I hope you are getting some time this season to savor our Saviors coming to this planet to show us what God is like. I’ve always loved the first chapter of John, especially these verses,
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. …… No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”
If you are having trouble seeing God’s love, look at Jesus. See how he treated the broken, downcast, hurting, needy person? That’s how God sees us.
Today’s Question: I’ve been a believer for the past 20 years – and I’ve been in an emotionally destructive marriage for 35 years – my spouse refuses to acknowledge his verbally and emotionally behavior – as a result we have been living separately but in the same house.
I forgive Jack daily but there’s no reconciliation because he refuses to acknowledge his sinful narcissistic and neglectful life. He also suffers from ADD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This makes life with him very difficult and sad. I’m in torment over getting separated legally. I feel it will dishonor God.
I read your book on destructive relationships over 10 years ago, and I’m still in the same place. My question is does God want me to stay in this unhappy destructive marriage? I know Jack is responsive to love – but will me loving him really change his ways? He’s accepted Jesus as his Savior, but has not made him Lord. He doesn’t really read the Word and I’m despondent and weary over how to continue to survive in this situation. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Answer: Let me ask you a question. You say you are in torment over legal separation because it will dishonor God yet you already live separate from one another, and you say you are miserable, despondent, and weary. How does living this way honor God? Why would making your separation legal be any more dishonoring? It’s time for a change.
Since Jack won’t change, it is up to you to change. You have two choices if you want to honor God the most. You can learn how to stay well, or you can learn how to leave well. Staying in your present state does not honor God and it hurts you.
Here are my suggestions. You can love Jack but stop expecting your love to change Jack. Jesus loved the Pharisees but his love did not change them. Jesus loved Judas, but Jesus’ love did not change Judas. Your love is not going to change Jack. Only Jack can repent of his selfishness and want to change. Then God’s love can help him learn how to be different but love alone does not change anybody. Our heart has to respond to love by loving in return. If that doesn’t happen then love is one sided, which is fine but it does not result in a loving relationship which is where you are stuck.
Jesus did honor God by loving the unlovable. He did honor God when he loved the Pharisees and loved Judas. And in loving them well, he also spoke tough words of truth to each of them, hoping that they would “see” their own sinful hearts and want to repent. Sadly they did not.
You could honor God by loving Jack enough to give him some tough but truthful talk about the state of your marriage and where things are going for 2016.
I think it honors God to live honestly and authentically before him. I think it honors God to accept Jack isn’t going to change and begin to take steps to build your own life whether you stay legally married or not. (Tweet that)
I think it honors God to get your eyes off Jack and what he’s doing or not doing and start figuring out what God wants you to do. Can you take a class, get involved in church, minister to other women, start to find places in your community where you can let your light shine?
Marriage is a relationship, not only a legal arrangement. Right now you have the legal arrangement but no relationship. You haven’t given me enough details about how Jack is verbally and emotionally abusive towards you – you say he’s neglectful, but do you think it honors God for you to allow yourself to be abused?
So if honoring God is your first priority, I think you can take lots of steps forward that will greatly improve your life in 2016. Walk toward God – love him, listen to him, honor him and he will make your path straight (Psalm 32:8,Proverbs 3:5,6).
Please do something different this new year. You know Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results. Don’t let that be you.
Friend, what specific steps have you taken to honor God while in a loveless and painful marriage whether you stayed or left?