Words cannot describe the amazing CONQUER CONFERENCE we had this past weekend. Over 600 women joined together to learn how to become the women God created them to be, both inside and out. In every way it was a God-breathed weekend and all of us felt the presence of God in that place.
At the end, a woman came up to me and said she was Hindu. She said, “I was brought here by a friend and I’ve never experienced anything like this before.” I asked her to e-mail me with the rest of her story as I’m sure God is drawing her heart to his. Women heard incredible speakers and attended workshops that dealt with real life issues and I am just in awe of all God did.
Here are some pictures
This week’s question: I’ve currently been married for 14 months in my first marriage. I quickly found that he was emotionally abusive in ways that I had seen only in part while dating and engaged. At 10 months I left to stay with family because I did not feel safe emotionally, mentally, or physically.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to begin professional biblical counseling during that time with the encouragement, referral, and financial support of our church. I went home after 7 weeks, and abusive patterns began to give way to healthier ones, with many relapses. I was learning my lack of boundaries and how to set and enforce my boundaries when my husband pushed on them. I was getting stronger and less likely to be reactively abusive towards my husband.
Then, at the beginning of this month, we found out that my husband is HIV+. My parents and I had asked for my, then ‘fiancé’, to be tested for STD’s prior to the wedding. He told us that he had been tested and was clear. I married him on the assumption that he was telling us the full truth.
A year later, I found out that he had 2 sexual partners between his last STD testing and when he told us he was clear. Both partners were before he met me, so there is no relational unfaithfulness. However, I believe there is deceit.
Rebuilding trust has been a focus of our counseling, but now… I don’t see that ever happening. I am reading “Lord, I Just Want To Be Happy,” and have told myself to wait to make any life-altering decisions until next year.
My main motivation when I think of staying with my husband is the guilt I believe I would feel for leaving him. Based on our marriage, I don’t believe there can be a future of trust. I want to leave, but am having feelings of guilt. Am I a weak Christian wife for wanting out so early? I feel cheated out of my expectations of a healthy (emotionally, spiritually, and medically) marriage.
Answer: You ask a very important question, especially for someone who finds out after marriage that they have been deceived in critical areas. Let me ask you a question. Had you known he was HIV+ before your marriage, would you have married him? And I’m curious; most states require a blood test to get a marriage license that screens for STD’s. Did he not get one?
If your answer to my question, if you had known then, would you have married him is no, then I would encourage you to seek an attorney’s advice about getting an annulment. I don’t know what the requirements for an annulment (versus a divorce) are in your state, but I do know that often when someone marries under false pretenses you are allowed to get an annulment. That is different than a divorce. An annulment is as if you were never married.
The tricky thing is that once you find out that serious deceit has taken place, if you resume marital relations the “law” considers it as if you have accepted the deceit and are willing to be married to this person. Timing is especially critical in these cases. Therefore, if you’ve known about the HIV+ status and have continued living with him, gone to counseling together to “work on your marriage” and especially had sexual relations since knowing he’s HIV+, then an annulment may not be possible. But again check with an attorney.
For other women reading this blog, once you find out you’ve been deceived in a critical area before marriage, go straight to an attorney to get advice on what are the legal requirements for an annulment, or Google the requirements to annul a marriage in your state. You don’t want to miss that window because you feel you should “try” to make it work, if you would not have married him had you known this before marriage.
For example, in Pennsylvania, marriages can be annulled for a variety of reasons including fraud. But here is the caveat: This is what PA law states:
Can Fraud Be Waived?
“Although fraud is grounds for an annulment, fraud can be waived if the spouses continue to live together after discovering the fraud. Specifically, in a situation where fraud would be sufficient for an annulment, if the innocent spouse discovers the fraud and does not immediately separate and live apart from the offending spouse, the fraud may have been waived and the innocent spouse has ratified the marriage, preventing an annulment on fraud grounds.”
Often a wife (or husband) is in shock after fraud has been discovered. Clear thinking is difficult and because of Christian teachings against divorce, a spouse is usually reluctant to immediately seek legal counsel. That feels too harsh and unloving. Instead, we believe (and teach) forgiveness and reconciliation are always the proper route, and we encourage people to “hang” in there in order to make the marriage work. This can be a critical legal mistake because “hanging in there,” means that you now accept this person, deceit included. Grounds for annulling the marriage have now ended, and divorce is your only remedy if you choose to end your marriage.
Please don’t misunderstand. Forgiveness is important, but you may decide that even if you forgive him, he is not the person you want to be legally married to for the rest of your life now that you know he has deceived you in such an important area prior to marriage.
You say you want to leave. You don’t think this marriage can rebuild trust since it has never been there from the beginning. You struggle with guilt and the fear of being thought of as a weak Christian. Your struggle is normal for anyone in your position, but don’t let these feelings keep you bound to a person who you would not have married had you known. I don’t think you are a weak Christian for knowing that it’s impossible to have a long-term close relationship with someone who has deliberately and repeatedly misled you in such a critical area as his sexual health.
God hates deceit and people who trick others (Click to Tweet).
I don’t believe God calls you to keep covenant with a person who has defrauded you from the beginning of your relationship. You can’t build trust with a person who repeatedly lies. And the person you covenanted with is not the person you married.
That said, it sounds like he has made some progress in being willing to grow, submit himself to Biblical counsel, and be accountable to others, yet not without relapses. This is a tough decision to make, but only you can make it. Get the counsel of wise others and pray often, but realize that you are the one who has to live with the results of your choices. God will show you what to do. He promises, “I will instruct you and guide you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
Friends: When someone has deceived you in such a critical area – whether it be a spouse, or a good friend, how did it impact the relationship long term