I want to invite you all to participate in a LIVE free webinar I am doing next week on The Five Red Flags That You Are In A Destructive Marriage AND What To Do Next. You must sign up ahead of time to reserve your spot. If you know another woman who might need this, please invite her to attend. Click here to learn more.
Also, please pray for me. I am speaking Thursday, Friday, and Saturday back on the East Coast and I need God’s anointing on my feeble words. Please pray that the Holy Spirit touch hearts there in a powerful way.
Question: I have been married for 23 years. I met my husband at church and so looked forward to serving the Lord together. About ten years ago after a series of crises, my husband no longer wanted anything to do with God, church, or anything Christian.
I have three sons, and I found myself pleading with God, “But, Lord, how am I to raise them to be Godly men with a father so opposed and indifferent?” God has been faithful. He has always met me in my distress, and the more I get to know Him, the more I know that He is all I need.
When my husband decided Christ was irrelevant, he also pulled away from us nearly completely (i.e, we had a gas leak in our garage one evening some years ago and he pretended to turn off the pilot light to the water heater, and then laughed the next day when the gas company informed me that it wasn't turned off).
The boys and I had our lives, and he had his, a life that included outings with other women, pornography (and all the sexual expectations that accompany it), neglecting the kids (one of whom has a serious chronic illness) and mostly just being completely indifferent to our well being or even existence at times. I often wondered if I would come home to find him in a catatonic state he was so disconnected.
I have my own business and work from home. My husband's job would not support our family for one month. He wants me to pay the bills, and so if we need more money to cover whatever, the expectation is that I will simply work more to try to cover it. I stopped sleeping except for 2-3 hours a night, sometimes going 48 to 72 hours with no sleep to try to make things “work.”
I have asked him to take over the family finances, to consider and get other work to help, all to no avail. Twice with the advice of counselors I asked him to leave. In my pathetic weakness, the first time he didn't even leave the house, and the second he left for perhaps two weeks. With promises to change, and his tears of disbelief and distress, I caved and he stayed.
Now I am in crisis. My health is deteriorating, and the doctor has told me if I don't change something, I am headed for a serious health crisis from stress, lack of sleep, etc. Financially we are suffering, and there simply aren't enough hours in the day to work more. My memory is failing from lack of sleep, and I simply am on empty.
My biggest question these years has been what does God require of a wife? There have been times I have been crushed by the weight of contemplating that God would expect one of his precious daughters to continue in a marriage that is on paper only, but if I was convinced that's what He wanted, I'm willing to give my life. My Jesus is worth it. I'm so thankful that my oldest is striving after God, and all three of my dear boys have kind and compassionate dispositions. They continue to come to church with me, and I'm so thankful for them. They are 18, 16 and 13.
In the last months, God seems to be softening my husband’s heart in that he is trying to be more involved, but I find my spirit dead and unresponsive. I am so, so very tired….it is a weariness not of the body so much as of my very soul.
I simply do not know how to continue on, how to set boundaries, how to “count it all joy.” When I do sleep, it's on the couch for the most part, and I fear that I am teaching my boys to accept a twisted and distorted idea of marriage. I am at a loss and worn completely out. What now?
Answer: Oh my. My heart goes out to you. You have done what so many good Christian wives and mother’s try to do. You have worked yourself to the bone, to the point that your health is compromised. You knocked yourself out trying to take care of your home, your children and your finances while your husband played and partied with other women, and checked out of his commitment and responsibility.
What’s wrong with this picture? I’m so glad you have raised good children and I’m sure they saw and appreciated your sacrifices. And, God is pleased when we sacrifice ourselves for another person’s good – in this case your children. However, they have also seen another picture. One of a mother and wife who doesn’t take good care of herself. A woman who allows her husband to be in a relationship with other women with no consequences. And a distorted picture of a Biblical marriage where one person leaves the marriage vows and the other over functions to the point of sickness. This is not a picture of a godly or biblical marriage.
You did not just sacrifice your health for your children, but also to support your husband and his sinful behaviors. For what purpose? This is where it gets cloudy.Was your sacrifice necessary? Was it for his benefit and his good? For example, if he had been hit by a car and couldn’t work, you might work extra to support the family. Or if he was sick with cancer and needed chemotherapy and had to work less, you might work extra to support the family. But you worked yourself to the bone while he partied and slept with other women. And you wonder if that’s what God expects from a wife?
I don’t think you would find any example in Scripture where one person is to carry the load for one who is lazy and sinful. In fact, Scripture is quite clear that if a man won’t work, he shouldn’t eat (1 Thessalonians 3:10). And each person should carry his or her own load (Galatians 6:5). And when a man will not take care of his family, he is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).
I don’t believe God expects a wife to hold everything together while her husband goes off and acts as if he is not married or responsible for the children he bore. The vows he made to provide and protect mean nothing to him. There are many men who step back from their faith, but they still choose to love their kids and provide for their family. There is a whole lot more going on with him then a loss of faith. There are deep character disturbances in his life that keep him in a me-first, selfish position with absolutely no concern or conscience for the effect it has on you or the kids. Why have you allowed him to stay in the home and continued to provide for his food, car, gas, internet, and shelter?
You mention that you are in counseling with someone and I’m glad. You have all the signs of a classic over-functioner, and enabler, and if you take anything from this experience it’s that God does not expect this of you.
God does not expect you to sacrifice yourself in order to enable someone (even if he is your spouse) to be irresponsible, sinful, sexually unfaithful, immoral, and deceitful. – Click To Tweet
Right now your first priority is to steward your own health, mind, and spirit. You have sacrificed and sacrificed to your own peril and your body is finally saying ENOUGH ALREADY. It’s on the verge of total collapse and so what God wants you to do right now is rest and restore. That feels scary to you but what’s going to happen if you don’t do it? You are not to think about your marriage problems or your husband’s problems, only about restoring your health. And if you were to ask me, allowing him to come back home will not help your health.
If indeed his heart is softening, then ask him to show you by earning enough money to pay the bills, even if he has to work two jobs. He can sleep on the couch if he can’t afford to live elsewhere. You sleep in the bedroom on the bed with the door closed and locked. Your boys are not infants and if you have raised them as I think you have, they will show care for you and they can pick up some of the household responsibilities for cleaning and maintenance of the home.
God sees your heart. He sees that you have tried with all you have to serve and please him and raise your boys to love and honor him. But your body is now reminding you that it has limitations. It needs sleep. It needs refreshment and recreation and time to reflect and be still. Your husband needs to step up and be the provider and take some responsibility for his family’s needs. And if he continues to refuse, it’s time to put your foot down and say “No more freeloading. You are a grown able bodied man. Whether or not you are a Christian, you still have obligations and responsibilities and it’s not okay that you function here as if you are one of the children rather than one of the parents. It is your choice if you want to abdicate your responsibilities, but then you cannot live here any longer.”
Please do not expect yourself to jump up and down and get all excited because your husband’s heart seems a little more tender. You want to see behavior change. You want to see him step up and be responsible and work hard to meet the family’s financial needs. Otherwise, it is just grandstanding to get you to feel sorry for him and once you do, he will continue to do what he’s always done, think only of himself.
If you are not strong enough to stay firm, please ask other women to hold you up in prayer. God does not expect you to take care of your husband like he is a disabled child. That is not your responsibility as a wife or as a Christian.
Friend, When you found yourself worn down to the bone by constantly taking care of other people what finally woke you up enough to stop?