Thanks for your prayers. We are still living in chaos. I think it will last at least through the end of May. But I’m liking the result. Our bedroom was painted this week and two walls are a bluish-green color and it looks really peaceful. I can’t wait to get the rest of it done and put back together. Prayers are appreciated as I have a busy travel schedule over the next two months.
Question: I am currently separated from my spouse of 24 years. I tried everything I “thought” was godly & honorable to make my marriage better, but nothing worked.
My spouse throughout the history of our marriage developed a pattern of engaging in secret relationships with other women. I have witnessed him for the first 20 years of our marriage engage in physical contact with female friends including horse playing, rough-housing, and intimate contact. I confronted him on many occasions and asked him to stop the behavior, but he refused to comply.
In addition, he has been verbally and emotionally abusive to me throughout our marriage. The final straw for me was last October of 2017. We got into a heated argument that escalated into him grabbing me from behind, strong-arming and tussling me against a wall in such a way where I had to threaten to call the police if he didn't release me.
And so, I left home in October of 2017. As a result, I lost everything, my home and the life that I had become accustomed to. Lastly, during our separation (November 2017) I discovered that my husband was involved in yet another secret friendship with a woman who is young enough to be my daughter. When I sought help from my Pastor and a Christian counselor, my Pastor rebuked me for leaving my spouse. The Christian counselor said that my “account” of my spouse’s actions were not concrete evidence to separate but were simply my “subjective experiences.”
Now, I'm alone. I filed for divorce, I lost my church family, the friends that I thought were ours were really my husband’s! I've been living in a hotel since October 2017 afraid to go back to my spouse, embarrassed to go back to my church, all the while trying to find peace in my spirit that my decision to leave the chaos and the violence was a wise decision.
And so, I guess my question is – did I sin against God, my marriage, and the church by leaving my spouse? What do I do now? I'm 53 years old and I feel like a wandering lost child who is trying to navigate the world on her own. I do somehow sense that God has His loving hands in my life. Thank you in advance for addressing my question.
Answer: Your question and your entire experience breaks my heart and I want you to know it breaks God’s heart too. I’m so sorry you’ve endured so much pain. The disrespect, the demeaning, the devaluing of your experiences both from your church and your counselor, and the continued deceit from your spouse along with the abuse is sinful and harmful.
But you asked me a question. Did you sin against God, your marriage and the church by leaving? No. Your physical, emotional and spiritual safety and sanity are important to God. You are his daughter and you are precious to him. God hates what happened to you both in your marriage and from your church and counselor.
God never approves of a husband flirting with other women, lying to you, and physically and emotionally abusing you. Paul cautions husband’s to “love their wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25) and Peter reminds them “do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19).
I believe that the Bible is clear. The church has a duty to protect the oppressed and confront the oppressor. Sadly some churches tend to protect the oppressor and ignore and try to silence the oppressed if they are married to one another. Click To Tweet
But I also think you are facing another harsh reality that is not talked about enough. Leaving a marriage, even when it is abusive, brings a new set of problems and challenges. For a woman who has been dependent upon her husband for financial support and has not prepared herself to be self-sufficient and self-supporting, leaving a bad marriage may create stress (in a different way) than continuing to live in a bad one. Perhaps that’s one reason God speaks so strongly about certain kinds of divorce. It not only tears apart families but also leaves many women destitute, without any means of support, especially in Biblical times.
But I don’t think the answer for you is to crawl back to your husband or to your church. Rather it’s to figure out how to grow into an independent woman. So many women marry straight out of school – either high school or college and never live on their own, or establish a sense of their own ability to care for themselves. Then they live as wives and moms, caring for their family, but still not their own selves. Now at 53 you feel lost. Your roles as wife and mother are over. You’re living in a hotel, too scared to establish your own home. Are you working? Have you made some new friends? Are you going to a new church?
I don’t think the answer for you is to go backwards. You said you know God has his loving hand on your life. I think the answer is for you to go forward. What does this new season have for you? What skill sets do you have that will help you get a job or build a career? Where can you plug in for service, ministry, or just to meet new people for friendships?
I remember when my sister was looking for a job after staying home and raising her four children. She had zero computer knowledge, but when she interviewed she emphasized her excellent people skills. She knew how to handle conflict (raising four kids) and customer service skills. The person who eventually hired her said, “I can teach someone computer skills, I can’t teach someone people skills.”
It’s important that you rise from the ashes of your broken life, grieve your losses and start to rebuild. God isn’t finished with your story yet, but you have some new chapters to write.
Friend, how did you regain your bearings as a single woman after being divorced in your 50’s or 60’s? What steps did you take to find employment, make new friends, and build a new support system?