Why God May Want You to Leave Your Marriage

Mid adult woman toying with gold wedding ring on finger

One of the true blessings of the work I do, is getting to help people carry the burdens of life with them for a little while; to hear their real, unvarnished stories even when those stories are heartbreaking to share.

A few months ago a woman named Sarah emailed me asking if I might have time to speak with her. I called her later that night, and after a moment of small talk I asked her what was happening.

She paused, her voice quivering as she began, saying “It’s about my marriage…”

I listened silently, as over the next few minutes Sarah shared the story of her now 8-year marriage, recalling her husband’s addiction, his verbal and physical abuse, his financial indiscretions, and a pattern of destructive behavior that had many times brought her to the brink of a breakdown—or well beyond it.

She talked about long stretches of estrangement, coldness, and sometimes outright contempt from her husband, only briefly interrupted by his “emergency” efforts to stave off divorce the few times she found the nerve to give full voice to her frustrations. He would revive some semblance of the man she married for a few days or weeks, invariably slipping back into his previous patterns once he felt as though he’d sidestepped disaster.

Through labored sobs she told me that she had endured too much fear and received too many wounds and had finally reached her breaking point. She asked me what she should do.

“What do you think you should do?” I asked her. “If you were giving a friend counsel, knowing about her marriage what you know about your own, what would be your advice to her?”

“I’d tell her she should leave,” she immediately replied and then seemed to catch herself, “but I’m a Christian and I know God hates divorce… God does hate divorce, right?”

I thought for a second. “Well, I imagine God doesn’t rejoice over a marriage ending,” I said to her, “but do you think God is okay with you being abused and living without love? Do you believe it’s possible that God might hate that even more?”

She suddenly stopped crying and said, “I never considered that.”

As a pastor in local church ministry for the past 19 years, I’ve heard hundreds of stories like Sarah’s and I’ve seen the way organized religion can tend to nurture abuse instead of eliminating it, especially for Christian women. When someone like her finally summons the courage to share the depths of their suffering with the Church, they often find themselves sitting in front of a pastor or minister (usually a man) and hearing a frighteningly similar refrain.

In an all-too familiar religious Patriarchal trope, she is given the full burden of martial reconciliation, instructed to be more patient, to make herself more attractive, to be more sexually open, to be more tolerant, to consider her children. In other words, she is completely saddled with the guilt of staying in something that may be incredibly dangerous and painful in order to please God.

I don’t believe that Marriage as an institution is itself sacred. It is in its purest and truest sense, a contract, a covenant. There isn’t anything magical or spiritual about this. I believe a specific marriage is made sacred when those two people give the best of themselves, when they sacrifice for one another, when they are mutually invested in their own union. That is what makes it holy. If there’s magic, this is where it lives.

The vows that a couple make to one another are serious and important, but they are also conditional. They are promises made with the expectation of reciprocity. In other words, they are contingent on the other’s full partnership. The idea of “two becoming one” only really works when each of those two people are willingly carrying equal weight of their relationship. Those wedding day for better or for worse promises are made with this agreement as a given, and when that fails to be true the marriage covenant is already in default. In Sarah’s case, she was trying to shoulder her entire relationship alone (not to mention their children, care of their home, and their finances) and still somehow feeling spiritually inadequate. She needed permission to demand what she deserved—and to know that God was okay with this.

Divorce is sad and it’s tragic and it is devastating for everyone involved—but it isn’t a sin. More than that, sometimes it isn’t any more God-honoring for a person of faith to stay in an abusive, dangerous, loveless marriage than it is to walk away from it. In fact, that may be the most faith-affirming thing one can do. Among Jesus’ greatest commandments for his people is that we are to love others as we love ourselves. In this way, our greatest act of self-love may be to remove ourselves from harm’s way. God’s heart for us is abundant life and that sometimes means Plan B.

Friend, if you’re struggling in your marriage right now, there’s no one who can tell you when you’ve done enough, when you’ve endured enough, when you’ve exhausted all your options to save it. You should absolutely do all that you can to preserve and heal and sustain that union. Work, pray, sweat, and sacrifice for it.

But ultimately, there may come a day when you do need to leave for your safety, for your sanity, or simply to embrace the good that God desires for you in this short time here.

And along with the crushing weight of sadness and grief and disappointment that would certainly come with this realization, the biggest mistake would be to also place upon your aching, weary shoulders the disapproval of God. God knows the Hell you’ve been through more than anyone.

Hear this truth, Beloved: God doesn’t hate divorce more than God adores you. 

Be encouraged.

 

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72 thoughts on “Why God May Want You to Leave Your Marriage

  1. I think divorce is like an amputation: you do the very best you can to save the limb, but when it becomes clear that it is beyond saving and is destroying the life, you take the difficult decision to amputate so the life can be saved. Divorce shouldn’t be an easy decision, but sometimes you just have to save your life.

  2. Wisdom! A rare attribute in Christian ministers. In stead they ascribe to some quirky formula as if suffering at the hands of another human was somehow acceptable because Jesus did. John, this post is a gift to all the women who have sacrificed even their own minds to keep a commitment through abuse and torment….and mostly because they fear judgment from neighbors, bosses, family, even close friends – and WORST of all from church leaders and members who do NOT want a divorcee, much less a failure, in their midst…. even when a man “puts it asunder” I can attest, as a minister’s daughter, that my Dad’s JOB would have been in jeopardy if I had gotten the well-deserved and much needed divorce from my psychopathic husband BEFORE he caused my breakdown! The proof is that I have enjoyed the forty happy years since I ended it in the best mental health! God does NOT want us to suffer. He is no sadistic voyeur and He didn’t put us on earth to be victims to abusers. Trust me and trust John on this!

    • You and this guy give no Scripture for your stance the Apostle Paul wrote in 1Cor.7:12-15 that if a believer has a spouse that will not live with them peacefully to let them depart a Brother or Sister is not in bondage in such cases.So spousal abuse does justify divorce but base it on GOD,s word not on doctrines of men.Matt.15:9

  3. I had one of the magical, soulmate marriages for bearly 50 years. The moment we decided to get married, we WERE married. The paperwork and ceremony came 11 days later, the first day we both had off from work and college.

    I am dating 2 women with a history of multiple marriages and it breaks my heart to hear some of their painful stories.

  4. Us LGBT folk are not immuned…

    Wedding: $10k
    Trips to ER: $2500 (Co-pay per year)
    Marital counseling: $5k

    Divorce: Priceless

    All that, tong

      • Gee… I can count on you Paul. And yes, you are trying to be backhandedly negative. And please sight your source for your statistics next time. And no, Christ was certainly not in the midst of that relationship. I didn’t consult Him about that partner… I’ve had 3. And no I didn’t find out about her alcoholic psychosis until later. And yes, LGBTare people too, and we work, and pay taxes,and raise kids, and care for aging dying parents, and have mortgages and also have struggling relationships. We’re messy, loving human beings… Just like you.

      • And I attempted to read your link but it wouldn’t open and nevermind because I have volunteered for DV persons in the past… LGBT and otherwise. Let’s just say addiction is a catalyst. Let’s not make this a different post today.

      • Susan don’t let this misinformed statistic make you feel bad. The thing about stats is that they should be used to illuminate areas which are of concern and which need research. Statistics in and of themselves are one dimensional. It is only a part of the whole picture. Saying that stats show there is more DV in lesbians than any other group therefore that makes being a lesbian wrong is like saying your son hits other kids more than my son so your son must be bad.

        You need to find out why your son hits. Stats are not supposed to be gathered by social scientists to shame and stereotype people. Statical studies should be for the purpose of illuminating areas of research for the ultimate goal to understand better social behaviours, societal impacts and find solutions to social issues. The misuse of statical information by trying to influence and manipulate public opinion does not benefit people rather it hurts them.

        I have observed DV in same sex relationships, a few times. I would not say it seemed to me to be unusually higher than DV I thought was present in opposite sex relationships. I know many successful long term same sex couples in which there has been no DV at all. So, I think when it comes to surveys we need to know what kind of questions are being asked and who the sample study is. The survey itself needs to go through a rigorous validation.

        Furthermore, I read an article in which research was done to find out why a stastical study done in the US found higher incidences of DV in same sex relationships. This is an excerpt from that article:

        “We found evidence that supports the minority stress model – the idea that being part of a minority creates additional stress,” he says.

        “There are external stressors, like discrimination and violence against gays, and there are internal stressors, such as …negative attitudes about homosexuality.” The external stresses on a same-sex relationship include what Carroll describes as the “double closet phenomenon” when victims are reluctant to report abuse because they do not want to be outed to the authorities.

        But it is the internal stress, says Carroll, which can be particularly damaging. “Sometimes homosexual individuals project their negative beliefs and feelings about themselves on to their partner,” he says. “Conversely, we believe that victims of domestic violence in same-sex couples believe, at some level, they deserve the violence because of internalised negative beliefs about themselves.”

        The hope is this will and has begun to turn around the more we are accepted for who we are and supported in our lives.

        • Thanks Kathy, and I’m aware that DV is all too common in the LGBT community and for the very reasons quoted in your text. I guess my point in all that was, we have commonality with the hetero community, a kinship. And yet Paul was quick to attempt divisiveness, again. So often, judgment is rendered first; an example of the chasm that divides us. No matter the bridges, the fundamentalists want to burn them. It’s just sad.

          • not dismissive. honest. [Sweeping truth under the carpet hurts everyone.]

            LGBT and family should be told the truth. So they can make decisions and adjustments that are positive & healthy.

            • Paul while you may see someone as sweeping the truth under the carpet, which is not the truth at all rather your opinion. So you may be ignoring the truth staring you in the face.

              People are telling the truth about themselves.

              God asks us to be truthful in our heart yet you would rather we deny authenticity.

              I would say, leave people alone so they can worship God in spirit and in truth !

            • Well tell me where that is and I’ll move there. Kathy I appreciate you adding a voice of reason and peacemaking. Admittedly I’m weary. I’ve gotten used to many a thing over my years but this blasphemy of the Spirit always leaves me dumbfounded. How some commentors can take the gift of the Spirit, that fleshy heart that’s been given at such a cost and then speak contrary to the very Example we’re given in the Gospels. They become evil pseudo preacher bots; competitive and rigid and distorting and full of judgment. It makes me ill.

              • I know what you mean Susan. it’s a uphill battle we are on. We are all a little battle weary. Every once and awhile we need respite from it. But we don’t always have that luxury. How do we rest in Jesus when we are weary, tired and our faith is waning? This is when we need each other to step up. we need those people around us who reflect Jesus to remind the Spirit is moving. We need more people who are strong to be a light where there is darkness. If today I am strong I hope tomorrow someone will be strong for me when I am in need.

        • –Society recognizes that male/female coupling has built -in advantages, & checks & balances…. one being that domestic violence is less likely.

          For obvious reasons, a woman is less likely to be aggressive toward a man, because he is bigger & stronger and could hurt her. And a man is less likely to be aggressive to a woman because he will be deemed a coward for abusing someone smaller & weaker. [Whereas two men fight as equals, & two women the same.]

          • Utter nonsense. Speak from experience Paul… many on here have. And you you are being dismissive. Crawl back under fundie rock. Same tricks, different post.

          • Paul that seems right to you but your reasoning is strange you say two men fight as equals yet not all men are equal. Some men are stronger and more physical than others. Some men would rather read a book some men want to train the body. It is the same for women. We are not all cut out exactly the same way.

            Growing up I was taller and stronger than most boys around me. I was good at sports and often asked to play road hockey with the boys because they new I was equally competitive.

  5. Why did Jesus take such a hard stand on divorce when He did not take such a hard stand on other things? You will recall that in ancient Israel and Roman Judea all a man had to do to divorce his wife was to go to her, look her in the face, and say, “I divorce thee.” Then it was all finished.

    The Bible says that Joseph, Mary’s husband and the dad of Jesus, was a good man. My question is good man at what point in time—and did he go bad after that. Joseph drops out of sight after a certain early point in the New Testament, and no one ever says anything about him again. Mary, on the other hand, is still around in the gospels all the way up to 33 A.D.

    Here is what I think. Joseph divorced Mary and left her with the kids to raise—and Jesus being the oldest male child—had to stand in for Joseph as the head of the household—maybe at a tender young age. Jesus then observed the full negative impact that this had on Mary and the family across many years. It may even be possible that it caused Jesus to postpone his appointed ministry for a number of years when he was itching for an early start. My further thinking is that what Jesus saw and felt scalded his heart like a dead chicken ready to be defeathered—hence his hard stand against divorce. As for Joseph, after the divorce, I have long suspected that he fell into some n’er-do-well condition like alcoholism, thievery, or whatever; developed a bad reputation; and could no longer be mentioned in the books of the New Testament because of it. He may have even died in the midst of whatever misery enveloped him.

    Now, in the past when I have brought up this possibility, I get response like:

    “How dare you say that about the dad of my Lord. That is not even remotely possible.”

    Similarly, in the past, I have asked the question, “Where was Jesus in Auschwitz?” People would answer that He was never there. Then I would say, look at this photograph of these hungry, sick, emaciated men who look like living skeletons. Do you see him? I do.”

    “How dare you say that my Lord ever looked like one of those broken down scarecrows? He most certainly did not!!! How could you ever say such an awful thing about my Lord!!!??? Answer: Matthew 25:31-46—Plain as day.

    So please, try not to lose your cool on this Joseph and divorce thing? Okay. Thanks.

    • I have a hard time with this one, Charles. There is no biblical evidence that I know of to support any such claim or even extra biblical. I don’t have a problem with your hypothesis because we are talking about Jesus’s dad, I have a problem with it because there is nothing to support it. I’ve seen you jump on several people for not properly taking biblical passages or stories in their context, I see here that you are doing the same thing. If there were any sort of evidence, I wouldn’t have a problem with your claim, but I don’t see any.

    • A lot of people think Joseph died. He was older than Mary. You’ve created a pretty elaborate story with no real evidence. Joseph was still around when they went to the temple with Jesus when he was 12 years old. We don’t read much about Jesus’ childhood after that at all in Scripture, it picks up when he was about 30 years old and his ministry starts. By that time, Joseph would have been older and quite possibly could have died.
      We don’t need to have Jesus be a child of divorce in order to somehow make divorce “okay.” I agree completely with John’s post–sometimes, it is the best option.

  6. I am so thankful for words like these! I needed them many years ago and they were nowhere to be found. I stayed in a soul-killing marriage until it was literally threatening my life, not due to physical abuse, but due to my own desire to end my life. I felt trapped, alone, hopeless. The church gave me all the advice you referenced and more of the same. My husband told me that I did not have biblical grounds for divorce and as a result, if I left, God “could not bless me”. An older woman who was a dear friend and mentor at the time told me that I would do “irreparable damage” to my children if I chose divorce. I was so afraid that I would lose God’s favor, lose my friends, my children would hate me, and I would be poor, alone, and worse off than I was in my marriage. I turned to secular counseling and therapy. It was in that space that I learned that simply valuing my life and being worthy of love was reason enough to walk away. I had tried so hard to fix our marriage, but one partner simply cannot carry the full weight of that. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but the peace I have in my life now was worth the struggle. Thank you again, John. Peace to us all.

    • I would also add that NONE of my fears became reality. God is faithful to his children whom he loves. Even divorce cannot separate us from His love. 🙂

      • Tia, this is so good. I relate so much. Especially the suicidal part, I knew I couldn’t live like that much longer, but how could I divorce. Stay and die mentally, or leave and be alone and outside my faith community – those felt like my choices. I was told that I had removed “the covering” of protection from myself and my child, that we needed to be “under” my spouse. When some bad things happened to us soon after I filed for divorce (car accident, job change, fire) I recalled this “word” from the pastor’s wife and was afraid to reach out to anyone, or risk being told that I had reaped what I sowed.

    • Yes. What she said. ^^^
      Although I didn’t get to the point of wanting to end my life – I despaired of all the tiresome, lonely, loveless years ahead of me. I was told:
      *I should work at the “spiritual discipline of being a submissive wife”
      *Pray for my husband
      *Go on a Christian couples’ marital retreat and
      *Just bear with it (Because we had been married for so long, people kept asking me “why NOW?” As if, at 50 years old, I probably wouldn’t have much time left anyway. 😐 )
      There have been a number of women in my former church that left their marriages and IN. EVERY. CASE. the remarks were always “Look at all these good Christian women going off the deep end.” It was NEVER questioned what their husbands may be doing that would lead those women to making that difficult decision.
      Yes, I lost friends and family members. Yes, I had a lot of healing to do. And YES, I did find happiness and the love of God again.
      Thank you again, John, for saying the stuff that needs to be said.

  7. Excellent advise.
    I’m curious; does the abused person ever have a chance if the very first time the spouse/partner goes out of bounds that they immediately demand an end to that behavior and the second time it happens they give final warning? Will the errant spouse/partner fly straight after that?

  8. You always address the touchiest subjects and have the best answers. Once again I’m so glad you did not let God go when it became tough to have faith. God loves honesty and he is clearly answering you. Thank you for another amazing post.

  9. An open letter to the Members of the Body of Christ who felt the need to comment on my marriage, separation, divorce and my life after divorce:
    1) You shamed me: I’ve carried enough shame, please stop adding to it. For a crash course on shaming behaviors read Brene Brown and recognize what you do is, indeed, shaming. I don’t need it, it doesn’t help, it never helped.
    2) You said I should have just talked to you: I’m sorry I didn’t share more, I tried. Well-meaning people told me to pray more, to “turn it over,” to trust God, to submit, to “let him be the man,” to follow his leadership, to fast and pray, read “Power of a Praying Wife,” read “Love and Respect,”and pretty much said if I had just been a better wife, he would have been a better husband. It wasn’t that simple friends, but I know you truly believe it *is* simple.
    3) You said to be more forgiving: I am a forgiving person, maybe too forgiving. I am not Jesus, I am called to be *like* Him, but I am not Him. As such I do not have an endless well of forgiveness that replenishes itself. My well ran dry in year 17, all that was left at the bottom of that well was indifference and defeat. I have never forgiven anyone so much in my life for the same things over and over. My forgiveness meant nothing but continued permission to lie to me more, be reckless with our money, and withhold every kindness. I began to equate forgiveness with love, and believed that the ability to forgive and forget quickly and easily was the sign of a loving wife and a good Christian.
    4) You said “He’s better now, let him come home” : Only 2 weeks clean, with no “recovery plan”? I’d be crazy to let him in again. His addiction WAS real, it needed WAY more than my (or anyone’s) prayers and support, and certainly more than a short period of sobriety or a pop-in at rehab. This was a problem that would need focus and commitment, for more than 2 weeks or 2 months. It required a deep dive into himself, by himself, with a mental health/addiction professional, not the men’s group leader. Digging deep into his own long-held beliefs, recognizing behavior patterns, and unpacking self esteem, childhood and fear issues would have helped, and that could only come if he could admit his life wasn’t working. Even me getting a restraining order after several drug induced rages wasn’t a clue “You can’t just kick him out when you have a fight” said a friend, who thought I overreacted.
    4) You aren’t ok when people aren’t fine: Yeah church, you make it hard to tell the truth. Our lives are *supposed* to work. That’s the Jesus we are peddling, right? All in our places with bright shiny faces. That’s not real. We welcome the weary and heavy laden to come and “taste and see that the Lord is good,” but we don’t know what to do when the encouragers are ovewhelmed and burnt out. My spouse was dealing with an addiction issue that was threatening not only his marriage, but his life. You wanted him home, fast, and to sweep this messy stuff under the rug. Why so quick? The real reason, so he could jump immediately back to full time ministry as Easter season was approaching quickly. You needed his work product. You wanted him to forego time off to get well, and sacrifice his family and his health on the altar of spiritual activity, when he needed a hospital. You exploited his own shame; and when he knew he needed rehab, you offered performance based grace instead. You admonished me when I said he was not ready nor able to continue and needed rest. There is no doubt now, he was very ill. I hope that year’s Easter was the best.
    5) You blamed me: My 18-year run as the spouse of an addict wasn’t working. I was totally mentally shot, on meds, depressed, burnt out, feeling hopeless because but no matter how I tried, or what I tired, managing an addiction can only be done by the addict. I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. When you are the only one bailing out a sinking boat, all you can do is bail, it exhausting and you can’t do anything else. If you stop, you sink.
    5) I want you to know, I couldn’t lead the leader, and I couldn’t follow an addict: I couldn’t lead him, and I couldn’t follow the crazy – instead I fretted, and worried and made myself sick. I cared way more than he did his health, our future, and our ministry. Reasonable things, like “Please don’t let our son play hooky from school 6 x a month to hang out with you,” was an ongoing conversation (really?). Or before you buy that new expensive gadget, how about the mortgage? What are these oxycodone doing here? One day while at a lake cabin with his Dad, my son called, terrified. “Dad is acting weird” “Where are you?” “Outside, I’m scared to go in there, I don’t want him to know I called you” That call was agonizing as I could not get to where they were, I wish now I called the cops. That’s where he was leading us, to instability and fear. I couldn’t lead my husband to a better place, so I had to jump ship, and take my son with me.
    6) You gave the life saver to the wrong person: Addition is a death wish, you throw a life saver to an addict and they put it on and things seem fine for a while. Then you turn around and they’ve taken it off for no reason and they are grabbing you and taking you down with them. My son and I needed the life saver, we stayed at the church, with our sad faces, with our broken hearts and you shook your heads, tsk tsk, as if I had done this to my son. You stopped inviting us, you stopped including us. I cried and the response was like “Well, what did you expect” – when I needed friends and hugs and a kind word. I was not getting grace at church, I was getting shame. I was the loneliest when I was there. You judged my demeanor, and still believed my lack of forgiveness was the problem. In the meantime, my husband posted photos of himself and his new life in another state with another woman and you all stayed friendly with him.
    7) God hates divorce, but He loves you even more: Thank you to the lady in the bathroom at El Torito who hugged me and told me this, she recognized me from church, I hoped she didn’t. Her words stay with me. I found that I didn’t need your approval church, it was conditional; or your understanding, it was short-sighted; or your company, it was not inclusive; or your faith, it was performance and appearance based. I needed to love, forgive, believe and encourage myself, and get strong and stable to care for my son. When I jumped ship, you saw me and thought I was sinking, but I was waving not drowning, and with God’s help, I saved myself.

  10. So, I’m also going to be “that guy.” This shouldn’t be read or written specifically to females. I was in a terrible marriage that left me feeling literally alone for more than a year. I was a stay at home dad that worked evenings, meaning that my (then) wife sometimes left before I was up (leaving me with our two young kids), I would spend all day with the kids and no adult interaction, she would come home and I would see her for maybe 5 minutes before I went to work and loaded trucks by myself for the next four hours and then come home to icy conversation if there was anyone someone who had no concept of what I was going through. I went to counseling (she decided one session was enough for her, while I went for several more months), a Christian marriage seminar and waited until she got pregnant from another man before I filed for divorce. I was convinced that if I loved her correctly and gave her additional chances things would turn out “right.” What a load of bull. It was an experience that I would wish on no one and am happy to be out of that toxic and dead relationship.

  11. Thank you for bringing up the covenant in marriage. There are many things that can happen that break the covenant. Abuse, addiction, and adultery are the ones I think of right off. If the offending spouse repents, the covenant can be restored or a new one can be made. But if a spouse is unrepentant and shows no signs of ever being repentant, in many ways the marriage is over. Divorce only makes that legally the case. The sin really happened when the covenant was broken.

  12. There is usually blasphemy in John’s posts, but this takes the cake:

    “Marriage is not sacred”

    “Divorce is nor a sin”

    Wow, then why get married? Tired of your spouse? Just dispose of them.

    Woe to pastors that tell such lies. They will be held accountable

    • And that judgey behavior is exactly what this article is about. Thank you for being a perfect example of what he was talking about.

      You, John, are not is a position to say “Woe” about anyone.

      Woe to anyone wanting to join a church and be a Christian – you will have people constantly telling you what you are and what you are worth. Especially men telling women they can’t lead and are beneath them. That was pretty conveniently set up, huh?

      You and your rules and your machismo sentiments are man made. God never created us for abuse…so stop butting your way into everyone’s lives with your judgement. Nothing is one size fits all. Not a thing. You are probably anti gay marriage too…but guess what? Gay people don’t follow your rules, they also don’t want to. You do YOU and they will do them .

      Stop your self – appointed policing of everyone’s lives, so called Christians. Go crack open that Bible you spout from and start pulling those planks from your own eyes.

  13. Oh my goodness. This speaks to my heart.
    I was told by elders to stay with a physically and emotionally abusive man.
    A man who slapped me, choked me, threatened me with a knife. Who told me literally every day what a crappy person I was, what a terrible mother, lousy housekeeper, etc. Who was cheating on me.
    And somehow all of that was my fault.
    It colored my opinion of church leadership (read men) for decades. Because if that was what being submissive was, if that was my “covering”, I wanted no part of it.
    It still makes me sick to think of it.

  14. How many people here think alcoholism in a spouse is the breaking of the marriage covenant? Just curious what your thoughts are and how you would support that with scripture. No physical violence, a lot of screaming and fighting with words back and forth because of the utter despair, no infidelity has occurred, and a lot of love would still be there on both sides if Cinderella could just find it within herself to quit drinking. The drinking was sparked when Cinderella’s mother had a stroke—and Cinderella slowly died inside across 5 years as she watched her mother deteriorate just as slowly and finally died. It was like mother and daughter were both one person and they were dying together—and because Cinderella was not physically sick—the alcohol was the anesthetic to ward off the pain of long, drawn out mutual death in togetherness. Mom did die, but Cinderella is still alive and drunk as a skunk from noon to bedtime 24/7/365—and steadfastly and stubbornly refuses to quit drinking, go to therapy, or get other help. Cinderella has always had a natural, inborn stubborn streak that is powerful almost beyond belief—the kind of stubborn you would hope for in a person who was trying to get you released from a North Korean death camp—but so powerful if turned on one’s self—enormous self-destruction would occur. Sounds weird I know—but I am familiar with a case like that.

    • P.S. Is Cinderella trying to commit suicide by alcohol so she can go to Heaven to be with her mother—because life without her is just unbearable. Pavlovitz. You might be able to speak to this case yourself because of your similar situation with your dad?

  15. Great writing. I actually have written a series of blogs on this very topic….timely. God does not want us to suffer in a bad marriage. Things happen. Unfortunately. More people need to realize that staying together in certain circumstances is the wrong thing tody.

  16. I’ve heard plenty of pastors and church members who admonish wives like the one JP described just to pray harder and to be better wives. And the ultimate guilt trip for any parent: Stay together for the children. It’s God’s will, they say. For the children…

    Here is my experience as a child of divorce: My Christian mother left my cheating father when I was 4 years old. I was sad that my daddy was not with us at home, but the ugliness and tension with him in our home was so thick that even a 4 year old could identify it but could not cut it with a chainsaw. I tried to fix it at the tender age of 4 but could not. As we left my biological father, the toxicity began to dissipate, and peace was restored with the exception of our ever-present financial concerns.

    Mom remarried about a year or so later (maybe because Christian mothers should be married?), and I was frightened of him from our first meeting. Mom didn’t know, but I was never safe with him. I didn’t have the words to explain or complain. I was conditioned to be the good little Christian girl who was always the peace-maker and always the forgiver and never the tattle tale. I never told my mother the reasons for my unrelenting terror in his presence, but I was always sick with fear. For some reason she has never explained, my mother decided she must leave him. (I suspect he was violent with her, too, but she didn’t want to burden her child with that reality.) I can tell you that I clearly remember the day that my mother told me my step-father would not come back home.

    ***Oh, God, the relief I felt in my heart! We could be safe again! I BLESS the day that my mother broke that tie! I THANK GOD that my Bible Belt Christian mother was brave enough to divorce that selfish SOB, that predator! I say hallelujah!***

    I thank God for that divorce. It was grace and peace and joy and protection spoken into my little life. It made all the difference in the trajectory of my whole existence.

  17. Dear John:

    As one who has endured 40 years in a [meaningless] ‘marriage’ to a partner that is not heterosexual, you have my thanks.

    ‘Marriage was made for man, not man for marriage’ [Mk 2:27].

  18. Pingback: What do I do when my husband leaves the faith? - Life Made Full

  19. Pingback: “Why God May Want You to Leave Your Marriage” – John Pavlovitz | How Many Masks?

  20. I’m sorry, I disagree predominantly for this reason, there’s not a single verse in this article. It’s filled with worldly wisdom and contradicts the Bible. “My ways are not your ways”. That’s why we need scripture and verse, because otherwise we buy so easily into high sounding words, and ideas that tickle our ears. Defend this notion of God wanting us to be happy with scripture. God wants us to have joy, but look at what’s associated with joy in verse, it’s not happiness or good earthly relationships or anything else that depends on our circumstances. Show me Scripture, not things that justify the attitudes of the spirit of the air.

    • Sam, I had to read a long way down to see God’s word defended properly. Notice in almost every case these people remarry after they leave? Not staying in an abusive marriage is not the same as divorcing. One should not conflate the two. Then one has to consider how a spouse can be manipulated or pushed. Proverbs 21:9. Further, one cannot present a matter for consideration giving only one side.

    • Amen….Finally a real person of God speaks.

      God says what he means in written word.

      People with itching ears, so love an emotionally based article.

  21. Yes, I understand the leaving and want to leave , run , on some days, but my son who has schizophrenia would not understand and more likely blame himself, so I stay and pray but the marriage is pretty much loveless at this point and sad

  22. I am a collaborative divorce professional and a Christian. I work within a team of 2 lawyers and a psychologist to help families find peaceful solutions in a divorce. I speak at several churches every year in their Divorce Recovery groups about this process versus a heated litigation. Divorce happens among believers and most churches recognize this. I have noticed we are there for families pre and now post divorce, but don’t provide guidance to help families avoid the type of conflict that damages children. I spoke with the pastor of a mega church this summer about the ethics of helping couples dissolve their union peacefully. They don’t want to seem as though they are encouraging divorce. I understand this. I would love feedback on how to help families see this as an option if they find divorce is necessary. There are pockets in the US where collaborative divorce is common.

  23. Abuse, abandonment and unrepentant sexual sin aside, this message that, divorce should be avoided and is tragic but acceptable for other situations is an abomination. A marriage covenant is not holy because of the participants giving their all but because God decreed it as holy. Your message contradicts what the bible says. 70+% of the 50% of marriages that end are because the woman walks away. The number one reason is because she is unhappy with the marriage. People today see love not as a choice to nourish and cherish another but as an emotion. Emotions change and so do people. This is why we see so many failed marriages as a result of the loss of ‘love’. Your message excuses this grave sin. Repent and stop spreading these lies.

    • More real speech. I am not talking down to anyone. I speak to warn you before you do something you are unlikely to be able to repair. People rationalize what they want.

  24. How I Got My Ex Husband Back……….. I am Lindsey Gerard by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how Dr.Mack have helped a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband. Thanks for Dr.Mack. His email: dr.mac@yahoo. com.

  25. I agree you should not remain in an abusive home seek help that being said I know of no scripture where it is not a sin to divorce God hates it.
    other then adultery or your spouse being an unbeliever God does not condone divorce no where in scipture

  26. We all know that God’s Word is perfect and flawless. For all of you reading Mr. Pavlovitz’s
    article above and are hearing only want you want to hear, please read 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
    It should be an eye opener to the motivation of Mr. Pavlovitz.

  27. I broke up with my boyfriend last 2 months due to many misunderstandings i was fighting so hard to get him back. none of his friends would give me any information about him. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get him back then a friend recommended me to contact dr_mack@yahoo. com that he will help me and as my friend said, Dr_mack helped me to bring back my boyfriend just in 3 days, I now have him back and this is the biggest joy of my life

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