An anonymous author shares her painful story of wrestling with the decision to leave an emotionally abusive marriage.
When is it permissible to leave a marriage? Many people feel the answer is "never," unless there is unrepentant adultery or actual physical abandonment. I admit I was of that mindset growing up; but then, after a whirlwind romance and short engagement, I found my new husband was not the person I thought I had married. At first I bought into his statements that if anything was wrong with our marriage, it was my fault. I tried everything possible to be a better wife, and improve our marriage. However, everything I did was wrong. I twisted myself into a pretzel trying to please my spouse. I began to believe him when he let me know that I was unlovable and undesirable. I was belittled, mocked, and blamed. I was told that I was a lousy wife, mother, lover, cook, housekeeper, and human being in general. He sucked every bit of joy out of my life and was in the process of crushing my soul. Overwhelmed with sadness and stress, I was deeply depressed, often sick, and had developed an eating disorder.
I did not feel I could share any of this with my church friends and pastor in my community. He was in good standing with them, and I was deeply ashamed and embarrassed. I wondered what they would think if I said, “I can hardly function anymore because my husband is mean to me.” I tried Christian counselors for a time; but if he accompanied me at all, he would quickly stop coming after stating that any perceived problems in our marriage were mine alone. Nothing happened - nothing changed.
I credit my saintly late father, a well-known and well-loved CRC minister, with finally rescuing me. He had often attempted to talk to my husband, but to no avail. My father did his best to comfort me in middle-of-the-night, tearful phone calls. Through many conversations, prayers, and tears, he helped me realize that our God did not create me to be a doormat. I had not been physically abandoned, but my spouse had abandoned me emotionally and spiritually. This marriage was harming me tremendously. I began to realize that staying with this man would be worse than divorce.
I chose the lesser of the two evils; I chose to leave. God and I spent quite a while hashing things out, but I know that I live in God's grace, forgiven, just like all of God's children. With God’s help, I began the long process of healing. With God’s help, I began to recover my joy, my soul, and my very being. I still occasionally have nightmares in which I have to go back to my ex-husband. My sobs awaken me. But then, with a huge feeling of relief and thankfulness, I realize I am free of that bondage.
This is my story. This was my decision. Every situation is different. I cannot speak for anyone else, but through much prayer and Christian counsel, this was the right decision for me. Divorce would not be necessary in a perfect world, but we are sinful people living in a sinful world. If possible, divorce should be avoided, but I do know that it is not the "unforgivable sin."