My wife is abusive and I cannot live with her anymore. What do I do?


My wife of over thirty years and I have been working on serious relational issues for a long time. She was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive over most of those years, and counselors have suggested she has some light form of paranoia and other mental issues. I tend to think there is a stronger spiritual context as did our pastor. I’ve left the home a couple of times to get a safe distance and heal in my heart and mind. I struggle with tempting thoughts. We are seeing a counselor together. I am attending a church and am active in it. She is not attending anywhere.

I feel sometimes as if I’ve abandoned her, and she regularly shames me about this. I just can’t be at home because she insists on controlling and abusing me.

Our grown children agreed to intervene with me so she would see a psychiatrist several years ago. I moved back in the following year, not wanting a divorce to result. She never saw a psychiatrist. I sense that if I keep trying to encourage her to recognize the abuse and sin, she will try to file for divorce.

Where am I to stand in this case? The scripture says “A husband must not divorce his wife”, but we live in a country where the wife has that option. I have no intention to divorce, but she has mentioned it our whole marriage. What authority do I really have? She won’t listen to pastors or counselors. She claims to be a Christian, but I have doubts. I struggle, yet am taking refuge in Christ's love for me. Any word of encouragement and teaching as to where I stand biblically would be helpful.


It appears to me that the matter is up to your wife. If she decides to divorce you, you won't be able to stop it. If the divorce goes through, then unless you are sure that it is due to her committing adultery, you need to plan on living as a single man the rest of your life -- unless she happens to proceed you in death. "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). The fact that your wife is a Christian in name only doesn't make any difference. It won't allow you to marry again.

I hope you are able to reconcile with her, but the terms of returning must be that she repents of her behavior. You can't force another person to do what is right. She has to make her own choice and accept responsibility for the results of her choices. You are not at fault for her sins. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).


Yes, I understand about staying single and waiting, praying for reconciliation. If I take that stand, that encourages me, even now, not to fear what she might do.


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