Is It Serious Enough To Separate?

Morning friend,

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Today’s Question: My dilemma and internal struggle has to do with lack of trust in my marriage. I have been married for 28 years. During this time, I have had times where he has broken my trust. During year 7, he was unfaithful. Then 3 years later, I discovered evidence of porn. Then several years after that, I discovered more evidence of porn. And most recently, I discovered that over the last 18 months he has taken a sizable amount of money each month out of our savings account, with no trace of where it’s going.

Here is my question — I always hear that in order to restore trust, you must give the person time to change their behavior to see if they really are repentant. In my situation, literally YEARS have gone by in between these incidents. In the years between incidents, everything seems fine on the surface.

I am beginning to think that he is incapable of permanent change, even though the deception doesn’t seem to be a daily occurrence. Does this constitute a pattern of behavior? I’m so confused and although I really want to separate, that seems like a nuclear option since the problem isn’t happening week after week. What does one do when years go by and you think things are better, only to discover they really aren’t?

What advice can you give? 

Answer: I’m so sorry you are going through this and feel confused inside.

I think you already know the answer to your question. You have seen a pattern of dishonesty and deception throughout your marriage. That would break trust for anyone. Yet you give no indication of his responses to your discoveries. What has he done to rebuild that broken trust or owned that he’s broken your trust?

A story that you might be telling yourself is, since you’ve only caught him in four deceptions over 28 years, does that constitute enough of a pattern to separate? 

My question for you to consider is: What haven’t you caught him in over all these 28 years? What don’t you know? My guess is that he’s always been quite deceptive and sneaky, and you’ve only caught him four times. The things you have caught him in are not minor things. They are marital deal breakers. How many more times is enough times for you to say, “I’ve seen enough to believe he is not committed to honesty, to me, or our marriage.”

You want to separate but that feels like a nuclear option. I’m curious about your choice of that word. Your husband has betrayed you in serious ways, yet you wonder if separating is too drastic? What’s that about? Do you believe that it’s your responsibility to pretend you don’t know what you know? To keep the marriage duct-taped together no matter what he does or how he might harm you now and in the future?

What do you think would happen if you confronted him with the facts of his most recent financial deceit in front of your adult children or pastor? Who do you think might go nuclear and why?

You can’t change him, but you can change you. What changes do you think you need to make to take care of you and your situation right now? First, do you have support? A counselor, a coach, a pastor, a good girlfriend, a sister in the Lord who can sit with you, pray with you, cry with you, and help you stay strong when you feel weak? You will need support as you take some new wobbly steps forward, putting your foot down and saying “No more.” Do you have adult children? Are they aware of his pattern of deceit? Do you fear their disapproval or rejection if you take a strong stand?

Second, what are your biggest fears if you confront him and separate? Does going nuclear mean you fear his anger? Is there a pattern of any abuse or threats of abuse towards you or what’s important to you? If so, confronting him may not be a wise choice. Leaving and creating a place of safety for yourself may be what you need to do. 

Next, find a wise attorney who can file the proper papers to freeze all marital assets until a proper accounting and record can be established on where the money has gone and how much is missing. Until you take this step, you have no legal recourse. The courts do not get involved in how people spend marital assets if you’re still operating as a marital unit. Since you’ve discovered these large sums of money missing, you are financially vulnerable.

Third, have you run a credit check on his credit rating to see if he’s taken out credit cards that you don’t know about or incurred debts that you are unaware of? What you have already discovered may just be the tip of the iceberg. Again, your safety is the most important thing. You know your history with him and what he might do once confronted with his deceitful actions. I would strongly encourage you to get some additional safety planning from your local domestic violence shelter or the DV hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. When someone is caught red-handed with their duplicity and sin, and they see they can’t get out of the negative consequences of their actions, they may become more dangerous.

I am so glad you sent us your question. I wish I had better news to give you. But friend, God had you become aware of these new deceptions for a reason. Proverbs 22:3 warns, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” At the very least, you may be in some financial peril and it’s time for you to take care of your financial safety. God also cares about your mental, emotional, and spiritual safety. You’ve tried long and hard to forbear, forgive and keep it going. All good things. But you cannot be in a healthy marriage with someone who is repetitively deceitful and over and over breaks your trust and your heart. He has made his choices. Now is the time for you to start making some new choices of your own. 

Friend, what has it taken you to say enough is enough after repeated breaks in trust?


  1. Caroline Abbott on February 22, 2023 at 10:16 am

    I agree Leslie. What HASN’T she found out about over the years? Could be a long list, sadly. Deciding whether to stay or leave is really tough. It might take a long time to make this decision.

  2. Sabrina K on February 23, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Thank you for this article!

  3. R D on February 23, 2023 at 9:49 am

    You have a 28 year marriage, it appears you do not desire to leave this marriage. And the advise you are given, is to get your money and exit plan together and get out? This “advise” based on limited information, yes there is undoubtedly things you haven’t found out, but there is also much left out on what he is going though and that seems to be just ignored.
    There is always 2 side to a story and God’s Grace is ALWAYS sufficient.
    Please seek out marriage ministries that hold marriage to a higher value., immerse yourself in God’s Word and Christ’s teaching, and surrender your husband and yourself to the Holy Spirt. There is not a simple fix to your problem, it won’t get solved in a single QnA .
    Sure, be prudent and prepare, but seek God’s will.

    • T M on February 23, 2023 at 10:11 am

      I don’t disagree with your recommendation to seek Gods Word and wise counsel. I don’t think the response from the team was inappropriate either. While yes there are two sides to every story, his pattern of deceit and other sin has been on repeat for quite some time. Many woman in the church are made to feel they should stay no matter what, your reply to the advice that was multi-faceted AND had additional curious questions may shame her into feeling this is her fault.

      • Moonbeam on March 8, 2023 at 2:53 pm

        There are never two sides to any story when emotional abuse is involved. The abuser is lying. Always. Covert and manipulative, the abuser creates a fantasy world of dominance and devilish dominion over their partner. The victim is the truth teller in these situations.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 23, 2023 at 2:33 pm

      Actually RD I did not advise her to get her money and get out. What I advised her to do is get the facts she needs about what he is doing in order to make a wise decision and obviously she’s not going to get those “facts” from him since he has a pattern of deceit. I also advised her to be careful for her safety (all aspects of safety including financial). This is not sinful, but good stewardship of her.

      • R D on February 23, 2023 at 11:23 pm

        You started with , “I think you already know the answer to your question.”
        then added
        “The things you have caught him in are not minor things. They are marital deal breakers”.
        Now, I don’t disagree with her getting “safe” (even though there is no indication of her being “unsafe”)
        And protecting herself financially…….but you very clearly are advising her to take the money and run. And this is without the whole story and generally dismissing the Grace of God
        Jesus called us to forgive 7×70 times yet your limit here is a few more than 4 times. He called people to go beyond taking the adultery “out”.
        A 28 year marriage deserves a little more investigation and counseling than a short blog question.

        • Bonnie C on February 24, 2023 at 1:10 pm

          In reply to RD. When I read this Q&A I found Leslie’s advice to be very wise and sound. I say that based on my own experience. I was in a 30 + year “marraige” that included physical, emotional and financial abuse. In my opinion, deceit comes under the category of emotional abuse. After depleting all of the resources I brought into the relationship ( nearly $300,000.00 ) my husband got a well paying job and opened his own bank account, to which I had no access. I was advised to protect myself financially. I didn’t do that.
          I forgave many things, but adressed nothing. So what did I learn? On the subject of grace; grace is not a license to sin. Grace is the power to get a person out of sin. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more less a worse thing come upon you.” Gee what could be worse than being dragged out in public to be stoned to death? I don’t know. Maybe dying alone with an STD and never experiencing the LIFE CHANGING Grace of God? Deceiving someone is not a behavioral problem. It is a heart problem. There is definintely two sides to every pancake but you have to be willing to flip it over to see both sides. If someone is not willing to look at their behavior that is hurting someone else, it will not stop. Emotional abuse, whether it is verbal or financial or whatever, takes it’s toll on a person. Like the frog in the pot I found myself cooked and never saw it coming.
          Forgiveness is between you and God. It keeps your heart clean and in right relationship with The Father so that you don’t go to a place of vengeance and bitterness. It enables you to minister grace to the one who says “I’m so sorry I hurt you . Will you forgive me?”
          RD says there is “no indication of her being unsafe” I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t feel safe with someone who lies to me and doesn’t repent. One thing I learned is that someone who is not williing to be honest, is not willing to be honest So what do you do with that? What kind of a relationship do you have? I think Leslie is trying to get people to hold marraige to a Godly standard of honest intimacy and some people regard the institution above the relationship, Like the Pharisees.,
          Bottom line, to be healthy, we all have to get to the why of the what.'” God, this is what I’m doing, please show me why”. “I’m not confronting this evil behavior, why not? What am I afraid of? “I am continuuing to deceive my wife (and myself), God please show me why I do this” Continnuing to practice deceit is opening your heart to more of the same. Some things are just black and white. God says He HATES a lying tongue, no matter what you are going through.
          I am curious when people give advice if they are speaking from experience. I can look back and say ” I wish I had been healthier and stronger and able to speak up and set boundaries, then maybe my marriage could have grown and been a reflection of God on the earth and my children wouldn’t be confused But I wasn’t in that place, What I can do now is confess my faults and try to help someone else. My advise; if this person is untrstworthy with finances you have a choice to take care of yourself or not. I would say take care of yourself financially emotionally and most importantly spiritually. Guard your heart with all diligence.

        • Moon Beam on February 25, 2023 at 5:22 pm

          Quoting the 70×7 has nothing to do with marriage. In fact it is one of the most destructive misapplications of scripture that keep people abused and oppressed by a foolish evil partner. Forgiveness doesn’t apply to this situation.. There is no repentance and change. The marriage vows were broken many, Manny, times. This woman is a victim of multiple crimes, especially adultery. She owes this false, despicable excuse for a marriage the light of day. Expose the sin. Leave what is already dead. Make a safety plan. Get your cut of the finances and get therapy ASAP..

    • Janice D on February 23, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      RD, Respectful ly,I don’t know of another ministry that values biblical marriage more than Leslie and her team. Holding your spouse to a standard of honesty and accountability is courageously wise. What could possibly be a valid explanation for the deceitful behavior this husband has demonstrated repeatedly in his marriage? I agree that Gods grace is always sufficient,however it must be accompanied with truth as well.I have been tremendously blessed through this ministry and pray Gods continued blessings on it.

      • Karen on February 23, 2023 at 7:00 pm

        Janice D, respectfully, your comment, “What could possibly be a valid explanation for the deceitful behavior this husband demonstrated repeatedly in his marriage:” implies, in my view, that you think that RD’s comment means thatch believes that if the writer of today’s question heard the “other side”, maybe his side of the story would make his behavior “valid”. In my view, the husband’s side is not likely “valid”, but people often jump to conclusions without enough information and make snap life-altering decisions that aren’t well-informed or Spirit-led. In my view, this is not prudent or wise, either. It is a reaction. Leslie, sometimes it seems like you place safety as the highest value, or at least one of the highest. I don’t see that completely supported in the Word. In Isaiah 53:10, it says that, “The Lord was pleased to crush Him (meaning Jesus), putting Him to grief,” and I Corinthians, in the love passage, says, “Love endures all things”. I see countless situations in the Word where people seeking Dad’s will and following Him are in terribly unsafe situations: Daniel & his 3 friends, Jonah, all of the original disciples, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, Abraham (when Abba told him to slay Isaac), Stephen and the list goes on. Whenever darkness is confronted with light, the situation is potentially “unsafe”, and we are commanded to bring light into darkness. There are many other places in the Word (eg.” Without faith it is impossible to please God”, “Whatever is not done in faith is sin”,) that would support women who stay in a situation like this in order to allow possible redemption of the marriage as a result of their perseverance. Janice D. says grace must also be accompanied with truth…this is supported in the Word…however, even if a person has biblical grounds for divorce, it does not mean that that is the course of action Abba would have him/her to take, which I also think Leslie would agree with. Seeking His plan and will in each situation is, in my view, paramount. I don’t think Leslie would disagree with this stance. Though it may be true that many women are “made to feel” (In truth, no one can “make” anyone feel anything, right?! ), they should stay no matter what, it is my belief that people ought not to be pressured into leaving a marriage or shamed because they decide to stay on the basis that they believe Abba is leading them to stay, either. Leslie and this ministry offer so many tools, truths and options (like temporary separation rather than divorce) to assist people in either situation. God does hate divorce, and He also hates oppression, tyranny, deceit and abuse. Holding a spouse to accountability and honesty is wise. It is also wise to apply all the wise principles we are learning from Leslie Vernick ministries in whatever decisions we make concerning staying in an abusive marriage or departing. His grace truly is sufficient in any situation.

        • Leslie Vernick on February 23, 2023 at 8:03 pm

          Yes, Karen there are so many nuances to every blog question and that’s one reason I invite all of you to chime in on your opinions because I believe there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Also as you’ll all experience, there is no one answer that will get 100% approval rating from everyone. Therefore it is up to you to do your own due diligence to study God’s word, pray, seek wise counsel and get the facts straight as you move forward with any big decision, especially one as big as separation. Karen, as far as God valuing safety, I do believe there is plenty of evidence in God’s word that he values our safety. That’s not to mean that sometimes we won’t willingly walk into danger for a higher purpose (like Jesus did when allowing himself to be “taken” in the garden to be crucified). But there are plenty of other times in the gospels when the Pharisees sought to harm Jesus that he didn’t give himself over, he escaped. Joseph was woken by an Angel of the Lord warning him to get baby Jesus out of there because Herod was seeking to kill him. In the Old Testament, David fled from King Saul when Saul was seeking to harm David. Rahab hid the spies and lied to the soldiers seeking them and she was “saved” and commended in the Hebrews hall of fame. Proverbs 22:3 says A prudent person forsees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Therefore, I do think we have good evidence for valuing one’s personal safety. However, sacrifical love is also a high value to God and taught in the BIble. But I think it’s important what we encourage others’ to sacrifice for. Jesus sacrificed his life FOR our salvation, not to enable us to continue in sin. We’re called to suffer for doing what is right or good, and I don’t believe sacrificing or suffering should be something a Christian willingly enters into just to enable someone else to continue in sin without consequences, even if that person is a spouse. Now there ARE times that we are persecuted or violated or mistreated by someone – a stranger, an oppressor or person in power over us and we will suffer. In these instances, we ARE Bibically called to not retaliate, not repay evil for evil, and to pray for our enemy. But we’re not required to live with our oppressor or enemy (if we have the choice). Therefore, Scripture is loaded with both/and examples. We are to both to forgive and speak the truth in love. We are to overlook an offense and come alongside a brother or sister who is caught in a trespass or being deceived by sin. We are to forbear and confront. Wisdom comes in knowing when to do one and when to do the other.

          • SK on February 24, 2023 at 5:54 am

            Amen Sister! Common sense. Safety is a basic Need not Want. No telling what STD he may have brought back to her. If she were the one having affairs watching porn, responsible for large amounts of money disappearing, I doubt you would have gotten so much flack. Very disturbing. I can’t imagine any minister thinking this is no big deal. Ugh, adultery is a Biblical reason for divorce.

          • Karen on February 24, 2023 at 7:40 pm

            Leslie, I really, really appreciate your thorough, thoughtful and Scripture-filled responses. Thank you so much! I keep pondering this and maybe I have some incorrect understandings. The latest question in my mind is about marriage vows. Some vow to stay, “in sickness and in health,” and in my mind, that may include mental illness (BPD, narcissism, which some would say is a trait, not a disorder). When we make a marriage covenant, we don’t make our part based on the other person’s behavior. We don’t say, “As long as you fulfill your side, I will fulfill mine.” So, to me, the idea of breaking my vow on the basis that he is a sex addict or sexually molests children or watches porn or is a Mafia Lord, doesn’t necessarily give me biblical grounds for divorce. This is tremendous food for thought. The divorce rate in the US, in my view, is abysmal, and equally so in the Body of Christ. Why do we look exactly like the world? Also, if a woman believes it is God’s will for her to marry another person and others in the Body or Christ support that decision without hesitation, and the spouse later is discovered to have been misrepresenting himself (or herself), there is definitely something “wrong with this picture”, but how to deal with it remains a question in my mind. Thank you again. My respect for you went up notches when you responded. I was afraid that my reply was going to be censored.

          • Leslie Vernick on February 26, 2023 at 2:22 pm

            Thanks Karen for your response too. Having conversations around this brings helpful clarity to different nuances in these issues. I too think some divorces may be for trivial reasons that could be worked out and it makes me sad that churches don’t do a better job teaching people what it takes to have healthy and loving relationships, even as we are still sinners. On another note, our common marriage vows aren’t actually taken from the Bible but it’s traditionally thought they come from The Book of Common Prayer. Making promises like that may not be possible for some people to keep long term. Sadly many like you, feel compelled or guilty because they made those promises, and therefore, stay in a toxic and/or dangerous situation that I don’t believe God has asked them to live in. A quick read through Proverbs reminds us how toxic it is to live with a complaining and angry person. It tells the reader it is far better to live alone, on the corner of a rooftop Prov 21:9. Or to share a simple meal of vegetables among those you feel safe with than a steak dinner with those who are hateful (Prov 15:7). And, how do you read Exodus 21:10 where God stands up for the lowly slave wife who is being neglected by her husband after he marries another wife? God himself tells her she is free to leave the marriage, and free to no longer be a slave. Jesus takes the covenant of marriage quite seriously when the Pharisees challenged him with the liberal theology of the day that said a man could discard his wife for trivial reasons. Jesus responds to that belief by saying NO, marriage was created by God to be a life-long relationship. Jesus reminds those Pharisees that it was never God’s intention to permit divorce for trivial reasons. But we miss that God DID allow divorce for serious reasons – Jesus said adultery in that conversation, but throughout the Bible adultery is often used as a metaphor for the bigger problem of unfaithfulness. God divorced Israel for her “adultery” = unfaithfulness = disloyalty. Jeremiah 3:1 Unfaithful to one’s promises to provide safety and not neglect the needs of the other (Like in Exodus 21). Also Proverbs 31 reminds us in the virtuous woman’s marriage – her husband says she enriches his life and that he has full trust in her to do him good not harm all the days of his life. I believe this is a very good picture of a healthy marriage. Where both (even though flawed and sinful) enrich one another’s life and provide safety and trust for the people within that family to grow and thrive. When those basics are consistently absent and the relationship is toxic, I think we do a disservice both to the people in the relationship as well as the institution of marriage to advise the “victim” to stay and suffer – to “honor God”. Does that really honor God? I’ve also done alot of work with the whole child abuse scandals that are also plaguing the church (just read the news) -Churches covering up abuse, not reporting abuse allegations to the authorities, not honoring victims who disclose, guilt tripping them to “forgive” and “let it go” to protect the honor of the church or to forgive the abuser so he won’t “lose his ministry”. The institution of marriage or the institution of the church is NEVER to take priority over the well-being of the people within that institution. In fact the very reason God created these institutions were to provide safety and examples of love in the world at large. When the institutions themselves become toxic, oppressive, and/or corrupt, as believers we need to call them to account, not stay silent and enable them to continue their toxic and oppressive ways. Hope this helps you understand my heart.

          • Karen on February 24, 2023 at 7:53 pm

            Leslie, I reread your comments about safety again…I don’t question God’s value on our safety…I question that it sometimes seems you place a higher value on it than the Word does. It comes across to me that it is a SUPREME value. When it comes to vulnerable and defenseless children, that is another discussion. And even then, a mother could remove a child from a bad influence of a father, uncle or grandparent, but the child will experience bullying at school or in the neighborhood. My understanding is that we live in a fallen world and it is an UNSAFE place! I am a mature adult and I have experienced more fear about my personal safety in the past few years than ever before. I don’t believe that I have a guarantee from God that He will “keep me safe”, as I have already experienced some circumstances that are unsafe that I believe were not my “fault” or a result of my being “simple-minded”, although that is only my view. Maybe I reaped what I sowed. So, I continue to listen to what you present and tool it through in my mind. I do understand fully that we have choices and more control over ourselves than maybe we realize, and we aren’t “victims” as much as sometimes we may want to believe.

      • R D on February 23, 2023 at 11:39 pm

        MJ Marriage Ministry
        Rejoice Marriage ministry
        Gary Thomas, the Wilson’s and So Many Others value Marriage much more than LV.
        LV frequently (in this blog) advises toward divorce based on a 3 or 4 paragraph question from 1 side of a relationship . Proverbs 18:17 tells us that 1 persons seems right in statement until another comes and examines them.

      • Joann on February 24, 2023 at 1:35 am

        I agree with RDs take on the response – I often feel that this blog becomes a place that breeds contempt for husbands and a place of refuge for those with itchy ears looking to side step what they know to be biblically true. The institution of marriage always seems to take a back seat to the healthy self. I am not dismissing the help and guidance needed by those in truly abusive situations.

        Personally, I connected with Leslies work when a good friend was struggling in her marriage- she ended up filing for divorce based upon wise counsel structured around the Destructive Marriage/ Destructive Relationship books…. she side stepped the convictions of her Christian faith and her world imploded. Not only was the marriage relationship fractured but that of many other friends and family. I imagine the work to try and begin fixing everything is far greater than the effort it would have been to been honest about the marriage problems.

        The Bible has a prescription for dealing with conflict and its not running to a lawyer but first confronting one on one, then if needed, confronting with friends/ peers (best if someone that person really respects) and then take it to the church….that’s ALL before cutting someone off… seek healing and repentance over breaking of relationships… sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

        Lets all pray that we can do it Gods way and help lead other to do it Gods way.

        • Joni on February 24, 2023 at 12:42 pm

          Joann I think you said it all when you said “The institution of marriage always seems to take a back seat to the healthy self.” Is this what you truly believe? Should women really keep putting the institution of marriage before their own emotional and physical health? I am so thankful for the teachings of LV and her team, they gave me the ability to see what MY marriage was doing to destroy myself and my children. I am crying happy tears now as I write this knowing I never have to go back to that place of abusive and fear that I lived in for over 22 years. I learned I didn’t have to believe when he told me he was redeemed and a changed man after spending 3 days on his knees, even when all my friends and pastor had him convinced. I learned I could trust what I saw and I could trust in God that He knew what was around the corner. Holding the institution of marriage above myself is what kept me in an abusive situation for all those years. It is what I was taught and I thought I was doing the right thing. I was not doing the right thing. I have told so many people that I completely understand why abusive victims do not leave, it not always a soft place to land in other peoples ideas of what you should have or should not have done.

        • Karen on February 24, 2023 at 8:07 pm

          I tend to support making every effort possible to save a marriage based on my understanding of the Word and its intended meanings and my own personal experience of my parents’ divorce. I was 19 when my father left, and, as an older person at the time, it still had long-lasting damaging effects on my inner being. And, my brother, sadly, has been an alcoholic for years, which I believe is partially due to our damaged family structure. My dad was an unbeliever, and my mom a believer, which, according to I Corinthians, puts my mom in a position to “let the unbeliever go,” but it was a tremendously painful experience for my mom and us children. Either way there will be pain; I find it hard to justify the negative effects that divorce can bring on the next generation and the legacy of broken relationship (legally…as in fact, the relationship was broken even before the divorce). I believe we have a tremendous responsibility as parents to provide and model the best legacy possible for our children in relational ways as well as spiritual, financial and educational ways. Finally, today there are so many resources available to people inside and outside the Church that can assist people in difficult marriages. I am thankful for this space to discuss these very difficult realities.

    • Isy Williams on February 23, 2023 at 5:17 pm

      The advise being given here isn’t telling her to ‘get out’. She asked the coach if what has happened that she knows about warrants separation and the coach is counseling her to consider that such repeated acts of deception and betrayal do warrant separation yet she is not being told to leave him she is being counselled to take the facts and consider her own safety. This counsel is the leading of god as it’s based in scripture. His cates more for this woman as an individual then he does for her martial status. God is not legalistic, and does not hold marriage in higher regard then the people in it. Her husband might have problems but that is no excuse to sin against God and his wife, he cheated, he lied he is hiding and living a double life so god himself has allowed that to be exposed so she can make an informed choice!!!!!! In my humble opinion she should absolutely separate to protect herself and stop enabling her husband to sin. Praying for this precious woman to find the courage to do what’s best for her safety and sanity, he broke the rules if their marriage union now he should experience the consequences for his chance of repentance and his own freedom and healing

  4. Jay on February 23, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Perhaps a way to maintain honor is “I love you but you hurt me and our marriage when you hide things from me and choose things that dishonor me and the covenants of marriage.” My Dad had some very dishonoring behaviors and also anger issues for many years. I still love him and have always wished that either my Mom or Stepmom would have approached him with a combination of love and strength earlier in his life. Something like,, “I love you but I cannot be with you until you get some help with your anger and you are ready to honor me and our marriage.” A separation would have been in order along with true evidence of a heart change. I’m not sure his repentance would have come necessarily with his first marriage (my Mom) but I do think separating or leaving with love and honor is important. The offender is left with love and dignity for his personhood but yet a solid stand against the behavior is taken that I think is powerful. That message may have a redemption strength that resounds whether the relationship lasts or not. It rings of the love and truth that God uses with us. Know that you belong to a sisterhood of many many women.

    • Karen on February 23, 2023 at 7:04 pm

      I love what you say about honoring the offender and considering other options before divorce, yet also not allowing him/her to be enabled to continue in the sinful pattern without confrontation or consequences.

  5. Gaby on February 23, 2023 at 10:03 am

    Thank you!! I have come to find that it can be 28 or 14 years or 6 months, is all a pattern, sometimes it feels like their story is also my story. When you say “When someone is caught red-handed with their duplicity and sin, and they see they can’t get out of the negative consequences of their actions, they may become more dangerous” We were already separated but this was exactly what happened to my family. My kids and I are safe and well. I’m thankful I found this ministry and thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  6. R Williams on February 23, 2023 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with Leslie completely. This is VERY similar to my 31 years of marriage. You only “caught “ him 4 times. However, the unfaithfulness to you occurred many more times than 4. Most likely it was occurring thousands of times with thousands of women outside of your marriage covenant. You just didn’t know about his secret sexual life. That is abuse! He had information about his sexual life he purposely withheld from you. Keeping power and control over you because if you had all the information you would be able to make a better decision to protect yourself . If you knew everything he did every time would you be asking this question? If this was happening to your daughter or a friend how would you respond to them if they asked. I suspect that the trauma you have experienced goes beyond infidelity. It probably includes decades of gaslighting, minimizing, denying, lying, and manipulating. I understand how you feel. The fact that there is so much confusion is a good indicator that you have been in a very destructive marriage for a very long time. A truly repentant man would show up differently. My heart goes out to you. I am experiencing the same pain. You are most definitely not alone.

  7. Shannon on February 23, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    I am also in a similar marriage situation where I discovered my husband was taking out money from our joint account although the monies in the account was from my earnings alone. My husband has not worked for at least 23 years and has depended on me completely for finances. So I was really angry when I found out he has been taking chunks of money meant for our family and son and maybe putting it away somewhere else.

    He was into porn for many many years and told me everyone else does it too. When I confronted him, he said he will give it up and refused counseling but I caught him still indulging in it. To make things worse he had an affair but refused to leave the house. He had other incidents with women too where they accused him of trying to touch them.

    I don’t want to live with him but I have no choice as my family expectations dictate that I continue to stay with him. He has shown me no love or affection for many years except for helping me out with the housework and childcare and I suppose I have to be satisfied with this. WE have not had intimacy for maybe 17 years. Remarriage will not guarantee love. There is zero trust. He expected me to just love and accept him and reconcile without having to account for his behavior or show remorse over what he had done. I cannot stop thinking about my past and I can’t seem to move forward.

    I have saved some money for myself and am financially independent by the grace of God. I don’t think I am wrong in deducing that my husband had singled me out and love bombed me during our dating days for financial reasons as he has been financially manipulative and tried to push me to do things his way, as though he earns the money..


    • Karen on February 24, 2023 at 8:18 pm

      Dearest Shannon, my heart goes out to you. These circumstances are devastating, I am sure. The only thing you said that I would challenge is that you DO have a choice. Yes, there seem to be strong family expectations, but you have a choice in how to proceed, even if it means you will be estranged from your family. You may not like the apparent choices, but, one of the big messages from LV Ministries is that we are not victims! That is really good news. Bless you, Sister, as you journey on.

  8. R D on February 23, 2023 at 11:23 pm

    You started with , “I think you already know the answer to your question.”
    then added
    “The things you have caught him in are not minor things. They are marital deal breakers”.
    Now, I don’t disagree with her getting “safe” (even though there is no indication of her being “unsafe”)
    And protecting herself financially…….but you very clearly are advising her to take the money and run. And this is without the whole story and generally dismissing the Grace of God
    Jesus called us to forgive 7×70 times yet your limit here is a few more than 4 times. He called people to go beyond taking the adultery “out”.
    A 28 year marriage deserves a little more investigation and counseling than a short blog question.

    • Ash on February 24, 2023 at 1:27 am

      For me Romans 6.2 resonates when Paul wrote shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound and Paul gives a resounding God forbid.

      In our continuous forgiveness let us also not enable sin, as well as us ending up sinning by now having hatred, resentment, anger etc.

      In 28 yrs of marriage I am sure they have been a lot of prayer fasting and seeking God’s will. And in most of our lives knowing God’s will is not God knocking on the door and straight up telling us what to do.

      But it usualy comes through scripture revelations, things coming to light that we were blinded of, God sending wise counsel in your path to remove cloudiness in your decision making, God opening certain pathways/ making them easier and it becomes clear with each day whether you want to stay well and how to stay well and at the same time be protected or how to leave.

      Personally I would want remorseful and reconciliation any day which unfortunately isnt always the case.

      We were actually doing a bible study on seeking God’s will and there was one teaching on when we have strayed from the Will of God, and we end up on the consequential will of God. There are so many examples in the bible.

      Lets open our heart each day to what God tells us in so many ways.

      I have seen a lot of christian counsellors just blindly tell us to keep praying for God’s will piling up bible verses with out making us see God’s will and only add onto confusion, bitterness, resentment, anger, spiritual tiredness etc

      Side note am a CPA so by nature if one error is seen the question will always be how many more errors are there, I feel for this woman as these are the things that have come to light in the 28yrs not because he owned up but because he had been caught.

    • AnnD on February 27, 2023 at 10:25 am

      RD, I believe you are taking two sentences completely out of context. Read and take into consideration everything she says.

      • R D on February 28, 2023 at 9:06 pm

        Those are the exact quotes and they are perfectly in context. What context should someone take ” marriage deal breakers” in?

        The reality is that in these blog questions. There is limited information being given by one side of an argument.
        On top of that the answer further assumes greater ills then what are actually listed. Which certainly MIGHT be the case, but we don’t know this.
        But to go even further the answer, as well as so many of the commenters’, assume this woman needs to get out and get safe.
        I’m sorry safe from what she in no way indicates that she is in any danger, other than possible financial peril.

    • AnnD on February 27, 2023 at 10:44 am

      Furthermore RD, I think you are putting words in her mouth when you insist that she is saying “take the money and run.” LV is not giving that simplistic advice no matter how much you insist she is.

  9. Baxter on February 23, 2023 at 11:29 pm

    Fellow victim here. Mister has been p*rn user for entire marriage of almost 40 years. I missed so many red flags. I was dumb, gullible and naiive. A few years ago my eyes were opened and I got educated. So much deceit, dishonesty and disrespect. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer which I believe was caused by partner betrayal. I recently felt the need to make a decision about “getting out” and I suggested he make amends to me. First he said that I need to make amends to him!! Then he said he thinks he has already made amends . . . Not even close!! He turns everything around to me. I used to dream of him apologizing but now I know he’s not capable. My advice is to read trusted blogs and books to educate yourself. Realize that you can do NOTHING to make him stop. And last but not least, pray for guidance in making the right decision.

  10. Michelle on February 24, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    Yes, we may willingly walk into danger for a higher purpose like Jesus did- but how long do you wait , wish and hope for a husband to REPENT? Marriage is all about sacrificial LOVE , but do I lay down my life for someone else to be comfortable, flourishing in sinful behavior?
    As Leslie stated – Jesus did lay down his life for Salvation, but his purpose in doing so was to set people free of sin ,not so they would continue in it.

    Jesus forgave us for all sin – We are required to Repent to have relationship with him- Why is a woman required to stay in a relationship with a non repentant husband? Does Jesus have a relationship with non repentant people?

    I believe Leslie has done an incredible job of providing a biblically based perspective for woman who feel stuck and need a deeper theological breakdown of scripture that has silenced and shamed woman for wanting to be relieved of oppression ….

    Forgiving 70 times 7 does not require an unconditional relationship. The Bible is clear – wrong doings have lasting consequences and a woman is not ever required to live in oppression-

    And respectfully – Please spare the “There are two sides to every story” …. It’s a hideous, insensitive insult to the person who has been physically / ‘emotionally abused- I’m sure it also offends God , that instead of bringing hope and nurturing to his daughter – it really only rubs salt in the wounds!

    • Karen on February 25, 2023 at 7:37 pm

      It seems clear to me that God DOESN’t require a woman to stay in a relationship with a non-repentant husband…He made provision for divorce in the OT law if adultery (some notes say the word used is “fornication”) is involved (in the case of porn usage, which some say is adultery, where is the fornication involved? Masturbation, maybe, fantasy, yes, but no fornication). I have also heard one preacher say that if a spouse abandons a marriage (physically), that is also biblical grounds for divorce. Who is saying a woman (or man) is required to say if he won’t repent? It seems that if one finds his/her spouse has been involved with fornication with another person other than spouse, that is immediate grounds for divorce.

      As far as forgiving 70 X 7 goes, I don’t see Jesus specifying that it doesn’t apply in certain situations. You could forgive the erring spouse and still divorce because you have biblical grounds for it! Plus, forgiving doesn’t mean trusting. Trust has been broken…it needs to be rebuild by the offender. Also, it seems that one offended by a fornicator doesn’t need to wait at all for the offender to repent, according to the Word., but may take immediate action to pursue divorce. But if someone CHOOSES to stay in the marriage and wait, for whatever reason, that is also a viable choice. It doesn’t say one MUST divorce a fornicator.

    • AnnD on February 27, 2023 at 10:31 am

      Michelle, Thank you! Well said!

  11. Connie on February 24, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Someone, again, mentioned the supposed scripture that God hates divorce. In that passage, it actually says that God hates it when men deal treacherously with their wives, causing divorce. This husband broke his vows a very long time ago. I would say the divorce has already happened. We don’t vow to live in the same house, but to love, cherish, and forsake all others. That bird flew the cage probably even before the wedding!

    • Karen on February 24, 2023 at 8:36 pm

      I said it and I will continue to investigate the meaning of that verse. I never heard the meaning of that text presented here until I had exposure to Leslie’s teaching. I would have to get more instruction in the original languages, which is how I have been taught in the past, before I fully embrace this interpretation. My understanding of OT culture and times in which this book was written, was that only men could divorce a spouse. It is clear to me that God doesn’t support men dealing treacherously with their wives, but it is also said in another location in the Word that divorce is a provision only because people have “hardness of heart”. For me, having a greater understanding of the cultural and linguistic context of this passage is necessary before thinking I understand it. At this point, I don’t. When God clearly DOESN’T support something and people do it, then what?

      Yes, the husband broke the marriage vows long ago…the question in my mind is, “If I vow something and my husband vows the same thing, and he breaks his vow, is that justification for me to break my vow?” So far, my understanding of keeping my vow is not contingent upon his keeping of his vow. Honestly, from what she said, it seems he has no intention of changing. How she is to proceed still remains the question in my mind.

      • Connie on February 25, 2023 at 1:39 pm

        I think we all hate divorce, not just God. But God divorced Israel Jeremiah 3:6-8. Loving well sometimes means to let go of someone who takes no responsibility in the relationship. We need to stop believing that we still have some control when it’s clear that the other person has dropped the ball. I think it’s mean to keep enabling them so they don’t have to change.

  12. Karen on February 25, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    Yes, God divorced Israel. And He had legal, legitimate grounds to divorce her. One question on the table seems to be, what are legal grounds according to the Word. And, when it is clear that one spouse has violated those grounds, should the offended spouse proceed with divorce? I would interpret the Word at that point to mean, YES, you may divorce, but someone may have many reasons NOT to divorce. Then the grim reality is that if he/she undoubtedly has biblical grounds for divorce, but really doesn’t WANT to divorce, he/she must understand that the offending party may never change. Then the question becomes, do I want to live like that perhaps forever? Another issue, sort of unspoken, is that if a person does divorce, then he/she must take responsibility for his/her own life after that. Some won’t divorce because that seems too hard or undoable. Then, one must take responsibility for the choice to stay and learn how to navigate a marriage with a spouse who never changes instead of constantly griping about his/her failures. Tough situation; that is reality in many cases. Connie, your phrase, “…a spouse who takes no responsibility in the relationship…” makes me wonder on what score? Not helping with chores at home? Not sharing his ideas and decision-making,? Or not taking responsibility for an adulterous affair? How has the other person, “dropped the ball”? When Malachi says that the men were dealing treacherously with their wives, it seems to imply that they were divorcing wives for reasons OTHER than fornication. Why has a spouse “dropped the ball” where fornication ISN’T involved? More exploration is suggested in a situation like this, in my view, not just heading for the divorce court.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 26, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      Karen, I agree that a spouse may choose divorce for serious reasons, but looking at all her options, she may decide that divorce is not her best option for a variety of good and/or not so good reasons. But then in my teaching we talk about “staying well”. What does that look like before God if you chose to stay married but have no good marriage and an unrepentant spouse who does not want to change? In the same way if you leave an unrepentant spouse but leave with a hard heart and bitter spirit, that’s not God’s way. So the long term journey for a “victim” in this situation is not just deciding whether she is going to divorce, but how she is going to handle herself. Is she going to forgive and stay well?
      ANd what does that look like to build a positive healthy life, even if she doesn’t have a positive healthy marriage? And if that’s not possible because her husband is too toxic or dangerous, then her job is not just getting safe although that would be her first priority, but also how does she leave this marriage and learn to love her enemy? Forgive the unforgivable? And trust God in her next right steps? Both paths provide challenges and that’s why we need safe places to honestly have conversations about the ramifications of those choices with Godly women who can provide wise help. That’s why I write my blog.

    • Laura on February 27, 2023 at 7:48 am

      Please refrain from using the word griping, when referring to a victims attempts to share her abuse and get help. This is an example of how other women hurt the victim as well, which in many cases shames the victim enough to keep them on a potentially dangerous situation. They are already feeling afraid and ashamed for sins that don’t belong to them. If someone can’t respect a victim of abuse, they are not healthy enough to offer spiritual guidance.

  13. JoAnn on March 1, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    This has surely been a lively conversation, and after reading all the comments, I have two points to make. First, in the matter of two sides to every issue, I doubt that knowing the “other side” will shed any meaningful light on the husband’s lying and cheating. What he is doing in this relationship is wrong and hurtful, and maybe even dangerous (if we knew more). What could he possibly tell us that would excuse his behavior?
    Second, about the matter of forgiveness, no matter how many times, forgiveness is for the forgiver, to cleanse the heart of anger and bitterness. It means that we release the other person into the Lord’s hands and make a decision to not carry resentment and anger and bitterness in our heart. That is a key to “staying well” if that is our choice. Nevertheless, a person who is under continuous assault is going to get beaten down eventually, no matter how many times she forgives, costing her her health and well-being. So many women here have experienced a real blessing from the Lord when they have finally exited an abusive situation, so I do believe that the Lord cares very much for the welfare of His children.

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