When is it permissible to leave your marriage after your spouse has seriously broken the marriage covenant?
I’ve been talking all week about big marriage problems (Phew! It’s been a big week. Don’t worry; next week we’re moving on to how to love your husband and have fun with him!). And I thought I’d end the week with this question from a reader.
I am so sorry for this woman. I really am. It’s heartbreaking especially when the man is “in the ministry” and claims to be working for God. Here’s another question that’s similar (though without the pastoral aspect):
Let me share with you some wisdom that I learned from a man who had worked in marriage ministry his whole life.
He said, “when there is a marriage problem and both people are willing to work at it, then no matter how big the problem is, that marriage has a 95% chance of making it and turning out well. But if only one person is willing to work at it? Then that marriage only has a 50% chance of making it, no matter how small the problem is.”
The moral of the story?
You can’t fix a marriage on your own.
You just can’t.
Now, there is no formula for what you should do now. Sometimes God asks us to wait, because He is doing something incredible behind the scenes and it just will take more time. And sometimes God frees us to move on. I can’t tell you what to do, because I don’t know your situation. And that’s why we have to draw very close to God in these hard times so that we can hear His voice.
But I will point you to some posts on difficult marriages that can help you think through this issue right now.
You’ve done everything. You’ve bent over backwards. And still your spouse doesn’t seem to be changing. Should you give up and move on?
In many ways, this was the post that inspired my book 9 Thoughts that Can Change a Marriage. The day I wrote this was the day I started to think differently about marriage. Up until then I was really focused on how to show your husband love. On that day, I realized that being truly loving meant wanting the best for your spouse, and the best meant pointing them to God, not enabling sin. Sometimes we have to take a stance. And this may be the most important post these readers read!
But along with it, I challenge you to read 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage. It gets to the heart of how we can act in marriage so that we point people to Jesus in our everyday life, rather than acting in such a way that we excuse sin. And it helps us reveal the dark sides of our own hearts, too. Plus it’s likely my most honest book–I share so many of my own personal struggles. So I encourage you to check it out!
When is it okay to give up trying to get my ex back?
If you’ve been separated for a time, is it okay to move on? What if you believe that marriage is for life? Is there a point where you can say, “I’m moving on, no matter what my ex does?”
I’m living in a loveless marriage. What do I do?
What if you’re in a loveless marriage and your spouse doesn’t seem to care about you at all. How do you move forward? Do you have to stay?
If you’re wondering if divorce is ever okay, and if you’re permitted to leave, here are my thoughts on the issue.
You’ve discovered the affair. Now what’s your next step? What do you do? Here are some thoughts (and some book suggestions) that help you make wise decisions at these difficult moments.
I hope those will help. And please know–we pray for all of you everyday. We get so many emails like this into the inbox each and every day of the year, and we can’t answer them all personally. But I know so many of you reading this blog are dealing with this. Just know that we care. We feel overwhelmed sometimes, but we care.
And if you’re a regular reader, but you AREN’T dealing with this right now, could you say a prayer, too? Just for all the hurting people who are reading this blog? And then maybe leave a comment, to let people know that they are being prayed for?
I know it’s a lonely road. I wish there were more I could do. This is so, so hard. But we do care. And God sees. And He cares deeply, too. Never doubt that.