping him cultivate a healthier marriage. Previously, James talked about how Center for Peace helped him to finally see the truth about his abusive behaviors.
Center For Peace: Cultivating A New Mindset
When James first heard about Betrayal Trauma Recovery, he hated Anne.
He hated her because he didn’t want to face the truth about himself.
After a couple of months at Center for Peace, James began to see things from a different perspective.
Now, he sees very clearly and it scares him.
“It really is scary for me, because now I have the knowledge and I’ve been informed of my choices and of my behavior and how I have, even personally, led people to treat my wife in a way as if she is the offender and not me.”-James, Center for Peace client
When Anne began talking about how society and culture nurture, even encourage, abusive behavior in men, James immediately identified where he had picked up some cues in his childhood.
James described the men in his community as having narcissistic attitudes and treating their wives as though they should be compliant.
He continues to see this attitude in society and recognizes that it is more present than people would like to believe.
“I think the whole world needs to wake up to this reality that narcissism and gaslighting and manipulation are very real and very prevalent in society.”-James, Center for Peace client
James knows he wasn’t innocent of this attitude, of course, but now that he knows, he can see how his mindset affected his wife and others.
He admits to encouraging two different counselors that his wife was the problem in their marriage, not him.
They were easily convinced by his actions that he was an “upstanding guy,” when he really wasn’t.
“She was hurt, she was in pain, she was suffering from post-traumatic stress and having to balance these continual, residual actions on my behalf. I had to see for myself that culture should not promote abusive behavior, not only on behalf of the abuser but also on the people who look for advice and counsel on how to get better.” -James, Center for Peace client-James, Center for Peace client
James acknowledges that society, as a whole, needs to change their mindset if the abuse is ever going to stop.
“Until we’re able to put our finger on it, identify it, and correct it, we will continue to see relationships crumble and, particularly, women will have to suffer unnecessarily because of unhealthy men who are only creating unhealthier men. Then it almost becomes a generational curse.”-James, Center for Peace client
Of course, James can’t change the whole world at once, but he could start with himself, so he did.
Center For Peace: Cultivating Respect In Marriage
James says that he’s been the “winner” for their entire relationship, and he’s often gone about in the wrong way.
Now, it’s her turn to win, he says, it’s time to start balancing it out so when they’re ready, their marriage can win.
“It’s been all about me for so long. I feel like a healthy marriage is in the middle but, until we get there completely, it needs to be on my wife’s side. That means my words, my thoughts, my actions, and even my amends, although, in some people’s minds that might be unfair, I think it’s appropriate, given all the things that I’ve done.”-James, Center for Peace client
James continues trying to improve.
He knows he still makes mistakes, but now he tries to learn and grow from them.
“I’m not perfect. There are still times when I struggle with empathy or go into my head and pull away. Then I think back on what I’ve learned or my wife calls me out and I’ll say, ‘You know what, you’re right. I’m wrong. I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize sincerely. What do I need to do to make this right? [How can I] bring safety back into our relationship and home?’ It’s been beneficial.”-James, Center for Peace client
James says they’ve been separated for some time now but, over time, they’ve moved from an out-of-home separation to an in-home separation, and he’s grateful for that.
He’s learning to respect his wife’s boundaries and the time she needs to heal.
“If I have to be in this place for another year or two just for me to show signs of consistency, not just temporary health, but consistent healthy behavior, then that’s what I have to do. I won’t stop because I know that’s important.”-James, Center for Peace client
James is willing to wait because now he sees what he didn’t before.
He finally sees HER and how much she loves him.
Since he does finally see her, he knows he has to keep progressing to continue to be worthy of her love.
Center For Peace: Cultivating Accountability & Repair
When a heart has been shattered into a thousand shards, it takes a lot of work to repair it.
Part of repairing that heart, for an abuser, is taking accountability for the hits they’ve made to that heart.
James knows that he has to continue to be accountable for his choices and behaviors because he also knows that his wife won’t settle for anything less anymore.
He knows better now.
That imperfection of his sometimes leads to hurting his wife.
He’s different than he was in the past.
“There was a day when I could care less and I would just be like, ‘That’s on you. You’ve got to get over this.’ But now, I take ownership for the stuff that I’ve done.”-James, Center for Peace client
James says that when he makes those mistakes now, he doesn’t push it on her. Instead, he’ll work through it and even journal until he figures out what he did and why it was wrong. Then, he’ll try to find a way to fix it or improve for the future.
He also knows that he’ll spend a long time, possibly forever, making up for what he’s done.
“You have to make this right. You have to show up every single time in a healthy way. Restitution looks different for every relationship. That’s completely up to the betrayed spouse, whatever they need to heal.”-James, Center for Peace client
Anne agrees with James that how a person responds to a mistake is vital.
If they blame the other person, it doesn’t fix anything, but if they take accountability, and try to fix it, that makes all the difference.
“The repair piece is so important because all of us have moments. Because we’re all human and we’re all making messes, no matter how healthy or unhealthy we might be, either way, repairing is key.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Anne also says it’s difficult for a woman who’s been emotionally abused to know if her abuser’s changed behavior is real or just part of the cycle.
“It’s hard to know. What is this behavior: Is it grooming or is it legit? It’s hard for the man who’s been exhibiting these abusive behaviors to understand that and give it enough time. That consistency and time is all she has on her side, that’s all she has to go on because she’s had periods of time before this that have seemed good but turned out to be not so good.”-Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Repairing a damaged relationship takes a lot of work and, James admits, sometimes it seems like he hasn’t done anything.
But James is being patient.
It’s really all he can do, he says, continue progressing and be patient.
“When you understand the pain that your wife has endured and the fact that some of us have been blessed to still have a spouse and haven’t gone through a divorce, it’s like, ‘This is the least I can do. The least I can do is patiently wait.’ Not only patiently wait for my wife to be healed but for me to display consistent long-term behaviors of change, so that she can actually see progress in my life.”-James, Center for Peace client
He knows he’s making progress, though it may seem slow, and he’s going to keep working for his marriage because his wife is worth it.
Center For Peace: Cultivating A Healthy Marriage After Emotional Abuse
James used to see his wife as an object.
Now, he sees her with a new set of eyes because HE’S changed, not her.
“Even though I haven’t been [sexually] active with my wife, I have felt more loved by her in the last 15 months than I have in our entire relationship and she has done nothing differently. It’s the mindset that I have now and that revelation of truth that I’ve had that has caused me to understand the depth of love that can be expressed and experienced in a relationship.”-James, Center for Peace client
He knows now that there was never anything wrong with her, except for the pain that he’d caused her.
She was always there and always loved him.
He was just never able to see it or hear it.
“The frontal lobe of my head, could be on fire and I would never experience anything. I couldn’t feel the love. I couldn’t hear the love in her heart. It was impossible. This wall was built up because, if I truly was open to experiencing her love, then the behavior would not have happened. I had to come up with ways and actions and words to prevent myself from feeling what was pure and true and honest.”-James, Center for Peace client
The eyes James sees his wife with now can finally see the love and see her for who she really is.
An amazing faithful woman.
“I can look at her and be mesmerized by the heart and the character and the woman that she has consistently shown up as. I’m actually more blessed now than ever.”-James, Center for Peace client
James knows that this wouldn’t be possible without the work he’s done in the Center for Peace program.
He wants other men to be able to see in their wife what he sees in his.
“When you feel that pushback, stand up and, literally, open up your arms to not be defensive and hear what your spouse has to say. If you have to put your hand over your mouth to be able to listen and empathize and understand and give them space, then that’s what really matters.”-James, Center for Peace client
James is very grateful for the opportunity that he’s had to go through the program at Center for Peace.
He’s grateful he’s been given a second chance at his marriage and encourages other abusers to do the same.
“If you get an opportunity to look into the Center for Peace, I would encourage you to just do it. Invest the money, invest the time. Think about all the resources that you’ve spent and all the time and the attitude that you’ve done abusing and acting out. Imagine if you could put that time and attention towards the healing of your spouse, how much better your life, your marriage, your family, your parenting would be.”-James, Center for Peace client
James is working hard to repair his marriage, and Anne is looking forward to talking to James’ wife, who says he really is doing well, to hear her perspective.
Anne knows that many people believe that Betrayal Trauma Recovery encourages divorce and man-hating.
It was refreshing for her to talk to someone who used to feel that way, but now knows the truth about BTR.
Anne and Betrayal Trauma Recovery want all women to be emotionally, psychologically, sexually, and physically safe in their marriage.
One way we can help is by providing a safe place for women to share their experiences. With unlimited access to more than 15 sessions a week, it’s easier than ever to find a BTR Group session that fits your schedule without having to leave your home. Each session is led by a Certified Betrayal Trauma Specialist.
Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.
Many of you are sheltering in place. This has been a crazy ride. I have spent some days with an hour or two of crying, and every day enjoying being with my children. They are the best.
Some days are good, and some days are bad. Some moments are good, some moments are bad. It’s been a roller coaster for me and I’m sure you’re feeling it too with the current coronavirus situation.
I think on a past podcast last week or the week before, I said that when you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, which is our daily online group, you can immediately get into a session. I apologize I misspoke.
We do have a timer on our website so usually, you can get in within at least 24 hours. Sometimes we have four groups per day. My intent was to say that when you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, you can get in rather quickly into the next session and usually the next session is only a few hours away. I’m sorry that I misspoke. Thank you for understanding.
When you run a podcast like this I misspeak sometimes. I think I said before that no therapist ever identified the abuse. That I misspoke as well. They never did until the very end. My very last couple therapist did, and I so appreciate that.
He said, “This is domestic violence. You are in an abusive relationship. This is you.” It was a big eye-opener for me, and everything changed after that.
I do need to give props to that particular therapist who we had gone to for 20 sessions and didn’t recognize the abuse or at least didn’t identify it until he witnessed it himself. That, of course, is alarming that someone can go to 20 couple sessions and not find out until later. But, eventually, he did say that, and I appreciate that.
If and when I misspeak, I will try to correct it. When you have 160 episodes, obviously from time to time I’m going to misspeak, so thank you for your patience. I really appreciate it.
With the COVID-19 situation flaring up, our groups are still running every day in Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group. I know it’s hard with your kids’ home from school and trying to home school. I know it’s hard when you’re concerned about where your next paycheck is coming from or your next meal.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is only $125 a month for UNLIMITED group sessions. That is less expensive than even one therapy appointment, and I think currently we have over 80 sessions depending on how long the month is. That is a lot of sessions that are unlimited for you to attend.
It’s the most inexpensive professional help for this type of emotional and psychological abuse that includes pornography use. Our coaches are experts at helping you set boundaries, especially if you are sheltering in place. If you’re trying to figure out how to detach from an emotionally abusive conversation, or how to detach from gaslighting if you cannot remove yourself, or if you did call the cops and they came but they say, “Did he hit you?” “You say, “No,” and there is no “crime” that has taken place so he wouldn’t be charged with domestic violence, per se, but it is still emotionally violent to you.
It is a domestic abuse issue, even if the police don’t recognize it. Even if your local domestic violence shelter doesn’t recognize it. Lying, manipulation, gaslighting, running you around in circles for their entertainment is an abuse issue.
The other thing is that, during a crisis like this, these types of abusers are likely to escalate because they have nowhere to go, if they can’t work at an office, for example, or stay late or blame work or go someplace else to act out.
They can’t do these things because they’re at home and you can see what they’re doing so that agitates them more because they don’t have any space to act out. The emotional abuse will likely escalate in that situation. Those are just some things to think about.
When you join Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, just check out the online schedule and you can see when the next session is so you can get on.
Today, we are continuing the conversation with James. He is a Center for Peace client. His wife, because of the COVID-19 situation and her professional life, has been rescheduled for a later date, but please know that I do have permission from her to interview her husband.
She says he is doing fairly well and that she feels fine with the interviews that we’ve been doing. That’s always important to me. I never want to have a man come on who is touting his recovery without asking his wife and without knowing her perspective because a man is always going to say he is doing well.
That’s a concern for me and I always make sure to double-check with his wife or his victim to ensure that it’s not just a way to get attention or a way to pump up his ego.
We’re going to continue the conversation with James. We’re going to start it with my philosophizing about society and how society, in general, does not educate men about abusive behaviors.
It doesn’t educate men about misogamy or sexism or these types of issues. Many men don’t understand when you say, “These are abusive behaviors.” They’re like, “No, they’re not.” The reason they don’t think they’re abusive is that they don’t know squat about abuse.
They don’t understand abuse. They haven’t studied it. They don’t know, so all they can think is, “Well, I don’t punch her in the face.” They just don’t understand that, if you lie to your wife or if you fail to get consent or if you gaslight or manipulate, you are an emotional abuser. You are a psychological abuser. That is something that everyone needs to understand, so I bring that up with James.
We’ll continue the conversation with James now.
What are your thoughts about that? As you’ve realized, maybe having some compassion on yourself, that this isn’t just you. I don’t want to call you an abuser James, I want to say that you’ve been engaging in abusive behaviors and that you’re working toward engaging in healthy behaviors.
I prefer to say that because it feels more comfortable to me. Just because you have used abusive behaviors in the past does not mean that you are destined to continue using them in the future.
What are your thoughts about not knowing and not being educated about this? How do you feel about that? I don’t want you to feel sorry for yourself, so I don’t want to go down that road, but do you have some thoughts on that, now that you know what a difference it has made or how you’ve observed it in other people or in society in general?
James: Yeah, I do. Particularly given the nature of movement and the culture that we’re in, if you look back in the ’60s and ‘70s, men were just misogynistic and narcissistic and had just a really interesting perspective of “head of the household.”
I was reared and raised, not necessarily in that type of environment, but around me in my community and in my church, I saw that. I saw this very much “it’s all about me” life, and the wife is “supposed to be,”—at least that was what was communicated through actions—the wife is supposed to be the subservient one and “I can do what I want.”
I think it’s been propagated amongst the country, particularly with men, and it’s scary. It really is scary for me because now I have the knowledge and I’ve been informed of my choices and of my behavior and how I have, even personally, led people to treat my wife in a way as if she is the offender and not me.
I remember a counseling session, literally two different counselors, they both said, “Wow.” I’d convinced them, through my actions, that I was this upstanding guy when I really wasn’t. But then they would look to my wife and say, “Now, what have you done to add to this problem?” Both of them actually blamed my wife and gave her responsibility for my choices.
Looking back on that it’s like, “Oh, my God, what were we doing?” Now, at the time, I was like, “Yeah, what are you doing? Why aren’t you this way? Why aren’t you nicer in the way you talk to me? Why are you so mean?” But those weren’t her behaviors.
She was hurt, she was in pain, she was suffering from post-traumatic stress and having to balance these continual, residual actions on my behalf. I had to see for myself that culture should not promote abusive behavior, not only on behalf of the abuser but also on the people who look for advice and counsel on how to get better.
I think the whole world needs to wake up to this reality that narcissism and gaslighting and manipulation are very real and very prevalent in society. Until we’re able to put our finger on it, identify it, and correct it, we will continue to see relationships crumble and, particularly, women will have to suffer unnecessarily because of unhealthy men who are only creating unhealthier men. Then it almost becomes a generational curse.
Anne: That’s what we’re seeing now. It’s so prevalent and getting help is so difficult. That’s why so many women gravitate to BTR because they’re like, “We went everywhere and I couldn’t figure it out.” The interesting thing is the addict, or the abuser is like, “This CSAT is fine or this therapist is fine. I don’t know why you’re complaining.” They’re like, “Why can’t you get over it.” They’re a little bit like, “What’s the deal?”
In the Center for Peace program—we’ll keep things confidential—there was a man who did not want to let go of all of his entitlements. Joi told me that he said, “I don’t want a BTR marriage. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want a BTR marriage.”
Let’s talk about that for a minute. There are a lot of people right now, mainly I would say sex addiction experts, who think that I, Anne Blythe and BTR, have gone too far by saying that pornography use is abusive to your spouse. In addition to all the other behaviors that surround it, the lying, the gaslighting, the manipulation, and all of that, that is abusive to your spouse.
Going back to that BTR marriage. At first, did you think that? Did you think, “This is just a bunch of women who are man-haters?” I get that all the time. I get, “She’s gone too far. She wants people to get divorced. She’s a man-hater. She’s trying to ruin people,” or whatever, instead of recognizing that what I want, and what we want at BTR, is a marriage of mutuality and equality and partnership and a healthy marriage. That is the goal.
Can you speak to that a little bit? Was there a time where you were like, “Ugh, BTR, I hate it”?
James: Yes. Before I started the Center for Peace, about two months before, we had to do an interview with Joi, just to get a sense of who we are and what we’ve done. That’s when I first got turned onto the podcast and Lundy Bancroft’s book.
I was reading the book and listening to the BTR podcast and, to be honest, when I thought about it, I was like, “These people are crazy. How dare you call me that. They just want me to have a divorce.” I told Joi, “You guys are telling my wife to be a lesbian. You just want her to be like a man-hating, I am free, hear me roar woman. You just want me to be in pain.”
I mean I was just completely offended. Like, “This is not real. How dare you.”
Anne: This is funny because now you’re talking to me, the woman who you were listening to on the podcast, thinking, “She’s the devil.”
James: Right. Literally, I deleted the podcast. I was like, “I am not engaging. This lady is crazy.” But, through time and attention and diligence and Coach Joi, I learned, “No. It was with healthy men and healthy marriages, where there’s a sense of mutuality where you complement one another. You pick up your slack.”
I tell my wife now, like, “I want you to win. I have won our entire marriage.” I’ve been married going on eight years, not only that we’ve known each other for ten because we met in grad school. I’ve done so much wrong to win. I want you to thrive. Go on your trips, go get your shoes, go get your new luxury car. I don’t care, let me drive the put-put.
I want you to win because the pendulum of actions has swung on my side for so long. It’s been all about me for so long. I feel like a healthy marriage is in the middle but, until we get there completely, it needs to be on my wife’s side. That means my words, my thoughts, my actions, and even my amends, although, in some people’s minds that might be unfair, I think it’s appropriate, given all the things that I’ve done.
Anne: What do you think now? Do you listen to the podcast now or did you delete it and then you never went back?
James: No, not at all. I definitely listen to it now.
Anne: Oh, you do? What do you think of it now?
James: I listen to it through a different lens now. I listen to it as one who can empathize with the betrayed spouse, who can sit on their side of the street and identify with the pain that they’re enduring. Even being familiar with your story and what you’ve had to endure.
I don’t want to speak specifically to your story, but the situations you’ve had to deal with regarding your spouse and children, I was just like, “Oh my God, that was me.” That was the narcissism and the selfishness, and the manipulation and I was like, “That was me.”
Let me say this, because I’m certain my wife is going to say it, I am not perfect. There are still times when I struggle with empathy or I go into my head and I pull away, but then I’ll think back on what I’ve learned or my wife will call me out and I’ll say, “You know what, you’re right. I’m wrong. I shouldn’t have done that. I apologize sincerely. What do I need to do to make this right? What do I need to do to bring safety back into our relationship or into our home?” I think it’s been beneficial.
Something happened recently, it wasn’t major, it was very small. I took some time to really think about it. I journaled about it, which I never did before—now I’m on my third journal because of Joi. I’m like, “Joi, I’ve got to stop buying journals.”—I journaled about it and came to the revelation that I was completely wrong.
I texted her at night and said, “Listen, I’m sorry. This is what I did wrong,” identified the issue, and said, “This is how I’m going to correct it.” She texted back, “I really appreciate that apology.”
That was big. That was big because there was a day when I could care less and I would just be like, “That’s on you. You’ve got to get over this.” But now, I take ownership for the stuff that I’ve done.
Anne: I think the repair piece is so important because all of us have moments, like when I react to my kids in a way that I don’t want to. It might not be to the level of lying or manipulation but it’s something that makes them feel bad or uncomfortable. Because we’re all human and we’re all making messes, no matter how healthy or unhealthy we might be, either way, repairing is key.
I think that’s something that men who continually use abusive behaviors and can’t seem to get out of it ever, they cannot repair. They don’t know how to repair. They don’t know how to make restitution. They don’t know how to even identify what the problem was in the first place.
Do you think your ability to repair, like overall, has improved? Did you even think about repair before Center for Peace?
James: No, there was no such thing as repair in my mind or restitution. Those were foreign words to me. Like, “Why would I do that? I said I’m sorry so let’s keep going. I said I’m sorry, forgive me, and let’s move on.”
Sometimes, I fall back into that trap and my wife is like, “No, with every decision you make there are consequences.” I’m like, “You’re right, there are consequences.” Before the Center for Peace, that was foreign, but now I understand, like, “No, you have to make right.”
You have to make this right. You have to show up every single time in a healthy way. Restitution looks different for every relationship. I know that for some it could be more extreme than others, that’s completely up to the betrayed spouse, whatever they need to heal.
In my life and in my home, I have been separated from my wife now physically for 16 months. We have had an out-of-home separation for eight months and then I moved back in and now we have an in-home separation.
We interact, we’re great partners, we have four children, but any type of physical contact and relational contact hasn’t happened, and it won’t be happening for some time. I have stayed sober.
There is no pressure, whatsoever, to engage in any type of physical activity. Although I would love to have a relationship with my wife, I can sincerely say I look forward to the relationship that we will have. That’s not guaranteed, but that’s what repair looks like.
If I have to be in this place for another year or two just for me to show signs of consistency, not just temporary health, but consistent healthy behavior, then that’s what I have to do. I won’t stop because I know that’s important.
Anne: I think that’s the difference between grooming and change. I talk about that a lot on the podcast. That you really want to be careful that the positive changes you are seeing are not just grooming.
Does this man just want to resume sexual activity with you, for example, so they’re going to pull out all the stops for a month, let’s say. They’ll act nice and be all cool and whatever and their “ulterior motive” is because they want to have sex with you. Or are they genuinely working toward health behaviors because they care about you, because they love you and want to have a mutually beneficial relationship?
Those are two completely different things and it’s hard to tell, especially when you’ve gone through all this abuse. It’s hard to know. What is this behavior: Is it grooming or is it legit?
It’s hard for the man who’s been exhibiting these abusive behaviors to understand that and give it enough time. That consistency and time is all she has on her side, that’s all she has to go on because she’s had periods of time before this that have seemed good but turned out to be not so good.
Can you speak to that a little bit? Being patient with her process of rebuilding trust in you—you being patient with the process of regaining her trust?
James: Sure. Your definition was me to a T. Love-bombing and being this amazing over-the-top guy for months and then not getting my way and falling right back into my behavior. That was me forever and then I recognized that that’s not right.
Once Center for Peace took place I was like, “Okay, that’s not going to work,” because when you understand the weight of pain that your wife has endured and the fact that some of us have been blessed to still have a spouse and not go through the divorce process, that it’s like, “This is the least that I can do. The least I can do is patiently wait.”
Not only patiently wait for my wife to be healed but to display consistent behaviors and long-term behaviors of consistent change so that she can actually see progress in my life.
The way I look at it, at least for me, is I’ll do really, really good and then I’ll plateau for a week. It’s like, “Okay, wait a second. Nope,” and I grab another gear. She’ll identify something that needs to change and I’m like, “Yep, you’re right.” Then I’ll drive and I’m moving up again, and then I’ll hit this peak and I’m like, “Oh, my God. I don’t know if I can keep going.”
Then, something will happen and I’ll be like, “You know what, I’m fighting for this and I’ll go up a little higher.” This is a continual process, it’s like you take two steps forward and one step back and then three steps forward and two steps back. You feel like you’re not moving but you really are.
I could easily complain and say, “Oh my God, I’m not able to have a relationship with my wife, it sucks.” But it’s like, “No, because, six months ago, I was sleeping in an Airbnb. Six months ago, I couldn’t even have a conversation with my wife. I couldn’t even be around her.”
The fact that I can laugh and joke and call her multiple times a day and, at times, sit down and look at a movie or TV with her now. No, I can’t hug her. No, we can’t have sex or, no, I can’t sleep in my bed, but I can look at her and be mesmerized by not her physical features but by the heart and the character and the woman that she has consistently shown up as. I’m actually more blessed now than ever.
I told Coach Joi that even though I haven’t been relationally active with my wife, I have felt more loved by her in the last 15 months than I have in our entire relationship and she has done nothing differently. It’s the mindset that I have now and that revelation of truth that I have that has caused me to understand the depth of love that can be expressed and experienced in a relationship.
Anne: Isn’t it interesting that when you are in that abusive—well, I’m going to say this and if you disagree feel free—but when you’re in that mindset of that abusive place, that you can’t feel love from someone who genuinely cares about you. Can you speak to that for a second?
James: Sure, sure. Dr. Gottman and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. You’re thinking about this whole stonewalling idea. I kind of use that metaphor and that terminology in the sense of your heart is cold. When you’re in that behavior, it truly is.
I tell my wife that the front of my head, the frontal lobe of my head, could be on fire and I would never experience anything. I couldn’t feel the love. I couldn’t hear the love in her heart. It was impossible.
This wall was built up because, if I truly was open to experiencing her love, then the behavior would not have happened. I had to have an excuse to behave the way I did, so I had to block it out. I had to come up with ways and actions and words to prevent myself from feeling what was pure and true and honest.
If there is a man out there you should feel that pain. When you feel that pushback, open up your arms, in the middle even of a conversation, stand up and literally open up your arms to be able to not be defensive, to hear what your spouse has to say. If you have to put your hand over your mouth to be able to listen and empathize and understand and give them the space, then that’s what really matters.
Anne: James, this has been very fascinating for me. I really appreciate and can hear your sincerity. I hope it’s sincere. One of the reasons I make you use an alias is because, if we find out that you’re a psychopath later or something then… my listeners know what I’m talking about, but I really appreciate all the things that you have shared with us today.
I want to continue this conversation, so stay tuned. We will have him back on again, not next week, but in the near future. We will also have his wife on in-between now and his next episode.
Thank you so much for being with us today James.
James: It is my pleasure. I’m grateful for the chance to share the good news about the Center for Peace. I will say this, if possible, to any spouse that has experienced any type of betrayal or any type of abuse, if you get an opportunity to look into the Center for Peace, I would encourage you to just do it. Invest the money, invest the time. It takes a lot out of you emotionally and mentally and physically as far as the husband or abuser goes, but if you can just invest that energy.
Think about all the resources that you’ve spent and all the time and the attitude that you’ve done abusing and acting out. Imagine if you could put that time and attention towards the healing of your spouse, how much better your life, your marriage, your family, your parenting would be.
I attribute all 150% of it, you know I give God the glory first, but beyond that I give Coach Joi and BTR and everybody there—I’m grateful because I wouldn’t be the same without them.
Anne: Thank you so much and thank you for coming on the podcast with the lady who you used to hate. That’s great.
James: Yes, ma’am.
Anne: I love being the lady people used to hate. That’s a good place to be. We will continue this conversation again once we can get another episode scheduled.
If you’re interested in signing up for Center for Peace, we only have 11 spots. When you join, those spots are held from you for the entire year, so you pay for the entire year all at once because that spot needs to be held the entire time. Usually, we fill up pretty quickly and then men want to get in and can’t because there are only those 11 spots.
If you want to do this online program, it’s completely online and it involves the wife. The victim has a meeting with the coach every single week to let her know what is actually going on so there is no pulling the wool over her eyes because she’s like, “Well, he says this is going on but, no, this is what the victim is saying.” Center for Peace is a radically different way to help men stop their abusive behaviors.
If you’re interested, after hearing this interview, go to cenfp.org and schedule an appointment with Coach Joi to have your initial intake session so she can explain how the program works and give you the informed consent forms.
It takes a while to onboard into the program. The man exhibiting abusive behaviors is required to do a polygraph before entering the program, so it does take a while even though our next session starts on June 2nd. To get into the program, you’ll want to sign up as soon as possible.
Well, I’m going to go back to real life of watching the news a lot and trying to help my kids with their schoolwork. That part is fun actually. I was a teacher for a long time, so I really enjoy doing schoolwork with my kids, when I can figure out how to do it, which is really hard.
I’m learning and I will continue to learn on this new adventure that we’re all on. Right this very second, I’m feeling kind of hopeful but a few hours ago I was crying and reading the Bible and praying a lot.
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Until next week, stay safe out there.