Question: I am in a struggle for my wife. On our honeymoon, in 1985, my wife anounced that she didn’t love me and she had made a huge mistake in marrying me. That devastating piece of news has been the standard bearer for our relationship since. My response to the situation was to withdraw from her over a period of years. Alcohol helped me complete
the seperation emotionally and enabled me to almost completely damage what little there was to the relationship.Three kids, a house, an abortion, the tragic death of her father and the realities of financial hardships along with my complete selfish withdrawal into alcohol pushed her far enough that she told me we needed to seperate or divorce. I might add that my ready access to pornography helped to further drive a wedge between us. After nine years she had had enough and I was out. In the fall of 1994 I moved out. Devastated and a personal tragedy I slowly came to grips with my situation. While five years earlier I had confessed Christ as Lord I had never gotten around to submitting to His authority over any part of my life. It had been business as usual.

After six months of personal reassesment and prayer and the beginnings of submission, I was given a miraculous release from the bondage of alcohol. Four years and I have yet to desire a drop. That miracle enabled us to come back together and after that 6 months I was home again. Our relationship began to improve for a time. My wife began to receive counseling. I was restored to a post as a Bible study teacher. And my wife began attending church, and even to teach Sunday school. Things were looking good.

About two years ago, she started taking graduate classes in New York City. She stopped attending counseling and discontinued her use of prozac. Slowly she began to withdrawl from our relationship. She began to stay in the City long after her classes were over. She began to ‘go-out’ on many nights when she did not have any classes. She was beginning to develop another whole life outside of our marraige. Abuse has been the way my wife has dealt with me in an effort to change me from the first day of our marraige. About a year ago, because I was no longer anesthetized by alcohol, I was no longer able to bear the abuse in my relationship and cast the whole concern for it onto my Lord. I prayed ‘I can’t handle it anymore, it’s all yours.’

For the last year my wife has grown more estranged from me to the extent that she recently has a track record of being ‘out’ nearly every night of the week. I discovered after 13 years of nonsmoking , she was smoking again. Since the day I cast my burden on the Lord I have seen her behavior slowly escalate to a frenzy in her efforts to withdraw from me. Curiously, the abuse has stopped. From the day of my prayer, the abuse largely stopped, yet she has been steadily moving away from me.

Two months ago I was out all night at a retreat for my Church’s high school youth group. On returning home earlier than I was expected, I discovered that my wife had not spent the night alone. Four years before when my relationship looked bleakest, I was at my most hideous. I was suspicious, hurt, angry, annoying and many other terrible things. This time with my Lord as my guide I prayed solemnly before confrontation and was able to apporach the subject with great calmness. Her relationship with Mr X. ended almost immediately. At that time the full weight of my situation became apparent to me.

Last month my wife celebrated her fortieth birthday. She never wears a wedding ring. She says I don’t exist when she is out. She has established a tremendous relationship with a 26 year old girlfriend. She adores the dating scene that this girl is actively engaged in, and
she still goes ‘out’ nearly every night. She also seems very often distressed about even being around me. She has confessed that she suspects that it is ‘God’s will’ that we be divorced. Fundamentally, she has an infatuation with the romantic aspect of love, and has not found fullfillment of that notion in me and therefore has reached a stage of personal crisis at being unable to find fullfilling love.

Over the past months I have been more and more closely atuning myself to my Lord. He has become my refuge and in Him I have found great strength. I see myself doing things that I would never have done in the past. While I have great grief and sorrow and pain, I am able everyday to survive. I have even found laughter and happiness again. Four years ago when my wife was furthest from me I was at my worst, today I am loving and supportive as a husband ‘no matter what she becomes’. I fully understand the Biblical mandate to love, and I have been empowered by the Lord to Love. While my wife is furthest from me I have found the deepest love for her I have ever known.

I know my wife hurts. I know she is confused. I know she has journeyed deeply into the paths of sin, and may well have to suffer the consequences. I know that she too is in pain. She came from a broken family, while I did not. Our oldest daughter has reached the age my wife she was when her father left home for another woman. The picture maybe couldn’t be bleaker. Yet I have faith. I have come to know my Lord through His miracles and faithfullness, and I know that He shall deliver me from the hand of my trouble. I have even begun to use this situation as an occasion to witness to unbelieving friends, that the Lord will deilver us.

Because of this I eat daily the meat of His Word, where I can find it. I especially look for the words of encouragement. That is what I was doing when I was reading your web-site information. I have found that Faith in God is sorely lacking even in and among His people. It grieves me when men give up on God. I guess I was concerned that as a searcher of encouragement, very nearly the first two things I read from your web-site suggested divorce as the answer. Perhaps if I had seen the twenty letters of encouragement first I might not have been so quick to write. None-the-less, I was compelled out of concern.

Though my Lord has yet to deliver me, I know that my Redeemer lives, andI shall wait on His hand. He has brought me quite low. He has humbled my proud lying lips, cast down my proud looks, and caused me to weep bitter tears. My face is in the dust and my oppressor stands accusing me. Yet I know that the Lord ‘does not willingly grieve the sons of men.’ He has made great promises in His word and on them alone I shall rely and I shall stand. He has given me victory over alcohol and pornography and lying. I am not the same person my wife married. She does not even yet know that. What God rebuilds, He rebuilds in righteousness.

You wanted to know more about me, well, there it is. I am no one. I am only a stranger in a strange land seeking refuge from the storm. I am very glad for your response. It showed a greater concern and respect for God’s Word than I thought I had seen on your website. I am pleased to know that there are those standing firm in this confused society that seems to hasten divorce at every obstacle. I pray for blessings on your work.

I have seen too many people, Christians perhaps foremost, latching on to the notion that divorce is the deliverance that God wants. His word is so clear about this.
Perhaps what I seek, others too would like to see, and that would be more success stories. More first hand statements by people about how God was able to effect miracles in their lives. We need to know that even in the world of 1998, God is active and caring and healing His people. In love,

Answer: Dear Glen:
What an encouragement to see that we could begin to understand each other. What a blessing to me to hear your story though heart-breaking!
I came from a divorced home at the age of 12 so I know the pain it has on children, yet that very loss brought me to Christ and I thank Him for the suffering “God intended it for good” Gen.50:20. I have a relative who has not divorced her husband though she might have done so for biblical reasons. I see God’s endurance and patience in her life.

Thanks so much for your story. I will pray for you. There are no easy answers. It sounds like you are being led of the Lord and strengthened by Him. Have you read Love Must be Tough: Proven Hope for Families in Crisis by James Dobson? I suppose you have read many books. I don’t know that everyone is called to be a Hosea to a Gomer, taking an unfaithful spouse back time and time again. But I respect the fact that people are led by the Lord in their particular situations. When & if you determine before the Lord that you have had enough then you will know.

I get many clients who are deep in depression and/or anxiety because of their particular situations. One depressed spouse moved out and finally reconciled with her husband after a long period of time, struggle and counseling.

My husband also knew her. One day he said to her, “so what is keeping you from moving back?” That question challenged her and within a month or two she was back with her husband. They are doing well to this day. The grace and miracle of changed lives and a changed marriage!

Spiritual Struggle: I know that there is a spiritual battle going on when one spouse is caught up in sin which can cause oppression in the home. I pray that you will not suffer depression or some other mental health problem which could destroy you. But God gives grace which is sufficient and we experience that grace in suffering: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2Cor. 12:9.

Two resources that many people have found helpful is Codependent No More : How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie or Love Is a Choice : The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Robert Hemfelt ( a Minerth/Meier book). You might find that some of the principles apply to your situation so that you can better take care of yourself in the midst of it, though it sounds like you are doing so much better. I praise God with you!

And I praise the Lord that you have come so far spiritually, & in victory over your addictions, etc. May our God continue to give you His mighty power everyday. Surely this has happened because you made a choice to surrender totally to Him and His Word everyday. I thank the Lord for your testimony in the midst of your suffering. I pray that someday your marriage will be restored and give Christ glory!

I do know of someone who led her husband to Christ after a long period of enduring his affairs with other women. He became a leader in ministry for years afterwards, then died and went home to be with our Lord.

I believe in God. I believe He is a God of miracles. The greatest miracles outside of the gift of salvation in Christ is the miracle of a changed heart, a changed life and a restored marriage. That ” If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation” as Paul writes about in 2 Cor. 5:17! I pray with you that your wife will come back to Christ before she suffers the consequences of her sin. Though God is longsuffering, He does chastise and He allows people to experience the physical and emotional ramifications of sin.

Please know that I care. I will be praying. Sometimes when I hear these stories I rush to solve them, to stop the pain, to bring about justice. God doesn’t always want that.

If there is any way I can share your story anonymously or an abbreviated part of it in the advice column? All of these stories can help other people. I only reprint when given permission by the people who write.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13

Praying with you, Lynette Hoy

Dear Lynette:

Thank you for your kind response. Certainly you may share my letter. As I came for encouragement, may I too be used to encourage others. More than anything else, I thank you for your prayers. The power of prayer in faith is the power to change the world. ‘With men it is impossible, with God, all things are possible.’ May the Lord richly bless you.

In His love, Glen

© copyright 2005 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC