You may have known it was coming, or perhaps it came out of the blue. Your first response to the announcement he was moving out was shock and disbelief. In the days since he left you have probably experienced a multitude of emotions ranging from devastating sorrow, depression, rage, fear, anxiety, and maybe even relief.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (ESV)
He has left you, possibly for someone else, and you are dealing with the trauma of your life as you know it being over. I suspect you are now parenting young children alone, facing their confusion and sorrow along with your own. In addition, you suddenly have financial hardship and pressure. It doesn’t help to know your husband is (apparently) living a carefree life somewhere else. He has hit “reboot” on his life and has moved on emotionally and mentally. You have become an anchor to the past for him that he would rather forget even exists. You are understandably bewildered, shamed and sad beyond words. If we were sitting together you might tell me, “I don’t even know this man.” Or, “How can this be the man that I was married to? Was he really like this all along and I just didn’t see it?”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16 (ESV)
Perhaps, your husband, who previously wanted little to do with your children, is suddenly demanding visitation and time with the kids. Your formerly passive husband has become controlling and harsh. And most unbelievably, he expects you to simply accept this change in your lives with a smile and generous cooperation. Every encounter you have with him now is filled with anger, rancor, harshness, and bitterness.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
Most of the women I know of in this situation are trying to hold on to what they have left of their life, and maybe you are too. Have you pleaded with your husband to stop such foolishness, repent, and come home? Have you begged for counseling, and plead to work it out? These are good steps to take. But in my experience, wives also make some poor decisions during the initial days and weeks of the separation.
Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. Psalm 25:12 (ESV)
Often, in an attempt to do anything get him home, an abandoned wife offers blanket forgiveness to her husband while he remains involved in open sin and rebellion. This is unwise on a number of levels; first, it is manipulative and believe me, he knows it. Second, he hasn’t ceased his sin, confessed his sin or asked you to forgive him. Another error is to offer to change anything to restore your marriage. Women have had cosmetic surgeries, undertaken self-improvement routines, joined the gym, promised to stop behaviors that the husband says bother him, and other things all in unsuccessful attempts to get him back home.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:9-10 (ESV)
How are you to live in this new paradigm? I’ve outlined some common issues women in this situation bring to the counseling office. They are numbered for simplicity sake, not because one is more important than the other.
First, as kindly as I can say this, stop talking to him. Stop communicating with him as much as possible through text messages, Twitter, Facebook, and even on the phone.
So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you. Proverbs 9:8 (NLT)
If you want to interact or must because of children or property you have in common, consider setting up a new email specifically for the purpose of communication with your husband, and let him know that you will be using it when necessary. Have your trusted friend or a church leader Bcc’d in on every email. This keeps you accountable and provides a record from the beginning of your communication with your husband. It eliminates the “He said, she said” stuff. I suspect these emails would be admissible in legal proceedings if needed, but check with a lawyer to be sure.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
If phone conversations are necessary, get a disposable phone and give the number only to him, and only turn it on when he has the kids. Be sure you let him know you won’t have phone conversations unless it is a medical or other emergency when he has the kids. Block his number and the phone numbers of his family members from your regular phone. Don’t enable text/chat or block them. The texting and chat traffic is often ugly and cruel. This step will also provide you with immeasurable peace of mind and still provide a way for you to be contacted in case of emergency.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)
Get off Facebook. Consider suspending your account, or unfriend his friends and family members during this time. It is heartbreaking to see your husband’s new life being played out on social media. Because most people are more concerned about being happy than being godly you might see quite a bit of encouragement going his direction from his family and friends. Shutting down your social media. Even that won’t guarantee they won’t contact you, but you can delete their messages without reading them.
Do not make disparaging comments about your husband to other people, and do not attempt to turn your kids against their dad by involving them in adult issues. Name calling, divulging too much information, and discouraging a relationship with dad are very tempting, but don’t do it. I have found most women are far too emotionally volatile to respond in a Christ-like manner and they say things that are not helpful or edifying. If you don’t trust yourself, you might select a trusted friend who can be dispassionate about this turn of events to speak for you.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
These are just a few of the practical things you can consider in the early days of your separation. I know every situation is different and by no means have I covered every issue. My post is to help make you aware of the pitfalls I see women fall into when husband abandons the family.
I have not touched on praying for his repentance, because that is a given. A man who abandons his family is in serious spiritual trouble and intercessory prayer on his behalf should be a consistent part of your time with the Lord. Also, make your pastor aware of the abandonment. Don’t stand in the way of consequences the church leadership wants to bring. You don’t want to protect your husband during this time, consequences are a tool the Lord uses to bring sinners to repentance (1 Corinthians 5:5).
There are many angles to consider during the early days of abandonment, above all, honor God in your speech and conduct.
Friday I will be back with more.