Is it OK to divorce because of violence?



My husband and I married less than a year ago. We are both young. Of course, when it happened I felt so happy and felt as if my life was complete, until recently. My husband and I get along for the most part, but the thing is when we argue we get into bad fights, sometimes physical.

He's never really hit me before, but he's tossed me around, pushing and even shoving me on the floor in some instances. In this last incident, it was both of us being physically violent with each other. I tried to desperately get away from him when I saw he was becoming angry, but he continued to follow me like a kid not getting his way because I didn't want to fight, but I eventually gave in. The police were called, he was locked up, and after that, I decided that was the last straw. This was the third time it happened, the other two were in front of my family.

My question is it OK to divorce for reasons other than adultery? I know this sounds weird but when we got married, I felt it was for all the wrong reasons. I feel if we divorce and separate from each other for a while, then maybe we will have time to mature, grow, and better ourselves as mature adults. I want us to get re-married and start over.

We decided to separate right now, to be free to live our lives, and maybe even seek counseling for our violent tempers. I don't know if I want this relationship right now. I feel like I'm obligated to be trapped in it with no possibilities of being happy again. The way we currently live makes me feel like we aren't really married. He lives on the other side of town, so I barely see him, and now since he's gotten in trouble with the law. We can't see or speak with each other for thirty days.

I need peace. I just don't know where to begin. Please help.


Divorce is one of those things that there really is no good reason for it. ""For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously" (Malachi 2:16). God does allow that when a divorce is because the spouse is sexually unfaithful, the innocent party can remarry after the divorce. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). However, divorce for any other reason does not permit marrying someone else. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). Therefore, the best answer in all cases is to learn how to live together as husband and wife.

The two of you made a covenant with each other. A covenant is one of the most serious and formal types of promises found in the Scriptures. It means that even when the other party doesn't uphold his end of the covenant, the other tries to keep things going. No one forced either of you into that covenant, so to talk about being "trapped" is not productive.

For this to work, it will take both of you to be committed to the idea. I think you can do it, but I'm not certain where your husband stands in this matter. If he wants to change, I can point out how he can completely turn his life around. You'll have to ask him and see if he is willing to talk with me. Or, I can put you in touch with a local Christian who might be able to help.

But for now, let's start making changes in your outlook. You've figured out that being violent doesn't solve a single problem; instead, it generates additional problems. "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). In the long run, such violence will destroy both of you. "The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice" (Proverbs 21:7). Anger breeds wrongdoing because the angry person rarely thinks. "An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression" (Proverbs 29:22). That is why your husband is getting into so much trouble with the law. You need to help him pull the plug on his anger before it destroys him.

Almost always a person turns to violence because they feel powerless. Things don't go the way they want, they can't seem to stop it, so they try to force it. But all that does is make the other person respond in kind. "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25). That, I believe, is the trap that you've entered.

The first step is going to be really hard for you, but you need to stop yourself from giving angry replies back to your husband, even when he deserves it. "The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance" (Proverbs 25:23). Angry retorts are naturally going to bring angry responses and before you know it people are saying things without thought. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). There are enough problems with out of control emotions without adding fuel to the fire.

If you can rule your anger, you will find that doesn't matter who strong you are. "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32). That is because you will be able to think, and hopefully make some good choices. In that conquering of your own anger, you will better see how to pacify his anger. "A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention" (Proverbs 15:18). The usual response to anger is to press the other person's hot buttons, making him angrier. That doesn't work, so you need to learn to do the unexpected and when you see anger beginning to douse it with the waters of peace.

As I said, it is going to take both of you to make this really successful. There are things he needs to do as well, but I can't give him help until we talk so I can find out what is going on. Meanwhile, this at least gives you a starting point.


Thank you so much for your response because my question was a little bit all over the place!

I have another question if you don't mind. So even if we are unhappy, do we still have to stay in the marriage? If God wants nothing but the best for us, why is marriage such a "one-time thing?" I'm sure people get married to bad people all the time, and if they divorce that person, they can never get married again? Are we really just supposed to stay and wait it out even if marriage is something we no longer want? I know that was a million questions, but it all leads back to one thing.


You look at happiness as something that happens to you. If enough external events come together with the way you want them to, then you'll be happy. But more often than not wealthy people are unhappy and people with not a lot of things are happy. External things don't make happiness. The reason is that happiness is a choice you make, it doesn't depend on the environment you live in. "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Colossians 4:11-13).

You voluntarily chose this man to be your husband. No one forced you to vow that you would have him from this day forward till death do us part. Yet, now that you realize that this marriage isn't going to be smooth sailing, you want to tell God that your promise is worthless. "And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate"" (Matthew 19:4-6). That is what Jesus said in response to the question, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:3). The answer is that marriage covenants can't be ended just because someone wants to give up.

Yes, some people marry without really thinking about who they are marrying. So then why is God blamed? Some people change for the worse after marriage, but more often than not there were plenty of hints what the person was like before the marriage. The problem is that those hints were not paid attention to. They were ignored, explained away, trivialized, or determined to be something that could be fixed after the other person was locked into the marriage. The person doesn't really change, it is just that reality sets in and now can't be ignored. Then, too, people do change for the better. That is what I'm hoping you two can accomplish.

God knows that the best arrangement is for a man and woman to commit to each other for life. The making and breaking of relationships are harmful. But a good marriage is worth working hard to create. You're looking for an easy way out -- "Satisfaction guarantee or your singleness back!" -- but that is not a part of the terms when you make a marriage covenant.

"Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool's voice is known by his many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:1-4).

The rules for marriage were laid out since the creation. They haven't changed in thousands of years. The fact that you didn't pay attention to them or thought they didn't apply to you doesn't change the rules. And no, you aren't supposed to wait it out, you're supposed to work it out; that is what you both vowed to do. "Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:18). If you want peace in your life, you have to make it.

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