Abuse Breaks the Covenant of Marriage

So often Christian women stay longer, in abusive relationships, than non-Christian women. This is usually because they believe that they have vowed to stay “until death do us part”. But abuse breaks the covenant of marriage. The man has vowed to “love, honour and cherish” and his abuse has broken that vow. The marriage is over, if the woman seeks to separate or divorce, all she is doing is trying to live the truth and stop living a lie. The abuse has destroyed the marriage.

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  1. I would say the same is true for men. Many stay in their relationships even though they are being abused for the same reason.

    My question is where is the line drawn? The vow does also say “through good and the bad” or “for better or for worse”. We all fail at times and we all fall short of the vow. At what point do we call it a day?

    Abuse is defined so very differently depending on who you talk to and in our society it is hard to balance the call to “work through our problems” or to simply “Leave our problems”.

    I don’t disagree with the above statement, I just don’t know when to call it quits. So many people no longer deal with things, they just avoid, leave, run or hide. I believe this to be true for BOTH men and women.

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I define abuse as a pattern of behaviour where the motive is to have power and control over the other person. I think it is a process for a person to figure out if they are being abused or not. A good question to ask is “am I afraid”? In a respectful, mutual relationship, two people can disagree – fight even – but neither party is afraid of being attacked (physically or emotionally). Interestingly, in 16 years of working with women who have been abused, I have not met a woman yet who didn’t find it incredibly difficult to call abuse, abuse. All the women I work with find it gut-wrenchingly difficult to decide to leave the relationship. In my experience, women want to make sure they have “tried everything” before they leave. Even then, they are not leaving because they want the relationship to end but only because they have decided that this is the only way to survive physically and/or emotionally.

  3. I’m in that situation right now. The honeymoon phase makes it so hard. As well as the children, the uncertainty of a life you never dreamed you would be dealing with, and the loss of the hopes and dreams you had. To wake up to the fact that your spouse has been doing this from day one when you have been sincere the whole time is traumatic. I’m still trying to work it out in my head. It makes it impossible to fix because there isn’t an even playing field. And when mind control has been used against you the damage is too deep, especially when the spouse is a pastor and knows the talk really well. I have decided I am going to have to leave but as yet don’t have a specific plan. Please pray for me!

  4. It’s never an easy decision to leave when we have a deep desire to honor and please the Lord with our marriage through the good and the bad. I was physically, emotionally and verbally abused by my ex-husband from the beginning of our 10 year marriage. I separated from him twice, once for 2 months and once for 10 months due to physical abuse. It took me 9 years and a whole lot of praying, seeking and crying out to God for His guidance to finally decide to leave him. I had to accept the failure of my marriage, especially after he admitted that he was not going to change. I also had to accept how shameful, hurt and depressed I felt over the failure. In the end he threatened to take my life, but by God’s grace and mercy I was delivered safely back to my homeland. I learned that God is able and He can do exceeding abundantly above all we can think or imagine. He is a present help in the time of need. He restored my soul. He helped me to learn what love is and is not.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your painful experience as well as the powerful and positive outcome you experienced in the end. God is good! Can I offer a gentle reframe for you? In no way did you fail when it came to your marriage. You tried everything. Your husband failed your marriage. You did not fail. It takes two people, consciously working on it, to make a marriage but only one person to destroy a marriage. He broke his vows and destroyed any possibility for trust. You just lived the truth of that reality by walking away. You are an awesome, strong woman and witness.

  6. I reached my limit. It was very difficult to leave because of our 25 year marriage and my husband was a pastor and we lived in a parsonage . He now wants to work on our marriage and change, but it’s so hard to trust him again. He has made a few baby steps in the right direction , but there’s no way I’m ready to go back. It was mostly emotional abuse with occasionally breaking things and threats. He’s been saying I have no biblical grounds for divorce but I feel otherwise. I struggle with guilt and fear.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing some of your experience. I hope you will read the rest of the blog posts that are for Christians. If you search “Christian” they should line up for you. There is no way to justify abuse using the Bible which is about justice, mercy and love. I hope you can get counselling with someone with expertise in abuse. You are in a hard situation.

  8. I am finding it hard to leave my marriage. I have dealt with 10 years of emotional, verbal and three times physical abuse. My husband always talks me into staying behind our vows and the ‘for better or for worse’ and ‘until death do us part’ lines of our vows. He tells me if I leave he chose the wrong woman to marry because he never planned on getting married in the first place. He tells me I should be ashamed to not honor my vows and stop trying to run despite me telling him how much damage he is doing to me emotionally. The last time he hit me, I left and went to a hotel only for him to come track me down and talk me into coming back home. I know I shouldn’t be here and I definitely don’t want to bring kids into this kind of situation. I am praying and trusting God to provide for me and help me safely exit.

  9. Thank you for sharing some of your story. You are showing a lot of wisdom. It is a wise thing to realize you don’t want to bring kids in to this. Women would tell you, things get a lot worse with the arrival of a child.

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