I am heading to Wheaton, Illinois on Friday night and Saturday to do a marriage conference at Wheaton College Church. On Friday morning, I’ll also be doing a 90-minute presentation to some members of the graduate department at Wheaton College on Three Mistakes People Helpers Make When Working in Destructive Marriages. Pray for me. These students are the future Christian counselors, pastors, and leaders and it’s my prayer that their eyes are opened to the extra pain uninformed and poorly trained counselors put on people already hurting in difficult and destructive relationships.
This Week’s Question: My husband is extremely abusive, physically, verbally, mentally, and emotionally. We have 3 children together and we both have children from our previous marriage. He has and still at any time is capable of choking, kicking, slapping me, verbally and assaulting me. He tells me my body is not ideal for him.
He isn't just a monster, he has been through horrible experiences as a child. He is 40 years old and was in a men’s penitentiary during his teens. He was in solitary confinement for a good part of his incarceration.
I say this to give you some insight into why he abuses. He has recently begun verbally assaulting my oldest, sweet, precious 14-year-old daughter by calling her whore, slut, and the b-word.
He has never physically hurt her but has threatened her and I believe he would hurt her if he felt pushed. When my daughter hears him attacking me in any way she will come out of her room to defend me and will verbally give him back EVERYTHING he gives to me. That’s when he turns his assault on her.
He is out the house and I refused to let him back. As I find out more about him I find out that his behavior did not start with me, that he treated his ex-wife horribly too. I feel horrible because when we fell in love he was still married but he told me their marriage was only on paper and they did not live together nor behave as a married couple. I feel like I was a contribution to her pain but on the flip side I know he abused her and probably did her a favor by taking him off her hands.
In the beginning of our relationship, he was incarcerated for several years AND I STUCK BY HIM faithful and all. I would drive many miles with 3 children every few months to visit him.
Is divorcing him a sin? That’s my big question and also, does anyone out there think he can change or that there is a possibility he can go on with life, change, and be a wonderful husband to someone else? I can’t stand the thought of sex with him but he tries every opportunity he gets and that alone disgusts me. I just don’t see why I can’t think clearly on this.
Before him, I was such a no-nonsense type of woman when it came to men. But now I’m scared to leave, scared to stay. I love and hate him all at the same time and wonder if it’s just the idea of him I love because NOTHING about him is appealing to me anymore. However, I wish my marriage to him would be healthy, and I want to be able to love and be attracted to him again. I have still never been unfaithful. Thank you.
Answer: Wow, Why would you want to be attracted again to a man who chokes you, kicks you, slaps you and verbally abuses you?
I get that you feel compassion for him because he had a horrible childhood, but there have been other men who have had horrible childhoods and have not become abusive and cruel towards others (For example, read about Dave Pelzer and his story, A Child Called It).
Your husband has been incarcerated twice. You don’t mention for what reason, but has it been for hurting other people as well? If he were going to change, don’t you think prison would have been a good place to wake up? To realize that this isn’t the kind of life that he wanted for himself and to begin to get help to change his ways?
When you refused to allow him back in the house after he attacked your daughter for sticking up for you, he didn’t wake up. He didn’t take responsibility for himself and realize he’s got a big problem.
My guess is that he excuses himself and blames others and minimizes what he’s done and makes it about everybody but him. So if that’s the pattern, no he will not change.
But your question is if you divorce him will you be sinning? I am not your judge but let me ask you a few questions I want you to seriously consider. Do you think it pleases or glorifies God to allow your children to be in a home where their father abuses their mother? Do you think it pleases or glorifies God to allow your husband to continue to abuse you with no consequences? I do not believe it is a sin to protect yourself and your children from a dangerous and scary person, even if he is your husband and their father. That is your responsibility.
What your husband does to you is not only against God; it’s against the law. He could go back to jail. Why haven’t you called the police, pressed charges, filed for a protection order and/or gotten some help for yourself? Your husband may never wake up and change, but you must. Your children need you healthy. You don’t want them repeating the same pattern when they become adults that they have witnessed growing up, do you?
Have you gone to your church for help? I can’t imagine a pastor who hears your story would counsel you to stay. I understand why you are afraid to stay, but you also say you are afraid to leave. Is that because of your fear that you will be sinning? Or is it because of another reason like you don’t want to be alone or don’t know how you will make it financially?
Please, please, do what you need to do to get safe with your children. I’m so glad you’ve contacted me. God is giving you some spiritual and emotional support through the community on this blog. Contact your local domestic violence shelter. Ask them to help you get a protection from abuse order. That will remove him from the home. Walk by faith towards safety and sanity and God will continue to direct your steps (Click To Tweet).
Your spouse sounds like a very sick and dangerous person and I don’t want to read about you or your family in the newspaper.
Friend, if you once felt turned upside down so that wrong seemed right and right seemed wrong, what helped to break free from that spell of confusion?