I desperately need godly counsel concerning my marriage.
Let me start out by setting up the scenario first. I met my wife at church when I was a teenager. We were friends for the first few years, then started dating, and then got engaged. She is the only woman I have ever dated or kissed. In total, I knew my wife for nine years before we ever got married and I am currently 22. In those nine years, we have had what I would consider a very good relationship with one another. We always spoke to each other and communicated very well. We had a very happy relationship and would constantly laugh whenever we were with each other. She made me have a childlike faith again and made me feel loved again during a darker time of my life. In fact, I felt that she had helped bring me closer to God. I have always felt that we were brought together by God and that He truly made us for one another. In fact, I still believe this.
I have always tried my best to love and treat her as Christ loves and treats his church, and I feel that through prayer and God's grace that I have done well at that. However, there have been times when I could tell that she might not have the respect for me that God talks about wives having for their husbands in Ephesians 5:33. From scripture such as this, I realize how important it is for me to give her my unconditional love and how important it is for her to respect my decisions and for me to be the head of my house, just as Christ is the head of his church. However, I am by no means a demanding or controlling person, and I always remember from I Corinthians that true love does not insist on its own way, and, perhaps, I let her have her way too often.
Anyway, to get down to it, I have been married for just a little over five months now, and ever since the day we got married, my wife has acted as if she resents me. In fact, she tells me almost on a daily basis that she does not like me and that she even hates me. She tries to play it off as if she is joking sometimes, but it is disturbing to me that she would say it at all, especially when she has never said it before. Besides, her actions toward me, and perhaps worse, her inaction, speaks to the fact that she does not care for me very much anymore. Some days I don't get off of work until about nine at night and all I want to do is come home and talk to her, share how our days were, and just simply spend time with her because she is my wife. But instead of greeting me with the same love and attention, she usually acts as if she is annoyed by my presence and is burdened with my questions.
Many times she will be reading her Bible, which is definitely a good thing, but if I ask about what book in the Bible she is reading so that I can read it too or perhaps discuss it with her, she either grudgingly answers me or just simply says, "It's none of your business." So many times I have asked if I could read the Bible out loud to her, just so I can feel spiritually involved with her, but when I do she either keeps reading or falls asleep. She told me that she gets more out of reading to herself. She also does not like to pray with me either. She has even gone so far as to tell me that she prefers it when I am not around. She says it's just the way God made her and that she is a "loner."
Our communication is almost nonexistent most days. Even though I try my best to ask open-ended questions and try to get her to talk when I realize something is bothering her, her replies are incredibly short. I try my best to be upbeat and positive but on days when she realizes that she is truly getting me down she says things like, "Divorce me" and "You would be better off without me." After she tells me these things I always tell her that I love her very much and that I do not want to ever divorce her. Sometimes after saying these things, I think that she wants me to hate her. I have never said anything hateful, threatening, or even mildly hurtful to my wife. I have never been able to do this because I believe the Holy Spirit keeps me from saying the hurtful things that would be so easy to throw back at her. In other words, I have never repaid evil for evil with my wife.
Unfortunately, communication is not the only issue. Perhaps not very unsurprisingly, my wife does not sleep with me either. We did infrequently for the first two months of our marriage but as her mood got progressively worse she altogether stopped. At first, it was because she was too tired, which I decided was a respectable reason to abstain, so I did not push things, but then it turned into her simply making me feel as if I was wrong for even wanting to sleep with my wife and, in fact, for wanting to be affectionate with my wife in any fashion. She began to reject me physically even in non-sexual ways such as pushing me away when trying to hug her or simply reaching for her hand at night time, that is if I was even allowed to sleep in the same bed. After two months into our marriage, she stopped taking her birth control pill all together because she said she did not like it. So now she has an excuse to not have slept with me all the time. I actually do not try to initiate anything anymore or even ask about it, because I know in my heart she has no desire to sleep with me.
Just recently, I discovered the most hurtful thing that has occurred. She finally revealed to me that she was re-baptized at another church two months ago and has been receiving spiritual counseling from a Pentecostal man at her work, yet she still seems to have very little desire to include me in her spiritual journey. She says that the worship at our church is dead, which I would have to agree that I struggle to feel the Spirit's presence at our church on Sunday mornings just because everyone is so resistant to change and the bulletin is considered more sacred than God's Holy Word. Going to another church was something we actually decided on before, as we are about to move anyway. She has currently identified the Pentecostal denomination to be her and, most importantly, God's denomination of choice because she feels that God's presence is evident in their worship and that they truly go by the word of God and do not try to keep God contained within a man-made box. I agree that the Pentecostal denomination is a great part of the body of Christ and that they are spirit-filled people. I would not at all mind going to a Pentecostal church either. It just cuts me to the core that she would exclude me so much from her plans and her journey because it is supposed to be our journey.
But now she has me questioning my whole relationship with God. I have always thought from the time I asked Jesus to be in my heart and to make me a new being through His spiritual rebirth that I had the gift of His Holy Spirit and the salvation that He offers. Now, after talking with the Pentecostal man at her work, she is convinced that we are both not saved and do not have the Holy Spirit because neither one of us has ever spoken in tongues. I told her that the way I had always understood it was that speaking in tongues is but just one of the many gifts of the spirit and some believers have it and some do not. In fact, some whole denominations may not have the gift of speaking in tongues, while others do. It goes back to the scripture where it talks about how if the whole body were an eye how would it function? Speaking in tongues is not more special than the other gifts, but I would be grateful to have it if God had it chosen for me. She seems to look anywhere for spiritual guidance except for her husband because after I told her that, it seems that she has alienated me even more. I was not rude or dogmatic when I told her this either. I simply told her what I believed to be true from reading the Scripture.
One good thing that has come from this is that I do know that I need to grow closer to Him. That I need to seek Him more, fast, read His word more, and give up certain things that might stand in my way from growing closer to Jesus. However, I do not know why God is allowing her to be like this. I believe she is trying to seek Him, but with the way, I feel I am being treated it's hard to feel like she is growing closer to Him. I know that God will enlighten and give to those who ask and seek (Matthew 7) so I have faith that she will receive from Him what she is looking for. This is the most terrible thing I have ever had to go through though. I do not understand why God if He is truly present and answering prayer, would continue to allow my marriage to deteriorate when I am trying so desperately to keep it together. What do I need to be doing that I am apparently blind to? I do not know what happened to the woman who changed me for the better.
I am very sorry about the length of this email. I know that this might not even be the appropriate channel for me to submit my concerns to, but I really do not know of anyone to talk to about this, mainly because I don't want to make my wife seem like she is a terrible person to someone we know because she is not. I poured out my heart here, because it is anonymous, and I had read some of the material on your website and it was all very helpful and rooted in the word. If you cannot use this at all on your website, could you point me in the direction of someone that could perhaps council me?
I really like what your home page says about your church. I think your church does an amazing ministry for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I pray that He continues to bless your ministry.
Something is missing from your story. The shift from marrying you to despising you doesn't make sense from a motivation point of view. If she didn't like you, there would be no reason to marry you. She wasn't forced into it, so something changed. If you noticed it from the day you got married, then my best guess is that it happened just before your wedding. If so, then she went on with the wedding to save herself from embarrassment.
I hate to say this, but everything points to her becoming involved with another man -- most likely this Pentecostal man. She hates herself for it and, therefore, is trying to force you to hate her too. It is not God who is allowing your marriage to collapse, it is people who are involved in sin who are destroying a work of God.
I don't accept denominationalism. "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Corinthians 1:10). Christians should following the Bible, not some emotion-driven division.
Your reading of I Corinthians 12 is more accurate than your wife's. In the first century, everyone did not have the same gift and not everyone had gifts from the Spirit. "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. ... But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (I Corinthians 12:4, 11). "All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?" (I Corinthians 12:29-30). The answer to each of Paul's questions is "No." But both of you are ignoring the simple fact that God said it would end. "Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8). See: Are tongues still in existence today? for more on this topic.
The idea that a person must demonstrate gifts of the Holy Spirit to be saved is demonstrably false. The gifts of the Spirit came from the Spirit as God personally chose. If salvation depended on having the gifts, then only those whom God personally chose could be saved. That would mean that God shows personal favoritism to some people. But God says He is impartial. "For there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11). Therefore, salvation is not based on a personal selection by God but by impartial criteria that God established. That criteria cannot include the giving of gifts that only God can bestow. Read through the example of how Cornelius was saved in When Was Cornelius Saved? and how Saul was saved in The Conversion of Saul. Both men were given the Holy Spirit, yet both were told to be baptized to wash away their sins after being filled with the Spirit.
Brother Jeffery Hamilton,
Thank you so much for your quick response. I really have no reason to believe that she is involved with another man, other than the fact that she can treat me coldly, and, fortunately, the man she is receiving counsel from is elderly. However, I am aware that there is the possibility that I could be completely oblivious to something of that nature.
She did actually start acting differently toward me before we ever got married. I started to notice it about six months before our wedding, but after the wedding, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I guess that's why I think of it as more of a problem that arose right when we got married, even though it most likely wasn't. She told me tonight, point blank, that she wished I would not love her and that she did not know why I loved her. Of course, I asked her why she would want such a thing from her husband and why I would not love my wife? Then she said that I should not love her because she is not good for me and that she didn't think she was good for anyone. She told me I made a mistake by marrying her and that she is not the same person she was when I fell in love with her. So I tried to explain how Satan can lie to us and make us believe that we aren't good enough or not worth loving, but the conversation ended with her saying that she was done talking and that she hates "these kinds of conversations."
At this point, I am okay with whatever may become of my marriage. I know that I have done and will continue to do all I can to save it, and I have put it in God's hands. Ultimately if it is going to work she is going to have to try too. Right now it looks like that may not happen, because, as I said before, it is almost as if she wants me to throw in the towel so that she does not have to. She also asked me at one point tonight if I was going to divorce her and when I said I have no desire to, she almost seemed disappointed.
Despite all this, I still have peace. The most important thing is that I am still sure of my relationship with God and it has actually strengthened through this whole ordeal because I have learned to rely more on my relationship with Him rather than with her or anyone else for that matter. Thank you for reassuring me about the things that I believed to be true and, especially, for revealing the truth to me that I had not seen before. You truly have helped me during a trying time.
Thank you and God bless,