Thursday, October 16, 2003

When Love Goes Wrong

"What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”
~ Mark 10:9

Last week I wrote about the blessings of love and a long-lasting marriage. This week I’d like to talk about the opposite scenario – when love goes wrong.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that the disintegration of the family and the high rate of divorce is a sad commentary on the state of our country. Nobody likes to see a family torn apart by divorce. But I truly believe that sometimes it becomes necessary for the well being and survival of those involved.

In regards to the above Bible verse, my husband had an interesting thought: Maybe God didn’t join some people together in the first place. Isn’t it possible that sometimes we’ve made a terrible mistake and simply married the wrong person? As long as we’re human, we’re capable of making some really bad decisions in our lives. Or maybe the person we married changed after the wedding. I’ve seen that happen time and again – they act like Prince Charming before the wedding, and then they turn into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But thankfully, God is a God of second chances!

Some may say that’s a copout or an excuse to give up too quickly on marriage. But I’m not talking about the little disagreements that we all have from time to time (or the occasional BIG disagreements, for that matter) – I’m talking about being married to someone who is unfaithful or continually abuses you or your children verbally, emotionally or physically. As much as God hates divorce, I believe He hates seeing His children abused even more. In fact, the Bible tells us that God takes a dim view of men who mistreat their wives.

“And this you do with double guilt; you cover the altar of the Lord with tears [shed by your unoffending wives]…..”
~ Malachi 2:13 (Amp)

God doesn’t want us to live out our days suffering abuse at the hands of someone who has broken their vow to love, honor and cherish – till death do them part.

There are many reasons why women tolerate abuse at the hands of their spouse, but the main reason usually involves financial concerns. Additionally, abusive men are into power and control and they’re usually very good at manipulating their wives into believing that they are worthless and stupid and no one else would ever want them. After years of being criticized and belittled, the woman’s self-esteem is obliterated and she eventually starts to believe all the negative things he says about her. So she resigns herself to a life of misery and heartache, deciding that even a bad love is better than no love.

Another reason many women stay in a verbally or physically abusive relationship is because there are children involved. When they got married, it was for life – and they never wanted their children to come from a broken home. Sadly, in most cases, their home is already broken. Yet, no matter how bad it gets, they convince themselves that they should just hang in there “for the sake of the children.” But we need to ask ourselves, what is it doing to the children to be living in the middle of a war zone?

Besides that, what kind of an example of marriage is that setting for them? Do we want them to think that it’s normal for husbands and wives to scream at each other day in and day out? Do we want our daughters to think it’s acceptable for a man to cheat on them, belittle them or physically abuse them? Is that really the picture of love we want to paint for our children?

Amelia E. Barr once said, "What right do I have to make everyone in the house miserable because I am miserable? Troubles must come to all, but troubles need not be wicked, and it is wicked to be a destroyer of happiness."

In my sister’s case, she and her kids are happier and more peaceful since the divorce (which was finalized last summer). Recently, her 12-year-old daughter had to write an autobiography for school and she talked about how her dad didn’t treat her very well when he lived with them. Then she quoted the words to a country western song by Jimmy Wayne titled “Stay gone.”

Here’s a poem I wrote for my sister two years ago when she was just beginning to contemplate divorce.

For My Sister’s Sake

My sister’s in a marriage –
if you can call it that,
Her husband is so mean to her,
he tells her she’s ugly and fat.

He never shows her any signs
of kindness, love or affection,
Nothing she does ever meets
his standard of perfection.

He yells at my sister day and night
because the house isn’t clean,
Believe it or not, he even complains
about water spots on the washing machine!

When my sister makes an honest mistake
he mocks her and calls her stupid,
I don’t know where this guy came from
but it certainly wasn’t from Cupid!

Even their kids have noticed the fact
that their dad’s not a very nice fella,
They don’t like how he bosses their mother around
as if she were Cinderella.

When times were tough, as they often were
and his insults pierced her heart,
She took a deep breath and told herself
that this was the “for worse” part.

She wanted to keep her family intact
so she fought with all that she had,
She tried to focus on the good
and overlook the bad.

But recently she discovered
that her suspicions about him were true,
It seems there were three people in the marriage
instead of the traditional two.

Now, whether her life as a single mom
will be an improvement, there’s no guarantee,
But for my sister’s sake, I hope she takes that chance
at least then she will finally be free.


Recently another dear friend of mine, Mae from Texas, sent me an interesting commentary on divorce from The Word Among Us magazine (
Coincidentally, Mae and I became friends when she sent me a letter after reading one of the poems I’d written about my sister’s abusive marriage. I’d like to close with this excerpt:

“If you are divorced, know that Jesus loves you just as much as ever. He shares your pain and suffers with you. Think about His encounter with the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). He didn’t condemn this woman, even though she had been married five times and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. Instead, He brought her to repentance, healed her, and sent her back to her village to tell other people about Him.

Whether married, divorced, or single, all of us need to know God’s healing. Our Father wants to mend the wounds in every marriage as well as the wounds of those who have been affected by divorce….He wants to put his arms around us and give us His blessing (Mark 10:16).”