When is it Ok to Leave My Marriage?

Hey Vulnerabites,

Her husband needed help.

She called me crying, begging to stay the night at my apartment. She was family, “of course you can come boo.”

One night turned into a week.

“Honey, you have to go back home and deal with this. You can’t just stay with me forever.”

A few months later, I got a text from her. She had sent me pictures of her in the hospital with bloody bandages covering her entire face with the exception of her left eye and a portion of her mouth. He had broken her  nose, given her a black eye and her face had swelled up as a result. I could see part of her arm that appeared to be in a sling.

Sigh. “Did you tell the doctors what happened?” — “No, because I don’t want him to go to jail.”

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I had begged her over and over to leave. We were Christians and her comment to me was always, “Mac, God doesn’t like divorce.” I literally could have killed her myself every time she said it.

I was scared to call the police for her, out of fear for what he would do to her when they were alone. Police can only press charges if the victim decides to, I couldn’t press charges on her behalf. I can remember being on the phone with her and hearing him shout at her in rage, we both knew what was coming, “I gotta call you back.”

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So when a friend asked me last week, “Is there ever a time when it’s ok to leave your marriage?” In the Issa Rae mirror version of myself, “Hell to tha mutha f*&^%$! yeah!”

Sigh. I really do hate questions about divorce, because quite honestly, I believe in it. Gasp! *Dodging all judgmental stares from the saints.*

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Perhaps I’m biased because I’ve seen 80% of the marriages in my family end in divorce. Some of them rightfully so and at other times, “Really? Y’all couldn’t work that out?”

But then she offered some clarity around her question, she had read a Facebook status that went something like this, “When love is no longer being served in the marriage, love yourself enough to leave it.”

Mmmhhh…. Comments anyone?

Here’s what I think…

1.)  That’s crap. Marriage has given me plenty of opportunity to be offended, hurt, sad, annoyed, disappointed and insert your own adjective. Vulnerabites, that is what I signed up for when I said “for better or for worse.” I am married to another human being, he will fail me, as I will him. We are broken and every now in then, our pieces will cut each other.

2.) I’d need to understand how this Facebook person defines ‘love’. I think movies and media have painted love as this space of ‘butterflies and first date feelings’ — and sure, if that’s how you measure love, then bring your divorce papers to the altar. But that ‘keep you married love’ is being able to consider your spouse’s well being above your own. Do I always consider husbae before me? Of course not — but I’m working on it.

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3.) Selfishness will kill your marriage faster than infidelity. There is just no way I can be selfish AND have a good marriage, they are mutually exclusive. They can NOT exist together. Marriage is like a sports team that I won’t get traded from, so it’s in my best interest that I do my part to contribute to the greater good of the team.

4.) If your spouse decides to leave the marriage, well there isn’t much you can do about that. Do your part in good faith, if they come around — great. If they don’t, rest in the peace that you did what you could.

5.) Be committed to the marriage and not the person, I learned this from Myles Munroe’s book. If I’m committed to my marriage, then it doesn’t matter how husbae acts — I’m committed to what we’ve agreed to do together. I would liken it to working on a team project in school, I might have to pull more weight than everybody else, but at the end of the day I’m more concerned about getting a good grade.

But there’s no grade to aim for in marriage. Right?

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In fact, there is absolutely no reward for staying in a bad marriage, and that’s where it gets hard to stay: Your psychological well being will decline, you’re more likely to develop illnesses, and on top of that, heal slower when you are sick. It’s pretty much a quickened path to death if you ask me. Ouch!

With that being said, there are times (like my experience above) where I do believe the couple needs some space.

She loved him. She saw the part of him that was broken and caused him to act out in abuse. She didn’t want to leave him in his “not so good” state.

Fine. Take some time apart and both of you should get professional help. Not just that “let’s pray this out of him” help — but accompanied with the licensed clinician type of help.

But quite frankly, I think this idea of ‘loving yourself enough to leave your marriage’ sounds selfish. It feels like a self-serving thesis. It’s just way easier to blame my spouse for a crappy marriage, as opposed to saying, “Yeah Mac, your wifey-ness has been slipping boo.” Let me be the first to tell you Vulnerabites, if you go into your marriage thinking about what you want to get out of it, good luck! Let me know how that turns out for you.

Granted — I have family who have left their marriages (where there was no physical abuse) and I couldn’t have been happier!

I’m conflicted about this, because I believe in being committed to your marriage no matter what, but I also very much believe that there are times when you are better off leaving it. Sigh.

Let’s Connect on Instagram @YoursVulnerably

Help me out here!

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Vulnerabites, do think there’s ever a time when it’s ok to leave your marriage? When is that time?

And

If you don’t think it’s ever ok to leave your marriage — I’d like to hear your thoughts around that too?

Yours Vulnerably,

The Naked Writer

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. If your are not happy, I believe you should leave and that’s not only with marriage, that’s with everything.
    If marriage is to the point where you you wished u can start to the point where you wished you never met your spouse, then it’s time for you to leave.
    If you are intimated, miserable, or have thoughts of self harming or harming your spouse, then you should leave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said. Nothing for me to add here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Didi says:

    It’s time to leave when you’ve reached the point of no return. In other words when it’s no longer repairable for you (the couple). All parties must acknowledge their wrongdoing and really want to WORK to fix the issues. It also depends on the person and what they’re capable of forgiving.

    As for me, any form of abuse is enough for me to end it. I’ve seen friends and family go through it and it is truly sad. From the isolation to the manipulation/ brainwash to the actual abuse is unbelievable. Since I was a child I’ve witnessed my mother’s friends living in abusive relationships. I’ve witnessed my own friends go through it as well and it never ends well. Some have even tried counseling but what ends up happening is either the abuser stops for a while and goes back to his old ways or the victim is left with resentment and leaves the relationship physically or mentally (even when the abuse stops).

    All I can say is Love is a beautiful thing, it’s pure never toxic. Love doesn’t make people have and affair or assault someone but deep rooted issues do! Love wasn’t designed to lower your self worth or to be attached to mental, physical or sexual abuse. If someone says they love you yet abuse you, one thing that is for sure is that he/ she doesn’t know HOW to love and doesn’t love themselves.

    Girl! You really did it with this one. Keep up the great work!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thanks Didi! I can imagine that you might share some scarred places with me, as watching people we love experience this, although we aren’t being harmed this also hurts us (well, at least me). Excuse me if I’m projecting.

      “Love doesn’t make people have and affair or assault someone but deep rooted issues do! ” — You hit it right on the head… it’s the person’s deep rooted issues that cause them to act out like this, it’s not the “love” they have for their spouse. sigh.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation! You know I always appreciate your perspective boo!

      Like

  3. Divorce is not something I like to think about but I believe that there are instances where divorce is the only option. Abuse is definitely one of them. I’m curious though – are there any Christians that wouldn’t agree with this? While some Christians do not believe in divorce, they will agree to divorce due to abuse. No?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that out loud most Christians will say “No to Abuse!” But are dealing with it behind closed doors (hence my family member). It’s embarrassing. And I believe it leaves these women confused, because they love this man— they don’t see him as a monster — like those looking in may see him.

      My question was really, outside of Abuse and Adultery… Are there any other instances when it’s ok to leave your marriage?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. I agree. I actually know Christians who have stayed in abusive relationships because they felt it was the godly thing to do.

        Your question about whether there is ever a good time to leave a marriage, besides adultery and abuse, is a great question. It’s one that I’ve been contemplating for awhile now and still don’t really have a solid answer.

        It’d be naive of me to say “No” when I haven’t experienced a bad marriage. I haven’t been so fed up, or unhappy, or with someone who is alcoholic or a drug addict or someone with a gambling addiction. Or with someone who is mentally checked out the relationship. These are all valid reasons.

        I guess it’s a personal question. I know of people who have divorced for reasons that I though were trivial. But, hey, to each their own.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right! I echo those sentiments! Haven’t experienced a bad marriage either (bad moments? For sure!) and if I had to equate a bad marriage to long years of a never ending bad moment, hhhmmm —— that would be a set-up for an overly tempting opportunity to want to part ways. For sure! Considering I would’ve tried all recommended remedies!

          At the end of the day, it takes TWO to tango! Can’t stay in a marriage where the other person wants out, right?

          Like

  4. Vulnerabite says:

    My response will be very short. I will say that there are instances when its necessary to leave a marriage. The first instance is in constant unrepentant adultery – I believe a marriage is still repairable in situations where a spouse has stepped out. I know there’s room for God to work once both parties have this mindset.

    The other instance is when an unbelieving spouse walks away from a believer.
    Outside of these two well-defined situations, I don’t support divorce. In our society marriages commonly end because of issues relating to finances, communication, changing priorities, sex and incompatibility, I believe these issues are repairable. I wonder how many couples starting the marriage journey practically sees God as part of the marriage. It’s harder to invite him after these issues erode a relationship.

    When a marriage gets abusive like in the experience you described, I believe the abuser doesn’t quite understand the purpose of marriage. When we don’t understand the purpose of something we abuse it. I definitely agree with your suggestion that they should seek professional help…. would probably just add that the husband and wife should separate with the intention of reconciling once this issue is resolved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Vulnerabite! Thank you for your very ‘short’ response…lol. So you say something really good here — “constant unrepentant adultery” — again you say CONSTANT and UNREPENTANT — That’s key. You mention that there is still hope for the marriage even after a spouse has stepped out and that’s helpful to here, because I’ve somehow concluded that marriage after adultery is hard and potentially the end of it — but I guess it is and I wish people would talk more about what that looks like. But not often enough that it becomes OK and NORMAL to expect a spouse to stay after adultery. You feel me?

      About the abuser not understanding the purpose of marriage — I’d have to disagree and not make the abuser’s action about their lack of understanding of marriage, but rather about their OWN issues that need to be addressed. Their actions are not about the marriage, it’s about THEM. Just saying.

      Thank you for adding to the conversation! I appreciate your thoughts!

      Like

  5. I’m also among the minority of Christians who believe in divorce. I do believe that a lot of marriages could be saved and they’re giving up to soon, but there are legitimate reasons for leaving. One being physical abuse, of course. Or if the marriage is a one way street where one person does all the work and is the only one trying and the other person couldn’t care less. That person could leave. It’d be better to be alone and create a life for themselves than to torture themselves by staying in a marriage where nothing ever works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Celina!!! Umm first things first — let me welcome you to the Vulnerabite family!!! I’m sooo happy to have you! Even happier because you fall into the same group of minority Christians alongside of me 🙂 lol.

      “there are legitimate reasons for leaving” — PERIOD. That’s it. No magic juice. No special potion. That’s just it.

      And yes of course— if the other person isn’t trying — I get it. But what if they’re not trying AND they don’t want to leave? Then what? — I guess you would just leave them, right? Lol

      Good food for thought Celina! Thanks honey!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beutiflee says:

    Where do I start….
    I agree with J above comment.
    But marriage is not for the faint of hearts, selfish gains, or the abusers.
    Marriage will not change what is already broken before entering into marriage.
    Marriage is not about weddings, expensive dresses, rings, and titles.
    Marriage is not about the title, and certainly it’s not about your reputation, and you don’t need people’s approval.

    Now, what your friend is choosing to do staying in an abuse marriage is the complete opposite of what God has designed.
    God does not abuse you verbally nor physically, why is she choosing the man over God?
    God does not create women to be anyone else’s slaves. Nope, Gods not having that.
    God, says you are valuable, you his child, and we are His masterpiece.

    No one likes Divorce.
    You are Gods most prized possessions.
    Honestly, I get upset when women throw the “but I can’t divorce him because of my Godly vows, for better or worse.”
    Ah, where the, where does it say in your vows “for better, worse, through physical abuse” are you kidding me?!
    I’m so upset when I see women devalue themselves for a man, who can’t appreciate a diamond.
    Please get your bible out, a dictionary, and meet me in bible study. Because this epidemic needs to stop.

    I’m trying to calm down, but this gets under my skin. Women you are a cut above the worlds fantasy, fairytale of living happily ever after. Gods plan for marriage is about purpose, not servitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you Tiffany! I do. It doesn’t say “through physical abuse”, yet somehow we can distort that into the ‘worse’ part of the marital vow. I’m on the same page as you. I get it.

      “Marriage will not change what is already broken before entering into marriage.” — You see this right here!!! I could talk about this all day! In fact, I’m gonna mull over this — you MIGHT see a future blog on it. That’s a big statement you just dropped right there.

      I always love the refreshing honesty you bring to the conversation Tiff. Thanks so much boo! #MyBlogBestie

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beutiflee says:

        Thank you! Your post always bring honesty when we women shy away from talking about truth. I really enjoy reading your post. Look forward to reading it. And reading the comments. You guys give me life!
        Actually, the statement comes from a previous post I did:
        https://beutiflee.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/season-of-singleness-purpose/
        So I’m way ahead of you on the post. LOL!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. “Your post always bring honesty when we women shy away from talking about truth. ” *BREAKING OUT IN SNOTTY TEARS* —- This is what I wanted when I started this blog. I needed authentic space to be Christian AND human. Whew! Don’t get me started! I remember that post! Love what you’re doing in the singleness space! Keep it up boo! Big Hugs to you!!!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Beutiflee says:

            Aww I’m glad I made you happy. Yes, people forget christianity and humanity are connected. We’re not “perfect”, LOL! Hugs right back!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Having been married before – I say, as J said above “Getting to know, who you’re marrying first is #1” – No one gets into a marriage and BAM, you find out their an abuser – manipulator – cheater, not good with money and a gambler (Okay, so maybe that was my marriage..lol) but what I’m saying is – you know who ppl are before you walk down the aisle with them. They show little signs of who they are and it’s up to us (women and men alike) to pay attention to the small details in which most of us miss. I know what the bible says about marriage and do agree but I wouldn’t advise a woman to stay in a marriage and she’s getting abused – to the point of bloodshed or unfortunately death. It’s a call that that person has to make for themselves. Deep down we know how much we all can handle and at the end of the day, it’s what you want to put up with and what you don’t.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! It really is so refreshing to hear so candidly from someone who’s been married before — just even saying it out loud — I commend you. Thank You. Now, I do agree that there CAN be signs of how someone will be in their marriage, BUT — there are some things that can ONLY be squeezed out of us IN the context of marriage. SO, although YES, we can pay attention to signs — we also have to acknowledge that we can’t ever possibly know EVERY inch of a person before we get married. I just wanted to touch on that, I’m done. Thank you again for adding such value to the conversation!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. J says:

    Whoosh!
    I could write a book about this…but I won’t. Suffice it to say that going into the marriage not knowing your partner is extremely dangerous. Sometimes we see what we want to see, imagine attributes that don’t exist and just plain love the idea of love and marriage without understanding either.

    I say all this to say that sometimes you need to run, not walk, away from a marriage. Divorce is biblical. Divorce isn’t the issue in the Bible, the issue is remarriage.

    Yes, both people need to work on it, but for those who haven’t drunk the Hollywood cool aid, it is WORK….ask all the married people you know. If your definition of love does not match your partner’s, don’t do it. If you don’t like to communicate, compromise, or sacrifice, stay single. If you can’t work in a team setting, maybe marriage isn’t for you.

    when should you walk away? The quick answer….when you feel staying could cost you your sanity or life.

    Getting off soap box….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey J! I always appreciate ya! Even if no one else responds, I know I can count on you boo — Thank You! You are ranked #1 in comments among my Vulnerabites— Thank You!

      “not knowing your partner is extremely dangerous.” — Hhmmm! I respond to this in my comment to Roshonda and will share that here — “Now, I do agree that there CAN be signs of how someone will be in their marriage, BUT — there are some things that can ONLY be squeezed out of us IN the context of marriage. SO, although YES, we can pay attention to signs — we also have to acknowledge that we can’t ever possibly know EVERY inch of a person before we get married.”

      I do appreciate how concisely you answer my question though — “when should you walk away? The quick answer….when you feel staying could cost you your sanity or life.” — Well said.

      Like

    2. I agree and you’re right – but in most cases, there are enough red flags “before the I do” even small ones. Sure, you won’t and can’t uncover everything but that’s when God and prayer have to be in it in the beginning, because he knows EVERYTHING! we don’t…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed. I agree. Let the church say Amen!

        Liked by 1 person

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