I’ve been married to a wonderful guy for about a year. However, he has a temper and is very verbally abusive. The name-calling is pretty horrible. I value my marriage and I love my husband, but I don’t know whether to stay and continue.
God does not preside over a mutually destructive relationship between two people. Even though it’s wrong to divorce, it’s also wrong for two people to mutually destroy one another. So, what I want you to do is, go to marriage counseling and work with your husband for 3-6 months in getting him through the problems that he’s having. Once you’ve done that, then evaluate whether the marriage is something that is salvageable and can be a successful marriage or not with the help of a counselor. Don’t ever come to a decision to divorce somebody without the help of marriage counseling where you’ve done everything you can to save that marriage. And only afterwards, then consider the options that are in front of you. You need to get counseling right away because of the name-calling. And even if one of you needs to get out of the house, that doesn’t mean that you have to divorce. But separate yourselves from each other for a season of time so that you can get help, not because you hate each other.
I’m calling because I have a situation in my family where my sister-in-law is in a domestic violence situation with my brother. I’m so concerned about her and the three children. I helped her to get out of the house one time and she was only brave enough to be gone for about 12 hours before she felt like he would come after her. So she went back and she’s in this terrible situation. He won’t let any of us reach her and I’m really worried about her. How should I handle this?
I think that the first thing that you need to do is, obviously, pray for her and
pray that God will give her the strength. We all need strength to make the right
decisions and nobody can make our decisions for us. We need to have the strength
coming from within. It's like the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water,
but you cannot make him drink.” The Bible says, “Choose this day who you will
serve.” Sometimes a woman like that is choosing that because she’s afraid that
there’s no alternative or she’s afraid he’s going to do something to her or her
There are places in many communities that are battered women’s shelters that
will protect her and protect her children. You might want to check into some of
those who maybe can reach out to her and pick her up and bring her to safety, to
a place of refuge. Do some research and check around for some battered shelters
and pray for her. Have a serious talk with her and say, “Look, it’s not just
you. Don’t be concerned just about you, but be concerned for your children. This
is inappropriate. This is ungodly for somebody to treat you this way. And it’s
only going to hurt your children and destroy their lives as well. So, if you
really care about them, make the decision to seek help and to seek refuge." Find
a shelter that she can go to that will maybe pick her up and will help protect
her and reach out to her and her children. There are groups like that. By all
means, encourage her to get out of there. And give her something practical to
do. Give her somebody practical that she can talk to. Do the research for her
and say, “I’ve found a group, I’ve found a shelter that’ll help you, that’ll
minister to you, that’ll protect you.”
And then give her the names and offer her the help or whatever you can offer
her, but ultimately she’s going to have to make up her mind to do the right
thing. Of course, if you pray for her, that will work because prayer changes
things. Continue to push her in the right direction, but you cannot force her.
You just have to reason with her, lovingly and with compassion. Tell her, “Do
not make the mistake of acting too late.” Let her know that acting too late can
only destroy her children and that would be the worst thing. She wouldn’t be
able to live with herself with that. If she makes the wrong decision by moving
out, she can always recover from that. But if she makes the wrong decision by
not moving out, it could become too late. I hope that that will help her to make
up her mind and make the right decision.
You were talking about co-dependency and I realize that I got into a co-dependent marriage. My first husband died when I was quite young. I remarried and it’s turned out to be some physical, but mostly emotional abuse. Divorce is an ugly word to me, but I’m just wondering if that’s grounds for divorce or if it has to be something like adultery.
Well, I say this to you, sometimes we go into a relationship for the wrong
reason to begin with. And to punish ourselves for the rest of our lives, and to
stay in that bad relationship just because we made the wrong decision in getting
into it is not necessarily God’s way of doing things. It’s sort of cruel to
ourselves, and it’s inflicting more pain and more tragedy in our lives to stay
in a situation like that.
What I would do is I would take one more stab at it. I would say to him,
“Listen, let’s agree together that we’re going to really make this relationship
work. Let’s agree on some counseling. Let’s agree on some boundaries. Let’s
agree on here’s how we’re going to communicate with each other, and if we’re
going to yell and scream and push, then that’s out of bounds and if we do that
towards one another, then it’s time to move on from this relationship.” Because
if you can’t resolve your conflicts verbally, with kindness and with sitting
down and trying get things worked out or through counseling, then there’s no
sense in staying in a relationship that is not going anywhere.
I don’t encourage divorce. I don’t believe that it’s the best option. But in
some cases, somebody is just not willing to resolve anything. And unresolved
conflict can sometimes be more damaging to your life than getting a divorce. So,
by all means, I would take one more stab at it. I would lay out the ground
rules. I would say, “Here’s how we’ve got to be. Here’s what it’s got to be
like. We’ve got to get some counseling. We’ve got to be willing to live by these
boundaries,” and then proceed from there. That’s what I would do in taking the
first step, which may be the last step. And then move on your own, if you have
to. If you sincerely can’t live with this man, and if he’s sincerely a threat to
you, you need to get on with your life without him. But start by seeing if he’ll
do whatever it takes to get it worked out.
I recently learned a friend of mine was abusive to his wife. I think it was mental abuse and maybe some physical abuse as well. They are both Christians. He does not realize that he has a problem even though his wife has removed herself from the situation. Is there any way to know the grounds for divorce if this man doesn’t repent?
In a situation where a man is accused of abusing his wife physically,
emotionally, and verbally, you need a measurable standard by which you can
determine whether that is real abuse or not. That is why that couple needs
somebody counseling them from the outside to determine whether it is really
abuse or not. Some women just don’t like a man being in charge in a
relationship. They will call anything abuse. But some men really are abusive –
and some women really are abusive – so an objective moderator is needed in that
situation to come to the conclusion of whether it’s abuse.
If it is abuse, I do not see God prohibiting people from divorce in Scripture if
they are in an unsafe situation. God told us to guard over our hearts and to be
responsible for our families and ourselves. If you are in a dangerous situation
and you need to leave that dangerous situation, God will not frown on you. God
does frown on divorce for selfish reasons. If you are getting a divorce because
you don’t want to learn to love, you don’t want to learn to forgive, you have a
hard heart, you don’t want to work it out . . . those are the things that God
was warning against divorce. He wants married couples to work it out, to walk in
love, and to learn to forgive.
I have a boyfriend of almost two years who’s somewhat abusive sometimes, and I always feel like it’s my fault and I always feel like any kind of problems we have is my fault.
If you’re in a relationship with somebody who’s abusive and you feel like God told you to be with him, you need to recognize that God doesn’t tell us to go through situations like that. I would strongly urge you to get out of that relationship, or at least put a hold on that relationship until you both can get some counseling and you both can learn how to have a relationship that is not co-dependent and is not manipulative. It sounds like he manipulates you with your feelings to get you to think that when he mistreats you that somehow it’s because of something you did. And then you’re plagued with guilt and you’re sticking with him because you feel guilty. Stop feeling it, stop doing it. Get out of that relationship or put a pause on that relationship and tell him, “Look, if we get help, if we get counseling, then we can look into getting back in this relationship.” But don’t be co-dependent on somebody that makes you feel guilty and that takes advantage of you and abuses you. Be strong. You can do it. You can make it. People that try to manipulate, make you feel guilty, blaming you for the way that they are—that’s got to go. Don’t let people blame you. It’s better to live on your own. We live in such a co-dependent, addicted society, addicted to people, addicted to needing people, and we need to get free from that by turning to God, and letting Him be our source, our only source.