To My Friend Who Wants to Leave her Husband

To My Friend Who Wants to Leave her Husband February 23, 2016

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I remember the conversation vividly.  My friends and I were driving to the beach for a girl’s trip.  In a rare moment of silence, one friend blared out that she was going to leave her husband because she didn’t love him anymore.  As I listened to her reasoning, I silently prayed that God would give us the words to help our hurting friend give her husband and her marriage another chance.  Here’s what we shared with her…

Every marriage has seasons of disappointment, frustration, and grind.  Sometimes we bring it on ourselves with bad choices or careless mistakes.  Other times, we’re blindsided by an unforeseen catastrophe.  It’s easy to point fingers during those times.  It’s easy to shut down, stop talking, and internalize bitterness or shame.  But, those moments–when our hearts are broken and we have thousands of words left unspoken–are the very moments that we need to lean into our spouse the most.  

This world tells us that love is a feeling that can come and go.  If this is true, then love will fail us every time.  And, it will never be

Love is NOT enough, and here’s why

enough to hold a marriage together.  But, this is NOT at all how God defines love.  The Bible tells us that true love is unconditional.  It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.  It protects us.  It heals us.  

TRUE LOVE NEVER FAILS US.

Even so, there may be moments we feel like giving up on our spouse and ending our marriage.  Why is this?

We don’t foresee the healing in our future.  We don’t want to put in the work and take the time to get to the root issues.

We’d rather just start over.  

But, what we fail to see is that marriage is a lasting commitment that we will always carry with us, regardless of whether or not we move on.  God designed it this way.  It’s not something we can just shake off and forget.

When we marry, we pledge to give every part of ourselves to our spouse.  And, we trust him/her to do the same.  In our world today, this is frowned upon because it means we have to be completely vulnerable and put our hearts on the line.  This is the beautiful mystery of marriage.  When both partners do this to the best of their ability–being naked souls before one another, holding nothing back–there is an incredible, intimate union that forms.  And, the more we pursue God and one another, the tighter the bond becomes.

I think most of us go into our marriages wanting this amazing union with our partner.  But, life gets in the way, and we forget to be intentional with our time.  Our marriage gets put on the back burner, but this is counter to what God wants for our marriage and family.

Our spouse deserves our time and attention every single day–whether or not he/she has earned it.  We give it to them because we love him/her, and we’re devoted to making this marriage thrive.

There will be times when we don’t feel like giving our spouse our time and attention–

when we feel like we’re just roommates,

when we feel like he/she isn’t giving us what we want,

when we don’t feel attracted to our spouse anymore,

when the thought of talking with him/her is exhausting,

when it feels like we can’t do anything right,

when we wonder if the marriage was a mistake,

when we decide to stay together “just for the kids,”

when we aren’t sure if we can trust him/her anymore,

when we’ve fallen out of love with our spouse,

when we have a secret that we’re not sure we can ever share with our spouse, and

when we hate being married, but don’t know what to do about it.

These situations can be hurtful, confusing, and potential devastating to our marriage.  

But, THEY ARE NOT A REASON TO GIVE UP.  

We must be willing to fight for our marriage.  It certainly takes BOTH the husband and wife to make it work, but we must be willing to TAKE THE FIRST STEP.

Do those things you enjoyed doing together when you were dating.

Go to that place you’ve always wanted to go together.

Go see a Christian marriage counselor to help you learn how to have a healthier relationship.

Attend a couple’s retreat to strengthen your marriage.

Surround yourself with couples whose marriages are strong.

Pray together every day, and ask God to soften your hearts towards one another.

Increase the physical affection in your relationship, and make love often.

DON’T HOLD BACK.  Share what’s on your heart.  Be honest and open.  Don’t have secrets of any kind that you keep from one another.

Remember–as a husband and wife, you have vowed to be each other’s partner, lover, best friend, encourager, accountability, and person to lean on when the other is weak.  Marriage is a beautiful, lifelong partnership when we allow to be.  But, we can’t give up when it gets hard.  We must press on.  Let’s not wonder how things could have been.

A Prayer for my Husband

As far as my friend I referenced at the beginning of this blog, I’m happy to say the weekend trip was a turning point for her.  Although we did a lot of listening, as we should all do when a friend has something on his/her heart, my friends and I were also able to speak into her situation.

I certainly don’t have a perfect marriage, nor do I have all the answers, but I know Who does.  I’m thankful that  God doesn’t abandon us when we have marital problems.  He was right there for my friend when she needed Him most.  My friend and her husband decided to fight for their marriage with God’s help, and that was seven years ago.  Today, their marriage is better than ever.  I love seeing the smiles on their faces and great love and respect they have for one another.  I feel like I witnessed a marriage miracle, and my friend is so thankful that she refused to give up on her husband.

Reader, if you feel like giving up on your marriage right now, please take this blog to heart.  There is hope.  Find a marriage counselor and take the steps necessary to rebuild your marriage.  It can get better when you both are committed to making it better and allow God to do the rest.

For more on how to save your marriage, check out my husband’s amazing NEW book, “The Seven Laws of Love,” by clicking here.

Thank you so much for reading, commenting, sharing.  I’d love to connect with you on my NEW InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest!  Be blessed.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Dawn Hill

    Ashley, that would be great, but when I try to talk to him he won’t say anything back to me. Nothing…just straight faced, blank stare…nothing. He’s been like that for 9 years!!! I don’t know what to do anymore.

  • MyRedSandals

    Great article, Ashley, but as you so eloquently said, “It can get better when you both are committed to making it better and allow God to do the rest”. One person cannot save the relationship, no matter how willing they are to compromise (I was, he wasn’t) or try to talk things through (I did, he didn’t). Twisting yourself into a pretzel (me) when the other person has a completely different agenda (him) simply doesn’t work. End result: Adios to 40 years together (his choice, not mine).

  • I didn’t see any mention of physical spousal abuse. What if you’re married for , say 10 years and you have an argument over really nothing and the husband grabs his wife by the throat and throws her on the bathroom floor really hard. A dear friend of mine had this happen to her and she’s considering forgiveness “because of the kids”. How will she feel safe and comfortable around him again? Isn’t there a line that can get crossed where you need to say ENOUGH?

  • ben

    People on here have posted what appear to be counter points to Ashley’s well written argument. Clearly this article is primarily directed to those who feel “trapped” or “fallen out of love”. This is obviously different than many other situations. I would encourage you all to talk to a real person. Contact someone who can help. Talk to someone you trust.

  • Helen

    I struggle with this. My husband has been verbally abusive to me for the past two years, did not make our marriage or myself a priority, and treated me more like his assistant or a chore that need to be dealt with rather than his partner. He tore me down to a point where I hated myself, my body and really believed that all the problems in our marriage were my fault. I continued to try, doing this that I knew he cared most about, or building him up in the ways that I could. At some point though, I shut down and stopped caring. I left him right before the holidays. When I left, I guess it was quite a shock and on some levels broke him. Now he claims he has changed, that he found his way back to Christ and that he’ll never treat me that way again. He wants to try again, doing all the things that were listed in this blog. The problem is, I asked to do all of those things when our marriage had really taken a turn for the worse, I wanted it to be fixed and healed and he did not. And now I have nothing left to give to him. I don’t trust him, I’ve finally realized how damaging his words were, and have fear/anxiety at the thought of going back to him. So I guess I do not know how to move forward.

  • Lil’Bugger

    I disagree and in fact do believe that on person can save a marriage. That one person must turn to God and trust in him completely. Only through God can that marriage turn around. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. 18 years of marriage.

  • MyRedSandals

    Essie, you are certainly free to disagree. I am beyond happy that your marriage was able to be saved and would have loved for that to be my story as well. But I can tell you from my personal experience — and from speaking with literally hundreds of women in my circumstance — that not every marriage can be saved, even when both people want it, let alone when only one wants it and the other is fighting tooth and nail against it. I am a committed Jesus follower, have been walking with Him for 40+ years and am well aware of the power and capability that our Almighty God wields. But sometimes, His plan and His timing do not match up with ours. Our job is to trust Him and believe that His plan and His timing are far superior to ours, even when we don’t understand the who, what, when, how, and especially, the why of things.

  • Wm. Darius Myers

    Where love is a verb describing our intentional action, marriage is the greatest blessing you can know. Where it becomes a noun describing our fluctuating feelings, most will eventually succumb to committing serial polygamy.

    That having been said, where one partner has already abandoned the marriage (even if they keep showing up at the same home), even a believer is not mandated to enslavement. This is especially true in abusive relationships, where there has been adultery, or where other issues have entirely shifted one partner’s focus from “being married.” But neither is it mandatory to pack up and leave. In Helen’s case (ignorant of so many details as I am, I hesitate, but hope that she’ll take it with a larger-than-average grain of salt) re-establishing trust with the husband you know is likely to be easier (if he does pursue the course you describe) than overcoming the distrust most of us would carry into future relationships (“I want to get close to this new person, but I was so wrong about the last one…”). Leaving those issues vaguely unresolved, in my experience, often leads to a cycle of serial polygamy.

  • MyRedSandals

    Wm. Darius Myers: I appreciate the way you phrased your response, “…where one partner has already abandoned the marriage (even if they keep showing up at the same home), even a believer is not mandated to enslavement”. My husband repeatedly abandoned our marriage (shifting his focus away from “being married” again and again to be with numerous other women), even though he did show up at our dinner table each evening. Emotional abuse aside, I did choose to stay because I was so hopeful that God would ultimately intervene, and that my husband’s repentance/our reconciliation was still possible. Sadly, in order to legitimize his most recent affair with a still-married coworker, he chose to move out, never to return to either our dinner table or to our marriage counselor’s office. He was on a one-way trip to divorce court and didn’t stop until the papers were official. No vague resolution there, I’m afraid…

  • Clara Danielson

    I love what you have to say and I think that this is true of many married couples. But I think it’s dangerous to pat women on the head and send them home. If he is being emotionally and verbally abusive, she may not even realize it. Some abuse is subtle – gaslighting is sometimes hard to detect and will eventually make the victim feel crazy and unable to trust the voice in his/her own head. By the time people in those types of relationships reach out for help, they LOOK crazy and are often labeled rebellious, contentious, and disrespectful (which is actually considered spiritual abuse)… ask me how I know.

    I highly recommend Leslie Vernick’s “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” to anyone who feels stuck – at least eliminate emotional abuse as the cause or quantify the severity of it.

  • Clara Danielson

    Sadly, many churches – where a lot of the women reading this blog will go for help – do not know how to identify emotional abuse.

  • Clara Danielson

    I recently read a book by Leslie Vernick “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. It may help you put words to what you’re experiencing.

  • Matamoros

    Women are commanded to love, honor and obey their husbands. This is not a man’s commandment, but God’s. Women try and use everything they can think of, “emotional abuse”, etc., etc., to justify themselves, but they cannot fool God – and they will be punished severely in this life and the next for their unfaithfulness.

    The “I don’t love him any more” is a rather disingenious argument predicated upon the ideas of romantic love, rather than real love, as Ashley has shown. There is a profound misunderstanding among women that love is an emotion — it is not. Love is an act of the will.

    You chose to make the promise to love, therefore you must. This has nothing to do with your husband, but with you. You, as a wife, must choose to love him, and to do the acts of a loving wife even if you don’t “feel” it. In other words, fake it until you make it.

    You are what you do. If you are a shrill harridan, or a shrew, you may be unlovable; but most women are simply confused between the so-called “romantic love” and true love. Romance comes and goes, there are moments of bliss, but love goes on forever if you choose it to do so.

  • emergingguy

    he should never ever want to try again as if he is not always perfect you will leave him again – he cannot rely on you

  • emergingguy

    be very careful re anything from Leslie Vernick, as she is a strong believer in wives giving up and leaving their marriages

  • emergingguy

    same here, Adios to 21 years together (her choice, not mine). Re “One person cannot save the relationship, no matter how willing they are to compromise” … I agree 100%

  • Clara Danielson

    Helen, I’m so sorry… that is really hard. clearly you reached your breaking point. And just because other people could’ve withstood more does not mean you should. Can you do counseling? Have you found something to help calm your nerves re:the anxiety? It will help you navigate these choppy waters better.

  • Clara Danielson

    Have you read her book? If you had, you would see that she has many tools for staying in the marriage. IF those fail, she does not encourage women to stay to their own detriment – these are cases of EMOTIONAL ABUSE.

  • One Truth

    Hello Helen. I am very sorry to hear of your experience with your marriage.

    Just remember one very important thing. God loves you very much and He is always at your side, as long as you remain faithful and stay near Him.

    In Matthew 19:26, Jesus made a very uplifting statement that all Christians should keep on their hearts and never forget……

    And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible.”

    Now in that text, the discussion was concerning a rich young ruler who refused to follow Christ no matter the cost. But that statement from Christ applies to all things.

    Not saying that you have not already done this, but I would recommend that you stay in prayer with God, asking that His will be done in this situation. Forgive your husband from your heart and pray for God to heal his heart and to convict him where he needs conviction. Pray for God to mend your marriage if it is His will. Ask Him to show the both of you any areas in which you might be out of His will for your lives.

    Do not stop praying concerning these things until you get your answer from God, and He will answer the faithful believer.

    God loves you and your husband very much and He will act. Just trust Him.

    I recently watched a very powerful film called The War Room. I would strongly recommend you watching this movie if you have not already seen it.

    If you look at most of the personal miracles in the Gospels that Jesus performed on individuals or their family members, Jesus always commended them for their faith. Do not ever let the enemy steal this from you. That is one of the greatest weapons in the Christians arsenal.

    I will be praying for you and your husband. May the Lord richly bless you.

  • One Truth

    Yes, sadly this can be true. This is why people need to put their Faith in God alone and trust that He will work everything out.

    Of course, the individuals must be faithful as well as doing their part by living a life aligned with the will of God.

    Unfortunately, finding a good church can be tough these days, but they are still out there.

  • Susan

    Gaslighting, I myself know too well.

  • TL

    Helen,

    I can appreciate the compassion provided through biblical phrases and personal religious beliefs; there is a lot to be taken into consideration there and I hope you factor in every bit of advice you feel is of value.

    What I have found is that those asking for the answer from others already know the answer yet seek to determine if they are “right” meaning they know the answer. By reaching out to strangers, those who do not know you or your husband, you might feel the feedback is best because it is unbiased. You already know the answer.

    Abusive relationships are rarely turned around by a sudden event such as a person leaving. You took your husband’s comfort zone away from him and it scares him to know what to do as he, per your description, had you conditioned. Your leaving was not necessarily his eyes being opened to how he treated you but more his eyes being opened to his life being controlled by someone else…you. You didn’t attempt to take this control, you simply made a choice in interest of your mental health. You know him better than anyone else and if you have to ask those you don’t know about an abusive partner you are looking for a way to rationalize an unhealthy situation, potentially.

    If he is serious about change he will be happy to accommodate any request you may have including therapy. This does not mean you must live together to attend therapy as you MUST be safe but professional help will be needed for you both in order to move forward. There is accountability, resolution, responsibility along with many other things that need to be discussed in order for you both to heal and grow together. Simply saying “I have changed, I have changed” is not enough. Actions speak louder than words and you both have action to take – different kinds of action but action that will make a difference.

    You can do it!

  • Monica Guerra

    These days I can’t but notice how contagious divorce is. If one family member is divorcing then an immediate or once removed is divorcing. This friend was lucky to have her around. I had a boyfriend that used to tell me that love comes with conditions. Hence he’s not my boyfriend anymore. Love is a verb not a noun.

  • Ina Plassa-travis

    it’s easy enough to weep and claim repentance when the good things have been taken away from you…its another thing to change one’s self for the good of both. My husband and I both came from combative families, but were seeking peace, and committed while we were still getting to know one another to treating each other with respect in all things – that doesn’t mean we don’t kid around and tease one another…but that, in the process of holding ourselves accountable, we do it without violence or insult. If your husband can DEMONSTRATE a similar commitment? there might be something to his claim – but it may be that your deeper expression of love? involves removing yourself as a target, if he cannot master his base nature.

  • Ina Plassa-travis

    once is an accident – that? quite honestly sounds like an escalation….and if that is the case, the chances are that the children are already caught in the hell of fearing the people who are supposed to be committed to their protection…it is a phenomenon I see far too often in Christian families, where there is no understand that the ‘rod’ or the staff is a shepherd’s crook, not something the flock ever needs to fear, because it is only ever used to provide assistance, or protect against predators.

  • We had embarked on a 30 day sex plan (http://www.mypartnerandi.com/30-days-to-better-sex/) and agreed we would follow thru completely. Sometime in the middle of the plan, we got in a big fight…you know the one that would probably last several days.

    Anyway, since we had agreed to follow through come hell or high water we stayed with the 30 day plan. It started out very mechanical, she wasn’t careful with her teeth, I was purposefully being to rough. BUT, by the time we finished that days plan we were back to normal…sex cures everything, except of course the things it can infect you with when you use it like you shouldn’t.