Monday, March 27, 2017

An Introduction to Egalitarianism

Although I didn’t have a word for it, Complementarianism was all I was ever taught.  I so wish I had been taught the other primary option as well so that I could have made an informed choice myself. Many people who will read this probably have also never learned of anything different. So, I want to share ‘the other side’ of it.

The other side of Complementarianism is not a ‘liberal’ side…or a ‘liberal’ theology.  It is called Egalitarianism, and it is just simply a theology based around a different way of interpreting scripture. It, in general, 1) looks at scriptures as they were taught along with why they were being taught that way…taking a look at culture and what kinds of things were actually going on during those times in those places, and 2) looks at the Bible as a whole, and focuses on the theme throughout and what lines up with that.

It’s been called a ‘new’ theology by some.  But it is, in fact, as old as the Garden.

Adam and Eve were created to be equal partners.  Co-laborers.  As Sarah Bessey (a wife, mom, writer, and egalitarian) shares in one of her books:  Ezer (the name God gave Eve…a name He actually uses for Himself many times in scripture…means strong ally/warrior) is coupled with kenegdo, and is typically translated into ‘helpmeet.’ Ezer kenegdo actually means man’s perfect match…two parts of equal weight leaning against one another.  One biblical scholar and theologian, Victor P. Hamilton, says this about it:  “Kenegdo suggests that what God creates for Adam will correspond to him.  Thus the new creation will be neither a superior nor an inferior but an equal.  The creation of this helper will form one-half of a polarity, and will be to man as the South Pole is to the North Pole.  She will be his strongest ally in pursuing God’s purposes and his first roadblock when he veers off course.”

God didn’t set up a masculine rule as His standard and plan for humanity.  No…it was masculine and feminine together, bearing the image of God.  New Testament scholar at Fuller Seminary, J.R. Daniel Kirk says, “Only this kind of shared participation in representing God’s reign to the world is capable of doing justice to the God whose image we bear.”

If a woman is held back, minimized, pushed down, downplayed…or simply is ‘under' her husband…she is not walking in the fullness God intended for her as His image bearer, as His Ezer warrior. Also, if a husband is walking in an authority ‘over’ his wife…he is also not walking in the fullness God intended for him as His image bearer.  He is walking along without a part in the correct place…the part that is supposed to be corresponding to him…the equal pull…the North Pole to his South Pole.

When the fall happened, sin entered…along came power and hierarchy and inequality and mistreatment and abuse and all kinds of other horrible things.

But, then Jesus came…to break us free from all sin.  To return us to what God intended from the start. Which, among other things, includes equality.

Not ‘equal, but different’…but just equal.
Not ‘equal as in same’…but just equal.
Equal worth, equal value, equal authority (as much authority as humans have anyway).

Callings based on giftings, not gender.

Roles based on gifts and callings, not gender.

A stroll through the New Testament reveals that this was the way it was done with Jesus and His church.

What about those scriptures in the New Testament that “clearly say” certain things about roles of men and women?  The phrase ‘lost in translation’ exists because it really happens.  Often.  Having learned another language now, I know this well.  There are certain things you can as-closely-as-possible translate from one language to another…and it still just completely loses its real/full meaning.  This is so very true of the Bible as well…because if you haven’t researched and don’t understand the culture of the day and what was happening in those times, it just doesn’t mean the same.

When I first saw this in a practical way concerning the Bible, I was part of a study going through the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith. Great book…I highly recommend it!  But I was floored by how much we miss simply because we are going by what the Bible “clearly says” as translated in the King James Version, or any of the other English translations…instead of going back to the original language.  And because we have no idea about the culture and norms of everyday life there...really learning about the culture and what this phrase or that would have actually meant back then in that context completely revolutionizes what English translations “clearly say."  It was amazing the difference and how much more meaning was there when you actually learned those things.

It’s kind of like the video here on this page, talking about 1 Timothy 2:9-15.  It's a little heady (for me anyway), but stick with it and you will see an example of what great insight is gained once you really study the culture, original text, and history of that time!  (video actually posted here for your convenience...)

Of course, you have to be able to heed the words of a wise friend of mine from college (a Baptist college)…an Egalitarian now, married to an Egalitarian distinguished New Testament scholar:  "One of the problems with Christians who hold the Bible in such high regards is that we can sometimes get mixed up and hold our interpretation of the Bible as high as Scripture itself. So when someone comes along and challenges that interpretation, they don't see it as a personal challenge but a challenge against God's word! And those are fighting words!”

We have to be willing to go back to the original language, and consider the culture and happenings of the time.

Again, a paraphrased excerpt from Sarah Bessey:  Marriage within the Kingdom isn’t an exercise in authority and headship…or a list of roles and rules and responsibilities.  Marriage is a beautiful example of oneness and cooperation, an image of the dance of the Trinity in perfect unity.  When Paul likened marriage to the relationship between Christ and the church, it wasn’t an exhortation to hierarchy.  Christ’s relationship with us as the church is characterized by His crazy love and sacrificial giving, not power grabbing.  Paul’s words remind us that Christ gave Himself up for the Church, cleansed her, and loved her.

Since Jesus had arrived on the scene, many things were different.  He met with and talked to (even alone) women.  He lifted them up…constantly.  He gave them important roles…and his followers after Him did as well.  Paul and others didn’t necessarily fight against cultural norms.  Cultural norms, at that time, did see men as the patriarch, but that was, more often than not, not so within the church at that time.  Paul wasn’t fighting cultural norms…but he did provide counsel as to how a Christian marriage could work within those cultural norms…and it was to look very different.  Why? Because those cultural norms (of man being the ruler or in authority) were never God’s ideal.

Husbands’ imitation of this picture of Christ would not involve holding onto their society-given rights and powers, but emptying themselves of them.  And that is what that passage is about.  The marriage relationship is not like Christ’s relationship with the church in every sense. And the sense that is given by this particular passage is not authority and subordination, but oneness. Marriage typifies Christ and the church because both relationships become “one flesh” relationships. Complementarianism does not teach true 'one flesh’…because part of your flesh can’t be in authority over another part of your flesh.  See that?  Complementarianism doesn’t teach partnership.  It teaches hierarchy.  (you can read more about that passage here, and on other countless websites...not written by the blog owner, but by a guest writer in this particular post)

Of course there is so much more I could say.  I should be able to…I’ve researched and studied these two theologies for a few years now.

I don’t even touch on my own personal experience with Complementarianism here.  Or the fact that any time you teach that one person has authority over the other, there is a huge risk for abuse.

“Not if the husband is truly loving his wife” some might say.  But, that is false.  Because Complementarianism teaches very specifically that if the man perceives the woman to have lost her way, the loving and sacrificing (just like Christ) thing to do is to do whatever it takes to help her find her way again.  And it employs some pretty harsh and abusive ways…treating her as though she is sinful, as though she is a child...‘rising up’ and taking charge in trying to get her ‘help,’ even if that includes talking about her to others behind her back…accusing her of being unholy…playing the victim and turning others against her…deeming everything he does himself acceptable, even though he would never do those things to a business partner, but his life partner he will…all in the name of love.  Truly.  And all counsel and mentors steering him in this direction.  I could go on and on here too.  I could also point you to soooo many other stories…all very similar.  All done in love as taught by Complementarianism.  Man is the head, man is responsible for his family, man must take charge in these dizzying moments when nothing makes sense.  And Complementarianism teaches that woman is easily deceived and the weaker vessel (I've heard waaaay more sermons that talked about Delilah than I ever have about Deborah; when I did hear about Deborah, she was only put in power because no men were stepping up to the job, not because God put her there).  No wonder men and their counselors and mentors go about things the way they do.

One of my favorite quotes…because it’s just so based in common sense:

~If a husband tells a wife that she is "equal in worth," but demands that he has the final say on important matters and claims that his opinion/authority holds heavier weight than hers in the family unit, then is she really equal in worth?~ -Jory Micah

But…more important than our common sense is what God says.  And you can’t know that simply by reading what english translations “clearly say.” Because what they “clearly say” is most often about as clear as mud (and inaccurate or even just straight up false) when given the original language, the culture of the day, and the history of the time.

Egalitarianism is much more common than I ever knew having grown up with only complementarian teaching.  Methodist, Vineyard Churches, Nazarene, Lutheran, Episcopal, Free Methodist, Assembly of God, and even some Southern Baptist congregations…these are all Egalitarian denominations, although not an exhaustive list.  Some of the most famous and celebrated Christian men and women have been/are egalitarian…Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade), Loren Cunningham (founder of YWAM), Greg Boyd, Clay and Sally Clarkson, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, etc.  Even many of the people who settle into ‘traditional’ roles are Egalitarian.  I wrote about one such couple, a friend of mine, here.  I didn’t know she was Egalitarian until she recently wrote me.  It’s a great account!  As I said there: Deeply devout and conservative Christians who are opposed to patriarchy of any sort do exist...and they are much more plentiful than anyone raised in Patriarchy and Complementarianism know.

So much more I could say, but I will end.  Feel free, whoever might see this, to ask me questions and discuss this further…or even debate, although I prefer no rudeness or snark.  :)

Also, there are a couple of really great websites full of great resources (articles, books, teachings, etc.) that I want to share:
CBE International
The Junia Project

Oh, how I wish I had been given this information as I grew up...information on both that I could make an informed decision myself.  My prayer is that you are able to get a little glimpse into what Egalitarianism is here...and that you will continue to research until you can make an informed choice, whatever choice that may be.

This isn’t something that makes or breaks our salvation.  But, it is a pretty important issue.  It can definitely make or break our marriages, as I know full well (and I’m definitely not the only one).

Thank you for letting me present the other side.  And I look forward to discussing it with you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Joel. Michawn. {Part 82 - Help Came}

I wrote the Part 80 blog post and then I posted it on Facebook with these words...
I need your help. I need your thoughts. Please do read it and comment here or message me. 
"this isn't the place for this" - why not? it's as good a place as any. 
"this is embarrassing" - maybe for some it would be. i'm past the point of embarrassment. for me and for Joel too...if it somehow helps to save our marriage, at this point, we don't care. we all struggle and have 'embarrassing' things happen to us...the sooner we all start being honest about that, the sooner we can all struggle together (weep with those who weep)...and the more our hearts are open to do that. don't act all high and mighty. one thing i've learned in all of this...everybody has something like this in their lives. 
"you are just running down your man" - no, i'm trying to get help for our family. it's a last-ditch effort and it shows. but, that's what it is. 
"um, you should have divorced long ago...we're tired of hearing about it" - please really consider the questions at the end of this blog post. wouldn't it be great if my children didn't have to go through a divorce but instead their parents made it through?
I posted that on Facebook last Wednesday, the 3rd.  The discussion there continues.

I'm going to post the discussion, so far, here.  Some names have been changed to protect privacy. And the first link I posted from YouTube...I actually wrote a whole blog post (Part 81) about that video and how it relates to us and our marriage...please do watch it and learn.

Now, the discussion...

Jodi Elizabeth
I don't know what to say except I wouldn't wish my heartache to anyone !
Like · Reply · August 3 at 5:01pm

Michawn Madden
my kids' hearts are shutting down. one of them recognizes that and sees it and knows it...and came to me to talk to me about it. i told them, 'i know...that is so normal when your world starts to fall apart...when someone you thought you could trust, and something you thought you could trust in, proves to be not trustworthy. you start to protect yourself, put up walls. it's normal. it's not the way it should be for should be able to live in a family where you are free to be a trusting, no-walls kid. i'm so very, very sorry you are having to protect yourself from hurt and sadness. i hate that i am having to do that too. i understand where you are completely. but sometimes there is nothing we can do about it...sometimes it's just not up to us.' :( so so sad.
Like · Reply · August 5 at 1:15pm · Edited
Juliet Johnston
I am praying for your kids!
Like · Reply · August 4 at 1:35pm
Michawn Madden
and now i'm going swimming with my kids. if anyone wants to post anything mean here, i pray you reconsider. but whatever you post (thank you upfront to kind, loving commenters), i will be back later to answer them.
Like · Reply · August 3 at 5:13pm

Michawn Madden
thank you, friends, for your love and support in messages, posts, and comments today. i will be reading the rest of the messages tonight and answering soon. please, anyone else...let me know your suggestions and thoughts. thank you! <3 i="">
Like · Reply · 1 · August 3 at 9:11pm

Michawn Madden
ohhhh, my sweet friends. someone messaged me about a counselor named Patrick Doyle. i am only 6 minutes into my first video of his...and i feel like i am going to explode with validation. i can't believe how he knows exactly what has happened and what is going on. please watch this:  (Unsafe Relationships - Counselor Patrick Doyle of Veritas)
Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 3 · August 3 at 9:49pm

Jodi Pompa Vanderhoof
I have heard amazing things about him! I think he has helped many people
Like · Reply · August 3 at 10:05pm

Nancy Claire
I bet Brian would be willing to talk to him, Michawn.
Like · Reply · August 4 at 9:22am
Michawn Madden
nancy...thank you for this! i'll PM you. going to be out all afternoon, but will message you soon.<3 afternoon="" all="" be="" but="" for="" going="" i="" ll="" message="" nancy...thank="" out="" pm="" soon.="" this="" to="" will="" you.="" you="">Like · Reply · August 4 at 1:10pm
Joshua Hopping
First off, thank you once again for your openness and honesty. Your blog posts over the years have made me more aware of how certain presumptions about gender relationship can cause massive harm. As such, the language I use in speech and word has changed as well as some of my outliner views on marriage….so thank you. =)

As to Jake’s comments, I would agree that one’s spouse and children takes presence over other relationships, even blood. It is a hard thing, make no mistake…especially when one is raised in a strong blood culture. Yet there is something about marriage that transcends other human relationship regardless of culture. 

I know I’m removed from your situation geographical among other factors… but my prayers (for what they are worth) are with all of you and may the One who creates continue to cry with and guide you, Joel, and the children.
Like · Reply · 3 · August 4 at 9:34am

Jessica Lee
Love you Michawn. It boils down to selfishness and blindness it seems. When everything else is stripped away... The beliefs, the justifications, etc... That's what I see. I understand, to a lesser degree, what you are and have gone through. Our story is different but the same. It took my husband almost 9 years to truly see his selfishness and the walls I built up over time. He says that only God could have opened his eyes like that and prepared him to truly hear and see his reality. I know I've said that before. I hope and pray that Joel can see. It pains me the pain you are going through. It's a lonely place. I am glad to see you "taking charge" and moving forward through it all. Keep taking care of yourself and keep enjoying those kids. I'm sorry that their hearts are being hurt through this too, but they have a fantastic mother to guide them through this. Your story has given me a voice and helped us. So not "fair" for you. But thanks for being a vessel through all of this.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 4 at 11:09am

Juliet Johnston
Michawn, you know I have been praying for you, Joel, and your kids throughout this journey. If it's okay I have a story for Joel... My situation is different from yours, which I think is pretty normal, because no two relationships are the same, but hopefully there is something you can pull from my story. The last time I talked to my dad was twenty years ago when I asked him to give me away in my wedding and he said no. There had been some family drama, but nothing that I didn't think could be overcome. I had done some things wrong, and they had done some things wrong... but it didn't seem to be anything that couldn't be worked out once things settled and we were able to really sit and talk. Brian had nothing to do with what was causing the issues, he was just an innocent bystander. Shortly after our wedding (that my dad didn't attend), I started to try to fix things with my dad. I wrote to him and emailed him and tried to call him. And each time he didn't respond, it hurt me. I felt rejected and got discouraged and it began to affect our marriage. It was not only hurting me, it was hurting my husband. Brian never asked me to let things go... he didn't have to. It was so very hard to feel like I was giving up on my dad. I won't lie and say it was an easy thing. But in order to protect the health of my marriage, it was the right thing to do. After Brian and I had been married about three years, I made a decision to stop letting myself be rejected and stopped contacting him. I will admit that there were times I wondered what could have been if I had kept trying or if I showed up on his doorstep... but when I took a step back I knew that my marriage was most important. After that I went 15 years without any contact at all. He didn't even know when my kids were born. Then about a year ago, through a series of circumstances, I had an opportunity to send him another message... it seemed as if a door were open... so Brian and I sat down and talked and prayed about whether it was wise for me to reach out and whether we were at a place where we could handle the response, no matter what it was. We decided together I should reach out... and I did. And once again, no response at all, nothing had changed for my dad... but a lot had changed for me. Because I had pulled back for 15 years, my marriage was now in a place where we could handle it. I get that this situation is totally different from yours. My husband had never been hurt by my family (other than seeing me hurt, which hurt him). But when it comes down to it, I had a choice to continue to try to have a relationship with my family and harm my marriage further... or to let go of them and truly enter in to my marriage with no conditions or expectations that one day things with my family would change. I do hope this helps some to know that completely letting go of you family of origin is not unprecedented. It is HARD. Unspeakably hard. But, for me, it was worth it. Please know that you are in my prayers!
Like · Reply · 2 · August 4 at 1:20pm

Michawn Madden
you guys are amazing, amazing friends. Jodi, thank you so much for your help!! Joshua, we've come a long way, haven't we? i've learned so much from you and loved seeing someone else 'from where i came from' living this out. i'm so thankful for you and your work!! you are sharing and writing and living important things. thank you!! Jessica, thank you so much for your constant support. you and jodi...i feel like we're new wave suffragette sisters. :) truly. not with this big agenda, but just not settling for settling, and helping other women (and men) have more freedom and unity and truly great marriages where you are ONE. i know you've both helped me. thank you so much for the encouragement.

Juliet, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story! THANK YOU!
Like · Reply · 3 · August 4 at 1:25pm

Esther Runck
Don't give up, keep plowing through the muck...I think you are a very brave woman, mother, wife and daughter of the living God. I have come to know everyone processes and grieves differently-whether you 2, 7, 18, or 95. I think it is very unfair to tell someone their way of "bleeding" isn't right. I don't understand the thoughts that go through people's head to post something mean to you. I just hope they never get pulled into a pit of despair because i am worried they will never have the skills to make it out!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · August 4 at 10:47pm

Joel Ebersole
Friends, be true friends and don't take sides but be praying for us a family as u all know there is two sides to every story. In your support encourage Michawn to listen to at least some of the about 15 counselors we have been to....most of who have gone in depth into our situation and story ....and most of who eventually we're fired or excommunicated by Michawn. 

Michawn, i love you, i choose you and will continue to plow thru the muck to get to a place of healing and restoration with u. Please stop pushing me away and speaking bad of family who loves you and is fervently praying for us.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 7:57am
Juliet Johnston
Hi, Joel. I don't know you, but I have been praying for you along with Michawn and your kids. Because I don't know you, it's hard for me to discern your sincerity. But, if you mean it when you say you choose Michawn, does that mean you are willing to step away from your family? Even if it means a long, long time, or even forever? Are you willing to be okay with the fact that sharing what she is going through publicly is how Michawn "plows through the muck", as you put it? Are you willing to accept that speaking out about what you two have been through is a ministry for her... one that means a lot to a lot of people who have been in the same place? Because if you are willing to accept those things, this could be your ministry too. If you came to a true understanding of what is happening here, you could help countless men in similar situations. For me, this blog post showed that Michawn is not trying to push you away, but is still trying to help you understand her completely and to truly choose her in action as well as word. This post was not a pushing away, giving up post... it was obviously an "I am still willing to try" post from her. I know it can be difficult to read emotions on a computer screen, but please know that I am not asking you these questions in an accusatory way, not at all. I am asking you out of love for your family and ultimately a desire to see complete healing in all of you.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 12:50pm 
Ali Elam
These are good questions.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 8:33am
Ali Elam
Please Joel. No one has bashed you or your family in this post or in these comments. Do not use Michawn's FB to attempt to slander M. While at the same time claiming to be a victim. People do take sides when they see wrong masquerading as good. You are wrong. Enough with the "fervently praying". You have valued your self, your plans , your ministry and your family of origin over your partner Michawn. You are responsible. Own it.
Like · Reply · 3 · August 5 at 8:20am

Michawn Madden
Ali, i love you. thank you!!!!

Joel, i think people are (finally) starting to see through your sweet, innocent, 'i'm just so confused and concerned' facade. 

around 7:20 of the video above the guy even talks about how there is no smoking physical proof of harm in these situations. so everyone around backs up, puts their hands in front of their chests (like a shield...signifying they don't want to get involved), and says questioningly, "I-I-I-I don't know." but, these people are finally starting to see what's going on here.

did you watch the video above? he specifically talks about how most counselors don't know/can't see/are oblivious to the things he talks about...and he is spot on. all of the 'counselors' (some professional, some lay, some just friends of ours wanting to help) have hung on your every *word.* notice how the guy in the video focuses on actions and behavior? 

what ali says is need to own it with your actions/behavior/attitudes, etc...not just your words. what he says about *contrition* above...WOW. dead on. remember that conversation we had about a week before you moved out? remember how i talked about how you and your family just don't have that in your's not normal to treat people this way and not be broken about it (as evidenced by your actions/behaviors/attitudes...and no, there is no evidence of that in your life). 

i've been done for years, but now everyone else too is finally done hearing your 'I choose you' statements. you are back with your family of origin, you take vacations by yourself without even telling me and the kids, you threaten to 'go legal' and take away my kids, you constantly accuse me of having a mental disorder, and the list goes on. nothing you have done for the past 4 1/2 years has been 'choosing me.' 

and let me take away here the one weapon joel does have against me...that i gave him. i know that if he comments again it will be brought up, because he loves to try to use it to continue to play the victim. for the first 3 years of being treated this way, i would just hole up in my room to stay away from him. he would still come, or sometimes i would be stuck in a car with him (one of the reasons i stopped going places with him). with every betrayal, with every accusation that came my way (it was constant), it just HURTS so bad. it is like being punched over and over and over again. except the pain doesn't go away. 

for the first 3 years, i did nothing. i would stand my ground, but more and more i shrunk. more and more i internalized (and along with that, more and more my body suffered...more and more unhealthy, inside and out). i just had no energy to do anything...because i was fighting for my life emotionally (and, it wasn't public yet, so i kept up a somewhat normal outside life...took all my energy). when these betrayals and accusations came, i would try to get joel to see how that was a betrayal, i would try to see how i was innocent of whatever accusation he was throwing my way, and then i would just stop talking. 

after a while, i couldn't do that anymore. i started to 'fight back' by raising my voice. that would stop the accusations coming my way for a while. but then that stopped doing any good. of course then he had more things to accuse me of..."you're yelling at me. you are the one being abusive here." 

after that started, there were a few times (i can count on one hand) that i went past yelling. i just wanted it to stop. i would even tell him 'stop talking or i will punch you.' and he would keep going. i would say, 'if you are coming to me with another betrayal or another accusation, you will get punched' and it didn't stop him. 

that is one of the many reasons i asked him to move out again. the whole situation was just getting worse and worse...yet i was the one who was being blamed constantly. i was wrong in the first place, he said, because i was bringing this all on myself by just not 'relaxing' and letting things go and being forgiving. why couldn't i be that fun-loving girl i had been? what was wrong with me? then to add onto that, now i was being physically abusive?! 

these were the things constantly being said to me. while mr. 'cool-as-a-cucumber' just acted so 'concerned and confused' with everyone (even me). 

and these 'counselors' joined in the accusations...saying that i only wanted to be controlling, or that i had lost God somewhere and if I was close enough to God I would be fine, or that I just needed to forgive, etc. 

so, there's the last little bit of the puzzle. and he can't use those punches to get him to stop (sometimes even the punches didn't work and i had to just leave my room and go somewhere else) against me.

thank you again, ali, for having my back. 

joel, you can see that i'm all done with listening to your excuses and rationalizations and your minimizing and accusations. now everyone else is too. change or lose your wife and children. it's just that simple. i'll never go back to living like i have for the past 4 1/2 years. and i won't stay married to someone who can't see the damage done, own it, have real and true contrition (extreme remorse, sorrow, repentance), and make a 180 degree turn away from who you have been. i would like it if that happens...but your time is running short.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 11:21am · Edited
Juliet JohnstonI am so sorry for all you have gone through. I have a friend whose husband would bait her until she hit him and then he would hit her back. And then he would make it her fault because she hit him first. I know Joel didn't hit you back, but it sounds to me here like he was baiting you so he could have the high ground emotionally. I have seen it so, so much unfortunately. And most women do blame themselves. Which is why so many appreciate your strength in this situation. I responded to Joel's comment above. Please tell me if I say anything in error or if I should back off and remove my comment. My only desire here is to help. I am praying!
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 1:01pm 
Michawn Maddenjuliet, i love your comment above and here. it only shows love and a true desire to help in any way possible. thank you. <3 i="">
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 1:13pm
Jessica Lee
Joel, I wrote a big long response and then accidentally deleted it... So I'll keep this short and simple. One thing our *traditional* pastor says is that if your wife is not thriving or flourishing, the husband is doing something wrong. Let's imagine you are a gardener. You have one crop that yields much profit, your main crop. You have other smaller gardens that are important also but they are healthy. If that one main crop were not flourishing and thriving would you not pour more time, energy, devotion, and care into it? Or would you tell that garden to get better all while you continued doing the same things you had been doing all along? Would you continue pouring your efforts into the other healthy gardens? Jesus calls husbands to love their wives as He loves us. With that in mind, how would He tend to the garden that needed Him? Joel, there never should have been sides. It should have always been you and her moving as one. It should have never been you and your family against her, or you and counselors against her. Your garden is not flourishing for a reason. You put your energies and devotions elsewhere. One day you will stand face to face with Jesus. When it comes to your marriage will He be able to say well done? Will you be able to say that you loved your wife with the same sacrificial love that Jesus loves us with. 
I am praying for redemption and healing for all Joel. I am praying that your eyes will be open to see this for what it is. I want your marriage to work. I am on team michawnandjoel.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 5 at 12:11pm · Edited
Jessica Lee
By much profit I am insinuating *most important*
Like · Reply · August 5 at 12:16pm
Michawn Madden
Thank you all so so much for these comments and messages, and your help.  I so very much appreciate it. 

Mrs. Annette, I agree.  Thank you for the prayers.
Like · Reply · August 5 at 6:54pm

Sean Lasyone
Joel Ebersole says one thing in 2 years and everyone wants him to shut up.
Like · Reply · August 5 at 7:00pm

Cindy Renee Crawford
Michawn Madden I say don't give up. If you both are working to save your family. Our children are innocent and divorce is hell on earth!
Like · Reply · August 5 at 7:03pm

Michawn Madden
Sean, he has commented several times over the years. and sadly it is always the same things he says. but doesn't follow it all up in his all. and that is what everyone is speaking to. also, nobody asked him to stop talking. they've actually asked him questions to try to help. 

thank you, Cindy.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 7:13pm · Edited

Joy West Davidson
I'm so saddened. I love u both. Joel Ebersole I have personally tried to reach out to u! Michawn Madden I understand what u are feeling and going through. My ex-husband has lost his oldest three children because of the lies and mistrust. I so don't want this for your family. I usually only send private messages but I'm feeling like a momma bear!
Like · Reply · August 5 at 10:03pm
Michawn Madden
love you so much, joy. thank you!! it is heartbreaking what happened to your family...and i pray that joel doesn't lose his family like your ex did. but, it isn't looking good. :( thank you for your prayers.
Like · Reply · August 6 at 2:14pm 
Joy West Davidson
Michawn Madden u have my prayers and love for sure. I'll get back to that question u asked me about soon.
Like · Reply · August 6 at 4:14pm
Joel Ebersole
It's hard to know what to say to all of this...I have read thru all the comments.....I do question myself constantly because what is presented online many times SEAMS so very different from my observations and experiences. I love Michawn very much and still am meeting with several of our trusted counselors (that Michawn picked and who know the whole story) in order to know how to handle our problems and my shortcomings. I'll ask one of them to read thru all of this and watch the video. Michawn, please let's humbly listen to and keep working things out with them and not on FB.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 6 at 10:05am
Juliet Johnston
What is wrong with working things out on FB? If the ultimate goal is to work things out, then why does it matter where you do it? If the whole story isn't being told, as you seem to imply, then tell the whole story. Answer the questions you have been asked. I think the point here is for you to listen and answer to people that Michawn trusts... so if that happens to be on facebook, are you willing to do that?
Unlike · Reply · 2 · August 6 at 12:48pm 
Joel Ebersole
Hi Juliet. I guess privacy.... Do you and your husband fight via FB? ....But I am looking to work things out and reach some kind of agreement. If we can move forward instead of playing the "he said---she said----he did---she did" game I'm for it. Right now there is a lot of hurt and no trust on both sides. And the problems are way deeper than categorizing family as safe or unsafe....
Like · Reply · 1 · August 6 at 5:22pm 
Mavis Collinsworth Walker
I'm wondering are you willing Joel to forsake all others and choose Michawn? I think that sums up the questions asked. I'm also wondering why you talk about working things out when the working out your talking about is working things out with your family not Michawn.
Unlike · Reply · 4 · August 6 at 6:11pm 
Juliet Johnston
Thank you for responding, Joel. My husband and I have had times where difficult things were out there on Facebook, but we have never been in quite the position you are in. I tend to believe that the fewer secrets and the more that is "out there" the better. I think Satan uses secrets and things we don't really want to talk about to have power over us, so I've always been someone who lays it all out there. I understand everyone is different, but at this point it seems to be what Michawn desires in order to get to a place of healing. So, I guess it is up to you whether that is something you are willing to do or not. What you have been doing obviously isn't working and I believe her desire is to try every option available to bring healing.
Unlike · Reply · 2 · August 6 at 6:12pm 
Michawn Madden
Joel, please just answer the questions. don't you want to save your marriage? don't you want to move on as a, you, and our children? i know that you aren't used to people saying these things to've only ever heard that i was wrong and unholy and controlling, etc. for the past few years. but, please answer these questions and let's try to work toward a *truthful* resolution to this and save our marriage.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 6 at 7:54pm 
Ali Elam
I would like to hear Joel's answer to this question.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 8:47am
Michawn Madden
Joel, stop demonizing facebook. if that's the only place someone can get support and help and be heard, then so be it. if that's the only place you can be called out for your bad behavior and something actually be done about it, then so be it. i tried for YEARS to get help in other ways...only to be silenced, my words and feelings not being believed or seen as valid like yours.

you continue to hurt me more and more. you became ONE with your family again and all you've done all summer is be with them and catch up with them and focus on them and make plans with them and tell me you're going to take my kids and leave the state to go spend time with them ("when i pick up the kids today, i'm going to keep them for two weeks and we're going to drive up to vacation with my family"...your words). you care nothing about how i only care about saying i shouldn't feel that way and ignoring the way i feel. you only care about accusing me of being unforgiving and not with God and controlling and manipulative and having a mental disease. you don't choose me, so stop lying to yourself and others. again, they don't buy it anymore anyway. 

as far as the counselors that you continue to meet with...they are NOT trusted. that is why i left them. actually, the last one left us if you'll remember...saying it was too painful for him to walk through this with us. lol. wow...if it's too painful for him to hear about it, how much more painful has it been for me to LIVE it?! these counselors are not trusted because of everything that man said in the video above. they don't see it. they hang on your every WORD. they don't look at your actions or behaviors or attitudes or the way you *actually* treat me (or *believe me* about those things...they only believe your words)...they only hear what you say to them and hear you SAY things like 'i'm just so sad and broken about all of this...i just don't understand.' it's slick, joel. you've got it down to a science, and know just how to make everyone feel so sorry for you and make everyone think that you are just so sweet and that you are the victim here (just like the counselor in the video above says...he's dead on). yet nothing you do or say with me is 'sweet.' it's only painful. not because i'm 'oversensitive' but just because you put others and yourself above any needs i have...still (and that comes out in accusations and actions and continued betrayal). that is what got us in this mess...and that is what keeps us here. except now it is much much much much more has continued to just get worse and worse. the level of betrayal and the fact that you have betrayed for this long is causing more and more and more damage...deeper and deeper damage to our marriage as time goes on and you continue to be destructive. yet, you just continue on. 

you continue to just act like nothing is going on and everything is fine. i send you a message just 2 days ago, for instance, still trying to convince you to do the right thing, still pleading with you to choose us, even using your own words: "you have to be an adult who can walk away when it is necessary…when, as you said, ‘you can’t come to some kind of agreement *{and more than that, when it is unhealthy and unsafe and it hurts you or someone you love}…you bless them and walk away’…you have to be able to do that…to take the first step." (i added the part in brackets in my reply to him)

and what do you say to me? you coldly message me back saying you're not going to argue with me...that you have plans to go see those people who hurt me so badly, who you hurt me so badly with...and take my kids along. 

you say you don't want to get a divorce. yet, anyone reading this would tell me (and have told me) that you have made your choice and that it's very clear that you are NOT choosing me and the kids...that you very clearly DO want a divorce and want to live your life with no attachments, just doing whatever you want to do. you are choosing your own selfish ways and putting yourself and your desires over the very real pain (caused by you) of your wife. you would say that it's not like that...that i just have a wrong perception of things. but, no...that's exactly what it's like. it's so twisted and so messed up. 

as the man said in the video above, unless someone is just extremely pathological (and if they are, there will be many other problems to signify that), it is always as the offendED says...and the offender is just soooo good at denial and minimization and rationalization and spiritualization that most people can't even see it. 

am i a perfect human being? no. do i know everything? no. but, this is as i say it is, joel. 

you want to share it all with the 'counselors' that want to say that i'm just trying to be controlling, or that i'm not with God enough otherwise i'd be fine, or that i'm just not forgiving?...have at it. if they are willing to admit they've been wrong, great. if you are going to send them all of this here in this thread, then i also have many messages i have received since i posted this that you can share with them too. 

also, there were some really great questions posed to you here. really great comments from several. and really great direct questions from juliet and jessica. you don't know how to reply? can start by actually just simply answering those questions.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 6 at 5:27pm · Edited

Michawn Madden
p.s. Joel, the people who sent me messages and asked you direct questions here and commented here truly do not want to see us get divorced...that's what this is all about. everything you've done (your actions and attitudes and behaviors and beliefs that you hold on to) point to divorce...and you *not* choosing me but divorce. but...nobody here wants that. this is the first time you are hearing these things from so many different people and all at once. like i said in the blog post, 98% of what you have heard has been what the counselors and most people in your life have said...that you are this precious man just doing the best he can with trying to 'deal' with a controlling, unholy, unforgiving wife. 

hopefully these comments and the messages and that video can prove to you that that is NOT the case here. hopefully, hearing from all of these others too, you can start to see what i've been saying all along as valid. hopefully you will allow God to change your heart, you will stop listening to the people who say the things you've heard 98% of this time, and you will forge a new path for that *actually* chooses your wife and children above yourself and others.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 6 at 12:46pm · Edited

Michawn Madden
there's a smaller thread up there...under Joel's comment from this morning where people asked more questions. joel sent juliet a private message instead of answering here. i let him know i was going to post it here and juliet said that was fine too, so here it is...

“Hey Juliet. yes, without knowing the dynamic of what is going on... just words on a screen... hard to really discern. I do appreciate you caring and praying. To answer your questions....Yes. I was willing and did step away from family. It was incredibly hard specially when I did not quite see what M is believing about them but I did give them up. had no communication with them for a little under a year at that point but I told M that things would change regarding family if she kicked me out of the house again. In April she eventually did (about something completely different) so, now I am back to asking her to work things out with them when she is ready. (Note: They care about her, are not as she makes them out to be and have apologized for wrongs things said. Situation pretty different from your father. I do feel for you about that struggle.) I have let M share all kinds of stuff...even when I fail to see any similarity to what is actually happening between us. What would you do if your spouse was posting stuff like -- how you abused -- him when you know that is not what happened? .... There are times I asked her kindly to not post some stuff but most of those times I got threatened to get kicked out of the house if I did not agree with her posts. Like I said....all this is way above my head and our problems are bigger than just family issues or sharing stuff online....what is why we need help. Now maybe you see why I did not want to really get into this online with someone that is not really involved."

i have answers for this of course, but i'm going to just leave this here as if he commented this here. anyone who wants to answer this can...and then i will give my answers too.
Like · Reply · August 6 at 9:32pm
Juliet Johnston
Joel, I appreciate your private message and am posting my response on here because I believe doing this out in the open is the best way to ultimately bring reconciliation. Again, I truly am thankful you are willing to have this conversation and hope it continues. Sometimes it takes someone who is not really involved in order to get a new perspective. The counselors you have been to so far have not earned Michawn's trust, so she is asking you to work through this with her in an arena where she feels she has support from people who she trusts. Michawn has been very detailed about your situation in her blog including posting things you have said to her. She seems to be inviting you to fill in the gaps with your perception, so that the two of you can work through it all and get to the same page. I know it must seem intimidating to do that on facebook where so many people can see what is being posted, but she is very clearly telling you that is what she wants in order to save your marriage. So, while I understand why you may not want to... the question is, are you willing to? You giving up your parents for a little under a year was good, but obviously not enough. She needs you to show her that you choose her first, no matter what... and with no time limits or conditions or restraints. 5, 10, or 15 years down the road when you have a healthy and thriving marriage it could be possible for you to revisit this, but now is not that time. It is hard. Very hard. Never said it would be easy. You say they care about her... are they willing to step away? Do they care about her that much? It seems obvious to me that Michawn is looking to hash this out and bring everything to light in an effort to gain healing. My prayer is that you are willing to do that and that ultimately your marriage will be restored.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 6 at 9:37pm 
Aimee Lane
Joel, Would you mind clarifying what you were referring to as the true big problem for you and Michawn?  
"Like I said....all this is way above my head and our problems are bigger than just family issues or sharing stuff online....what is why we need help. Now maybe you see why I did not want to really get into this online with someone that is not really involved."
Like · Reply · August 7 at 12:05am 
Ali Elam
Joel Ebersole, I did not understand what your words meant above.  What do you see is the true big problem with ya'll ?
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 8:39am 
Joel Ebersole
Hey Juliet, good morning. Michawn picked just about every one of the counselors because she trusted them. If you look back thru her blog you will see she praised many of them at first as they called me out my failures. I heeded what they said....apologized and took steps to make things right per their recommendations and under their supervision. Unfortunately, M dismissed them all when it was suggested she has some responsibility and here too or called her out. Yes, I am willing to work things out on FB if that will save my marriage but def. not the preferred method....but I have nothing to hide. My life has been under scrutiny for the last 3 years now. As far as family issue, we followed the counselor's recommendations and Michawns requests...we backed away from family for about a year... I did not talk to any friends... only texted under Michaw's supervision for about a year and a half and skipped church for several years. All this becuase she is the most important to me. Nothing has gotten better and unfortunately it seams like everything i did do just to win her back in all areas always gets discredited for some reason or other.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 10:31am 
Juliet Johnston
Hi Joel, do you think the counselors were right about the things they called her out on? As far as being discredited, do I remember correctly that you got back in touch with your family behind Michawn's back? It can take a very long time to rebuild trust. Very long time.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 12:39pm 
Joel Ebersole
Aimee, back in 2014 I was forced to leave the house and it had nothing to do with extended family. Im not sure what is going on with Michawn other then she is in the mist of a real storm. Her world was spinning. I have tried to be there for her and help her but back in 2013 knew this was above my head and that is when we started getting help. Unfortunately, Michawn is sure I am at fault... everything wrong with her and our family is because of me...because of my actions and beliefs.... so, my life has been scrutinized under a microscope for years by her and all the counselors...and honestly there are things I could have done better....things in my life I've been called out on and had to take responsibility for....and under their guidance I have apologized and tried to make things right. But all counselors also know there is something going on on her side too.... but unfortunately she will not accept that fact. Hence they all have been dismissed. No one has ever been able to convince Michawn to stop blaming and finding faults with those around her, put the shotgun down and truly look inside and focus on what is going on in her.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 4:07pm 
Michawn Madden
everyone, not to be the blind, doting wife here...because you know i'm not. but...please keep in mind when you hear joel say these things that when you've been told these very things over and over for 4 1/2 years, by trusted family members, mentors, pastors, and professional start to believe it. YES he should believe me over them...and i'm not making excuses for him. i'm just trying to give an explanation. again...this is the first time he's hearing the kinds of things you're saying directly to him other than just a few (i can count them on one hand) times/people before. so...don't lose patience. it's literally like he's been in a 'cult' of sorts...and he has to be de-brainwashed. 
that's my hope anyway. the other alternative is just that he can't be helped. we'll see. i hope it's the first thing.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 5:15pm · Edited
Susan Daniel
So...I was thinking about y'all and the situations you are in. I have wondered what would Derek do? What would this look like for us? Suddenly I remembered....Derek's parents (specifically his mom) is very hard to deal with. Early on, Derek just wanted to make them happy at all costs. He would say they're old just let it be...he even got mad at me one Christmas when I woke up with a stomach virus and couldn't get out of bed. His anger was stemming from his mom who griped at him because I was sick and we couldn't go there. A year or two later they were at our house for thanksgiving. His parents started attacking me verbally....& Derek literally threw them out of our house. He told them I was his wife and that's our home and they were not welcome. While I was crying and feeling horrible, his brother hugged me and said, "don't worry that's not the first time they've been kicked out of one of our houses." There have been boundaries set by Derek and his brother. We don't always understand, but we know sometimes it is necessary. If they would apologize and truly learn/change then maybe things could be better. Unfortunately, I don't even speak to them. I buy them gifts (which they call and thank Derek for lol)...but I don't say much around them.

Bottom line sometimes setting boundaries is very necessary. Those boundaries will look different for different people at different times. There are no holidays together. Derek's brother and sister in law live in the same town but do not see his parents anymore. Too much has been done to hurt them, specifically his wife. Too many times they haven't heeded warnings. 

What I hear on Facebook/your blog is pain and heart break...and someone who wants to know that their husband will defend, protect them at all costs.

I don't pretend to be in the middle of the relationship or in the know...that's just my story and what I'm sensing. I'm still praying for your family and for healing. I know healing/reconciliation is what is best for everyone...,.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 7 at 12:21am

Ali Elam
Several people have shared how they needed to step away from their family of origin for the health and emotional safety of their immediate family.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 7 at 8:41am
Susan Daniel 
In telling this, my hope was for them to hear that it isn't impossible to separate from your family of origin. Derek was the biggest mamma's boy. He did ask me to put their wants/needs over mine a lot in the beginning. We had a lot of arguments over it....,. Because of this, I think they thought they had some sort of priority or power....he had to finally "lay down the law." I think it is more common than people know....& maybe it will help to understand it happens. I don't know.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 7 at 12:29pm · Edited
Michawn Madden
every now and then i just start a new thread...sometimes those new little threads that form get hard to find. let me answer Joel there in his last comment...

i did pick most of the counselors...that is true. because i trusted them. so imagine my heartbreak when they all turned out to be people that i, in fact, couldn't trust. it's like he says in that video...either people don't want to get involved at all, or when they do they eventually back off because they are just too confused to help, or a combination of that + the offender just is so convincing in his own 'confusion.' the offender truly believes he is the victim because of the *true* victim's responses to the harm...and because of the natural consequences that come from that harm. 

i could go through and tell you very specifically how each quickly lost my trust. and they did lose it quickly. there were a few who i never really trusted from the beginning, but was wiling to on a trial basis. there were some that i knew personally and went to them for help and begged them to help...only for them to either just completely turn their backs on me (literally stop talking to me and answering my emails), or accuse me of things that aren't true (if i had been holier this wouldn't have happened, if i knew what forgiveness is this would be over, etc.), or get to the point where all they did was say 'we are praying for you...only God can fix this' instead of calling Joel out on anything they saw and told me they saw in private...just too scared and/or confused to really get involved. and then there was the one who i didn't know at all, but he gained my complete trust over the course of a week-long intensive session. we didn't even touch on the family of origin issue during that time. at all. in fact, we extended our stay and made an extra appointment with him because we decided that HAD to be addressed before we left. 

at that time, the counselor had no idea what had happened with family and to what extent it became. no idea. and in that short 2-hour session, there was no way for him to even get a small picture of what had happened and the degree to which the damage was done involving them. so, he and joel decided a good thing to do would just be say that we wouldn't have any contact with them for 6 months from that date. why 6 months, i have no's just a number the counselor pulled from his rear honestly. another man telling me when i should be over something and ready to move forward. i never wanted it that way. i said that i didn't like that...that i hated having timeframes put on me. but, it was said that if i didn't feel ready to be in contact after that, then they would wait until i was ready. so...from the get-go there was this pressure put on was all on me to be ready. and since there was the 6-month standard set, it was basically expected that i either be ready at the 6-month mark or not long after that. it put pressure on me. but, i reluctantly agreed (as the 2-hour session was ending) to the 6-month deal...just because i wanted any pressure to be off of me at the moment at least. 

i still trusted that counselor though and thought, well, he thinks a 6-month timeframe for no contact is enough only because he doesn't know any of the story at all. so, before we went back in october for a session with him, i gathered all of the correspondence between us and joel's family. i put it all together. almost 200 pages of correspondence, y'all. 

i said to the counselor at the end of those 200 pages: 

~I gave chance after chance after chance after chance. And it is now a closed door that will not be opened to them again. It’s just too late. I’m no longer willing to go through the extreme amount of work and stress it would involve. And, I am no longer willing to be in their presence ever again given the extremely huge chasm that has been put between us and grown larger and larger and larger (a chasm that I had nothing to do with and hold no responsibility for). 

I never wanted to agree to that 6 month timeframe in the first place. I know that it is a false timeframe. I know the truth. And that email, that timeframe, feels like ‘stringing them along’ and not being truthful. That is what Joel wanted. But, I know the truth. And I’m not going to go along with ‘stringing them along’ any longer. It’s not fair…to them or to me. 

The expectation that we could reconcile in the fall 2014…that was a possibility in my mind. After that didn’t happen…

The expectation that we could reconcile if they ever came around (in their thinking and with true repentance), and after we had had at least a year to just focus on us without being in contact with them…with distance between us and them…that was maybe a possibility still. Time would tell. 

The more and more damage they did throughout the year though…the damage I knew about anyway (from September 2014 until the beginning of May 2015) when they weren’t supposed to be in contact with us at all (yet kept sending messages and commenting on things and flat out bullying me)…I knew that the possibility was slim to none. 

But then…when I found out what had been happening behind my back between them and Joel that whole time that we were supposed to be focusing on us and our marriage and completely distancing ourselves from them and not in contact with them at all…

At that point I knew that it would never happen. Reconciliation with people so corrupt and so backstabbing and so deceitful…I have no interest in. And it will never happen. 

Of course, I felt the same way about Joel. Because he was even more corrupt and backstabbing and deceitful than them. But, I’m married to him…I’m not married to them. I have children with him…I don’t have children with them. I decided that it was worth one more try with him. 

It is not worth another try with them. It’s over with them. The end. 

I hope you can see that I’m not bitter…I’m not trying to be vengeful or unforgiving. But, I can recognize when it’s time. I can recognize when a relationship is just over…esp. when it’s over because it is toxic and damaging. 

I know when to move away. 

It is (and has been) time to move away.~

in october we went back to see that counselor. and after reading all of this and seeing all that had happened, he told me that the pendulum had swung and that i was now just being controlling. i left crushed, yet again, by someone i had trusted. and joel now had 'ground to stand on' again and constantly reminded me of how even the counselor had said i was just being controlling. 

we cancelled all other appointments with him and just didn't do anything...and we got worse and worse. when things came to a head again around february, i even tried to work things out with the counselor...tried to help him to see that i wasn't being controlling, i was just severely harmed by these people (and joel had mostly joined them in hurting me; if he hadn't actively joined them, he had always defended them) and that it would not be good for me or our marriage for us to have contact with them. he just continued to say that there had been a 'power shift' and i was now trying to control the marriage...and then he just eventually stopped answering my emails/texts altogether. 

so...that's more of the story with counselors and the timeframe.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 11:52am · Edited
Juliet Johnston 
Joel, you say that the things Michawn says about what has happened don't usually match your perception of the reality. Is there anything in this explanation from Michawn that you disagree with or have problems with?
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 12:49pm
Michawn Madden
joel replied to a question in one of the threads up top today. i think he plans to reply to all of them in one big comment here at the end of this comment thread next...not sure when that will be. but, i wanted to post down here what i posted in the small thread above so everyone is privy...

everyone, not to be the blind, doting wife here...because you know i'm not. but...please keep in mind when you hear joel say these things that when you've been told these very things over and over for 4 1/2 years, by what you call 'trusted' family members, mentors, pastors, and professional start to believe it. YES he should believe me over them...and i'm not making excuses for him. i'm just trying to give an explanation. again...this is the first time he's hearing the kinds of things you're saying directly to him other than just a few (i can count them on one hand) times/people before. so...don't lose patience. it's literally like he's been in a 'cult' of sorts...and he has to be de-brainwashed. 

that's my hope anyway. the other alternative is just that he can't be helped. we'll see. i hope it's the first thing.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 6:00pm · Edited

Joy West Davidson
I look forward to seeing his response. Thanks for the update Michawn Madden. I hope for the first possibility as well!
Like · Reply · August 7 at 5:57pm

Joel Ebersole
Hey Juliet, I felt that all counselors we went to are trustworthy, love us and did all they could to help us. Not saying they were all perfect and always dead on but for the most part they listened to us, told us what they saw / felt was going on in our marriage and in each of our lives in attempt to help us work thru stuff and heal. To get better Michawn and I have to be humble, open, ready to forgive and to apologize, accept that we might be wrong about stuff and prayerfully consider what is being said. Without that we are doomed. Unfortunately, Michawn will do any of these things.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 6:17pm
Joy West Davidson  
Once again Joel Ebersole u deflect! Saying and defending not your wife but others. The counselors the family. She's not gone crazy! If anything she has stood up for herself and her family. U basically just said she's not being humble and forgiving. I'm sorry but I know differently. Where's the kind, sweet, loving man I met in China. I'm so upset for u all! Your being doomed is on your shoulders. I pray your eyes will be opened. I posted last night and chose this morning to delete it. Felt I should hold my tongue. But I won't keep silent any longer. This kind of mind set is what played a big part into my 16yr marriage dying. My ex-husband who u know has lost his three boys and is barely holding on to relationship with his youngest two daughters. BThe things u type and are saying are all to familiar to me. I pray u become humble and your eyes will be opened and maybe u surround your self with better counsel.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 7:01pm 
Juliet Johnston 
Joel, I didn't mean whether you liked the counselors or not. I meant, did you agree with what they said? Were they right about Michawn? It sounds like you are skirting the question a bit here. What exactly did Michawn do wrong? 
From what you have said so far, it sounds like you are trying to hold Michawn accountable for her reaction to you hurting her. If I understand your situation correctly, it all started when she wanted a break from your very difficult schedule and you didn't honor that request and that situation snowballed into one that hurt Michawn deeply. Unless I have misunderstood, that is what started everything. The way you treated her during that time showed her that she couldn't trust you. How she reacts to the way you treated her is not something that can be dictated. She was hurting and worn out and exhausted and she needed certain things from you and you didn't give them to her. Michawn isn't a perfect wife and has never claimed to be, but in THIS situation, she is right. She isn't at fault. Just because she isn't healing and reconciling in a way that you understand or agree with, doesn't change the fact, that at the beginning of this... it was not her fault. You are the one who broke trust... that's on you... so, in order to restore trust you have to walk through all of this on Michawn's terms. You can't tell her how to react to your betrayal. Everyone reacts differently and you wanting to hold her accountable for that is another betrayal.  
In order to get to the root of all this, you are going to have to start giving details about your perception. You are being somewhat vague and general in your responses. Otherwise we will only talk in circles and nothing will be accomplished.
Unlike · Reply · 6 · August 7 at 8:36pm
John Alan Wooley
Michawn all I'm gonna say is that I love you and your family and will be praying for you all! <3 i="">
Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 9:26pm

Joel Ebersole
Answer to some more questions:

Josh: As to Jake’s comments, I would agree that one’s spouse and children takes presence over other relationships, even blood. It is a hard thing, make no mistake…especially when one is raised in a strong blood culture. Yet there is something about marriage that transcends other human relationship regardless of culture. 

Me: I agree. Michawn comes first. I have failed her in the past, have owned it, repented and with the help of several counselor have sought to make things right. However, excommunicating my entire extended family for the rest of my life is not a boundary any counselor thought was appropriate. 

Esther: I have come to know everyone processes and grieves differently-whether you 2, 7, 18, or 95. I think it is very unfair to tell someone their way of "bleeding" isn't right.

Me: Agree, this is still an area in which we need counsel so that we can get to a place where the bleeding can heal. Michawn needs to put down the shotgun and focus inward.

Juliet: But, if you mean it when you say you choose Michawn, does that mean you are willing to step away from your family? Even if it means a long, long time, or even forever?

Me: If this was simple problematic extended family problem like many of the stories above... yes. 

Jessica: Let's imagine you are a gardener. You have one crop that yields much profit, your main crop. You have other smaller gardens that are important also but they are healthy. If that one main crop were not flourishing and thriving would you not pour more time, energy, devotion, and care into it? Or would you tell that garden to get better all while you continued doing the same things you had been doing all along? Would you continue pouring your efforts into the other healthy gardens? Jesus calls husbands to love their wives as He loves us. With that in mind, how would He tend to the garden that needed Him? Joel, there never should have been sides. It should have always been you and her moving as one. It should have never been you and your family against her, or you and counselors against her. Your garden is not flourishing for a reason. You put your energies and devotions elsewhere. One day you will stand face to face with Jesus. When it comes to your marriage will He be able to say well done? Will you be able to say that you loved your wife with the same sacrificial love that Jesus loves us with?

Me: Yes I would. No, I would stop and pay special attention to that garden. No. I do wish I could go back and handle some things differently. I know we should have always moved as one and that I failed her in many ways. The counselors and family were trying to help me understand why my garden was not flourishing. She unfortunately thinks everyone is against her if they don’t agree with what she says or have a different perspective than hers. I hope Jesus finds me faithful in all areas. That is what I strive for. ..I hope and pray that is where I can get to again again. But until there is humility, openness, forgiveness and reconciliation we are stuck. That is why we need help, that is why we need to keep submitting ourselves to Godly counsel so that we can heal instead of pulling out the guns, trying to blast each other and try to sway public opinion on FB.
Like · Reply · August 7 at 11:00pm
Joy West Davidson 
Ok so hears my question are u going to forsake all others which were your vows? Which is what we commit under God when we get married. Joel Ebersole. U have yet to acknowledge me. I think we know why. Be the man I know u are an love.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 7 at 11:24pm · Edited 
Jessica Lee 
Joel, I pray for you both often. I wish I could peel the scales off of your eyes for you. I can see that you truly don't get it. Much of your Godly council turned into gossip behind your wife's back. It dishonored her and broke her trust. Things were said about her by you and those she trusted. It takes years and true repentance to get that trust back. I understand facebook being a very difficult place to hash things out. I am a pretty private person myself. But you have to realize that when you went and talked about your wife to others instead of just being there with her in her time need, listening to her, caring for and loving her as God called you to, wasn't much different. In my opinion it's almost worse because she couldn't even defend herself. There were things you should have done different. BIG things. Things that break trust. And then instead of doing what you needed to do you continued to do things that broke her trust. As an analogy person... You cut her over and over and never allowed or helped any of those cuts heal. Trust takes so much time to be earned back. I don't view Michawn as perfect in all of this, no one is, but as someone said above, this is a reaction to your actions. Simple cause and effect. When a person is hurt over and over they are naturally built to protect themselves. Not to sound harsh, but let that sink it please. She feels a need to protect herself from YOU. Her husband, the man who vowed to her and to God to love, and honor, and cherish.... For better or worse sickness and in health. I get it because I've been there Joel. Not near as rough, but I understand it because I've been there. Help her heal, be still, don't try to move to fast, ask her what she needs and grant it, serve her, forsake all others, love her like Jesus and give up your desires for her. I can't imagine being in your shoes and having to give up family. That would be painful, but is that pain not worth it to prove to your wife that she is worth it?
Like · Reply · 1 · August 8 at 2:35am 
Joshua Hopping 
Joel - Thank you for your comments. Having not walked with you personally through this journey, you may be right in that a total excommunication may not be appropriate in this situation. There are situations, however, that do call for total excommunication depending on the couple and their families. There also might be the need for a new environment and friends. In a nutshell, there are a lot of factors and concerns that you, Michawn and Jesus have to work through and decide together. 
I must, by the way, commend you for publicly sharing your thoughts and walking through this journey with Michawn. While I know it must have been (and currently is still) painful, the journey that has been recorded and shared has helped me process things within my own marriage and in how to encourage other couples. I know the journey is far from being over and to that end I pray that you will continue to push into Jesus and see where things go. Minute by minute; step by step.
Like · Reply · August 8 at 9:12am 
Jessica Lee 
Joel, I want to add a couple more thoughts, as far as family goes, I want to add that I can't imagine being treated the way Michawn has been treated by family. It would feel quite lonely and gut wrenching to find out that my husband was going behind my back and teaming up with his family in bad mouthing me while I was already down. I can't imagine them plotting against me and encouraging my husband to be dishonest to me and to break his word to me. So while I imagine giving them up is painful for you, I do understand her need. They caused a lot of tension and unhealthy behaviors in you. 
Another thought about counselors. I have yet to have good experience with a counselor. The first one I ever went to was in high school for eating disorders. Without ever getting to know me, without finding out the why, she told me I need to gain about 30 lbs and start eating. I never went back. She didn't care about me or my sick heart. She didn't care to find out the root issues. The next counselor was for marriage. We had a rough go for a while. My husband did some things that broke my trust. When we went in my husband basically threw me under the bus. He said that he was just there because he wanted me to "get better". He made it sound like he wanted his old happy wife back, but what he didn't understand was that I wasn't that wife anymore because he did not honor that wife, he broke that wife's trust, he left her feeling vulnerable and unsafe. He left her feeling unimportant and alone. That counselor heard what my husband said and immediately started asking me questions about my past and "diagnosing" me. He never once asked what my husband did to hurt me. He never asked him a single question. That one question and he focused all his attention and blame on me. I left there feeling more distant from my husband and more hopeless for resolution. That was in 2012. Months after that he finally acknowledged some things. Our healing did require stepping back from some good friends. (There was no cheating of any type here just to be be clear.) This friendship had become more important than me and our children to my husband. It became unhealthy. I could tell my husband didn't fully get it, but was trying. Then around the same time that I became pregnant with Mary, things came up again. I knew I couldn't continue raising a soon to be faimiy of 4 kids with someone I still didn't feel safe with. I needed to know that we came first. From then (Jan. 2015) until now we continue to slowly hash things out. One thing at a time. God brings things to light that were never healed and my husband and I sit and talk about these things. He sees it, he acknowledges, it and he has truly changed. One by one these wounds are healed and my trust is being restored. He is human, but he is no longer for himself. He is obviously for me and our children. He delights in us and I in him. I am so thankful that my husband is willing to listen to these things that are painful to him and his pride for the sake of our marriage. And these moments are becoming much more few as time goes on. Are you willing to do that? Without being defensive? Without putting up your walls? Michawn doesn't have a shot gun pointed at you. She has gaping wounds that need healing and can only be healed by going through it all with you with your eyes truly open to the damage you caused. Its the only way that she will feel safe again.
One last note. My husband and I were given a voice and a way to communicate through Michawns writings. It truly helped us so much. God truly is using her writings for good.
Like · Reply · 2 · August 8 at 5:15pm · Edited 
Joel Ebersole 
Joy, it was great talking with you. I believe you now know things are not about me forsaking my vows. We have real deep problems. This whole family issue I believe/hope will go away once the deeper issue is worked out.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 8 at 10:34pm 
Jessica Lee 
Joel, to me, this above, sounds conniving and manipulative. Why would you post that? Am I reading into it wrong?
Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 8 at 11:22pm 
Joy West Davidson 
Joel Ebersole great talking to u to. Hope we can do it again and it will help. Love u both brother!
Like · Reply · August 8 at 11:31pm 
Michawn Madden 
Joel, sorry...but there's nothing that has gone wrong in our marriage that didn't stem from you forsaking your vows.
Like · Reply · August 8 at 11:36pm 
Joel Ebersole 
Jessica, thanks for praying for us and me specially. I am having a very had time getting in sync with Michawn. God knows my heart when I opened up with a few trusted folks about our hardships and difficulties. But I should NEVER gone behind her back for anything. A lesson I have learned the hard way. I do, and will always apologize for that. At the moment that seams exactly the case, Michawn is full of cuts. Some from me, many not...I want to help her....but as I get close more cuts show up and she points to me ....but I know I am not out to hurt her....I want to help her. I care very much for her .....But she is sure its all me so that is why I/we have ran to counselors. Now there are cuts both ways and until we both put down the knifes and in humility submit to godly counsel, and be open, forgive and work thru things we will never reach healing.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 8 at 11:40pm 
Jessica Lee 
Have you ever tried just listening with out your defenses up? I know that probably sounds silly, but I know when defenses are up it's hard to make any break throughs.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 2:24am 
Jessica Lee 
Joel, it sounds to me like you want to *fix* her. Why don't you instead just love her where she is and be there with her and for her.
Like · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 10:39am

Michawn Madden
Joshua, Esther, Juliet, Jessica...answers to your comments/questions above. 

you skipped some, Joel. 

from Juliet: 
1. Are you willing to be okay with the fact that sharing what she is going through publicly is how Michawn "plows through the muck", as you put it? Are you willing to accept that speaking out about what you two have been through is a ministry for her... one that means a lot to a lot of people who have been in the same place?

2. So, while I understand why you may not want to... the question is, are you willing to? You giving up your parents for a little under a year was good, but obviously not enough. She needs you to show her that you choose her first, no matter what... and with no time limits or conditions or restraints. 5, 10, or 15 years down the road when you have a healthy and thriving marriage it could be possible for you to revisit this, but now is not that time. It is hard. Very hard. Never said it would be easy. You say they care about her... are they willing to step away? Do they care about her that much?

and Mavis asked you basically the same thing as juliet, about you AND your family...which she has asked before. do they care about me that much, joel? do you?
Like · Reply · 2 · August 7 at 11:12pm · Edited
Joel Ebersole 
Hi Juliet, I do give Michawn the freedom to talk to whoever and say whatever she wants. I would, however, prefer to keep things more private and don't necessarily agree with all she puts on the web. As I said before, things don't quite matchup between what i experienced living with Michawn and what goes up on the web.  
I feel Michawn is trying to isolate me and kids from anyone and everyone that cares about US and has tried to help US in some way but concluded things are not quite as Michawn thinks they are....(Not saying everyone was perfect in what/how they tried to help and some have had to apologize to Michawn). This includes both sides of family, many of our spiritual leaders, just about all our counselors and tons of friends. Even then because I chose Michawn, I agreed to isolation during the last year because I hoped things would get better and we would heal. But Michawn is still at or pasted "wits end" ....incredibly hard to live with and now that I have been made to leave again I am not going to agree to isolation any more. Things are hard to understand, our situation is extremely complex and I hurt that she is hurting but until Michawn starts being open to the fact that things might be different than she thinks.. realizes she need help...she is open to reconcile and realizes everyone in our lives is not unsafe.... Im afraid we are done. I am not going to be isolated /bullied/controlled around by somewhat of a victim mentality you see online.  
So there you have it. I hate throwing things like this out publicly. I hate anything that even is close to bashing my wife....who is part of me and the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with.  
But I was told to answer you all or else I would not get to see my kids today. :-(
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 9:59am 
Michawn Madden 
what you were told, Joel...and i will quote: "since you get up early every morning, and you don’t have ANYTHING else you have to do other than work, there is NO excuse for not giving full answers to everyone before you go to work. this is getting so incredibly ridiculous. everyone can see that you are STILL not putting your marriage priority…and it’s disgusting. but, do what tricia said…actually LISTEN to what these people are saying. like i said before, you need to put saving your marriage priority. right now, that means engaging on Facebook. that means answering the questions. not hours or days after they are posted, but right away. it is utterly ridiculous that you aren’t doing that…it’s just more dismissal and hurt you are causing. you literally have no other commitments other than work. either answer all of the questions and comments in FULL when you wake up, or i will take the kids to their activities and you can use that time to answer these things and actually engage and ACT LIKE you want to save your marriage. back to what tricia said…i said yesterday 'please try to pretend that you haven’t heard any of the bad counsel that you’ve heard for the past 4 ½ years and really listen to what everyone there is saying.'…which goes along with what tricia said. the counsel you’ve gotten has been dead wrong. dead wrong. these people are trying to tell you that, joy has tried to tell you that. please put all of that aside and THEN read what everyone is saying here. wipe your mind clean (CLEAN) of all of that bad counsel…and listen to what everyone is saying."  
sadly, you are the one with the victim mentality.  (Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim)
Like · Reply · Remove Preview · Yesterday at 10:59am · Edited 
Juliet Johnston 
Joel, I'm not sure you are understanding what I am asking you. In your above comment you revealed more than you have been about how you are feeling, and I appreciate that. But you still aren't really answering the questions. I will number the questions for clarity below and I would appreciate you giving specific, detailed answers. For example, instead of saying Michawn is "incredibly hard to live with"... tell me exactly WHY she is hard to live with. You are still being pretty vague in your answers.  
1. What, in the beginning of all this, did Michawn do wrong? Not what is she doing wrong now... what did she do wrong back in the beginning? 
2. Do you understand that it takes a LONG time to rebuild trust after the kind of hurt that you caused Michawn. You have said you did a lot of what she asked for a year. Why can't/won't you do it longer? 
3. You say you feel she is isolating you and the kids from everyone... have you considered how isolated she must feel in all of this? Nobody is truly hearing her heart and her frustration. They have abandoned her. 
4. If she truly is at her "wit's end" and having severe issues like you say, then how is what you are doing helping her? You keep saying you want her to get help. She is asking for you to help her. To be there. To earn back her trust. 
5. You have said that you would be willing to step away from your family if you thought that was the cause of all this... she is telling you that your family is a main cause of all this. So, if you mean what you say, then there shouldn't be a question. You will listen to her and honor her request. 
There are more questions I could ask, but this is a good start. Michawn has not given up on your marriage. The friends here on this thread have not given up on your marriage. And, despite how it may feel to you, we are on your side too. Because the only "side" there should be in this situation is people who are on the side of helping your marriage heal. So, we are all on the same side. I am praying for all of you.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · 23 hrs 
Ali Elam 
These questions are a beginning step to get to heart of the matter.
Unlike · Reply · 2 · 20 hrs
Aimee Lane
Joel, this is in response to your comment above. I tried to summarize the "big problem" based on your words. Please correct where I've misrepresented you. 

1. M is in the midst of a big storm. 
2. Her world is spinning to a point that you are unable to help. 
3. M wrongly accused you for being at fault. 
4. You are wrongly blamed for the state of your family. 
5. She's forced you to live in a horrible state of evaluation for years. 
6. You're not saying you're perfect, maybe a couple things could have been done better. 
7. You've owned and said sorry for those little oops along the way. 
8. M isn't handling the situation as maturely as you. 
9. Counsellors feel like M should embrace your family again bc they're really not that bad. 
10. M is bad for not being willing to forgive and forget. 
11. Conversations between you and your parents were well intended. 
12. M isn't trying to find resolution she just wants to blame and accuse. 
13. M isn't in touch with her inside. 
14. M continues to have unnecessary drama. 

Does this represent the "big problem" from your perspective Joel?!? Make corrections in a comment below if this isn't accurate. 

Then, write me a list of what you think Michawn would identify as the "big problem" (her perspective).
Like · Reply · 2 · August 8 at 3:04pm · Edited
Joel Ebersole 
1. Yes 
2. Yes 
3. Michawn is throwing every accusation she can find at me. I have not handled things the best way every time. I have had to apologize many times so some accusations are true.
4. I am part of the family so I am responsible as well. But it is not only me here. We have to work together to get better...unfortunately she will not accept any responsibility or see that she plays a big part of how are are as well.
5. Not sure what exactly what that means.
7. Not little when you go behind your spouse's back and lie to her. I have humble myself and continue to apologize and make amends for that sin against Michawn.
8. She is at her "wits end" I know it and am trying to give her space and grace. She processes things differently then I do. She needs to write. I do wish she would not do it on FB. 
9. Not necessarily. I made a poor choice involving my parents in our problems. Some of what was said might have been too much so I and my parents had to apologize. They did many times many ways. But since Michawn is in this storm she took everything the worst possible way and is making out my entire extended family these horrible unsafe people. (Like i said above, this has happened to just about everybody that has been involved in our marriage and has tried to help) So that is why some of the counselors advised to distance our selve from family for a while. Counselors have told me that they realized my parents just to wanted to help, their counsel was misguided as michawn claims but I would be better off selecting others for marriage counsel.
10. umm...not really. Michawn's realities at the moment are seen thru this huge storm. Everything M sees is totally true to her because that is what she is experiencing. Only when things calm down will she be able to heal relationships... when she realize the people are not quite like she is thinks they are. 
11. Kinda addressed this before. But yes. They did tried to reach out to M as well.
12. Well, yes and no. She will not accept anyone's input that differs with what she thinks. The truth is somewhere between our to perceptions of what has happened. We are 50/50 in this thing. There has to be forgiveness and compromises....we will not resolve anything if she does not stop constantly threatening and demanding everything is only like she thinks it is.. or that I have no rights.....and I'm wrong about EVERYTHING.
13. Hard to say.
14. I wish she would just calm down and keep working things out with counselor. 
I have to go work but will address more later.
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 11:28am · Edited 
Aimee Lane
Your perspective has been duly noted.... Joel, now I would really like you to tune into the years spent communicating with M and based purely on her perspective list the "big problem."
Like · Reply · 9 hrs
Joel Ebersole
Need to sleep but will continue to address your above comments one by one. Just be patient. Slow writer here.
Like · Reply · 1 · August 8 at 11:45pm

Jodi Pompa Vanderhoof
I feel others are doing a good job with dialogue and questions so I won't add to that. However, I will echo the response about counselors. If you have not seen a counselor who SPECIALIZES in emotional abuse, you can honestly NOT pile up counselors' opinions and take it as fact. This is an enormous problem especially where church counseling is concerned but ALSO with traditional counselors. I have read over and over and over again, that with certain situations counseling can do WAY more harm than good. In this case, you have to listen to what abuse counselors are saying...and everything I've seen suggests that specialized experience and training are necessary to avoid causing more harm. Patrick Doyle (from the video above) states this, Leslie Vernick states this...This is a another blog written by a counselor who specializes in these issues. It is specifically speaking to the problem of churches counseling mental illness which is far outside their specialty, but she references abuse as well and if you read her other writings it is clear that she believes the same about the problems that come from people who are untrained in dealing with destructive marriage issues. ONE thing that would go a long way with M I am sure, Joel, is if you would consider that this could be truth. Consider that the advice you've gotten from so many "trusted" is well meaning but ultimately harmful. If you begin from that premise, and begin to listen from the perspective of those who specialize in these horribly difficult relationship issues (start with Patrick Doyle and Leslie Vernick videos, M can point you to their websites) I think you will begin to see and hear what M is trying to say. AT THIS POINT, I think you can see the futility of convincing M that she is incorrect on how she sees things. She feels it's nearly futile to convince you of the same. So just perhaps, if you're willing, can you just consider her premise to be correct and listen to these pro specialty counselors from that perspective? It may be the only hope you have. Discussing things with these friends may be beneficial, or may not, but honestly Joel I truly believe if you would lock yourself up for a week and consider it your 40 hour JOB to listen to these videos WITH THE PREMISE that what they are saying is true, I don't think there's a step you could take that could be more eye opening and transformative. You may not believe their premise is true but just CONSIDER it, and listen as if you believed what they said. It may be the only hope you have.
Unlike · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 9:40am
Jodi Pompa Vanderhoof  (I Got A Root Canal At Church | Southlake Christian Counseling)
Unlike · Reply · Remove Preview · 2 · Yesterday at 9:41am 
Jessica Lee 
I'm going g to echo this. I believe accepting the way she sees things is your only hope.
Like · Reply · 1 · 23 hrs
Joel Ebersole
Everyone, lets turn the page here. I want us to get better. I want Michawn as my partner and friend again. I want for us to build trust each other again. I will not try to fix Michawn. Let work on me.

Give me some ideas how I should deal with what I am experiencing: (totally honest here and really want/need help. Please don’t read this any other way! This is what i am experiencing and need to overcome)

1. I don’t trust Michawn at all based on her many public accusations and even abuse claims she made online while I felt the opposite is true. But she does not trust me either since I went behind her back. What do I do about that? Where do we start to build?

2. What do I do with the whole isolation issues? - M claims that to stop causing her pain….I must not ever WANT to go to churches we have gone to in the past, or talk with friends or family ever again. She says my beliefs have to change…..I most not even HOPE that we can work thing out with anybody she has labled unsafe… I must believe like she does that they are all horribly unsafe people. How do I do that in good consience when I know that is not true? 

3. What do I do with whole “walking on eggshell” thing? Everything can be going perfect. I can be doing Michawn’s favorite things for her or with her but in a instance I feel her countenance change and all of the sudden things get out of control ….this is usually based on an expectation I did not meet…. and there is no arguing with what happened no matter how illogical minor or outlandish I feel the accusations are….and I got to a point where my apologies are no longer accepted. This is the kind of stuff that has got me kicked out of the house so many times. How do I deal with a girl that is at her whit’s end? Every miscommunication is seen as an relationship atomic bomb.

4. How do I handle the fact that Michawn feels that since I have ruined her life and our life in every way….she thinks it is right that I have no say an anything…..I have to jump at her every beckon … .I should not expect that any of my wants/needs be met …… everything must be done like she wants/thinks/expects……and everything I think or beleive is wrong and much change. What do I do about this? 

We will just start there. I hope you hear me. My heart is soft towards Michawn. i want things to get better and want my family back.

I want help.

I thanks in advance
Like · Reply · 16 hrs

Joy Hopping
I have not said much here. Communication is one of my areas of weakness. But I have been keeping up with what is going on and praying for you all. I appreciate your willingness to step up and use FB even if it is not what you prefer in an effort to work through things in a way that M prefers. I am sure it is not easy for you. I am pretty sure most of any advice I have is what you already know, but at times it helps to hear things again and be reminded. 

First, my order is not in line with your points, I would say most importantly is prayer. Cover yourself, M and your family in prayer. The fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much. Also keep in mind that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spirits and principalities. The enemy would love nothing better than to destroy your marriage, family and any ministry you have done. I know that at times everyone here is in a bad mood, griping, fighting and everything is off. We had to learn to step back at those times and go through the house praying over it. Often the results were dramatic. The anger, tension and fighting would just vanish as God's peace came and filled the house. By sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit for guidance of how to pray/ what needs to be taken care of in the spiritual realms. 

As for your list, my first thought is a gentle answer turns away wrath. I am sure both of you are super sensitive right now and the smallest things can easily snowball. It reminds me of when I used to live in California. At times we had some good sized earthquakes (5 to 6 range) afterwards it was like I would go into a super sensitive mode. Any aftershocks would be treated like it was a major earthquake. They could be minuscule, ones that I would not normally feel and I would instantly react. I remember times waking up already braced in a doorway from the slightest tremor after a large quake. It seems like on an emotional/relationship level that is about where things are with you guys. For me time is what it took to get over the quake. After months of not feeling the ground start shaking I would no longer react to slight tremors or if I did it was with a response that was in keeping with what occurred. Time for you and M where you and she don't feel like everything is coming apart or that one of you is under attack is needed. Probably a lot of time since all this has been going on for some time. 

Also, listen to her. I have heard her say it from the beginning that she wants people to hear her. Rather than fix it (it is easy to get into fit it mode) let her know you are listening and hearing what she says. Sometimes things need fixing and other times they need hearing and acknowledging that they were heard and their thoughts/ opinions are valued. 

Keep things in perspective. One of things I appreciate the most about Jay is that when we are in the middle of a fight and both really mad at each other (ok, I am generally more mad than he is) he often will stop then look at me and tell me that he loves me, is married to my and will be for a long time. In twenty years he still plans on being married to me and that in twenty years (insert issue of fight) is not going to matter. It has defused many fights over the years remembering that we love each other and knowing he is for us and for me. 

Fight clean. Right now it might seem that there is more you disagree with each other over than not but certain things should never be said or threatened. "you" comments in fights are generally a bad idea. They put the other person on defence and then there are sides. Focus on the issue that is the problem not on her. Rather than "M doesn't want to do______ and I think we should" it would not be a threatening to say something like, " It is very important for me to ______, can we find some way I can do that." Maybe there isn't a good answer now to the issue but the focus is now not on who is right and who is wrong. Also don't invalidate her opinions and viewpoints when you two don't agree. Bringing up mental illness is one way to discredit her views and opinions. 

Focus on what is good. What we focus on will be magnified. Good or bad. If all you focus on is the problems and fixing them the problems will be magnified and will take over. Instead focus on what you appreciate about M. The things she does well, the things you like about her. Look for those and let her know that you like those things about her. 

Find ways to bring life and love into the marriage. What makes her feel loved? Find ways to do those things. A note. Cup of coffee. A complement. 

Value her. God gave her to you for a helpmate. Her insights, skills, talents are what you and your marriage need. Don't minimize who she is or what she brings to the marriage. She was specially created by God and I remember how God brought the two of you together. She is the other half of your team. 

Know things will not always be like this. Stress and difficult situations change people who are going through them. There have been times in my life where I have not really been me. It took me years to regain an interest in learning after college. After Jay and I got married he expressed disappointment because I had no interest in learning anything new, even for fun. He tried to find topics he thought I would like. I. Just. Could. Not. He let the subject drop. After several years I began taking an interest in new topics and now it is rare that I am not dabbling in something. He mentioned it a few years ago and noted that it had taken a long time to recover from the burnout I had in college. It was something like ten years. Then when my dad died and several other events that were almost as painful happened in close succession again I was not myself. My walk with God suffered, I hid, I gained weight. Looking back I realize that during that season I was majorly depressed. I didn't know that when I was going through it and would have denied it if someone had asked. Again it took years to recover at least two or three. Then slowly things improved as life calmed down and there was a season of more or less normal life. There are times now that I can see stress begin to shut me down with situations we are in right now. I am learning to give myself some grace and know it is ok to have a rough day or even weeks. God is still there and I will be more myself when it is over. Give yourself and give M grace and trust that this will one day be over. Might not be as fast as you like but things will not always be this bad. 

Find a church you can go to. Even if you are by yourself and even if you have to take a long drive to find the right one. God can show you where he wants you to go. 

Anyway, hope there is something here to spark an idea or encourage you.
Like · Reply · 3 · 6 hrs

Jodi Pompa Vanderhoof
I'm going to try a different approach here. Previously I stated that I felt that listening to professionals who specifically deal with destructive marriage issues would be beneficial, approaching from the premise that what they say is correct. 

I realize none of us enjoys being wrong, being called out as wrong, and certainly the consideration that one is emotionally abusive is tough to swallow. Let's come at this from the opposite viewpoint. 

Say you're totally, completely right and M's perspective is completely skewed and off base. Say she is the one causing all the trouble in the marriage. Anything is possible, right? So the issue remains: what do you do if you want to save the marriage? 

You have zero control over what M thinks and what M does. So how do you deal?

Well, a great many women have been in this situation that I personally know, and the counsel to them is usually submit anyway, do the right thing anyway, love them back to you. Be selfless. Control you and not the spouse. 

So if you're asking what you can do, scripture says you're deeply responsible to love her AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF. To give yourself up for her, as Jesus did. To live with her in an understanding way, to not be harsh with her. Regardless of how you're treated, this is your high calling and standard. Yeah, it sucks to be called to act right when others are acting wrong, but that's what we have when we follow God.

If you want to have a good marriage, you can't MAKE the other person meet your needs, but you're fully in control of your efforts to meet hers. So help her feel safe. Don't place demands on her. If you're right and she has other troubles affecting her, be a safe place. It's like when your skin is rubbed raw, you don't pour salt in it but you dress it and care for it more tenderly. Whether she's right or not, she is worthy of care. So ask her what she needs and meet it, to the point of your own sacrifice and hurt. Jimmy Evans (Marriage Today ministry) always says the husband's job is to meet his wife's needs to his own hurt. 

Stop focusing on time tables and meet her needs. The timetable is the cart before the horse. Rather than being frustrated by her insistence on NEVER EVER, Just deal with for now, meet the need and trust God with the future. Maybe one day she will feel safe again and be willing to discuss it. 

Here is how you begin.

Also, maybe watch those videos anyway, to understand where she gets all her "wrong" thinking. How do people arrive at the conclusion that they are abused? See what the pros have to say. You don't have to agree but you should make efforts to understand her mindset.

Truly, your only choice is to die to self. You may feel that you have already been doing that, but she doesn't perceive her needs met. MEET HER FELT NEEDS. I can personally attest that once you feel heard, feel safe, feel validated, miraculous change can happen. But the change can't come before the felt needs are met. Before you feel heard. Before you feel safe. It just doesn't work that way.
Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Aimee Lane 
Right on!!! 
Like · Reply · 5 hrs
Juliet Johnston
Hi Joel, I am going to do my best to answer your questions...

1. You ask "Where do we start to build?" You start with you. You don't trust each other. The original issue started with you. You do what she needs... and if you don't agree with her perception or how she chooses to handle all this, you stay quiet... you pray. You cannot change her. So, even if you are right (which I am not saying is true)... your role in this is the same... you set aside all your hurt feelings and meet her needs. All of them. For as long as it takes. 

2. What do I do with the whole isolation issues? You find new friends and a new church. Ones that Michawn feels safe with. As far as your beliefs go... if you are wrong, and you take it to God when you are feeling like you're not... and you take it to Him when things are hard. It is unspeakably hard to walk away... I know... but if you take it to Him, not Michawn... God will honor that. He can give you peace in it. Eventually you might agree with her. The only way to know is to try. For a long time. A very long time.

3. This is the root of what your current situation is... she is walking a road you simply cannot understand. If she had been hurt deeply by someone else... someone not in your family... and she was working through those issues... and she was emotional and angry... you would be there for her, no questions asked. You would meet her needs and walk through her healing with her. If she reacted in a way that seems irrational to you... you wouldn't throw accusations at her or get impatient with her... you would be her loving husband. But because you are the one that hurt her... because it is personal... you get defensive... you feel bad... I think you know it's your fault and you feel bad and just want her to be better so you can feel better and be happy. But that's selfish. This could take years. You have to wrap your mind around that and do what Michawn needs.

4. What do I do about this? You live with it. You swallow your pride and feelings of being "right", and you enter in to the world as Michawn sees it. When this all started, you were doing what you just described to her. You demanded that she submit and get over what she was dealing with and dismissed her feelings. You did that for years. So, these are your consequences. You are going to have to live this way for as long as it takes. You will have to be closer to God than every before. You will have to bite your tongue like you never have before. You will have to be more patient than every before. This could take years... many years. It will be hard. Very, very hard. But that is what is necessary to save your marriage. Are you willing? This will mean NEVER saying "But Michawn!!"... and then filling in the blank with negative, complaining words... if you have a problem with her, you take it to God. This is expected of wives all of the church... but the Bible teaches mutual submission... so, now it's your turn.

One last thing. You don't seem to believe Michawn has forgiven you... yet she says she has.... and the only ones who can truly know the truth about that are Michawn and God. But, you don't seem to understand that her forgiving you doesn't remove the consequences of your actions. Even when forgiveness happens, there are still consequences that you have to walk through. And just because you are living through those consequences now doesn't mean that forgiveness hasn't happened.
Like · Reply · 4 hrs · Edited
Aimee LaneI totally agree!!!
Like · Reply · 52 mins 
Jessica LeeI still plan on writing that message Joel Ebersole, but this is along the same lines as my thoughts and what I want to write out. Today is quite busy so it'll be a little while. Maybe tonight... Just want you to know that this is your only hope.
Like · Reply · 10 mins
Michawn Madden
i got this message this morning. i think it's helpful to hear from someone who has been where Joel is...and has made it to the other side. 

~ Wow. I .... I feel for Joel. He is sooooo blind to how he comes across. He sounds SO evasive. While I can relate to his discomfort with facebook, at this point in your journey and marriage, I'm like dude get over it, like seriously just get over it.

And I'm gonna say something really weird. He is manipulative, and he is genuinely lost and confused. And I KNOW HOW THAT FEELS.

For like 4 years in my dating relationship and marriage I was manipulative. I was really, really, really good at making sure people saw me as a victim they could feel sorry for, "I'm just so sorry for what I did and I want to make it better, but how can I when my spouse is so mean and bitter toward me?”

I really threw my spouse under the bus. In front of a counselor, and in our conversations (luckily not in front of my parents, bc I didn't want them in my beeswax anyway, haha, thank goodness!).

I'm very good at speaking, debating, logic, and arguing. And my spouse isn't, or goes about it in such a totally different way that I can make my spouse look like they are just rambling. So that made it easy.

So what am I trying to say. Hmm. Okay this.

If Joel is like me, he honestly does not know what he is doing. I didn't know. I really believed that me "feeling" sorry automatically made me NOT an abuser or manipulator.

Does that make sense? It just took me ages to realize that I had to stop trying to make myself look good BEFORE I help out my spouse. I was terrified of that. I don't know why. Maybe fear of rejection? Fear of sin? I had to make myself look holy and humble at all times, and I didn't realize it was detracting from my repentance over my behavior.

To be honest, I never could have articulated this stuff so clearly before reading your journey with you. All of this has opened my eyes so much to the finer points of ways that I screwed up.

So I don't know if this is at all helpful. It's just .... I understand your anger at Joel, and I think it's justified. It may or may not help you to also know, that if he is anything like me, he honestly doesn't get it. He might not be willfully manipulative. 

I can honestly, truly say that I was very manipulative and evasive, but not willfully. I didn't know I was. It's almost like ... I was taught to be that way .... maybe from my parents, maybe from church rhetoric, I don't know. It's just that when I was acting like that, I thought it was how one is truly humble and moving toward progress. Like I REALLY thought that! I felt like other Christians would approve! It's some sort of sick behavior passed down somehow!

I hope Joel can see this one day. It took me years, and even when I stopped (trying to stop at least) being that way, it was a long time before I fully understood what happened.

Thank you so much for posting this stuff. Part of me can't believe I'm saying that, because I'm so extremely uncomfortable with it. But this is life, and it's messy, and it's different from me, but that doesn't make it bad or inappropriate. It's actually helped me immensely. Thanks.~
Like · Reply · 2 hrs · Edited

Out of all of the counselors, friends, mentors, pastors, etc. that we've been to (together and individually) for help and begged to help us...none of them have spoken this truth to Joel.  

Counselors, friends, mentors, pastors, family...after reading these words, what are your thoughts?

When you consider that this might be the truth instead of "Michawn has just lost her way" or "Michawn is trying to control you" or "Michawn is just trying to isolate you" or "Michawn is being manipulative" or "Michawn has a mental disorder" or "Michawn is so bitter" or "Michawn can't be reasoned with" or "Joel, you just need to take charge and do what we say is right instead of what Michawn says" or even "Only God can help you now,"...when you consider that the words being told to Joel in the discussion above might be truth, are you willing to look at the possibility that you were wrong?  That Joel and I, and our marriage, have been the sad casualty of your bad counsel?  Sure, you meant well, but you were wrong.

Are you willing to admit that?  Or at least willing to admit that possibility?

Joel has been told those horrible things in the above paragraph about me and this situation for 4 1/2 years.  So you can imagine how it feels to him to now be being told different things.  Of course I've been telling him these things the whole time, but when he is being told by pastors and mentors and family members not to trust me, then he doesn't.  Sure, it shouldn't matter what people say against me...he should still be one with me because that is what marriage is and he should be my biggest fan and believe me over others...but, when you are taught a belief system that instills an almost innate doubt and suspicion of women/wives, being my biggest fan and believing me over others isn't what happens.

Counselors, friends, mentors, pastors, family...what are your thoughts now?  You've heard the discussion above, you've seen the links posted, you've watched the video from my last blog post...what are your thoughts now?  Please be open to having been wrong.  Please be open to a new way of seeing things.

If you are, and you can admit it, it could save our marriage.  If you still believe the things you have been telling Joel all along, you are wrong...but you are entitled to your beliefs.

Please comment here on the blog to let me know your thoughts.