This may seem like an odd post coming from a woman whose marriage has ended, but I think I might be perceived as being soft on divorce (despite my attempts to explain my stance repeatedly; or perhaps, because of).
So, let me say a few things (some of which I’ve said before):
I believe God created marriage as a covenant to last for the lifetime of the couple.
I believe God created marriage as a breathtaking picture of how Christ loves his church.
I believe God allows marriages to end when certain sins are committed.
I believe God would have wanted my marriage to be restored and remain intact.
I believe all marriages can be saved.
I believe God gives us free will, which means God and both parties must be working together for reconciliation to take place.
I believe that too many Christian marriages are ending in divorce when they shouldn’t be. I hear from many Christ-following women who are trying to stay in very difficult marriages. That is the majority of women I come in contact with. They are single-handedly trying to save their marriages and they are begging God to help them. I applaud these women and I want to support them the best I can.
But then there is another category of woman, albeit the minority in my experience. This is the woman whose husband has not been unfaithful. This is the woman whose husband has not literally abandoned her. This is the woman whose husband does not abuse her physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or in any other way. This is the woman whose husband does not have an addiction of any kind.
This woman has fallen out of love with her husband. This woman never really loved her husband in the first place. This woman doesn’t feel loved. This woman married her husband for all the wrong reasons. This woman isn’t trying to save her marriage. This woman isn’t willing to take advice and make course corrections. This woman has checked out. This woman may have fallen in love with someone else already. This woman is no longer happy.
I say this without having a specific woman in mind, and therefore not knowing of a specific situation, but I believe the above woman should stay married. The Bible does not even have the phrase “fall in love” in it, which should tell us something. The Bible doesn’t talk a whole lot about feelings when it comes to relationships, except to say things like this in Philippians 1 (Msg), “So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.” As Beth Moore says, “Sometimes, we cannot stand someone at breakfast and then love them again by lunch.” Feelings are unpredictable and change with the wind. Life decisions should not be based solely on feelings. And I believe that God is far more concerned with our holiness than our happiness, (joy notwithstanding and an entirely different subject unto its own).
But the Bible is clear that “what God has brought together, no man should put asunder” (Mark 10:9). And sometimes, and these are hard words for me to say and hard words for this woman to hear, but sometimes, you might be the “man” who is putting things asunder. I believe no one should walk away from marriage without first getting as much help as they possibly can and trying their absolute hardest to keep it together. I believe that we will all be held accountable for our choices at the end of our lives by a loving but fair God. I believe that no longer being in love is not a reason to end a marriage. I believe that not being happy is not a reason to end a marriage. I believe there are reasons for a marriage to end. But I also believe there are many, many more reasons for a marriage to stay together. God sees your heart. He sees your restlessness and unhappiness. He wants to turn things around. But you’re going to have to let him.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.
Thank you for sharing your heart the past two days. I am a man in the situation you mentioned today. I have the same beliefs you have mentioned. I am still in much pain. Trying to move forward with God as my spouse. She is very sad still and has shared that with me. She lives with her parents. She says she is unable to leave and cleave 100%. Is that scripture for the men, or does it apply to all believers?
I fought as hard as i could for our marriage,our family, for 18 months. I am so weary now from the fight.
We have a 3 year old blessings from God. I waited almost half my life, to grow up before bringing a child into this world, and she gave up 18 months later.
I just do not see myself with anyone but her, our sons mother. It is very painful, when you continue to show unconditional love to someone and they do not receive it.
Ladies, i want to encourage you as well to try and let God work in your lives. I agree that God made marriage for us to be Holy and not Happy.
A book that captures this beautifully is Sacred Marriage….
Blessings and Love to you all, my prayers are with all families each night….
I agree with Elisabeth whole heartedly as I believe I come very close to the man described in the article. I like reading Elisabeth’s stuff as it gives me another perspective on what a hurting woman experiences. On things I may have done in my marriage and was not even aware of at the time. I do not agree with everything she writes and that is okay. The point of contention I have is of the person who abuses physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or in any other way or has an addiction of any kind. At what point is it considered unrepentant sin against another? That is the grey area I have difficulty understanding. A spouse being abused stays five, ten, 15, and 20 or 40 years; at what point does it become okay to end the marriage. I do not think there is a black and white answer but it is something my mind wrestles with as my wife is ending our marriage of 22 years. She does not love me, has fallen out of love with me and is not happy; found another that meets the needs I supposedly did not meet – believes I abused her because she did not feel loved or cared for; even abandoned her because of the her perceived lack of love from me. Very confusing. In my heart of hearts I know that I know what she is doing is wrong as I want our marriage to work and after all that has happened would accept her back (unless she remarried) because I believe God has laid this on my heart and it would be the right thing to do. I want to stand before God someday, and I will, and say I tried everything Lord. I tried everything possible and He knows my heart better than I. I also want to be able to look my four young daughters in the eye and say I tried to do everything I could to keep our family together. In the end, I had to let go. Thank God for grace and mercy!!!
Ugh. Just utter discouragement. Never reading your posts again.
Dear Anonymous (the one who wrote at 7:41AM on 9/20),
I am sorry that my words were discouraging to you. Though I want to be as supportive as I can, I am also compelled to write the truth as I see it…and I do believe that people in the situations I laid out in this post should stay married. But, if you’ve read other posts of mine, you’ll see that I do believe there are provisions for those who have difficult marriages with other circumstances.
I am sorry for your pain.
Hey Elisabeth, I agree wholeheartedly. I am in a very difficult marriage, with infidelity as a recurrent issue. However, I too believe that God can fix this marriage, and agree that “not being happy” is not enough to abandon a covenant made with a spouse and our God. Thank you for being willing to speak the truth, even when it’s hard to hear it. Blessings
Elisabeth thank you for this post. I am the woman whose husband has not been there and has left me for another woman. The other woman was married (her divorce was final a couple of weeks ago)to a wonderful Christian man that loved her through everything that she put him through, but she was still not happy. She has moved from one married man (not her husband) now to my husband trying to get out of her marriage in which she was simply unhappy. She calls herself a devote Christain that is praying for me to have peace with this situation and hopes that one day she and I can be friends. (I don’t think this will happen.) I agree with you that being unhappy is not a reason to leave a marriage. God does not promise us happiness. My husband is also searching for happiness with her, which I don’t feel that either of them will find. Both of them are caught up in material things and lust. I am still fighting for my marriage through prayers and hope in our Lord! I can’t imagine my life with another man other than my husband even though he has done and said many hateful things to try to get me to hate him. God tells me to show love and compassion for those that are afflicted and that is what I strive to acheive. Thank you for your honesty and williness to be open with all of us!
Thanks for this! I am in this situation only reversed – my husband has “fallen out of love.” This post gives me the encouragement to continue working my marriage when everyone else tells me just to give up. Maybe I’ll even share with my husband.
thanks for the re-post. it was an encouragement the first time, and it’s an encouragement the second time!
“But I also believe there are many, many more reasons for a marriage to stay together. God sees your heart. He sees your restlessness and unhappiness. He wants to turn things around. But you’re going to have to let him. ”
THAT is a difficult couple of statements. I think my main problem is backing away to let God do the healing in my spouse. I tend to want to be the person speaking God’s Word to him, instead of just letting God do the speaking himself! It is all so complicated and confusing isn’t it? Because, I know I need to step back and stop “preaching” yet the Bible says His Word does not return void!
Oh God – give me peace and clarity to know what I need to let you do!
I am this woman, someone who has been married for 30 years, whose husband abandoned her almost the moment they were married. And I stayed, raised our children (I had 3 children before we were married) and lived life through them, all the while praying and hoping that GOD would change my circumstance. Hearing and believing that Divorce isn’t an option; believing that GOD can do anything – while all the while loosing myself as a person and human being. The last time my husband and I had any physical contact was 24 years ago, and that was after my conceiving our only child. Still I stayed.
Four years ago, this husband, went to work one day an decided to do a criminal act. He didn’t go to jail, but he put his family in financial strains. I, having been very ill for the previous 6 years, unable to work and mostly bedridden at the time. He stayed just long enough for the finances to be drained and the food banks were our only hope. He takes off, takes literally our last dollars and goes off to trucking school, becomes and trucker and hasn’t looked back. His checks, he does give to me averages about $200.00 per week and it takes $1200 a month to run the household, without the food, utilitites, etc. I can’t afford to move, can’t find a job because of both my age and my health and I still pray GOD will help me. Three years ago, I started school, wanting to be a therapist. Today, I am a step away and just hours ago, my school informed me that I have no hope of graduating. Why? Because in order for me to graduate, I must complete an internship and practicum. I am wanting and studied to be a licensed marriage and family therapist (smh) and must be supervised by an approved supervisor in my state. I have contacted my licensing board, my local and regional chapters of my professional organization, my state has a total of 60 licensed, approved surpervisors, whom I have emailed and have received no reply. I have reached out to previous students, current students, professors, instructors, staff at the school, and most importantly my supervisor over my internship. None have been able to help me. I have been left with the words of my supervisor hanging over my head, “You haven’t done enough”, but she and no one that I have asked for help can tell me what to do. My future, 3 years of suffering through and sacrificing, is gone. Again, I look to GOD and wonder what have I done so completely wrong or bad that again I LOOSE!!!! AND YES, my husband is no where to be found. I’m lost and hurt because I truly have done all that I can do. My mind is so twisted, my heart aches, last night I had such extreme pain I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
I’m the woman who has prayed that her husband die just to get out of her marriage and instead, nothing and I mean nothing but trouble has followed me. So, I changed that pray and asked for GOD to bless him, and GOD has blessed him by using my sacrifices – I have given him a good, comfortable home, he has no worries and just sits back and grins at what HE has accomplished (his words). YES, I have come to HATE HIM AND MYSELF because I am stuck and can’t get out and now, my only dream and passion, has also been taken away.
YOu say GOD is compassionate and loving and kind, I Have no doubt, it’s just that I am not seeing anything that I can hold on to. As my fingers slow down on the keyboard (and I am a fast typist) so does my hopes and dreams.
And so I remain not seeen
By the way, I had secured three internships, but my school has denied them stating that they didn’t meet the requirements of the school. And, one of the internships just hired a student that currently attends my school, also wanting to be a marriage therapist – and they approved her…… Ain’t life grand…..
And so I remain….not seen
notseen, you are seen. You are being seen here and there is hope for your situation.
Have you considered contacting other school’s counseling centers and explaining your situation? You may be able to transfer your credit and make some arrangement with another school or at least get some help in figuring out what to do about getting licensed.
Do you belong to a church?
Not seen: I am really sorry for all that you are going through, and all the pain… I cannot imagine what it is like to be in your place, but just want to say to you that no matter what you are going through right now, God is not through with your life and you will see His glory in this, He will show you how He is in control of this situation, so do not despair. I am praying for you now.
Thank you Elisabeth for this post. Today I had the courage to tell this to a Christian woman I met years ago and did even consider my friend who recently decided to leave her husband and has been dating another guy ever since, who is not a Christian… the reason? they were in financial strain because her husband was working for less money and did not have time to finish his BA. She just felt no love or respect for her husband anymore. They have two young daughters who I feel bad really for, especially the oldest one, who is now 8 and has suffered the most, seeing her mom sleep around with this new guy, seeing how she has become obsessed with him, and not being able to spend much time with her dad, as well as being a victim of her mom’s other poor choices.
Of course she did not like what I had to say. But it is a hard truth that needs to be said. Well done, and thank you for inspiring me for speaking the truth in love. I do not know if this woman will ever understand, but I know I did what was right in the eyes of God. And someone like that, who is not willing to follow through godly advice and save her marriage is not worthy of my time, either.
Thanks for the encouragement. I have been the woman you describe, after years of verbal and emotional abuse with infidelity on top of it. I felt like nothing was ever going to p,ease him, so, after knowing he was unfaithful, but being gaslighted into thinking I am crazy, I emotionally checked out and went theough the motions of marriage and family as a lifeless shell. God is indeed great though. Finally after 15 yrs of misery, we are now building our marriage and our bond and I love him immensely. To say that I dont experience bouts of sadness and pain over what I let be done to me for years would be a lie. But God has kept us together to help us love eachother towards wholeness and I praise him for it.
It is ridiculous thinking like this that results in generations of women (and their subsequent daughters) who end up miserable and taken advantage of. You are basically saying that men have a carte blanc to do what they want, so long as they don’t cheat or “literally” abandon their wives. Your perspective is why so many people have walked away from religion. And I think if you really believe that God wants women to stay in unhappy, miserable marriages, then this is a God I would never follow. I believe in a God who loves us, as we are His children. I would never wish an unhappy life upon my child based on outdated, political ideologies. How very nice that you were able to find an excuse to leave your marriage. Must be nice.
This is one of the most disappointing blog posts I have ever had the misfortune of reading. It’s just a shame that some poor women, who is mentally beaten down by an unhappy life with a man who she should not be with, might read this and think she should stick it out, because that’s what God would want. Garbage.
Anonymous I think you are totally misunderstanding the message here. She is not saying that every woman should stay in an abusive marriage. Elisabeth admits and knows from experience that it is not possible many times to keep a marriage together in such circumstances. She knows that women should try their best to save their marriages, but if the husband is consistently unrepentant there is nothing that they can do, because a marriage takes two people. She is talking also about a woman who just does not feel right in her marriage, not because her husband is abusive, addicted to porn, irresponsible, or unfaithful, but because she fell out of love. It is totally biblical and just to say: Stay in your marriage. Pray for your husband and for God to give you love for him. Go to marriage counselling. Think about his best qualities. Do a list of what you can do better as a wife. Not just stick it out, but do something to make your marriage thrive. That is the best advice anyone in that situation can hear.
Hey, I’m newly married and this helps.
Sonya, I’m so glad this is encouraging to you! Keep reading. -Elisabeth
Nothing to add to this but a hearty AMEN!!!! AMEN!!! AMEN!!!
Thank you, Kim! -Elisabeth
This describes how my marriage ended, but it was my husband who was unhappy and left. I don’t believe in divorce, I don’t agree with it, and I don’t see how a Christian man could have walked away from me because he wasn’t “feeling” love for me any more. I was not unfaithful, I didn’t abuse him, as a stay at home Mom, I managed our home and children well. There is no doubt in my mind that God could have restored my marriage, but when one partner won’t allow that to happen then it can’t be done. We went to three marriage counselling sessions (still introductory, no work was done) and he quit. I feel like I’ve been completely abandoned and betrayed. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve posted here, and I’m sorry there are some who will disagree and stop following you as a result. God bless you in all that you’re doing.
Sue, I am so sorry for your pain. If you’re not already, I’d like to invite you to join my private Facebook group for women who are separated/divorced for some extra support. Send me an email at Elisabeth@elisabethklein.com if interested. -Elisabeth
Thanks. I am already a member and I’m loving the support I’m receiving there.
It is amazing how you can write a crystal clear blog post and people will read into it anything they want and then call you the one with the problem.
Elisabeth, this is a good word. You have written truth.
Walking out of a marriage for no reason is wrong. When a person makes a vow, it is to be taken seriously. Yes, there are reasons for divorce other than adultery and you have clearly explained them in other posts. This post was necessary and important. Unless there are serious marriage issues involving adultery, abandonment or abuse, it is our responsibility to stay in the marriage and do whatever it takes to make things better.
Thank you for this post.
Thank you, Cynthia. -Elisabeth
I really love this post, and hate it at the same time. I love it because your words are so true. I hate it because the bitter people come here and do exactly the thing that probably led to the ending of their marriage.
Most people are unhappy with themselves and continue to try and find someone else to make them happy. Even though, currently, i have changed my views to agnostic, and yes i am probably blaming the wrong person/people for what i deal with each day, THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED AND MAKE YOU HAPPY IS JESUS!!!!! There is no person, child, friend, human being on this earth that can possibly give you what you need to be happy except for HIM!!
I was once told, and this was from a woman, the only reason someone gets divorced, meaning having the need to get a piece of paper to show they are no longer married, is because that person intends on marrying someone else. There would be no other legal reason, as divorce is really just a legal way to end a marriage, as some believe you are still married in the eyes of God. Im on the fence with that one, living on both sides for extensive times in my life.
Look at that from a legal standpoint as well. I mean why wouldnt you stay LEGALLY married, and reap all the perks of being married, like cheaper insurance, lower taxes, etc.
As Elizabeth has shown many times, she fought and fought and fought, and searched for every opportunity to try and save her marriage. I believe in the end, she had no say so.
Just as i did not in a no fault state. I stood in front of the judge and pleaded my case. “I am not in favor of this divorce, i was a good husband and father, i did not drink, i did not chase women, i am not perfect by any means, however i was what i was asked and shown to be.”
In the end, none of that matters as you do not have to have a reason to divorce in a no fault state. Divorce granted. Granted to life long Christian women, with parents whom are both elders in the church, one of which was her witness to the divorce in court.
I hope i have not offended anyone, and i thank Elizabeth for how she shares her heart with nothing held back because i believe she knows, the only one that she really has to answer to is Jesus, and He does know her heart….
Bill, thank you for sharing so candidly, and for your kind support. -Elisabeth
I don’t think there is any one, definitive answer for anyone going through a difficult situation. I’ve only been reading Elisabeth’s blog for a few months, but I have read her answer over and over again that “only you will know.” No one else can tell you what to do. Only you have lived your situation, only you will truly know when enough is enough. At the end of the day, you have to answer for yourself and you have to be comfortable with your decisions.
Ashley, I agree: we will each stand before God. That should be sobering enough for us all. -Elisabeth
Thank you for your post, and especially sharing your honest thoughts and feelings having been through it. I agree with you in so many ways, however what if two people were the wrong match in the beginning? What if the “in love” true vulnerability never happened? What if the wife laid in bed so many nights thinking of how wonderful of a husband she had but why wasn’t it enough? Why does she feel held back? Is there never a reason for two people to move forward on their own and love their children from separate places?
Don’t children deserve to see 2 people in love, working together and exemplifying a relationship the children can look up to and have their own one day? I can’t imagine any children that grew up and said thank you to their parents for staying miserable for their sake.
Curious on your thoughts and feedback!
Regards staying in marriage for life, idea is good, stay together and pull it through, good or bad times…It will be successful where mutual love and commitment is present. But, situation can become living hell in case where one partner still loves another (or, even worse, love non-existent at all) and ready to suffer his/hers infidelity, laziness or lack of interest in family life etc. While guilty part is not limited to his behaviour (constraints,complaints may be raised, but if a guilty part is ignorant, nothing will work). He/ she knows they are’ trapped’ together no matter what… each of them will eventually learn their own survival strategies, but that’s another story..So concept of love becomes redundant, only mission becomes to support empty shell of idea of marriage!
And children see it all and accept it as sample’ family behaviour model’ (although they might KNOW that it is not right, but their unconscious register it as a norm anyway, which they will repeat in their own family.. children become unwilling victims to repeat the pattern their parents have set for them, in the name of staying together no matter what! Undoubtedly all parents wish their children stable, happy marriages etc., But it becomes only wishful thinking —–because, it can turn other way around, kids have already learnt that any kind of abuse (even smallest) must be tolerable in the name of staying together…
It turns out that marriage is built on expense of one (or both) partner/s endlessly suffering + children, who has denied active learning what really genuine loving family is… No learning, no doing, simple!
We know when unhappiness arouses in the family children are the first ones who will soak up all the negativity. It will inevitably distort their own perception of themselves and perception of the family unit as such. Not to mention their cognitive part will suffer too.. On the top of all, children most likely will choose partners that will mistreat them (or will be fully equipped to mistreat, based on the existing experience)… I repeat, sadly they will not know any better. You are not able to ask more when you’re not aware of ‘more’!
So how our next generation can get out of this trap..? Children learn their values, behavioural pattern etc in the family. Poor example will lead to poor outcome. Agreed, relearn some things is a possibility, but just to an extent, that’s why some people repeat their mistakes all their life, because being someone you’re not is impossible!
If we will not value ‘love’ and what comes out of it — all the suffering in the world will become worthless.. Love is on the top of the things, but for some reason people think that sacrifice is on the top! Wrong, sacrifice is only AFTER the love…Wishful thinking that things in life will sort out themselves is right just to the extent… Action must come into play. We can stop loveless, abusive, dysfunctional marriages only after we dismiss them as compulsory and let our children appreciate something better!
This is the only i can help all those with relationship issues that is by tell my story how and what caused my marital problem and how i was able to retore and save my marriage and made my husband love with selflessly after all the heart ache. Upon all that i claim to know about this world and its forces,only recently i got to understand that i really don’t know anything about anything. #This world is bigger and meaner that how we picture it ti be. #I mean where your own sister can have an affair with your husband with the intention of wanting to take your place and your family and still can say she loves you to to your face is pretty mean.I am glad met Obudun Magonata an enchanter at the time i did because i would never had confirm my suspicion about my husband and my sister. #He help me uncover the truth that was withheld form me with his enchantment and his advice on how to go about the issue and how to get back my husband and save my marriage. #My husband unfaithfulness was not new to me, i knew he always cheating on me with other ladies but he always came back to me no matter what he always did. As much as i could, i try a lot not to think about all he does because nothing hurts more than knowing that your husband is having an affair with someone else because she is younger or more sexy or thinks she is a better lover than you that bore his children. I could not leave because i loved him and knew he loved me too somewhere in his heart. We have been like this for six years now and wouldn’t have been able to say i was the happiest woman alive because really as much as we are talking about happiness i never knew marriages had happily ever after. #Yeah some may say there is no such thing but believe me there is and Obudun Magonata helped me find it. I notice during our time together that my husband only get too careful when he is getting close to someone i may know or know most women know what i mean. Like he want to make you see he doesn’t have anything connection to that person but act it too much to make you realize that something is actually going between them and the person in question. It was my secret to know what he is up too when he is around ladies i know or may have just seen for the first time. that was how i knew my sister and my husband were up to something. But my sister being smart knew i had my suspicion did all in her power to hide the truth from me. I hoped to the blue sea that i was wrong that that nothing was going on being that my suspicious heart was playing with my head. #I could not confirm it but in my heart i knew they were having an affair. I did all the framing of question stuff about cheating spouse and asking if she could do that but really no one fall for that. I could not confront her when i knew nothing because growing up we learnt before pointing a finger at family you must to bent sure about the situation and i was not sure or at least i nothing really that told me my thought are true. All my effort went south and my private investigator got nothing at all don’t know how that even happened. I explored all other option that failed also. But then ,for the first came across some comments in a lot of forums talking about an enchanter Obudun Magonata and the things he had done to help people and how it all worked out for them, contact him and pleaded with him to help me out. I needed to know what my husband and sister were up to. He confirmed that they were not only having an affair but she wanted my husband to leave me to be with her leaving me her sister heart broken in so may ways. He told me how they met and where they met that made my private investigation fail. #And upon what Obudun Magonata told me i cut and their affair was all out in the wind.It broke my heart to know my husband and mostly my sister could really get involved with my husband. I mostly my sister i mean out of all the men in Chicago you pick your brother-in-law? i was hurt sad and mostly mad at my sister. #Cos i love them both unconditionally how hard was it for them to love me back. Even with all that was going on my husband told me he was not sure if he still love me after 6 years o our marriage. I knew he was leaving me for my sister he thought she was a better love than i was and there was nothing i could do about it at least that was what i thought. After so many hours of talking on the phone with Obudun Magonata tell him how i still want to save my marriage and wanted my husband to love me as i do him,he asked me put my hopes on him he was going to do an enchantment for me to fix all my problem. I provided some materials was needed for the enchantment as i was directed to do. He did the enchantment and i got a package from him its content was of how i as going to make the enchantment work and become effective. I follow every instruction and just after four day they ended their affair and grew this kind of dislike for themselves it was all over the place everyone could see what happened and as surprised as i was, i was also glad the enchantment also made my husband love be back selflessly just as did and still do. #Obudun Magonata change my husband, made him mine again and help me fix my life. Obudun Magonata is my hero i mean i am forever in his debt but still he did not ask anything from me. Please Note all that was require of me was materials for the enchantment of which was able to get so he help me with the to cost i sent to without any form of persuasion. If you contact him for help maybe you will also need some materials for the enchantment. You can us this address to contact spiritsofobudunmagonata “@” yahoo . com rewrite to standard form. This is not forever one to read who ever reads this comment and relate to it fine but if you don’t well move on do not waste your time on it ok. Just saying to avoid misunderstanding.