“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”
1 Peter 3:7
A close friend of mine, “Alice” is in the middle of a divorce. On some days, I think she would like to remain married to her husband, “Dan”, but then the next day he reminds her of the controlling and abusive relationship that she is leaving.
How do I offer advice to Alice who is struggling with her choice? I know that God hates divorce, but He does not want her to suffer at the hands of an abuser either. When Dan is around me, he is charming and the life of the party. He puts on a good show. However, I have heard of the secret horror that he has committed behind closed doors. Is it possible for a man that can treat his wife with such disrespect to change his ways? Or is it truly too late?
This couple has lived apart for about 18 months. This is important. If you are in an abusive relationship, you must get out. The separation does not have to lead to divorce, but you cannot live in the same household with an abusive spouse.
In the 18 months apart, I believe Dan has come to realize what he has lost, but is not ready or not capable of changing his controlling behavior, at least on his own.
I believe Alice cannot see Dan as a man she once loved because she is blinded by the memories of hurt. God has the power to take those memories away, but they are protecting her now. Those memories are a shield that combats any hurtful words that he carelessly throws at her. Without the shield, she would be vulnerable to future hurts.
What would it take for Dan to change his behavior and for Alice to abandon her shield of protection? It would take an intervention from God. Both Dan and Alice are churchgoers. I do not know what to say to Alice, except to pray with her.
I pray for Alice and Dan and all those couples like them. They are caught in a cycle of abuse. Only through your grace would they be able to heal their marriage and build a healthy relationship that they never had before. Please Lord, I ask for your wisdom to help me to provide comfort to my friend as she struggles with the decisions that she must make in the next few months.
Help Dan and others like him to surrender their will to You. Help them to know that surrender does not mean weakness, but strength. By relinquishing control of their lives to you, they will be more powerful than they would have been on their own.
In the name of Jesus, I pray,