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Christian view on leaving a marriage

(45 Posts)
birdybear Sun 22-Sep-13 20:16:49

Hi., i hope to have some Christian perspective on this. I have been married for 7 years., have a dd 6 and a ds 2. My dh is very difficult to live with., it is a second marriage for both of up. Mine was a short 2 year marriage that should never has happened., no kids. He had a marriage with two kids and also has a dd from a relationship before that. His last wife left him.

He is very childish and emotionally immature. He basically is very un supportive and hard work to get him to do any kind of childcare unless it is fun., like going to the park or similar. We have been to Christian marriage counselling which sorted out a few issues but basically we are just so different. He is very disrespectful and thinks it is funny to call people names., especially me , practically every sentence. He teaches the kids bad manners when i am trying to teach them good.

We just argue all the time., he shouts and me and the dc every day and just today has had us all in tears. My 6 year old is asking me why is daddy so nasty and mean and why did i fall in love with him.

I just can't see a way forward. I expect i do lots of things that he doesn't like., like nagging him to do stuff but i am always ready with an apology and he never apologies unless i demand it which obviously defeats the object as he doesn't mean it. He works hard and does lots of overtime in a good job but refuses to share money. I have to give him a pound or something if i ask him to get bread from the shop if i have forgotten.

I so do not want my kids to grow up with split parents., and i don't think it is biblical either., but i am so getting to the end of my tether. I ask him to speak to me with respect and have an intelligent conversation but it is too much for him.

I wouldn't know where to start with finding somewhere to live and how to claim benefits as i don't work. I gave up a well paid job when i fell pregnant. I just don't know what to do.

springylippy Mon 28-Oct-13 11:44:10

Honestly. This is no different to a marriage 'out there' ie he is controlling and abusive. Someone said upthread that in especial circs christian marriages don't work - erm get real. Abuse is rampant in the church.

Shocking eh. Abusive men like the 'man is head of the wife' angle and settle in to abusing their wives, with the church looking the other way. For goodness sake, it is as clear as day that this man is abusing the OP (and the kids angry ) and the only way is out. Or making it absolutely clear that you will be getting out.** You don't stay in appalling situations because of misguided beliefs about marriage/divorce etc. God is not weird and behind the times, he knows exactly what is going on and this situation is totally unacceptable.

Leave him. Pray, of course, but don't hang around waiting for a miracle: if a miracle is going to happen, it'll happen without you nailing yourself to a cross. God is quite capable of miracles without anyone crouching over them making sure they follow through. Life is hard enough without 'welcoming' obviously abusive situations like this, tied to a belief that divorce is carte blanche wrong. Of course it isn't - abuse is wronger! Just because we're christians, doesnt mean the rules are different and we have a special dispensation (it is precisely thinking like that that ignores the abuse in christian marriages). You need to protect your kids - or they'll just go on and create equally dysfunctional, abusive relationships when they're adults. Even your 6yo knows this is wrong.

** Be careful about getting out. The abuse could escalate if you make it clear you are getting out - he has controlled and abused you and won't want to let that go easily (imo his financial abuse makes it very clear he sees you as his possession). Get advice and support eg Womens Aid, Freedom Programme.

birdybear Sun 20-Oct-13 20:41:07

Italiangreyhound and all the others, thank you for your concern and advice. I am pleased to say we have found ourselves on a but more of an even keel. I do love him and he does love me, he is just very emotionally stunted in many ways.

I think our relationship just goes up and down and that is the way it is going to be. I need to learn to put God first and rely on Him to keep our relationship and family together.

Italiangreyhound Sun 29-Sep-13 03:29:44

birdybear I am so sorry you find yourself in this difficult situation.

If his treatment ever turns violent towards you or the children, please protect yourself and your children. He sounds as if he is being totally horrible and this is not normal behaviour IMHO.

I know there are two sides to a story and we are reading your side of the story. What would your DH say?

Just be aware that he may also be unhappy. If you manage to really uncover what is causing these issues, he may reveal hurts from the past etc which could be poisoning the current family life.

I really agree with all who say you need some relationship guidance counselling. He needs to see you as an equal in this marriage and family, he needs to share his time and money with you and to take time with his kids, and not just the fun stuff. He needs to act respectfully to you and his children. Maybe a third party can help him see this in a way you would find harder to convey.

It sounds like he too is unhappy so if he is maybe that can be a starting point, that you both want to make the marriage better.

I am a Christian and this is my personal view, I personally think you need to consider what you want to happen and then work at it until you get what you need from the marriage, because the way he is behaving is not normal or acceptable, and the things you want are certainly not unreasonable.

I think it is very sad when marriages break down but I also think it is very sad for people (in your case the woman and children in your marriage) to live in fear of arguments and shouting and criticism.

If you can try and not shout back, but calmly present your case, I think that may help. Also, if he finds it difficult to deal with your emotions, it may help to be as calm as you can, simply because this is the way he will best hear you. This is not because being emotional is wrong, but because sometimes when people communicate in way each other cannot understand it just clouds the issue.

Even if you divorce you will still need to deal with him (because he is the father of your children) and so he will still need to communicate with you as an equal. He is grave danger of losing the love and respect of his own children, and yours if it has not already gone!

I think an outside helper/counseller may be able to get you both to explain how you feel and to move forward. Whether this moving forward is into a better marriage or to be apart or divorce is something only you two will be able to work out. Either a Christian or secular counsellor, your choice. Whoever it is they need to have both your interests as people in mind, not just a desire to keep you together at all costs, IMHO.

I do think we should be happy some of the time and life is to be enjoyed and people respected.

From all you say I don't think it is too late, there is still time for it to change but he must want it to change, not for a day or a week but forever. It may well take work and working as a family together. With failed relationships and other children in his past relationships he may be willing to work at it for the sake of a happier healthier family life.

You sound like a caring woman and I hope you find your husband can value you. The Bible has some wise words but it can also be misused (I feel) to make women feel like doormats! I so much hope you will find a way through this and you must remember you are worth much more than this shoddy treatment. Please allow your Christian faith to strengthen you and not to allow you to be treated as a door mat.

Proverbs 31:10 (English Standard Version) "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels."

You are a jewel and I hope you will find that your husband can grow into the man you wanted to marry, if he cannot, you must choose for yourself what is right to do, for you and your children.

Please do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty for putting yourself and your children above your husband if he is not willing to join you in the work to make your marriage work.

earthmother33 Fri 27-Sep-13 15:48:08

I can so relate. Husband and I are Christian and are separating. I could not bear living with him anymore. I have prayed and prayed and just felt it come to a natural end. I left in May with no job and no money but rented a house and have never been happier! Kids are thriving. We survived on food bank for 3 weeks. I still feel guilty however because I know it is not "biblical" but I just keeping praying for answers. I am relieved to out of a depressing relationship

AnnieLobeseder Fri 27-Sep-13 15:43:27

No, littlecrystal, the OP's husband is NOT a typical man. He is a lazy childish arse. As is yours.

You say "Who’s man does not want the wife cooking, cleaning, looking after children, making love and being quiet-submissive, and themselves spending all their time on computer"? Well, I myself would quite like someone to do those things for me. It's not a gender-specific dream.

But adult human beings realise that they have responsibilities and take care of them; they clean their homes and look after their children. The lucky ones can afford to pay people to do these things so they don't have do.

What normal people who actually love and respect their partner do not do is expect this partner to be a personal slave and deal with all their responsibilities for them while they live the life of Riley. Only disrespectful, selfish arses do this. And anyone who makes out this is in any way normal or acceptable is doing neither themselves nor anyone else any favours.

littlecrystal Fri 27-Sep-13 15:36:17

Maybe it is just me, but he is quite a typical man. Who’s man does not want the wife cooking, cleaning, looking after children, making love and being quiet-submissive, and themselves spending all their time on computer – PC. Mine is like that. I had spent lots of wasteful time shouting, crying and arguing. It did not help. If anything, made it worse, made him distant and cold. In the end I have started applying different techniques – basically if he acts as a child, I treat him as a child. If he shouts, I ignore. If he crosses the boundary, I say you crossed the limit, now step back – I am not going to talk to you until you behave. If he is being good, I praise and reward. Sounds silly. I apply the same to my 5yo. But it gives results. Then when he is happy, I ask for help. Please do this, this and this, as I am tired, don’t have time, children are calling for you etc. Then go take care of yourself, take a bath, relax with a glass of wine, watch a movie. This a bit of a game but sets it to a better pattern. My second marriage was on the verge breaking, but it is getting better. Try not to act as a victim. Some men get scared of this.

Love yourself, be proud of yourself, find some hobbies. I am working on this myself, i.e. building up the confidence.

I am not saying that your marriage is worth saving; but at least you can try changing tactics for a while.

Chubfuddler Fri 27-Sep-13 14:11:45

Sounds to me like a nasty and abusive man purposefully used a Christian dating site to find a wife because he anticipated a devout Christian woman would be reluctant to leave him when he started treating her like shit.

itsatiggerday Fri 27-Sep-13 13:50:26

Hi birdy, glad you're feeling a bit better but there's loads in your posts that sounds really sad. My gut feeling is that you should be getting much better support from your church and your family than online. I know you said he doesn't go as much but is there someone at church that you feel you can trust and ideally who would also get alongside him? Are you in a small group or something? Are there any marriage support people? It takes some courage to open up about things that are happening inside the home, but we need to do it if we're really to be the church caring for each other as we should be. What about your parents? You say they're not likely to be aware of how he speaks to you and about you in the home but they do know something of his character, could you confide in them?

I know it seems better just now, but I really want to encourage you to get some help anyway.

Re your initial question, the covenant of marriage is deeply significant and profound throughout Scripture, but our hearts are sinful and there is concession to the need to deal with that.

But there is no responsibility as a believer to stay in a home where you are abused, and that doesn't necessarily have to be with cuts and bruises and fractures. Whether that leads to divorce or not and what conclusions come about remarriage are secondary to caring for your and your children's safety.

Take care x

IKnewHouseworkWasDangerous Fri 27-Sep-13 10:13:23

Flowers....I think the dangerous bit is believeing and unquestionably following everything you are told.

zulubump Wed 25-Sep-13 13:26:13

Hi birdybear, just wanted to recommend another book (sorry, I know you've got a few to get through already!). It's called "Why Mars and Venus Collide", written by the same guy who wrote Mars and Venus. Well, I've just been reading it and you said in an earlier post how your emotional needs don't get met and this book is so good at shedding light on why men find that hard to do. It explains how and why women and men react so differently to stress and emotions. My dh is quite touchy-feely for a bloke but it's even been really helpful to read it for our relationship. It sounds like it would take a lot more than this book to solve the problems in your marriage, but just thought it might be one more thing to help. Hope you can come to the best conclusion for all your family.

birdybear Tue 24-Sep-13 22:10:25

Thanks everyone. We had talks yesterday and today has been an odd day. He has tried very hard to be helpful and kind and it is such a lovely change and a lovely thing.

It is days like this i think it is definitely the wrong thing to do. My best friend is praying for me and sending me scriptures and today has just been very wierd. Talking of leaving yesterday and talking semi normally today and acting normally in front of others.

I just wonder how long it will last...but it is nice while it lasts...

Beachbum48 Tue 24-Sep-13 12:21:21

This sounds a really tough situation. I second all the advice to talk to a pastor/minister/women's worker/home group leader in your church for another perspective and space to talk this through.

I find that in fraught situations like this it's helpful to try and take a step back, lay your heart out in prayer and pray that God will guide you to the right solution, even if it's something which is not your natural instinct. I find sometimes God gives me unexpected answers but that always I feel a deep sense of peace about the right way forward even if it is going to be hard.

I think in this situation, whilst Christians value marriage very highly, sometimes the best of the available options might be to stop living together if the damage being done to the family has become too big a burden. I don't think you should exit a marriage lightly or for selfish reasons but sometimes it might be the most loving option for all of you.

I think flowers was right that happiness should not be your guide here. God's way is the way which is best for you even if it might not seem to bring you an instant happy resolution. You just need to be honest with yourself about your motives during this process of deciding I think.

One other thought...don't be weighed down by what happened in your first marriage. Jesus forgives you everything so any mistakes you made or hurt you caused are no longer yours. You shouldn't let past sins be a factor in deciding your future course.

I really hope and pray you come to the right decision.

yegodsandlittlefishes Mon 23-Sep-13 22:54:23

I think it sounds as though he should go to counselling, and if he hasn't had counselling, he is going to struggle to change because he doesn't even realise what he is doing. He isn't aware that his behaviour is bad, or what he needs to do to do. If he has thought the relationship has always been on the edge and doesn't like you crying over this then ...Is that him trying to save face or is it that he doesn't really know how to build a good relationship and doesn't know what he had/what he's missing?

It's counselling or having a road to Damascus experience so God can show him what a real relationship is all about.

bountyicecream Mon 23-Sep-13 22:53:46

In my experience abusers frequently accuse their victims of being equally to blame. The truth is that there is no justification for treating you and your dc the way that you describe.

Surely he is the odd one to not be emotional when discussing the possible end of a marriage. And you are allowed to be emotional whenever you need to be. He cannot control this.

I would go and see the cab. Find out what you'd be entitled to if you did separate. Take some time to think about it and pray about it. You do not need to decide anything now but gathering infromation is useful.

Could you talk to your best friend about all this? A bit of real life support can do wonders.

Fwiw my husband used to frequently say that we'd be better off separating until he realised that I was considering it and then suddenly he never mentioned it again and actually brings up things like it being unchristian to get divorced.

birdybear Mon 23-Sep-13 22:38:48

We have been talking this evening (and me crying and shouting). I just don't understand him. He says he Will try harder and change . He is all for arguing his point at every opportunity though. He says i am equally abusive. and did tell me to piss off if that is what i want to do.

The god question doesn't even come up. He says our marriage has always been on the edge. I didn't know that. He just seems more angry than upset at the state we find ourselves in. He told me off for being over emotional when i was crying. Anyway, no talk of going .

JeanBodel Mon 23-Sep-13 22:15:29

I am a Christian and I understand how you may feel guilty about leaving your husband.

But your husband is not keeping his marriage vows. He has broken them in the disgraceful way he is treating you and your children. So do not feel guilt that the marriage is over. It is he who has brought it to an end.

If he shows genuine remorse, repentance and change, then I am sure you would be willing to work with him to improve your marriage.

I don't think he will. I think he will try to blame you for your unhappiness. And that will be another sign that he is ending this marriage, not you.

ScrewtapesOppositeNumber Mon 23-Sep-13 21:45:45

Also there's no such thing as 'yours' and 'his'. Legally the house is a marital asset. If you divorce him the court will decide who gets it.

ScrewtapesOppositeNumber Mon 23-Sep-13 21:45:09

I broadly agree with flowervase's point in general, but not in a situation like this.

God doesn't necessarily want us to be 'happy' all the time and life isn't perfect. But there comes a point in some situations where continuing to forgive etc. is utterly futile and only results in crap. If your husband was a good man but had depression, or erectile dysfunction or was disabled or even if you just felt like you didn't want to be married any more, I would be much more in favour of sticking with it.

But he is wilfully being a bastard. In every situation there comes a point where you have to act, to help yourself. If you get cancer, you don't think 'Right, that's it then, it's God will that I get cancer so I will just have to suffer'. You get treatment. I don't see that there's any kind of theological justification for just accepting endless shit that you could do something about.

birdybear Mon 23-Sep-13 17:52:12

Hi bounty , i know it doesn't really matter s what others think, but they are the only people along with my best friend whose opinion matters to me .

My friends and family know he is childish, it is a kind of running joke in the family as to how he is. Easy to laugh at, not easy to live with. They haven't ever seen his abusive shouting side. I think they would be shocked as to how he shouts at me and the children. They have seen how he has fought hard to maintain contact with his other kids, driving hundreds of miles every month. That is why i thought he would be a good dad. The truth is, he can hack them over a weekend or a few hours at a time, but living with them is a totally different scenario. His other kids are of course another big stress in our relationship.

I think his first wife left him for similar reasons. He has said they argued a lot and he spent too much time in the pub . He does drink quite a lot but doesn't let drunk, he was brought up this way. I wasn't.

I am going to cab tomorrow to find out what i could claim, i don't know about benefits and housing and all that stuff. I am not saying i Will leave, but i would like to know what my options are. We have discussed before him leaving. But then he said he wouldn't leave HIS house.

bountyicecream Mon 23-Sep-13 16:19:14

birdy it doesn't actually matter what our parents think (but I agree it makes it a lot easier if they are supportive).

Does your husband treat you and your children like this in front of your family, friends etc? Do they really know what he's like? Or does he put on act of super dad/husband in public?

I know it is tough but you really need to think about what this behaviour is doing to your children too. Staying might actually be worse in the long term than coming from a broken family. Your daughter is at risk of ending up in a similar marriage, and your son is more likely to treat his partner in this way.

Do you know why your husbands ex-wife left? I wonder whether he treated her the same. Does he bad mouth or belittle her all call her crazy? These are all traits of abusive men.

It is hard. It is easy for others to tell you to leave, but so hard to be the one to actually do it.

AnnieLobeseder Mon 23-Sep-13 11:21:58

Please try to put your religious beliefs aside for a minute, OP, and see that this man is emotionally damaging your children.

flowers - no-one has said god wants everyone to be happy all the time. But neither, I imagine, does he demand permanent misery and to live in a relationship where children are being mentally damaged and having their self esteem destroyed.

See, this is the side of religion I hate - the idea that people should put up with terrible situations because it's a test of faith or an opportunity for growth. Utter bullshit - it's abuse and no-one should put up with it, especially not children.

I haven't said this outright yet OP, but please leave this man before he damages your children any further. Your duty as a mother is to protect them.

birdybear Mon 23-Sep-13 09:30:36

Sorry... Or collecting his kids from up and down the country. And my dad is a vicar too!

Its just so hard.

birdybear Mon 23-Sep-13 09:29:32

Flowersinavase , very wise words but very hard to live out. I know what you say is true, but my spirit and more importantly my children's spirits are being damaged. He shouted in full hearing of my daughter yesterday, she is manipulative, a liar and just like you. I said sh , she is not, she is just being a 6 year old child. he is so horrible to her, sometimes, i fear that he Will really damage her spirit. He has no concept of this, prob thinks i am talking rubbish but i know how painful my fathers rejection of me was at times, though we get along well, now.

He cannot follow through on parenting methods although we are currently doing a parenting course with our home group. He hasn't once offered to implement any of the ideas suggested, and huffed and puffed over spending ten minutes doing tin suggested home work. Not actually putting it in action, just writing in the book.

I feel what he wants is someone he almost have sex with, who cooks , cleans, irons and looks after the kids so when he gets home from work he can play on his pc in his study or sit in another room from me watching football. He doesn't want to talk to me or spend time with me . I have given up. When he moans ALL the time that he needs love, in a very childish manner, what he means is he wants a grope. Not actual mutual affection and respect.

But although my parents were very supportive after my first marriage ended, i don't think they Will be with this one, especially with our kids. He already spends every other weekend and more travelling to see kids or collecting

flowersinavase Mon 23-Sep-13 02:39:27

And God does not work for us to 'be happy', as some people have claimed.

God's purpose for us is to grow to be more like Jesus. Pain and suffering are inevitable because we live in a fallen world. Jesus himself often went through intense emotional (and ultimately physical) pain. We have a deep seated joy and peace, knowing that one day Jesus will return and make all things new: that this world will be rejuvenated into a place with no hurt, disease, war or suffering. But until then, God's goal is to work in everything for 'our good' (Romans 8:28), not our pleasure. Growth and change, things which are indeed for 'our good', cannot generally be achieved if we are always happy. It is episodes like this, OP, that God uses to refine and bring you closer to who God intends you to be.

God will never push you beyond what you can bear, so you need have no fear of these times of suffering: He will give you what you need, when you need it, to get you through. But He does not promise permanent happiness.

ScrewtapesOppositeNumber Mon 23-Sep-13 00:25:59

I'm not in a position to judge another's faith, but from what you've said it doesn't really sound like he is a Christian at all. He is clearly not taking his marriage vows seriously. I can't see in what way this is actually a Christian marriage.

A shared faith can certainly strengthen a marriage, and the opposite can weaken it. As you say, there's no point in you forgiving and forgiving when he has no conception of how precious your forgiveness is and just doesn't give a shit. If I was cynical I might say he knows that he can get away with murder because your faith will mean that you will forgive him.

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