“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” Malachi 2:13-14
A woman who has been abandoned by her husband will need to hear consistent encouragement from her brothers and sisters to stay the course of responding biblically. I promise you, there will be a whole different choir singing to her out there, their voices will be loud and strong and their message will be: take revenge, go for all you can get, trash him, drag him through the mud, and keep the kids away from him and so on.
Remind her that it is not her place to take revenge or to avenge herself and her children. This is a tall order indeed in the midst of pain and suffering of this magnitude. Remind her that God will take care of all of that in His time, in His way.
Her job is to honor God in thought, word and deed- which won’t be easy. You will have to work with her on responding biblically in her anger (which is a whole blog of its own) and on not becoming bitter as a result of the anger she doesn’t deal with.
I teach my counselees that they are to have God’s perspective on what has happened to them. Their husband has abandoned the wife of his youth- and that angers God. He may be in adultery- and that angers God. He broke his covenant- that angers God. He may not be providing for his family- that angers God. Help her to focus on righteous anger for righteous reasons.
That is very hard in the midst of all the other emotional things that are taking place. Encourage her to have an eternal view. This will hopefully help her to not make foolish decisions and be rash in her actions and interactions with her husband.
She may struggle with guilt, self-blame, and introspection. These things tend to run together in our thinking, and can become cyclical if they are not recognized early in the process.
Her husband may have some legitimate complaints about her in the marriage and she needs to take those seriously. She is not to accept blame for things that he wants to shift over to her, such as, “If you were a better wife I would not have left you.” What he had done is all on him, it is his sin and she is not responsible for his sinful actions.
He is responsible before God to lovingly shepherd her, hold her accountable for biblical change, and consider her the weaker vessel, not leave her when the going is tough and blame her for his own failure in leadership. Nonetheless, she may realize that some of her husband’s complaints against her were true in part or in total. Sometimes it takes a very dramatic action by someone else to get us to see ourselves and our sin.
I am not in any way suggesting that abandonment is righteous; I am saying that it is possible that he has been living in very difficult circumstances for many years and believed he could not take it anymore.
When the woman realizes that she has sinned against her husband she must confess first to God-agree with Him that her words, actions, attitudes or whatever have offended Him. She must confess sinful thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the heart that led her to sin in those ways. She must accept personal responsibility for her failures in the marriage.
If she was unwilling to follow his leadership, or insisted on being the leader in the marriage and home that was a major failure on her part. If she undercut his authority in the relationship or with the kids, that is also a failure on her part that she must accept responsibility for.
I encourage the wife to follow David’s example and ask the Lord to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24
This can be very difficult for her because she has already been so humbled by his leaving her. Nonetheless, I have had my counselees make a list of logs and then they have asked their husband to meet with them for the purpose of confession and to seek his forgiveness for those sins.
When the Lord does reveal sin repentance must follow and perhaps there will be a need for additional counseling to address that specific area of sin she struggles with. Once she clears her conscience before God she must humble herself before her husband and seek his forgiveness.
A word of caution: she must understand that her motive cannot be to get him back by doing this. If
she is only willing to take this step to get him back in the house, her motives are all wrong and I do not believe God will allow any good fruit to be born out of it.
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