My husband wants a divorce

My husband and I recently got married on April 1, 2011. Just a few days ago he asked for a divorce because he wants to go back to his old ways. I am barely learning the way of Christianity. I don’t know if I should stay with him and try to work things out until he decides to quit by himself or just accept the divorce, which I really don’t want! Thank you, C

Hi C,

Thanks for writing. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this; you’re in a really tough spot. I hope I can help by pointing toward what the Bible says about marriage and divorce.

God hates divorce.

  • Malachi 2:13-16And here’s a second offense: You fill the place of worship with your whining and sniveling because you don’t get what you want from God. Do you know why? Simple. Because God was there as a witness when you spoke your marriage vows to your young bride, and now you’ve broken those vows, broken the faith-bond with your vowed companion, your covenant wife. God, not you, made marriage. His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you. Don’t cheat on your spouse.“I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down.

In your letter you said you were “barely learning the way of Christianity.” Is you husband a Christian? If he is, does he take his faith seriously as you have started to? If the answer to either of those questions is no, then I can see why there is a lot of stress in your relationship. Being in a marriage with a non(practicing)-Christian is really difficult. Fortunately, the Bible offers help:

  • 1 Peter 3:1-2 Wives, likewise, submit to your own husbands. Do this so that even if some of them refuse to believe the Word, they may be won without a word by their wives’ way of life. After all, they will have observed the reverent and holy manner of your lives.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:12-16For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God.On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse walks out, you’ve got to let him or her go. You don’t have to hold on desperately. God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can. You never know, wife: The way you handle this might bring your husband not only back to you but to God. You never know, husband: The way you handle this might bring your wife not only back to you but to God.

The passage in 1 Corinthians is the bottom line answer to your question. You should stay with him and try to work things out if he is willing. If he is absolutely not willing to try, you have to let him go. If that happens and you submit to the divorce, know that the Bible is also clear:

Remember the Scripture that says, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights?” Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are “legal.” Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure. (Matthew 5:31-32).

I hope this is helpful. Let me also recommend a marriage book to help called Love & Respect. Your husband may not be interested in reading it with you right now, and that’s alright. Your reading it will help you understand him better, which could help you save your marriage. (If he does want to read it, even better!)

Blessings to you, C, in the name of our Lord, Jesus.

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9 Responses to My husband wants a divorce

  1. From a legal perspective it is possible the courts would grant an annulment. Thoughts Rene?

    • I’m guess Matthew 5 again…although I hesitate to make the direct comparison towards the first part of the verse where men held all the cards in society, and thus could keep a woman in a relationship. Verse 32 might be more applicable as an encouragement to not give up quickly.

      • reneamac says:

        Yeah, I wouldn’t want to recommend annulment unless the couple had not consummated their relationship (whether before or after the wedding) or unless there were extenuating circumstances in which the tearing apart is the lesser of two evils because while it may be a legal option, it would still be a moral divorce. It would be just like the situation in Matt 5. We could easily replace the words “divorce papers” in Peterson’s translation with annulment:

        Remember the Scripture that says, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her [an annulment] and her legal rights?” Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are “legal.”

  2. Adam Jones says:

    April 1st? Is this email for real? Divorce is not funny, but a marriage that starts on April 1st and is ending so soon is almost a sitcom joke.

  3. justin t. says:

    “C” should speak to a lawyer about divorce vs. annulment. They may mean the same thing to God but the law has a very different viewpoint and her rights could be adversely affected if she does not seek proper legal counsel about it.

  4. Pingback: In an authentically Christian marriage sexual enjoyment is as important as sexual faithfulness. « Christianity as it should be understood.

  5. Pingback: God’s commandments are not intended to make us miserable–they’re meant for our own happiness « bummyla

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