Are There Times When We Shouldn’t Forgive?

Time to Forgive AdobeStock_59582002 copyAre there times when we shouldn’t forgive? When hurts or wrongdoing are chronic and deep, you may find yourself in the position of wondering whether you should forgive at all.

Doing Fresh Start divorce recovery seminars around the country, I run into this question all the time. People are dealing with hurts that go well beyond their human ability to forgive. “Why should I forgive him?” I’ll hear. “He’ll just think that what he did was okay. Maybe if I don’t forgive him, it’ll teach him a lesson.”

How To Forgive

Certainly God wants us to forgive and be reconciled, even when the wounds are deep. But there are some legitimate parameters regarding how we do this.

A woman stalked up to me angrily after I had spoken about forgiveness at a seminar for separated and divorced people. “You Christians are all alike,” she ranted. “You judge me and tell me what I should do, but you don’t have to live in my shoes!”

“Back up,” I begged. “What do you think you heard me say?”

“You told me that I needed to forgive my husband and be reconciled. But he was abusive to me for years. I took the abuse far too long because my pastor told me I should submit. Then when I saw him begin to abuse my children as well, I gathered the courage to leave him for good. Now you tell me I have to forgive him as if it never happened.”

Clarification

I thanked this woman for coming to me immediately and not walking away with a misconception; I needed to clarify some things. When wrongdoing is chronic, reconciliation is difficult and perhaps inadvisable.

We can forgive within our spirits, but the full restoration of a relationship requires the commitment of both parties. Forgiveness means that we don’t harbor ill will toward the person who wronged us, but it does not mean that the wrong was right.

Example

Here’s a trivial but helpful example. I have a friend who is always late. Before I knew this about him, I offered to carpool with him to church on Sunday mornings. The first time he was to pick me up, he arrived about a half hour late, making us a half hour late to church. Well, I’m one of those people who really wants to be on time, or even early, so I let my friend know how I felt. He apologized and offered to make it up to me by driving next week, promising to be early.

As you might guess, he was a half hour late again but apologized profusely, promising that he’d never let it happen again. He even offered to come an hour early the next week and treat me to breakfast at a diner on the way to church. Not only did we miss breakfast the next week, but we were late to church again.

Accept Apology?

Do I need to forgive my friend for being late? Yes. I need to accept his sincere apology. I should not let his chronic tardiness destroy our friendship. He feels terrible about this, and I should release him from his debt to me. Yes, he made me late to church a few times, but that cannot be undone. I choose not to hold a grudge against him, which would only wreck a relationship and poison my spirit.

But will I let him pick me up for church next week? No, thank you. I’ll drive myself to church. So it is in marriage, when there is chronic abuse, lying, or affairs. Wronged partners need to get to a point of forgiving their spouses, but they should also take steps to get out of the position where they can be hurt deeply again.

Protection and Perspective

As a Christian, I believe wholeheartedly in the sacredness of the marriage commitment. But I also believe that there are times when an abused partner must separate himself or herself for protection and perspective. It’s a simple issue of safety.

If a wife is being physically abused by her husband, she should move out —and then work toward reconciliation through counseling. I recommend that an abused spouse not return until there is strong evidence of behavioral changes in the abusive spouse.

Don’t Ignore

If your spouse repeatedly has affairs, it is not your Christian duty to ignore the problem, to “forgive and forget.” Your errant spouse is violating the marriage commitment, and you need to stand up for those promises you both made. If your partner is truly repentant, you need to work through the forgiveness process together, demanding an end to the infidelity.

How can you tell if your spouse is truly repentant? You need more than an apology (although it starts there). Your spouse should take strong steps away from the misbehavior and toward the marriage —cutting off ties with the other person, staying out of tempting situations, agreeing to counseling, committing time and energy to you. If your spouse is not wiling to offer these fruits of repentance, you should question his or her sincerity and take steps to protect yourself from future infidelities.

Attend to Your Safety

If your partner continues to break your marriage vows, you may need to attend to your own safety by putting some distance in the relationship. If it’s not done by moving out, maybe consider moving to a different bedroom (especially with the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases). You’re still committed to the marriage, but your spouse is flouting that commitment. You’re saying, in essence, “Meet me here at the altar of our sacred marriage vows. But if you have no interest in that, I need to look out for my own well-being.”

In cases of chronic lying, you may not have grounds to leave the person, but you want to make sure you protect yourself from hurt. You simply cannot trust your spouse’s word, so you’ll need to rely on others for reality checks. Don’t feel guilty for double-checking and verifying the stories of your lying partner.

What About Lying?

If he or she says, “Would I lie to you?” your appropriate response is, “Yes, you have done so on many occasions, and I can’t afford to trust your word anymore.” It is hard to maintain a relationship without trust, so you will almost certainly need counseling to restore a healthy relationship.

There are many chronic behaviors that are less damaging, but still annoying. Your spouse may be late or disorganized or forgetful or rude. Good communication is crucial in dealing with such issues. You must let your spouse know how much the offensive behavior hurts you. While you do not expect perfection, you do expect effort, and you hope for improvement.

Chronic Behavior Problems

One problem with a lot of chronic behavior in marriage is that both partners get used to it. The offending spouse gets tired of asking for forgiveness and the offended spouse gets tired of raising the issue. So the behavior continues, and grudges grow. Steady communication keeps the issue on the surface, where it can be dealt with.

Another problem is that the apology-and-forgiveness process can be watered down. When the problem is chronic, the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” are repeated so often that they can be misunderstood.

Misunderstandings

“I’m sorry” can begin to mean “I’m sorry that you’re upset about this (but hey, that’s just the way I am).”

It should mean “I was wrong; I’ll do everything possible not to do it again.”

“I forgive you” can be understood as “It’s all right; no problem; no damage done.”

It should mean “Yes, you hurt me, but I will not let that action poison our relationship.”

Whether the offense is as major as an extramarital affair or as minor as leaving the cap off the toothpaste, the full process of forgiveness requires repentance rather than excuse.

THE UNREPENTANT PARTNER

What if your spouse never asks for forgiveness?

There are reasons that he or she may not ask for forgiveness. The most obvious is that your spouse doesn’t think he or she did anything wrong. You can debate the facts of the case forever, but at some point you may need to make a unilateral decision to forgive. Just let it go. You let go of it even though your partner doesn’t admit there was an offense.

Wilma and Fred

Let’s examine the incident between Wilma and Fred. Let’s say that Wilma knows that she did not throw away Fred’s memorabilia. She suspects that Fred threw it away carelessly years ago, but that he just wants someone else to blame.

Fred believes wholeheartedly that Wilma threw away his stuff and that now she’s lying about it. Neither one can apologize—both genuinely believe they’re innocent. In a case like this, if there is an apology, it’s probably an appeasement: “If I did something wrong, I’m sorry.” You’re just saying the debate is not worth wrecking the relationship.

Impasses

That’s a noble decision sometimes, but if you find these impasses are happening regularly, it can become frustrating, even maddening. (And watch out for the passive-aggressive response, offering a quick apology but determining to get even later.)

The solution approach is helpful in a case like this. Rather than focusing on the past problem, look toward the future. Where do you want to go from here? From this perspective, it doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. What will it take to live together peacefully? You can agree to disagree about the facts of the case —just agree to move on.

“Act As If…”

The two partners can employ the act-as-if method. They give each other the benefit of the doubt. Fred may still believe that Wilma threw away his stuff, but to keep peace he decides to act as if she didn’t. He releases his grudge, even though Wilma never agrees to having done wrong. There’s another reason a person might refuse to ask for forgiveness: He or she may be lying.

Let’s look at the case of Art and Sylvia. Let’s say that Sylvia knows that Art is having an affair, but when she confronts him about it, he angrily denies all wrongdoing. He might even accuse her of being paranoid or crazy. But the facts are clear —Sylvia has undeniable evidence that Art is having an affair, even though he’s not willing to take responsibility for it. In such a situation, how should Sylvia proceed with her forgiveness?

Biblical Confrontation

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus spoke about trying to make things right with someone who has wronged you. If the initial confrontation with the person doesn’t result in repentance and reconciliation, Jesus said, Take one or two others along. This makes a lot of sense, even in a marital situation. You need perspective. With just the two of you, you could argue forever, your word against your spouse’s. But if you bring a counselor into the picture, or a church leader, or some mutually trusted friends, you can better establish the facts of the situation.

In counseling, we sometimes set up an intervention, where we call together significant friends and relatives to confront a person about a problem he or she has been denying. This is especially helpful if the person is dealing with some kind of addiction. In such cases, a certified addiction counselor would be the best one to lead the intervention. In cases of chronic affairs or lying, mature Christian friends or church leaders might be best.

A Third Party Perspective

Why do you need to get someone else in on your personal problems? Well, maybe you are being paranoid. If so, the third party can tell you so. If you have undeniable evidence, then the third party can confirm it, and your spouse will be forced to own up to his or her wrongdoing.

The purpose is not one-upmanship or humiliation, but agreement. If your relationship is going to be healthy again, you and your spouse need to agree on where you both stand. Often just the threat of airing your dirty laundry before others will force the errant spouse to admit the transgression.

Refuses Counseling?

What if your spouse refuses to see a counselor or some other third party? There may be legitimate concerns about who the third party is; if so, negotiate this as best you can. But if your spouse stubbornly refuses to see anyone, you should see a counselor or church leader on your own. This will give you much needed support and valuable advice on how to proceed.

What if your spouse sees the third party with you, but continues to claim innocence? Jesus said that if the errant person will not listen to the two or three witnesses, “tell it to the church(Matthew 18:17). In their efforts to follow this teaching, some churches have public denouncements or messages in the church bulletin, but we should remember the goal of this whole process: love and restoration.

Church Can Help

I believe the church can and should have a part in healing the marriages of its members. This can be done in a number of gentle ways, through there may be a point where an unrepentant philanderer may need to be reprimanded by the church or even removed from its membership. (The church should also provide special support for the wronged spouse.)

If the offending person refuses to listen to the church’s reprimand, Jesus said he should be treated as a nonbeliever. This does not mean that the person in no longer a Christian, but it does mean that we can no longer expect godly behavior from this person. We should still treat the person with the love and respect we would show to any unbeliever, but our relationship with this person changes. What’s more, this person’s marriage changes.

What If Affair Continues?

Let’s say Art continues to deny the affair he had. Sylvia and Art meet with their pastor and a few trusted church leaders, who look at the evidence and support Sylvia’s charges. They urge Art to repent, but he refuses. After all of this, according to Jesus’ teaching, Sylvia needs to treat Art as an unbeliever. This does not mean she has to divorce him, but there will be a new distance in the relationship. She needs to establish firm boundaries, protecting herself from further hurt from Art.

Can she still forgive Art? Yes, though it’s not easy. Her response is like the cry from the cross: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Sylvia can decide on her own to drop the issue-not to excuse it or shift the blame, but simply to say, “I will not let this pain and hate rule my life anymore.”

Interventions

We have seen interventions work with many couples. We have seen them work for alcoholic marriages, for abusive and adulterous relationships, for spending and gambling problems, for husbands who refuse to work, and for wives who refuse to care for their children. Sometimes people do admit their wrongdoing and seek restoration. In those cases, forgiveness is easier. It’s never a cinch, but it’s easier when the person is seeking forgiveness.

The worst case of all is when a wrong is done and never acknowledged by either party. One suffers in pain, the other in guilt, but both suffer in silence. The bonds of matrimony soon fray as forgiveness is neither sought nor offered. That’s why we encourage solution-based approaches to mend the marriage relationship.

Being Set Free

Forgiveness can set a person free. It can breathe new life into a tired marriage. But it’s hard work. Forgiveness is not a shrug of the shoulders—”Hey, no problem.” Yes, there is a problem! The forgiving person often has to be willing to wake the partner up, to figuratively “shake the offender by the shoulders” and say, “Hey, look! You hurt me. I am willing to let that go, but we’ve got to do something to fix this relationship. I want you to work with me but I need your help.”

This article is edited from the book, The Marriage Mender, by Dr Thomas A. Whiteman and Dr Thomas G. Bartlett, published by Navpress. This book gives solution-based tools for rebuilding marriage. With illustrations and exercises, it teaches how to look to the future of your relationship instead of focusing on the past with its problems.

Dr Thomas A. Whiteman is a licensed psychologist who practices with Life Counseling Services in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Dr Thomas G. Bartlett is also a licensed psychologist who practices with Behavioral Healthcare Consultants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They both work with troubled couples and have conducted seminars on marriage and divorce recovery through Fresh Start Seminars.

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Filed under: Bitterness and Forgiveness

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Comments

78 responses to “Are There Times When We Shouldn’t Forgive?

  1. (USA) My husband keeps bringing up a past relationship wanting me to call the guy on 3-way so we can all discuss this past issue. The guy is married. My husband has cheated on me many times and now in 2013, he has cheated. But he is talking about something that happened with me in 1988.

    What should I do? I asked him to leave. So he is gone but calls day and night, has told me I was playing games with him, and that he would kill me. I’m afraid. The lady he has been seeing moved from Louisiana into an apartment 3 steps from our house. He can walk out of the back door and be at her house.

    1. Pamela, You are dealing with a husband who wants to hide under the shadows to justify and continue his own cheating ways. What he is asking of you, concerning this other guy, is not the real issue. It’s a front for passing the blame, hiding behind any shadow he can find so he can better live with his own sin. BUT you need to be careful with him. He is obviously not predictable in what he is capable of doing and can be dangerous. Who knows where his thoughts and actions will take him? And he obviously found another woman who is caught up in his “charm” and his stories, who is shameless in her behavior, as well (in moving so close to you). I HIGHLY recommend that you read through the “Abuse in Marriage” topic we have on this web site and contact a domestic violence counselor. She can give you advice to better help you to protect yourself.

  2. My husband said it was my choice to have the children in front of my two children 5 and 2 years old. We were arguing over him refusing to read one of the kids a bedtime story as it was his turn to do do and he was refusing. It really hurt just to hear him say that in front of these children. Later I told him if I had somewhere to go that night I would have taken the kids with me and that would have been the end of us but if he ever says that again, it will be him leaving the house. He called several times the following day from work to apologize for his behaviour and even when he got back from work. I’m having such a difficult time forgiving him. He is a good dad and husband, though.

  3. Hi everyone thank you so much for this site and may God bless you as you encourage His brethen. I am born again and has been married for 13 years now and I have 2 daughters 7 and 11/2 years. Last year my husband got into a relationship with a workmate a woman who has 2 children from other relationships, a boy and girl 14 and 10. I have tried talking him out of it and sent friends and he has maintained the relationship. Her children call her dad now and sleeps in our houses alternatively today here and tomorrow there. My husband loves money so much because this woman is independent but lately she is demanding financial support of which we cannot maintain 2 houses.

    Apparently the first 3 years of marriage he was in a relationship still with another workmate a lady he used to borrow money until she ended it. He provides everything. We even moved to our family home recently. However he is riddled with debts right left and center due to demands form the mistress. It has been very hard on me since the other woman has tried all means to frustrate me so that I leave him to her, to a point they exchanged our family car with hers. She bought him a whole new ward robe alleging that I don’t know how to dress him. He says that my house is disorderly. I told him then our little toddler should not play so that the house can be neat like that of the mistress whose children are in boarding school.

    He has not been able to fulfil my conjugal rights and when I ask he accuses me of one thing or the other. I was actually contemplating moving to the guest room since it’s frustrating lying with him hearing him whisper to his mistress sweet nothings and my imagination of them doing what we have always done intimately is killing me. I read this article about forgiveness and am thinking spirits are involved here since I don’t see his attraction to an older woman than me who has her own life. In our country getting involved with an older woman than your wife is questionable (since polygamy is allowed; though, in our church it’s a sin and even in the New Testament). I love him so much despite everything and divorce is not an option for me. Do you think meeting with her and telling her I forgive her would work? Please pray with me as I en-back on the journey to forgiveness.

  4. My husband left me when I was pregnant. He is a porn and see addict. He left me with all the bills and moved to the nice part of town, had multiple affairs. Meanwhile he kept lying to me saying he will come home; he just need time to think. His family says they love me and the baby and wants to be in our lives, but their actions do not match with their words. When I needed them the most they completely disappeared. Thankfully my church family jumped in and helped me prepare the nursery, some brought food, some brought used baby clothes… etc. My ex and his family continue to keep at a distance, except when they want to see baby they’ll demand a visit at their convenience. I’m so frustrated at them but legally I have to allow visits.

    I know our God is a relational God but how can He push us to reconcile with people that continue to hurt us?

    My ex mother in law continues to undermine what had happened. She kept telling me her son is a great boy and hey, at least I didn’t catch him in bed with another woman; it could be worse. I feel that I’ve been thrown under the bus and neither my ex husband nor his family care how I feel. Thankfully I have my own family and my church family who are very supportive.

    I know God wants us to forgive. But I don’t think He calls us to be a doormat. I believe God also set boundaries. We can be respectful to those who hurt us, doesn’t mean we have to trust them or even let them back in our lives, especially if they are abusive.

  5. I agree with this woman, it’s hard to forget the pain this quick & just forgive. My husband just asked for my forgiveness through my daughter, & before the Divorce is over. I wondered why is he feeling guilty to divorce me now, but I found out that he was getting married before even waiting for what he has started, to get rid of me…

  6. I was desperately seeking some hope through the internet when I found your article! When my husband told me yesterday that he discovered through a church message on unforgiveness the day before, that he had been harbouring unforgiveness towards me for 24 years (the duration of our marriage) I was devastated. I felt that I needed to be silent so that he could speak and tell me what he had to say and allow him to say sorry and that he had recognised that his behaviour towards me and lack of care and support had been the result of this unforgiveness.

    We don’t live together at the moment (been separated for 2 years). The plan was that we were to get back together and move nearer to his work place. This has stopped and I can’t bring myself to talk to him after his revelation because I really don’t know what to say. Thank you so much, it has given me a deeper perspective. Once I have unpicked the advice and applied it to my appalling situation, I think that I’ll be able to move forward.

  7. Above it says lying may not be grounds for divorce, I’d like to approach this comment if I may. My husband has not cheated on me but his lies are often and vary in big to small lies. If I say anything after realizing he has lied, he tells me it is my problem because he can’t talk to me.

    His lies started even before marriage back when we could talk but only in the last year have these lies came out…I can’t get over them. Mainly because he won’t own them, sincerely apologize and change the lying behavior. He calls me names, threatens to leave me, spits on me if I “accuse” him or won’t accept his excuses for lying. Emotionally I feel abused. I am in a deep depression which involves anger. I know it is because I am blamed for everything or get neglected/silent treatment.

    Every issue that needs worked on in our marriage goes the same way…I have to fix it- not him. He “listens” so that’s his hero job. But even if agrees to work on things- he never does. Talks the talk but no responsibility in life or our marriage except him and his job. I’m grateful he keeps a job but again here I owe him so much because he does (at least that’s how he treats me and his words express it).

    This doesn’t seem like a marriage. I’m just going to keep getting sicker as things are if I stay. Mention therapy….he only wants to go to put on a shoe of how wonderful he is and how I’m the crazy one. He wants to tell me and everyone else anything he picks from the session to justify himself and paint me bad.

    I love him. He is the love of my earthly life (Jesus was and is my first). This is the reason I stay. And because I am not perfect myself. I blame myself too, yet at the same time, I know all our martial problems are not just me. I have 5 children and he and I have the youngest together…they cannot keep seeing us argue as we do. Our family is a mess. I cannot trust him. I do not feel he loves me even though he says I’m the love if his life too. Why did he marry me if the day we were married everything changed?

    I think I am going to leave him. This fighting is driving our whole family apart in different directions. I don’t know if he is narcissist or passive aggressive but I do know that I am not the same anymore. Confused, feel like I’m in shock, as I sit here still feeling his spit in my ear (from tonights punishment of asking him to be honest with me and stop hiding things so that we can begin rebuilding trust) and his harsh words penatrate my heart…I feel like someone has knocked the wind out of me. He is a good guy to everyone and even me, except when these things happen. Which makes it even more confusing. Right now, I know I should be praying but the emotional torment is too great and I can’t. Please intercede for me – someone. Thank you.

    1. As I was reading your post- it was as if I wrote it myself! I am in the same circumstance with my husband. I don’t know what to do next. The hurt is so deep that I don’t know if I can recover. I wish you well.

      1. I’m going through the exactly same thing right know, except we don’t have children. I’m heartbroken and about to leave him. I have packed my suitcase too… but deep in my heart I pray we can fix this. But he doesn’t repent of his lies, and he lies in my face without remorse… about where he is, what he’s doing… he blames me. But it’s not my fault.

        I know he lies. I’m going to tell him when I think he is sinning, like smoking pot, he can’t control himself, and I feel he choses drugs over me. He said sorry. The next day he does it again and hides it… I pray but I can’t control him, or change him, and I feel he is disrespectful to me and to himself.

        He is addicted to food too, and hates when I try to help… I’ve been patient for over 7 years. I gave up everything for him. When he’s fine he’s an amazing man and a good Christian, but when he snaps… verbal abuse, emotional abuse and lies are the norm. I pray he gets cured. I can’t imagine my life without him, but it’s destroying me.

  8. I am a divorcee. It’s been 6yrs since we parted. My husband is a non believer. I had come to faith as a child but not matured and wasn’t a committed Christian when we married (whirlwind romance – married 9 months after meeting). I have since returned to my faith. My issue with forgiveness is that my ex husband will never acknowledge his wrong doing and so will not apologise.

    I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible, to explain the context but my main gripes were that he put his mother and sisters and everyone else before me. I was given no place in his family by him or them. He said no one could be trusted, so there was no trust in the marriage, he was disrespectful. He was very insecure. His mother was very controlling and his sisters very aggressive. I had never experienced such behaviour before. He was constantly in debt and left me to fix all the financial problems. To me he was a weak and emotionally immature person. I soon became resentful.

    He was a heavy drinker and gambled. We had two children but he didn’t engage in family life. He was constantly online ‘chatting’ to women. The marriage broke down as he just didn’t want to resolve anything, he’d never see my point of view. He didn’t seem to care and I felt very unloved and lonely and frustated that I couldn’t fix this on my own. He wouldn’t attend counseling. He pushed me to instigate divorce proceedings, which I did and very soon after I found out he’d been seeing someone else (they’d met online), which certainly made sense of his behaviour. Again he denied a relationship and said they were friends but I had it on good authority (from my own pastor). He continued to be reprehensible, in that he trailed me through the divorce courts trying to take what savings I had (I had given up my career to rear our children), I had no financial provision from him in the divorce, he paid nothing in child maintenance for a long while (the govt body, which deals with this was then involved but even now he pays a pittance) and a lot of mind games were played (asking to come back even though he was still with the other woman and then denying this and numerous sexual advances). It was an emotionally destructive period in my life.

    I’ve gotten over the hurt but I don’t think I’ve forgiven him or his family and when I see them I do still sometimes feel a wave of rage and injustice. I’ve been reading Matthew 5 on forgiveness. My ex and I just don’t speak (this is the easiest solution); we text with regards the children. Do I need to forgive someone who doesn’t seek forgiveness or offer an apology or admit the hurt they’ve caused? I have no desire to have any sort of a relationship with him. Matthew 5 speaks of the forgiveness of a ‘brother’ (someone you are in relationship with) -I am not in relationship with my ex and I have no desire to sit down and talk over 6 year old issues that couldn’t even be resolved back then. What would be the point? Can’t I just live with not liking this person?

    1. Dear E, Please continue reading through the various articles on this web site on the topic of forgiveness, including the quotes. I think you would see that forgiveness and reconciliation, and having any kind of on-going relationship with each other, are different steps, with forgiveness being important (you’ll see the reasons in the quotes and articles), but the others being more of choices. However, when you have children together, even when they’re grown, you will have some type of necessary contact with them for the rest of your children’s lives. It’s all part of being parents. Divorce doesn’t erase that.

      You need to put your differences behind you when it comes to your children. They don’t need more drama than they already have been handed by the circumstances behind your divorce. For their sakes, find peaceable ways to be together and talk together, when it’s necessary. Texting is good. But talking about the other parent in negative ways to your children is bad. It’s just not a good idea for any reason –even if your spouse doesn’t do what he should. I hope you will prayerfully read what you can and work through this to have the most peaceable interactions possible with each other, as the parents that you are, when you DO have to be together.

  9. I was married for 34 years. My husband and I are both believers;9 I still love my husband, but he had multiple affairs. He finally left me for s younger woman who has 5 children. I think she is married but separated. They say they are in love with each other.

    I don’t know what happened to my husbands commitment toward our marriage. I did go to counseling but he refused. He seems happy and I am single now and struggling and learning to depend on Jesus for everything. I lost my home, my kids are adults but are all angry and hurt because our family is destroyed by Satan.

    I know I will make it, I want to know if there is any advice on how to get my husband to fall in love with me again, more importantly that he comes back to our lord. I do forgive him. It has taken time. In the past I forgave easily and he would be sorry and say he loved mr and would never do it again. But after the fith time I left and I started divorce proceedings. I asked him if he wanted to proceed and he said yes he wanted the divorce.

    He does not even talk to me anymore. How could this happen when we loved each other and had 4 wonderful childten together? I don’t understand. I am also disabled, maybe he thought I was not fun anymore, but I am. I am also attractive and I love people. What happened? My husband is also a pilot and I supported his career.

  10. Hello everyone, I found out my husband had a lot of girls he regularly flirts with some days before our court wedding. I got so bitter until I reported him to my pastor and mum who then counseled us and since he seemed absolutely repentant. I was made to realize forgiveness is the key in every marriage. I forgave him and we got married but we have been apart for ten months cos he works abroad.

    I have barely moved in with him for three weeks when I found out he still flirts with these girls, even after our marriage, to the point of sending nude pics to them and vice versa. I have been dead inside since I found out this last night. I feel I have made the biggest mistake of my life marrying him. I don’t think things can ever remain the same. He lies faultlessly, and I don’t see myself believing him anymore. People of GOD, how do I go about this? It’s so overwhelming.

    1. Adeola, This is so heart-breaking. I’m sure your regrets are more than anyone could ever comprehend, as far as ever marrying this guy. As far as what to do, I really can’t tell you, and neither can or should anyone else. This is between you and God. I can tell you one thing though, God hates unfaithfulness. He knows what it is like to love and have His bride be unfaithful, just as you know what it is like to have your husband unfaithful. He is there for you and won’t forsake you.

      Your husband would have to “get real” with you, and turn his life around, fully repentant in order for you to have ANY chance of an on-going marital relationship. I know you have been down that road before, thinking that he was genuine, but obviously, his words fell flat when he got the opportunity to cheat again. But your heart and your marital bed cannot be a revolving door where he can come in and out as he pleases. He needs to be aware of that. What he is doing is out and out adultery and is totally unacceptable.

      I wish I could say otherwise, but you have some HUGE decisions to make, concerning your marriage. There will need to be so many things that would have to be put into place where you could ever trust his word again. He has been a player, and I’m not sure if he will ever leave that lifestyle or not (in his actions, following his promises). And I’m not sure if his word can be trusted again. All you can do is throw yourself upon God’s mercy to give you wisdom in this. Unless you are sure that you are sure that he is absolutely repentant and is willing to do whatever it takes to change his flirting lifestyle, please don’t allow your husband to play with your heart. Guard your heart.

      But also, be careful in the future, not to allow bitterness to grab onto you. You can know that the enemy of our faith will do all that is possible to try to make that happen. Once the assault to your heart starts to settle down a bit (which will take time), bitterness will try to slip in there. Be aware and fight it. And be aware that your husband will have to fight his flirtatious nature for the rest of his life –whether he is with you or not. It’s like an alcoholic. He will have to do what it takes to starve that addictive nature. Obviously, there are women out there that are willing to throw themselves at him, but he will have to turn the other way and show that he IS NOT willing to be a player anymore.

      I wish I had answers for you… all I can say is to lean upon God to give you the strength, the needed insight, and direction as to how to proceed each step at a time in the way you should walk. This is a life-changer. There will be no quick answers or quick remedies. I pray strength for you and pray that God will reveal His love for you to give you hope and help, as you need it. Please know that as horrific as this is, you will eventually see light amidst the darkness and hope will again be birthed in you. Hang in there my sister. You can do this… you will live through this and come out stronger and better eventually. I pray for you and send my loving prayers out for you.

  11. When my husband and I argue, it’s always about the same issues. I’m too negative and he’s too perfect in all ways. Alcholol is an issue for both of us, but he uses alcholol and Marijuana daily. Also a weekly fight. I have anger issues and when we fight and I’m intoxicated I lose control of my mouth and say very mean and hateful things to him and unfortunately his mother via text messaging.

    This has been going on for over a year now and has happened again just 4 days ago. He is unwilling to forgive me and wants to divorce. This has happened 4 times over the last year, but this time I believe he means it. I have apologised and did try realy hard for almost 3 months to not say anything to his mother during blowups. I just lose it when I’m drinking…However, I have forgiven him over and over and over for cheating, touching another female inappropriately when he was drunk, leaving over 2 dozen times and going to his mother’s home, the friends where he cheated on me and sleeping in his car other times, drinking and driving, giving me the silent treatment on several occasions when gone and for being an alcholic.

    That said I am a trigger mouth when drunk, hurt and angry from emotional and verbal abuse from an alcholic, addict with a little narsasitic and very childish character. He believes he does no wrong EVER and that he is all around just a better person than me and all the previous things I stated I have forgiven him for, happened and he had to do because I’m crazy, negative and well, just plain a b@#ch.

    I’m a dictator, can’t relax and hate everything. He continues to believe and tell me I would have nothing if it not for him. I’m just struggling with the forgive quickly, and rebuild trust and relationship. I can’t get him to realy, truly commit to the rebuild piece or the quick forgiveness back from him…How do I move out of this without feeling so guilty of walking away from my vows, commitment and love for the person he was, could be again and is at rare times in between the horrible situation???

    1. Get help for yourself, learn to love and respect yourself, take an anger management course. You cannot change HIM… he may be unfair, selfish, and a user, but YOU feel guilty because of your drinking. Fix your sins and let the Lord make justice… Heal your Soul, help others… and good things will start happening… I pray for you.

  12. I had a similar incident. In our Catholic church during a sermon the priest said we should turn the other cheek as a good example to our spouses who have wronged us and forgive and keep our marriage vows. Respond with patience, perseverance and unconditional love.

    I was so angry then I went up to the priest after the mass. I said that for years I did exactly what is said in the Bible. There were many times I almost died after a severe beating. Plus my husband tried to choke/strangle me and would repeatedly tell me to die. Each and every time I responded with love and tolerance and tried to get help for him via psychiatric care wherein we found out he was Bipolar and a Narcissist.

    The time came when he started hurting our children and physically abused them. That was the last straw and I called the cops on him. After that I threw away my faith because if such is what is asked of us wives then what is the point. We were not born to be beat up like boxing bags.

    The priest answered me this. As a Catholic, there are instances wherein the Bible does not ask us to stay in abusive relationships. True, the Christian faith is a highly patriarchal one but our primary responsibility as women is to our children. Our sin is greater if we turn a blind eye to the danger our children are in by condoning such abuse, by not fighting back.

    Its been 10 years and still I cannot forgive my ex husband. I don’t think I should forgive him and I dont feel like it either. Many times he has told me that I will amount to nothing, that I will burn in hell for being unforgiving.

    But you see I am still fighting to keep him away from our children. If I am to go to the pits of hell then where will he be? When he acts as if he is the one to be saved since he said sorry anyways. I remember so many times he said sorry and the beatings would get worse and worse.

    1. Dear Cleo, I’m so grieved for you that you have gone through this in your marriage. I will never understand how one human being can subject another to this type of horror, especially someone who vowed to love you for the rest of your lives. I’m sad for you.

      As far as forgiving him, I can well understand why you wouldn’t want to, nor feel inclined to. I think that is natural for us as human beings. But when we don’t forgive, we keep ourselves in a prison of bitterness. That doesn’t mean that we don’t protect ourselves and our children from future hurt, nor does it mean that we have to reconcile if the conditions are not right for us to do so. And we certainly don’t give cheap or perverted forgiveness where “beatings” will continue. But we let go of the “right” to enact revenge and hold onto bitterness. We throw it away from ourselves and let God deal with punishing the other person, not us. We release the toxic feelings.

      I encourage you to prayerfully read through the quotes posted in the Bitterness and Forgiveness topic at http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/about-us-2/quotes-on-bitterness-and-forgiveness/. Perhaps, in gleaning through and reading through them, it will start you on a journey to be able to better comprehend what forgiveness is, and what it isn’t. I pray for you Cleo, that you are able to protect yourself and your family, and yet not hold onto bitterness. That would be so very difficult to do, but it is a path that would be better for you and your children.

      1. I have tried to seek my husbands forgiveness, but for every attempt at just trying to talk through his grievances with us since 1985, he has decided we don’t really want to change if there is any possibility he might upset our social apple cart. One man his father said needed Christmas off because he was active in our church and my husband should just work instead of him on Christmas, put his wife into the pew they usually sat at and she found an envelope addressed to her. The note on the back of the photos said a gift for the truly devout man, It contained pictures of the man in an embrace with a known topless dancer. it also had pictures of them going into a hotel arm in arm across the street from where my husband and hers worked.

        She stood up and slapped her husband looking at the pictures as he talked to our pastor and she threw the pictures at him and ran out crying. I think my husband had something to do with this. It was the Christmas after he took the new job by hurting four men. and that Christmas he was angry because his father and others forced him to work at gun point.

        Since 2001 its been an impossible thing to get my husband to do what was best for those around him without force. This Christmas all I did was give him the first actual Christmas meal he’s had at home in 33 years. I just wanted every ones frazzled nerves that my husband was going to be there to be calmed. So I made up his plate, handed it to him and told him to go out to the barn to eat out of the wind, It was the only compromise I could think of. I got hit in the face with the plate of food and yelled at. Telling me he was not a field hand to be asked to do the “massas bidding” and accept this bit of charity. It took seven men being bloodied to throw him out, and then he just came back heavally armed and forced everyone to get out of his house leaving hungry on the day of forgiving.

        I am at a total loss as to what to do to gain any truce now; just to get him to forget everything that happened since 1985, the denials, the pushing and blackmail we had to use to gain his cooperation from the day he arrived home from the navy. I just want some peace now instead of the war he has going to. I don’t want to be forced into marital relations again like three years ago. I won’t even try a compromise about the vacation he wants now. I am just going to say ok you are coming. He has me to afraid to try and help my friends keep out of the way from his anger with us. I just want him to understand and believe that what was done was never meant as a way to keep him as a slave.

  13. I found this very helpful! I can wrap my head around this article & its is a comfort. Please direct me to some liturature that spouse seeking support of the church & the church is neglecting that request. My desire is to restore my marriage & Im failing in my singlehanded efforts. I suffer 2 yrs of marriage that has been abusive (physical, emotional, & verball) at times my own flesh gets the better of me in response to the abuse. The “2 or more” has not happened regardless of my request in the last 1.5yrs. Repentance from my spouse produces no fruit he reoffends against me within days or 1 week. The elders have offered me prayer & laying of hands but refuse to confront my abusive spouse or make any statement to the congregation denouncing the behavior. I was also criticized that I was telling them something bad about my husband when he doesn’t say bad things about me – as though my experience was a reflection of my character not his.

    I am now Rx by my doctor to seek physical therapy for my most recent injury; meanwhile the church members I sought help from honored my husband for being mighty man of God for providing for our family – he deserved it but he accepted all the Honor without acknowledging God’s role or mine (1 flesh only matters to my husband when it comes to our sex life). I forgive so much so often but I’m hurting & I feel like my marriage is in spiritual ICU & there’s no hospital staff tending to our healing & the infliction persists. I even moved out for 6 months & he attended church activities 2-3x each week – I was home 3 weeks when I sustained a back injury from being thrown around my bedroom. This was a result of me saying “hey you are being inappropriate & harsh & rude towards me & it is intolerable you need to stop.”

    He demanded That I was disrespectful got in my face & told me if I’m gonna talk to him so disrespectful then I had it coming. I suffered back pain & sciatica for the following 4 months until I was able to get permission from him to see a Dr.

    I am waiting for God’s will & I refuse to be tempted by divorce. I desire to have a marriage the way God designed it! By the way, All the advice & coaching I’ve been receiving serves as confirmation to me that I am doing everything in my power to do What I can to help my marriage. God is a Gentleman & will not force his Will on my spouse or me. I am certain that my will matches God’s throughout my research, prayer, & council.

    When the church doesn’t participate in the God Ordained practice of Church disipline, am I supposed to walk away for the relationshs there (risking the stigma of Church hoping) or stay until I find myself at church w a black eye & broken nose before anyone acknowledges there is a Believer willfully sinning within the church body & causing another to sin?
    I’m looking for direction & scripture to support the next step I should take. I don’t want revenge I want harmony in my marriage. We have 5 kids (blended family) & I am a stay at home mom.

  14. Yes, in order to be true followers of Christ we need to forgive. I am almost 100% there in my forgiveness for my wife that I loved dearly but abandoned me and told me some frivolous reasons like I was accusatory about her ex husband (not true). Her daughter’s goal has been to end the marriage not liking her family and grown kids even if they were wrong, like not cleaning things up that they dirty; and not questioned her going even out of genuine concern. Never once did she try counseling but simply gave up. So she has left me emotionally and financially drained but still has gotten some help from me and was intimate until her whatever convinced her otherwise. Being a true follower is hard but we must fulfill his word and leave the consequences up to him.

  15. You are a very dangerous person. What you are telling these poor people will get them killed domestic abuse. Thank God us Christians are not all the same. You, I do not consider a Christian. You need to read the Bible again and again. This article is very bad what the author wrote! Men that hit you do not change and it just gets worse until they kill you the author of this article needs their head examined!