Why Some Spouses Give Up

Give up Pixabay ball-841176_640The following story is a parable meant to be used as an imaging tool. It’s not meant to give a spouse, who is ready to give up on a marriage. It is not an excuse to do so. It can however, give the abandoned spouse a better understanding as to why their spouse may have decided to leave their marriage when they did.

More importantly however, this parable is meant to be used as a “wake-up call” to those spouses who are asleep to the fact that they’ve been neglecting their family. And if they don’t come to that realization and do something to drastically reverse their neglectful behavior immediately —they may wake up one morning to find themselves alone without a family to care for and spend time with.

Read the following edited story with an open mind and heart as to what the author Andy Stanley is trying to tell those who think their family should keep understanding why they spend so much time away from them.

Pastor Stanley writes:

Use your imagination for just a moment. Imagine that your best friend walks up to you in your front yard one Saturday and asks you to do him a favor. You have some free time, and so you agree to do it. He walks over to his car, opens the trunk, and produces a thirty-pound rock.

Now here’s where you’re really going to have to use your imagination. At this point he hands you the rock and says, “I really need you to stand here with this rock until I return.” He explains why it’s important that you stand in that one spot with the rock and promises to return shortly to retrieve it. It’s a strange request, and his explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is someone you trust, so you agree. At this point he thanks you with extreme gratitude and then gets into his car and drives away.

Time Passes

An hour goes by. And what started out as a reasonable favor is beginning to get a little hard. But after all, this is your best friend, so you resign yourself to continue on and stand there. Another hour goes by and your arms are starting to ache. Everything in you wants to sit down, but you made a promise. Then suddenly, to your relief, your friend pulls in the driveway, jumps out of the car, and runs in your direction. You’re so relieved. If you weren’t holding the rock, you’d hug him.

But your joy is quickly crushed. Instead of relieving you of your burden he says, “I told you I was coming right back. But I need to run one more quick errand. If you’ll keep holding the rock, I’ll make it up to you when I return.” Once again, you trust that what you’re told is true. If your friend needs to run one more errand before relieving you that is just the way it is. So you agree. As he turns to go you can’t help but yell out, “Please hurry.” Off your friend goes and there you stand.

More Time Passes

Another hour goes by. The sun begins to set. Your muscles are aching to be able to drop the rock. But you refuse to give in. You’re committed to holding up your part of what you promised. Besides, your friend said he’d make it up to you. You aren’t sure what that means, but it must be something good. Thirty minutes later a car pulls up in the driveway. Someone you don’t know is driving. This person walks over and informs you that your friend has been delayed. “Would you mind holding the rock for just a little while longer?” he asks.

You experience a mixture of pain and anger. You manage to mutter, “Just tell him to hurry.”

Away the person goes and there you stand. It’s dark now. The streets are empty. The neighbors are at their windows watching you stand there, wondering why you’d put up with being treated like that by a “friend.”

Another hour goes by. You begin to lose your grip. Your arms begin to fall. You tell yourself to hold on, but your body just won’t respond. Down goes the rock. And just as it hits the pavement and breaks into a hundred pieces, your friend pulls up in the driveway. He jumps out of the car, runs over with a look of panic on his face, and says, “What happened? Did it slip? Did somebody knock it out of your hands? Or did you change your mind?” And as he looks for an explanation as to why you suddenly dropped the rock, you know that it was a long time coming.


Now let me explain what happened in terms that will help us later on. Your mental willingness was overcome by your physical exhaustion. You wanted to do what you were asked to do, but after awhile you just couldn’t do it anymore. Add to that the frustration of being misled about how long you’d have to stand there. But even if the aggravation is put aside, at some point you just weren’t going to be able to keep holding on. No amount of love, dedication, commitment, or selflessness was going to be able to make up for the fact that your arms were worn out.

Now, let’s add another element to that story: You’re about to pass out from exhaustion. And finally a car pulls up in the driveway. You’re so angry and in so much pain you know you’ll have to choose your words carefully. Sure enough, it’s your friend. He walks over slowly with one hand behind his back. He forces a smile and says, “I brought you something.”

Suddenly he brings out from behind his back a bouquet of flowers. At that point you don’t just drop the rock. You find within yourself just enough strength to throw it at him! As he ducks, he exclaims, “What was that all about? I bought you flowers, didn’t I?”

Specific Explanation

Now, I probably don’t need to apply my little parable. The meaning is pretty obvious. So at the risk of insulting your intelligence, let me be painfully specific:

• When we ask our husbands and wives to carry their load as well as ours, it’s like handing them a rock.

• When we’re absent at critical junctures in family life, they’re left holding the rock.

– Also, when we find ourselves pointing to the future to somehow make up for the past and the present, they’re holding the rock.

• When we assure our families that things are going to change and they don’t, they’re holding the rock.

Love That Trusts

The interesting thing is that they always accept it. And why not? They love us. They trust us. Besides, we always reassure them that they’ll only have to hold it for a short time.

Everybody is willing to be “understanding” when a loved one needs to neglect the family as a top priority for a reasonable period of time. And in real life, taking time away from the family because of job responsibilities is sometimes unavoidable. But when they’re left to carry a load of neglect they were never created to carry in the first place—it’s just a matter of time before things will begin to unravel.

When It Takes Too Long

There’s a point at which that mental willingness isn’t enough to hang on. With a literal rock, mental willingness is eventually overcome by physical exhaustion. With an imaginary rock, mental willingness is eventually overtaken by emotional exhaustion. And when that happens, the rocks come tumbling down.

There’s always a final straw: a comment, a phone call, a tired explanation, a no-show, a forgotten birthday, or a missed game. Some little thing that pushes those we love past their ability to hold on. And to the uniformed, unsuspecting spouse —to the husband or wife who has lived with the fantasy that everything is just fine —it seems like a huge overreaction. They think: “All I said was.” “All I did was.”

But it wasn’t the moment, nor was it the phone call. It wasn’t the fact that the big hand on the clock was on the six instead of the twelve. It was weeks, months, or possibly years of waiting for things to change. The rock finally slipped out of their calloused hands.

It All Breaks Apart

When the rock drops, you’ll do everything in your power to pick it up and piece it back together. You’ll find the time to devote to fixing the problem. But in my experience, when the rock drops, there is always some permanent damage. Most rocks can’t be put back together again.

Do you know what your family wants from you more than anything else? They want to feel accepted. In practical terms, they want to feel like they are your priority.

“But they are my priority,” you might argue. That may be true. They may be your priority in your heart, but that’s not the point. They want to feel like your priority. It’s not enough for them to be your priority. They must feel like it.

I’ll never forget discussing this point with a very busy corporate vice president. He kept assuring me of how much he loved his wife and kids. Finally I interrupted him and said, “The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule. They can’t see your heart —they only know your schedule.”

Too Much Time

Keep in mind that the chief indicator to your family of where you place your loyalty is time. It’s what you put on our calendar. Where you spend your time is an indication of where your loyalties lie. In effect, you pledge your allegiance to the person or thing that receives your time.

Are there time-consuming bridges you need to burn? Are there accounts at work you need to hand off? And are there some out-of-town meetings that need to be handled on the phone? Is there an offer you need to refuse? A promotion you need to give back? Once you’ve made up your mind to make your family more of a priority, it will become all too clear what stands in the way of your being able to focus on your commitment to re-prioritize.

Needed Changes

So what is your non-negotiable? What does it look like? Does it mean leaving the office everyday at 5:30, regardless? Does it mean never missing one of your children’s performances or ball games? What does the commitment look like in your world?

Again promising to do “better” won’t get it. You’ve already done that. That terminology doesn’t even register with your family. They’ve heard that before.

This article came from the book, When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family written by Andy Stanley, published by Multnomah Publishers. As Dr John Maxwell says about this book (which we agree): “This is a life-changing book and extremely relevant to our modern way of life. Author Andy Stanley confronts us with truth and transparency. Just as he had made a commitment in his own life to balance his family time with his work, he encourages us to make similar commitments. One of the main reasons it is life changing is because a godly man who makes choices in his own life to never sacrifice his family for success has written it. If he wins the world but loses his family, what has he gained?

Every couple, every parent, and every leader needs to read this book and consider the question: Who wins when my family and work collide?” This book presents a strategic plan for resolving the tension between work and home. You’ll find ways to deal with the busyness that wreaks havoc with the relationships you consider most important.”

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Filed under: Save My Marriage Separation and Divorce

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87 responses to “Why Some Spouses Give Up

  1. (USA) I met my husband in 1979, had a child in 1985 and got married 1992. Years went by and slowly he started forgetting birthdays. We used to celebrate all the holidays together but that slowly changed. He started being distant; he helped me start a business, which he seemed to be happy about and very supportive. However, in 2005 I found out he had another child that was born 1995. I forgave but it was never the same; he seemed to be sorry but he became more distant. Finally he went from bad to worse with habits, drinking, gambling and watching porn movies. He just seemed angry all the time.

    I gave my life to the Lord and my daughter did also; his job always took him out of town for months and he wasn’t around a lot to even work on our marriage. Then it seems he really didn’t want to. Yes I believe it’s not all his fault; there are things I should have not allowed in the beginning. Now we are separated and he left saying he didn’t want to do this anymore. We are still in contact; he will text to see if he has some mail since he didn’t change his mailing address. Some of his work checks still come here but he doesn’t pick up any of the financial responsibility. I know he will help if I ask. I know he cares and I do want my marriage to work, but he seems happy now so I guess I need to learn how to move on.

  2. I am so tired of holding OUR rocks!!! I can barely see as I type for the tears in my eyes. I am so tired, I just want to ball up and sleep until it all goes away, but my kids need me so I can’t. What is really making me angry at this point is that if I keep my vows I made before God (even tho I knew I shouldn’t have), he can “change” again or not, I am still here…unless *I* break MY vow. Why would he leave? All of his fun time would… well, maybe not… I’d have the kids, he’d have all the time in the world to do whatever. But my KIDS…the few “daddy” moments I do see them sparkle (when he is home and when he gives them the time) will be gone! But they don’t even get “mommy” moments now even with me there alllllll the time with them b/c I am so busy, tired, worn because HE IS NOT THERE WITH US… and if he IS home he hides outside drinking & smoking so the kids won’t see.

    God, I am tired, please help me! I do not want a broken home, I do not want my kids to go through this, I will suffer to the ends of time to prevent it… but if I can’t function to take care of them anymore and I am forced to leave, what do I do? I can’t have both… and it hurts so bad! I don’t know what to do. It has been the same argument for the 13 years we have been together… and I am *so* blessed to have my kids, but I am so sorry to have brought them into such an emotionally one-sided family with a dad who loves us on his time. He may not be hitting the bars or single-friends houses like he did the first 7 years we were together, but now he goes “just down the road” to my boss’s house and drinks & relaxes while I stay home with 3 kids RIGHT after I get home from my job.

    He spends his “hard-earned” second job money on beer & cigs & toys…and he gets mad b/c I tell him all that money he sweats for is pointless and I don’t feel bad for him working in the sun b/c it benefits no one but himself!!! If he quit the second hard job we’d have more money (less expense to drive & eat!) and more time and he’d be happier. When he IS home he is barking orders to clean the house (I can’t keep it OCD clean for him with 3 kids, a FT job, and a 2.5 hour daily drive!) …and once he “put the kids up” he takes of drinking at their house AGAIN…or he expects me to be ready to *love* him (even expects ME to make the first moves like I am overcome with wanton passion for him! ha!). Seriously?!? I don’t even want him to touch me! Every time he is near me he either gropes me jokingly (which is SO annoying and not a playful turn on at ALL!), or he starts setting up “momma daddy time”…when all I want is to use the bathroom with the door closed in peace and take a shower for the first time in 3-6 days (because he hasn’t been HOME to watch the kids!).

    So many emotions, I could vent for hours on here. I have made him write them down so I KNEW he knew what was bothering me, what EXACTLY would help me, what hurts me. I’ve tried carrying on as if I didnt need him, I’ve tried NOT doing what he expected to see if he’d notice. All it does is either set him off b/c something isn’t done his way or if it is done, he acts like he has more free time to do what he wants to do. When I ask for a shower after it’s been 3 or so days, he tells me to get the 11 y/o to watch the 3 y/o while the 9 y/o runs around and tears into everything b/c he is unsupervised (then I get in trouble for that mess, too!)…he just wants something to DO. We live ON A LAKE. Dad can’t even take them fishing more than once a summer b/c he’s too busy making up excuses or purposely taking too much time to do stuff until the rain comes or it’s too hot, or making us all clean until E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. is perfect (yes, including the baseboards!) before he can “relax” enough to go fishing… but he can leave almost every night to “relax” with beer at MY boss’s!?!?

    If it wasn’t for me hanging on to my side of my promise to God and my kids, I would be gone. I have packed his crap for him before (why should the kids and I leave? he’s the one who keeps leaving!). Some times I even think about what would happen if I died (I’m too chicken for suicide!). But I hurt so bad for my kids then! That scares me, I know that is unhealthy. But do I leave, do I stay? I am too tired to pray, I just want it done and to move on, maybe the kids and I can still have our happy “Disney” life when Mr. OCD-busy-beer is out of the way. I seriously need some prayer, I’m just too tired to do it myself. I don’t freakin’ care.

  3. I never, ever thought this would happen to me. I was raised to be be strong, independent – but traditional. Marriage was for keeps. I thought I knew what I was doing; that I made a good decision, chose the right man. We did sickness and in health. Everyone has the no money stage. Wrongly, I put up with too much early on that allowed him to be a virtual adolescent forever.

    We weathered it all until children, planned and wanted, started to leave the nest. Then the futility of it all crushed me. The rock actually grew and not only did he not see the rock, guess its weight and want to make up for it, he actively told me I DID NOT GIVE HIM enough. Not wanting to be the walkaway wife–I told him clearly my needs, went to therapy alone, hoped and believed a hundred more times that this time he meant it.

    Ask me one responsibility that I did not take care of, of all the million little things there are to do in raising a family and having a marriage, ask me which ones were not MY sole responsibility, yet ‘I didn’t give enough’. I even like sex more than him so he was denied nothing. He is flat out mentally ill but refuses to deal with it. The rock dropped. We will file. Yet, he has the audacity to be extremely angry with me because I blame him for not trying. I tried and succeeded for 20 years of rock holding, plus 3 more of waiting for improvement…I’m done. Time served.

  4. I married my husband twice. The first marriage was 24 years; we lived together for three to be sure we were doing the right thing before remarrying last year. Less than three months into the marriage he contacted an old girlfriend from junior high – I know – junior high, on Thanksgiving while I blindly served dinner to our children and his family. The next day he initiated contact with his best friend’s wife to help her through her marriage separation; a month of texts behind my back.

    He apologized, was kind for a month, took up skydiving (it was a different hobby for the other years that left the family alone) and left me with the rock just like the first 20 years. I just emptied an account that was intended for a new house into my checking account tonight because I can tell there is no intent to be a team, no respect, no adoration, no hope, and definitely no house. Every time I find one I love, he hates it. I give up.

    I used to worry about what everyone would think, ruining our family. I’m young enough that life will go on. I don’t know what’s ahead of me, but it won’t be feeling marginalized because someone else puts his needs first and expects me to put them first as well.

  5. Here’s the thing. My wife wants to separate. She says that it is to try to heal away from me. She cheated on me and I think she is having a mid-life crisis at age 37, and I think she is just trying to soft-blow a divorce. I have been forgiving and was a loving, caring, kind husband throughout our whole marriage. Neither of us believed in marriage and had the same view on everything regarding marriage. She started hanging out with an immoral woman last year and that is who taught her the art of cheating. She has now changed her mind on Adultery, Divorce – everything – and denies ever having though the correct way.

    Sometimes it is not a rock-crushing. Sometimes it is someone who just re-writes their own Bible and lives for the flesh. She does not want to hear anything biblical and believes that you can just conspire to destroy a marriage, ask for forgiveness and like a big reset button, everything is good in the world.

    Here’s where I am at. I love her. I dislike how she did me and dislike how she is currently in denial, brainwashed and has re-written history. ALL of our friends think she is nuts. Her family thinks she is nuts and wrecking my life, her life and our children’s lives. What I cannot even fathom or get past is that, if she does divorce me, I will miss half of the rest of my children’s childhoods. How can I get past that? I can’t.

    ANYONE who divorces any decent, repentant, loving, person who loves their spouse and their children is a child-abusing disgrace of a parent. Sure there are reasons for divorce – but divorcing someone who has done no wrong is a disgrace and makes a person a VERY BAD PARENT.

    I hope my kids end up despising her. She will deserve it. I do not want revenge – but I do want accountability.
    I pray that she reconciles and I have faith that God can work miracles – but he is not going to force her to be a good person and to embrace His Will. She is being tempted by the Devil and if she chooses Satan’s Path – one can only hope that they are so miserable in their sin that they hit rock bottom and are forced to turn their life over to God.

  6. Wow Paul, I love your explanation and the order and justification of sin.
    1. Willingly destroy a marriage
    2. Ask for forgiveness
    3. Just hit the reset button and live happily ever after.

    This certainly has been the understanding of my ex-husband. He has got just what he wanted leaving a path of destruction, financial ruin and a broken family behind. I put my future and our children in God’s loving arms. God will take care of the rest.

  7. Well where to start… I have known my husband since he was in 7th grade, got with him in his junior year back in 92′. As the relationship went on I was physically abused and tried to break it off but was naive and scared. We were 17 and 19. Then I got pregnant in 92, had my son in 93.. In between I was emotionally and physically abused along with cheating… not to mention isolated from my family for many years. I felt very scared to leave at that time, as well.

    Then my daughter was born in 95′. Then in May of 95′ we decided to get married because of child support (which I did not want to but did because I was to scared to stand up for myself). Everything continued. He was so controlling and abusive and unfaithful. Then in 98′ we went to church because we were to the point of ending it. I was happy because I thought this would be it, he would change and I would learn to become a better wife because he would tell me degrading things.

    But I was wrong! We got saved, which was good. Then he started helping with the youth group and started knowing youth. At this time he was 23. He was always into music, very talented out going, the center of attention so it was easy for him to talk. I was totally opposite.

    Then he formed a worship band, which I thought it was great because this was for God. In this band he brought in two girls that were cousins. Well, as time passed we continued to have the same problems. I hid them because I was ashamed that here we were in church doing the Christian thing. One day when we argued he got violent, then left the house and ended up with one of the girls in a parking lot trying to make her feel sorry for him and tried to hit on her. But she said no, then called a youth leader. I took him back… Then he continued with this worship music ministry with the other cousin. He did the same thing but worse because they had an affair for 3 years.

    I was so blinded and naive! I would believe everything he said! She would be with us just about every day. I didn’t see it! I found out and went to a pastor. He got confronted and was told to step down from worship. He was blaming me for telling. The church sent us to counseling, which we never completed. Then he got involved again with ministry had another affair. I forgave again. We moved to another state because he was going to help build a church. He was the worship leader. During that time he was having young girls go there for different reasons like fling his music ect… (which I didn’t find until later). I thought he was changed.

    The church let him go for a different reason, but there was a girl that played the piano for him. My family got to know her very well. I always would argue with him about her being around our family but somehow he controlled again and made me feel like I was the crazy one for not trusting him. Well, during the 6 years he “took her under his wing” I never knew about this until 2 days ago that he was controlling and used manipulation with her all these years. She thought he would change and was protecting my family by not saying anything. She couldnt take it anymore because she came to my house everyday to write music with him and my son and did ministry with them. Even with him knowing what he did with her he pushed for my son to date her. My son did for a year and 2 months (during that relationship he left her alone, but tried controlling the relationship …my son could never please him). Now how messed up is that?!!!

    After my son broke up with her my husband tried to get that “friendship back”… right under my nose. I feel so angry because time after time I would confront him and he would really make me believe him, that he was faithful to me! Now how stupid could I have been? Honestly, I really believed him! So much hurt he has caused not only for me, BUT my children!

    Oh, I forgot to mention I guess I would believe him because he would do worship concerts. We prayed for people, etc. And now I see he would use spiritual manipulation as well! So much more he did that I would have to sit and think about each year! I now see I was nothing BUT GOOD TO HIM, EVEN WHEN HE ACCUSED ME ABOUT IT INFINITELY! 21 years of his selfishness, then he has the nerve to say “There is still hope”… And “I love you.” God forgive me, but I hate him! I hurt! I want a divorce. My son is hurt too!

    1. Dear Hurt and Angry, I have been praying for you, asking God how to reply to your comment. The immediate thing that I’ve felt impressed to do is to take you in my heart and hug you –even though I can’t do that physically. I do in my heart, though. It’s absolutely understandable why you would be “hurt and angry”… what sane person wouldn’t be? Unfaithfulness horribly tears at the heart of the spouse who has been betrayed. And then to have it happen over and over again after you’ve forgiven and have given grace? How heart-breaking! I’m so, so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced and the confusion and anger you are going through –not only for what your husband has done to you, but also to your children… so, so, horrible.

      As far as what you can do at this point –truly I can’t tell you –no human being can. That is something between you and God. What’s especially bad about all of this is that your husband engaged in the “Christian dance” –going through the mouth-service and the outward appearance as if he was a follower of Christ, and but he prostituted and defiled the Truth with those that he charmed into having sex with him–so shameful! God will certainly judge him on this. How I pray this doesn’t damage your faith. GOD didn’t do this to you, your husband did. He took the free will that is given to us all and he ran in a sinful direction. You might think, “then why didn’t God stop him or do more to protect me?” Remember, we live in a fallen world… God doesn’t put us on strings like puppets and then yank or snip off the strings when we do that which we shouldn’t. He tells us “He will repay” when we sin, but that “payment” may or may not be given at the present time. It’s all very complicated, but real. Your husband WILL be repaid for the harm he did to you, your children, His other children, the church, and His Holy Name.

      With that said, I encourage you to guard your heart from bitterness –do what you can to work through your anger in ways that doesn’t involve swallowing bitterness –to the degree that you can. We have the topic, “Bitterness and Forgiveness” that I recommend you read through (more than once, if it helps you). Fight against taking bitterness in, because the one that it will most hurt is YOU. Also, don’t dump out your thoughts and words upon your children, speaking bad about their father. Yes, their father did horrible things, and yes, they have every right to be angry and work this out with him, but please find another or other confidants to talk to as far as working through your feelings. Your children have enough to work through with their dad and what all this means to them. They may need YOU as a confidant, and certainly should be able to get comfort from you for their hurt feelings and confusion. But be careful about trashing their dad and giving them additional information that they don’t need to know. Please be careful. If they have questions, have them talk to their father. I really think that you need a good counselor to work through all of this –one who can help your whole family. This is a LOT to process on your own.

      And then where this all goes with your husband, I can’t tell you. Yes, you have the “right” to divorce, but please seek God to make sure that you should. I know this seems contradictory, but just because you CAN divorce, it doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. Do some praying, go to a good counselor and/or pastor and talk this through and then with God’s guidance YOU decide what to do. Your husband is not to drive this. He has already driven too much, doing too much damage already. He needs help, deep, deep help. He has played the part of a deceiver and can’t be trusted. He obviously knows how to charm with his words and actions. He obviously has no “check” on his conscience because he has ignored the promptings of God over and over again, or he wouldn’t have done what he did.

      IF you get back with him, please don’t trust him as far as you can throw him. Insist on family counseling to try to heal your heart, your children’s hearts, and his darkened heart. What goes on in a person’s heart to get them to the place where they think this kind of cheating is okay for him — ESPECIALLY when he’s singing the “praises” of Christ? He shouldn’t ever be in another worship band (unless it is ONLY an all-male one, and even then… I’m not thinking it’s wise). He would also need an accountability partner. Left on his own, he is manipulative and has no sense of right and wrong. And then for yourself, don’t be so naive. There is a difference between forgiving someone and extending grace, and TRUSTING them. Your husband has shown he isn’t trustworthy. To me, he would have to jump through so many hoops to prove himself everyday. And he should be willing to do so. He has shown himself to be a serial cheater and so he has a lot to prove to deserve ANY form of trust.

      Please know that this is not about you. You did not MAKE your husband cheat. He did that. BUT IN THE FUTURE, don’t trust him and be skeptical about what he says. MAKE him prove himself. I do know that some serial cheaters ARE able to change their ways. Look at the guy from Duck Dynasty. He (and a few others) have been able to completely change. But also know that this is rare –very, very rare. Something real has to change inside of them and only time and out front actions show if this could happen to that kind of deceiver. I could go on and on, but I know that we have a lot posted on this web site that could be more helpful with links to articles, web sites, and recommended resources that would be better for you to go through. I pray for you. My heart breaks for you and your family. I pray the Lord helps you to break free from the bitterness that will try to suffocate you. I pray you will be wise and have your eyes open to deceit around you. I pray God will help you and your children to heal. This will affect all of you for the rest of your lives. I pray good for you. I also pray for your husband –that he gets real and gets help so he doesn’t continue this abusive pattern and stops hurting others. I pray he eventually sees the full gravity of all the hurt he has caused and spends his life trying to do what he can to bring healing to those that he can –NOT false comfort, but genuine repentance, genuine living, becoming a man of integrity instead of darkness and deceit. I especially pray for you as a family –that the God of all comfort will help you to heal.

  8. I just got separated on 9/9/13. In 2009 I had an affair, left the house for about 4 months. I thank God that He touched me and reminded me of where my love really was and went back. During that same time, as payback, my wife spent the night with another man. Here we are 4 years later the evening of 9/9. My kids and I got confirmation that my wife was having an affair. The man’s wife called me to tell me. I left the house. Ever since then I have been praying for God to restore our marriage, our family. I am 40; my wife is 42. We have 5 wonderful children and a beautiful 8 month old granddaughter. We have been together for 11 years, married for 7.5.

    My children have seen her transform from a wonderful wife and mother to an 18 year old girl. I have tried to stand firm, be paitent but it is as if she is in a race. She has already filed for divorce. We have our divorce court on 12/4, just 3 months after. I have heard excuses from I wasn’t good to our step kids, I was controlling with her, to I was mean to her sisters, to I looked at women.

    Now, she is saying that it happened because of what I did 4 years ago. My step kids and I get along great, I see my grandaughter as much as possible, take her to church with me (keep in mind she is not my blood grandfather). They are actually testifying for me on my behalf in a restraining order case she put on me. I didn’t like her sisters, she says, because I didn’t like lending them money. This is where the controlling part comes in. We were always in a financial strain, paying rent late, taking out pay day loans, advances from banks, hardship withdrawals from our 401k. So yes, I did control the money and I didn’t like lending any out because we didn’t have enough for us, much less to lend out. As fas a looking at women, I learned to control myself last November and even then, I didn’t do it to the point she said but I still had to walk with my head down just to avoid problems and accusations.

    I have come to the conclusion that restoration is not for everyone. After the affair with the married man, she says it was only emotional. She told my daughter that she was now talking to someone new, someone younger. There has been no repentance, no looking back. She is moving into a smaller place, traded our minivan for an Altima and then decided to tint the windows and put a sound system in it. Because of the restraining order she put on me, I have had to get an attorney. I warned not to let it get that far because if the kids were called as witnesses it would not go well for her. She has anger issues, prone to verbal abuse, and physical abuse. I have never hit my wife. I have never even called her a name.

    1. My separation has turned to her filing for divorce on me. Of course, she blames me for everything. This has been going on for a year now and I feel sorry for my kids, but I know that if we had no kids, I would have tossed her out long ago.

      I’m starting to take a more biblical approach to the whole thing. I have definitely sinned and have not been a perfect husband, and I am repentant for all that I have done. I also forgive her for all that she has done. I also forgive her for her trying to turn everything around on me. I now realize that she is sorry for her adultery –but only for getting caught. She blames me also for her adultery. She is constantly bearing false witness against me and I just have to remember simply this: This is not about this earth –this is about eternity. When I stand before God, I will be fully confident that I have repented for my sins and sought reconciliation with every fiber of my being. Ever since she dropped the bomb on me (next week will be one year) I have done everything in my power to repair our marriage –while all she did was agree to ‘stay’ and blame me for everything she could twist around.

      Truth be told, she will have a very rough time at judgment day. She may be able to fool our MC and fool a few of her friends and family –but she will not fool God and she will answer for choosing a life of the flesh over God’s Will. In a way I feel sorry for her, because I could not get through to her. The mistake I made was trying to work on our marriage over the last year. She took it as pressuring her. She would tell our MC that I pressure her all the time to read the bible and to read relationship books and then, in the next sentence, tell the marriage counselor that we are getting along in the house because we don’t deal with anything. But, I tried to explain Jesus’s ministry of reconciliation and how God put us through this trial to draw us closer to him and closer to each other. Sadly, I failed as the spiritual leader of our household.

      I also know that my kids will suffer. I haven’t told them anything, but daily they see their mom be cold to their dad for almost a year now. My son is old enough to know what is going on and my daughter pretty much knows what is going on. She tells her friends that I brainwash the kids –but all I ever do is make excuses for her and tell them that I love her. They will suffer through and after our divorce –even though I am going through it with God’s required love for my enemy. Reading Wallerstein’s study is enough to make anyone with half of a heart for their children to reconsider divorce –and that is one book she REFUSED to read. My kids will suffer in this life, but hopefully, I’ve established a Christian basis in my children’s lives that they realize that the suffering is part of this world and they will not have to worry about that in eternity.

      It is sad though. A year and a half ago, we were as happy as could be. Sure, there were wear marks on the outside –after 14-15 years of marriage and 17-18 years of being together. What I realized is this: Spiritual warfare is REAL. The Devil works harder at destroying marriages than any other temptation. When people don’t realize that there is spiritual warfare, Satan ends up owning them and fills their head with denial and justifications and excuses to the point of them completely rationalizing everything they’ve done or about to do.

      What can you do? Pray. How do we stop this as a society? We need to take a stand against it. If my children ever do this to their spouse, they will be disowned. If a friend does this to their spouse, they are no longer friends. If someone in church does it, study Matthew 18:15-17 and let them change their ways or ex-communicate them.

      Ironically, a year and a half ago, my wife was more staunchly against divorce or people doing this to their family than I was. It’s amazing how some of the most Christian conservative people can turn into ethical and moral relativists –just to excuse their actions.

      And in all honesty, a few of her friends (who thinks she is off the deep end) and I know what the essence of the problem is. When she had the affair, it was with a younger, hotter guy. She had those butterflies that we had together 18 years ago. Well, he dumped her because he felt guilty (and the truth was, he was just done ‘hitting the married chick’) and she chased him and he broke her heart. Now, she is searching for that feeling again. Searching for those lust-filled feelings that she confused for love –and something she’ll never get with me –as, after 18 years, you’re pretty much stuck with Agape Love. She can’t even spell Agape Love.

      Pray for her. I’ll be ok. I will hurt more in the short run. She’ll hurt more in the long run. When our friends all look down on her and her kids can’t stand being around her and when the guilty feelings start coming back (EVERY Christian has a conscience!) and when she sees me being blessed and her life cursed or punished… and then when she has to stand before God and answer for what she has done.

      I have it easy. Just a little absolutely painful heartache and missing half of my children’s lives growing up. Neither choice is pretty –but I will take mine, any day.I pray she can turn it around. I will be there. Maybe. When I make a Vow, I take it seriously. She doesn’t, but I do.

  9. My husband and I have been married for 2 years and 4 months. He told me he wanted a separation from me right before Christmas. I’ve been living on my own in a townhouse. I thought we’d be living in together. I was completely blindsided. He told me that he needed for me to be on my own and I needed to grow up since I never lived on my own before we were married. We’re both 34 years old and we have known each other for 20 years. I had a lot of emotional issues and he got tired of coping with them; they were crushing him. We have technically been together for 8 years, we broke up in 2008 and got back together in 2010 and married in 2011. The issues that we had before cropped up again and now it’s even worse.

    I know that I really messed up again and I’m taking responsibility for what I did. I’ve been going to marriage counseling with our pastor that married us and see a psychologist for my anxiety issues. I am making good progress in the marriage counseling on how to be a more godly wife. But when I talked to my husband the other day, he says that our marriage was a mistake. We should have stayed friends and never married. I can’t describe how I felt. My heart drop to the floor. I still love him and I told him that I forgive him for anything and everything, that my forgiveness does not have a limit as what I have been learning with the pastor. And I told him that too.

    I know I hurt him a lot and I don’t deserve his forgiveness, but I am owning up to my wrongs, and I have asked for his forgiveness. I know that he may not, and he doesn’t understand that love forgives all things, that there is no limit if you love someone. He says he still cares for me and respects me, but he’s angry and he feels that I betrayed him.
    However, he also says he is still very attracted to me, despite everything.

    I’m praying to God every single day. I do not want my marriage to end and I don’t believe that God would put us together, only to pull us apart. We are together for a reason only known to God. And my husband seems determined that he’d rather be apart. He has been dealing with his own issues. He’s been disappointed in every area of his life the last few months, and he says that he doesn’t want to be stuck where he is for the rest of his life. And the only way to do that is to blow up everything and start all over. He thinks he’ll be happier that way and doesn’t want to drag me through it with him. I honestly think he’s having a mid life crisis and I can’t help him. He says he hates himself. He says he’ll talk to our pastor, but he’s very determined that this is what has to be.

    And on top of this, I’m going through some major health issues. And he’s aware of what is going on. He was taking notes on his phone the other day as I described them.

    I’m so confused. As I’ve said, I pray to God everyday. I want our marriage to survive and I told him that. I’ll do everything that’s possible to have out marriage survive. I’m not giving up hope, but it’s so hard to keep it when he says things like that. Please pray for me.

    1. Perhaps God thinks that some people would be better apart. Why do we always think that God thinks that we should remain together if we are suffering mentally, and physically as a result of this.

      My grandmother always used to say “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” Sometimes, we are put together to learn from each other, and that does not always mean that everything lasts for a lifetime. Living, is a lifelong experience, and I don’t think that someone else can take away our feelings of loneliness. Another person cannot take away all of our fears, or give us the confidence that we lack. We are all only humans as God knows only too well.

      We watch romantic films with “happy ever after”endings. We begin marriage with great expectations, but this is not the way of life. Modern day society gives us too many expectations of others.

      Losing someone is a painful life experience, but to live alongside of someone whom you have already lost, is a constant day to day reminder of that loss. It is impossible to heal from that kind of loss when you are living it every day.

      I separated from my husband, and realised that I still loved him even though he became distant towards me emotionally. I returned to my marriage, and for about 6 months life appeared to be better. Then, it became worse, and I was punished for having left. I carried on, not even holding ‘the rock,’ and now, at 73 years of age I am still with my husband. I have seen him through 30 years of bipolar episodes, and have listened to him telling me that he can never be the person who he used to be. Telling me that he could not come home from the hospital and be who he used to be. Telling me to sell the house, as he was going to live with another woman, a fellow patient in his hospital.

      Each, and every episode has stolen years from my life, and I only wish that I could have seen how blind it is to love someone who cannot love you back. So, was I wrong to remain? Did God really expect me to devote my life to being neglected emotionally? You cannot answer these questions, I know. But I would seriously ask yourself if you can carry a rock, and then drop it at some point, and then make a lifetime of sacrifices and carry the emptiness, which is far heavier than the rock. God Bless You, and may you be able to make a decision that is best for yourself, and for your husband.

  10. This article has been eye opening. It almost perfectly describes the situation I’ve been dealing with for over 2 decades. I’m in a 22 year marriage to a man that has “left me holding the rock” for so long I can barely remember now. I waited year after year for him to be the Christian husband and father he claimed to be with no hint that he even had any intention of being that. I’ve waited while he buried us in debt in the name of building his stay-at-home business. I’ve put up with being emotionally and verbally abused and neglected in the name of “submitting to my husband” while he pursued his golf and bowling passions, all the while listening to him tell me that he needs to have his “me time” to be the best he could be at these games. There has never been any intention of monetary gain from either sport so I was never sure why it was so important.

    I’ve watched him ignore the children and me so many times I’ve lost count. And when the final straw did come almost 2 years ago, he acted like I had lost my mind and has in fact accused me of that many times since then. I do not love or trust this man even remotely but have prayed that God would let me feel something other than contempt for him. There are other issues as well regarding possible infidelity (at least in thought and sight) and outright lying when it fits his need to get what he wants.

    He has been trying to be a different person but always reverts back to verbal abuse when I don’t buy into the “act” that he is trying to maintain. After 21 months of an emotional roller coaster of emotions ranging from rage to total apathy, I am completely and utterly emotionally exhausted. Unfortunately, I don’t make enough money to live on my own or support my children even on a part-time basis so I live in this horribly tense and dysfunctional home that I am trapped in have no hope of a future apart from him. Although he is not physically abusive, I believe the things I have endured may be far worse.

    My teenage sons view this as all my fault since I can’t love my spouse and want to leave so those relationships will be and already are being damaged daily. I’m reminded daily that I’m a failure at marriage but I’m trying to be the best mother I can, until the day God allows me to leave and finally be at peace. I’ve been to 7 different marital counselors during the course of this 22 year marriage so I’m thinking that probably isn’t the answer. I simply don’t know what the answer is anymore. Thank you for praying.

  11. This article ticks so many boxes for me. I have a husband that work 60-70 hours, 7 days a week and I now recognise that I have been left carrying the rock for a number of years now. Planning to do volunteer work to obtain some degree of self worth. After 26 years of marriage not sure if our marriage is worth saving.

    1. I am also in the same situation. My husband of 27 years left me “holding the rock” because of his job for most of our marriage. Yes I asked him to help, but he never fully understood & has withdrawn from me so much that I am numb now to him & our marriage. He has also lied to me, cheated on me & abandon me during a health crisis.

      Now he lost his job because he stole from his company & is devastated. At first he reached to me & I was there for him…now we are back to the same emotional distance. I now care for him like another of our children. He has not been a husband for years & now has become a child. He does finally help around the house, but sadly out of guilt, not because he wanted to support me & help me.

      He is now angry at me because we have no physical relationship, but is so self consumed he doesn’t even realize that’s just using me & I won’t allow it. Even if he has no respect for me, I want to respect myself. I love him & won’t abandon him now when he needs me, but our life as a couple is forever gone because he threw it away, me away. Why is it only when you totally lose something that you finally realize how great you had it?

  12. This is a great article. However it’s too narrowly focused on time and schedules. Those are items that are necessary to provide for a family, although we can get carried away with our dedication to our carreers to the point of neglecting our family.

    I would expand the area of neglect to that of emotional neglect and a refusal to ones spouse of their person. Withholding intimacy for instance.

    I see myself dropping not a rock, but an already broken heart of glass and the other spouse is trying to catch it, but will get cut very badly in the process.

    1. These stories are so sad but yet comforting to know I’m not the only one in a loveless marriage. The problem is I still do love my husband but have tried everything to reach him. Shortly after we were married he retreated to his office to play video games literally day and night neglecting me and our relationship. Looking back he was very attentive and involved to “get” me but after he got me (married), he reverted to what was really important to him (his leisure activities of reading, gaming, watching TV…all alone activities). I was busy holding “the rock” and taking care of 2 kids, the house and lastly myself.

      After the kids hit about 3, it really hit me that we had grown so far apart but he had already checked out and became more of a recluse, depressed and angry person. I believe he does have a personality disorder and now I’m just reading about emotional abuse and understand that his silence, disregard, disrespect is abuse. I don’t deserve this treatment but I truly think he’s so wrapped up in himself (narcissist) that he can’t see the forest through the trees. He literally spends about 4 hours a week face to face time with our kids and works from home! He sometimes doesn’t even come out of his room when they get home and I end up putting the kids to bed alone. It’s really so sad and I really feel most sorry for my kids to have an emotionally unavailable father and the heartache they will experience as adult. I think I’ll need to start therapy for them early as I started individual counseling earlier this year. God please help us all that are suffering…

  13. I don’t see what the problem is. The person holding the rock is committed to show Christ-like love without any thought of getting in return, right?? This person obviously wasn’t holding the rock through the power of the Holy Spirit. They only got exhausted because they EXPECTED to get something in return. If they actually loved with agape love, they wouldn’t expect anything in return and they’d be fine.

    Yeah, what I just said was total bunk, I know. Yet every Christian website, pastor, and marriage counselor I’ve spoken too has effectively said just that. They teach that the key to a loving marriage is to love without thought of getting in return. Well, guess what?? Try doing that for 20 years to a spouse that ignores you and you’ll be exhausted, burned out, and will probably have affairs.

    1. You are totally right on Jon. Most therapists felt sorry for my husband. He cries the crocodile tears and they turn to stinky poo. Martyrdom at its finest.

  14. Wow this really explains how I’ve felt throughout my marriage. If I showed my husbands this article he would say we’ve only been married for four years. Which in turn tells me four years is only a short period to carry this rock, you can go longer with being neglected, rejected, disrespected, unloved, uncared for, mocked etc, the list can surely go on.

  15. Man this article is sooooo true and now I wonder if it’s too late. I did all this hurt and pain emotionally. I messed up bad to the woman I truly love and neglected her. She deserves the moon and stars. All I did was show her my back, and she’s already been through enough. Oh man, if anyone sees this comment from me please give me some advice on what to do. The woman I love is Roxanne.

    1. Javen here. I Just lost my cousin in Frog Lake, Alberta February 15th and the next day my aunty on the 16th. It’s been an emotionally difficult week and I was keeping in touch with my spouse for 3 days while I was in Edmonton, Alberta. She was at home in Onion Lake, SK. She wasn’t texting back to me but I knew I left suddenly so did she. At the same time I felt like I lost her too, and man oh man that was a horrible feeling on top of what I was already going through. I’m not looking for sympathy, just advice on what to do.

      1. Javen, it’s difficult to give you an advice that really works. To conquer a woman’s heart who was hurt, she normally wants to SEE actions …words are worthless. How can you show her that you radically changed? Are you within yourself still connected to the person Roxanne fell in love with? Is this person still alive …or what needs to be done to reawaken that person? Often, in marriage people neglect to keep polishing their facets and talents …the small things that magnetized their partner. Frankly spoken, Javen, there’s no guarantee to win her back. But there’s always hope …if you don’t put some effort in it.