Are you considering divorce?

Having a rough time in your marriage?  Do you wish you’d never married your husband?  Our society makes it very easy to throw in the towel and divorce.  Divorce might seem very tempting, but let me tell you from personal experience; it’s really hard on your children.  Actually, it’s devastating for them.  Yes, God can heal them over time, but your children will always carry a deep emotional scar.  Whoever started the rumor that kids can bounce back from divorce was lying!

I’m not saying that a woman should never divorce her husband.  The Bible certainly gives a clear allowance for divorce in Matthew 19:9 where Jesus says “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  Jesus clearly states that when a spouse has cheated on you sexually, divorce is permissible.  After many years of studying the Bible, I also believe God permits a woman to divorce her husband when he grossly sins against his wife through continuing physical or emotional abuse.  After all, God instructs us in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life“.  After years of severe emotional or physical abuse, a woman can become a mere shell of a human being.  I don’t believe that is God’s will for anyone.  Throughout the Bible, we see that God is more concerned with mercy than merely following rules.

All this being said, please do everything you can to fight for your marriage.  Don’t give up easily.  Don’t let bitterness grow.  Work to resolve issues before your heart grows so cold that you don’t feel like working to save your marriage. You may possibly need to separate from your husband in order to bring his attention to the seriousness of the problem, but your goal should be reconciliation and restoration of your marriage. Find a good counselor.  Get a mentor couple.  Read the Bible.  Pray continually.  Don’t give up on your marriage too easily.  If for no other reason, fight for your marriage on behalf of your children.

Don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect

It is not okay for your husband (or anyone) to treat you disrespectfully.  Let me just say that again.  It is not okay.  I know far too many beautiful, kind Christian women who, for some reason, allow themselves to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends.  It’s heartbreaking.  I heard yet another story from a highly-intelligent, gorgeous woman recently.  She came to me in despair, wringing her hands over her abusive situation.  Yet, she didn’t clearly see that she needed to draw a firm boundary and impose consequences on such behavior.  In her case, she needed to leave until he showed serious, sustained repentance.

Ladies, do you think God winks at a man who is abusing his wife or girlfriend?  Absolutely not.  In fact, God tells husbands they are to lay down their lives for their wives.  Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  If your husband or boyfriend is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusing you, you need to take a stand.  If you don’t take action, you’re basically enabling his destructive behavior to continue.  Read Matthew 18:15-17 and ask God to reveal His plan for you to take a stand when someone is sinning against you. 

Handling disrespect by husband

I keep bumping into beautiful, intelligent women who, for some bizarre reason, allow their husband or boyfriend to treat them horribly.  One gorgeous young woman had her boyfriend spit in her face and she still stayed with him!  What’s up with that?  Do women no longer have any dignity and self-respect?

A wife’s dignity is actually a quality that is highly valued in the Bible.  When describing the wife of “noble character” in Proverbs 31, the Bible says in verse 25 “she is clothed with strength and dignity“.  So, what does the word “dignity” really mean?  The dictionary defines dignity as displaying poise and self-respect.  In other words, a woman of dignity respects herself enough to refuse to be treated disrespectfully!

Don’t believe the lies of the enemy.  Don’t believe that you need to tolerate disrespectful treatment, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse by your man.  That’s a lie!  A dignified woman doesn’t tolerate that.  She confidently, but lovingly, puts boundaries in place and refuses to allow herself to be treated in a dishonoring manner.  A confident woman of dignity trusts God to take care of her even if she has to take drastic steps to protect herself such as breaking up with a disrespectful boyfriend or separating from a verbally-abusive husband.  Be courageous. Choose to carry yourself with dignity and self-respect. 

Emotional abuse defined

Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage.  Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and/or emotional abuse.  Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind.  Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.

After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional or psychological abuse:  Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm, verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors, gas-lighting you by causing you to question your memory of what happened.

Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse.  You are a valuable woman.  You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight.  Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled.  You will slowly be destroyed.  That is NOT God’s plan for you.  In fact, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“.  If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor.  Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart.  By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.

Defining abuse in relationships

I will always remember the time I was talking with a wife who has endured physical abuse from her husband for years.  It began so slowly that she didn’t actually realize she was the victim of domestic violence until her injuries had become pretty serious.  I was reminded that wives, especially Christian wives, need to be alerted to what constitutes physical abuse. 

These things are definitely physical abuse:  Punching, slapping, shoving aggressively, kicking, trapping physically (as against a wall), twisting arm painfully, throwing objects at you aggressively, biting, pulling your hair painfully, a pattern of refusing to allow you to sleep, regularly requiring you to work until exhaustion or while sick, tying you up against your will, forcing you to perform sex acts against your will, forcing himself on you sexually against your will, forcing you to use alcohol or drugs, denying you medical care.

If your husband or boyfriend is currently doing any of those above things, call 911 and seek immediate protection at your local domestic violence shelter.  If these behaviors are not currently occurring but have occurred fairly recently, you still need help.  I strongly urge you to call your local, confidential domestic violence hotline.  It’s time for Christian wives to stand up against abuse!  The Bible makes it clear that husbands are to treat their wives kindly.  1 Peter 3:7 instructs husbands to be considerate of their wives and to treat them with honor as the weaker vessel.  Furthermore, Ephesians 5:11 says “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”.  So, don’t cover up your husband’s or boyfriend’s abuse.  He is not your enemy, but he needs to be stopped, both for his own good and for your welfare.

Help for wives with past sex abuse

Unfortunately, there’s a high likelihood that many wives reading this devotional have experienced past sexual abuse, either in childhood or due to a forced sexual situation as an adult woman.  I can relate to this myself.  I was sexually abused by several men over many years of my childhood.  As you probably know, this can cause real problems for you in terms of desiring to be sexually active with your husband.  Yet, it’s so vitally important to build a vibrant sex life with your husband.  What’s a wife to do?

Here are 5 things that have helped me along my journey:

1) Determine in your heart and mind that you will not let evil steal from you yet again.  Evil stole your innocence once before, but decide that you will not cooperate with Satan’s plan to steal the sex life from your marriage.

2) Coach your soul.  The psalmist David often talked to his soul and reminded his soul of truth.  We can do the same thing.  Remind your soul that your husband cares for you….that he will not hurt you…that you are not being forced…that you will actually enjoy loving touch from your husband….that you can relax in your husband’s arms.

3) Ask your husband if he will allow you to be the one who initiates sex.  That way, you will not feel like someone is suddenly forcing himself on you.  (However, you do need to initiate then!)

4) Ask your husband to progress slowly, giving you plenty of time to truly warm to his touch.  In other words, you might need extra time before transitioning from kissing to touching of breasts, etc.  Also, ask him to stop for a moment if you say stop.  You need to know that, unlike your childhood experience where you had no control, this time you have control over your body.

5) Decide not to dwell on the past, but choose to focus on what is good and right and pure in your husband and in your marriage.  This is what Philippians 4:8 tells us:  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”