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Marriage Abandoned
No Responsibilities Anymore   

Q. I'm in my early thirties and have been married for over a decade. I have several children. But, the thing is I don't love my spouse anymore and I'm planning to leave my family because I don't want the responsibilities anymore, either. Anyway, don't you think I have a right to live my life in a happier, more fulfilled way? My spouse is very critical of everything I do and I just don't love her anymore. I don't want the responsibilities of marriage anymore.


Some Problems Require More Attention

You didn't say whether or not you are a Christian believer. So I'm going to assume you are and have made some kind of profession of faith.

However, let me say right from the outset that if you're not a believer you have far worse problems than a failing marriage! It's called "hell." In that case we strongly suggest that you work on getting your spiritual house in order.

Shallow Western Civilization

But, assuming you are a Christian, "No, you don't have the right to just leave your kids and spouse to live a more fulfilled life!"

In our Western civilization we have become extremely selfish and focused upon how we "feel" and what "our" needs are. That is an immature, shallow way to live in today's world.

What Counts are Strong Bonds

I know this is hard right now for you to comprehend. But, as you grow older you will realize that "love" is a fickle emotion that has no roots or depth. Wise people throughout the ages have always said that we grow into love with our partners. Strong feelings of sexual attraction toward a marriage partner are simply irrelevant as we grow older and more infirm.

Don't believe it? Ask your elderly friends. Whether or not we like it, statistics dictate that issues of incontinence, irrregularity and prostate health take precedence while virility diminishes as we age (regardless of T.V. brainwashing).

What matters in the end are strong bonds of deep friendship and commitment to our partners and families. Character counts and hopefully you will seek to develop it. If you don't I guarantee you will still age. Then what will you have?

Prize Specimen?

Think about this: You may be a prize "stud" who is in great physical shape now. But, do you really think you'll be such a prize in twenty years?

How would you feel if your wife suddenly decided to leave you twenty years from now because you've sprouted gray hair, have a pot belly and suffer from hypertension that makes you grumpy? What about commitment and loyalty and the values that make a marriage and culture strong?

Damaging Kids

Do you have any idea what divorce and shallow commitments do to your children? If you were lucky enough to have committed, faithful parents then you probably don't have a clue.

Making Memories of Nausea, Panic&Fear

When parents fight or say they don't love each other anymore kids feel sick to their stomachs! When my parents used to fight I felt like throwing up! My heart started to race and I felt overwhelming fear. I now recognize those emotions as panic and terror.

Is that what you want your children to feel? After all, most kids feel this way when their parents fight and scream they don't love each other anymore. These are the memories your children will remember long after you are dead.

One Life Touches Another, Forever

Don't assume your kids will just "get over it," either. Many children from divorced families grow up to become insecure, shallow people themselves who tend to have difficulties forming commitments with their partners.

What you decide now will affect the lives of not only you and your wife but your children's children as well. Think hard about it…and stay with her, come what may.

But I don't Love her Anymore

Our "father in the faith," Dr. James Borror, used to preach about marriage partners who were having affairs. Although these sermons were given more than 35 years ago I still remember them:

"But, I don't love her anymore," the husband whined.

"I don't care what you think you 'feel!'" retorted the pastor. "DO the right thing and obey what God wants you to do!"

This is a simple illustration. But, there is much power and wisdom in those words. "Just DO the right thing!…I don't care WHAT you feel."

You said You would Die for Her

Marriage is far more than just love and sexual attraction. According to God's Word marriage is a symbol of Christ and his church. In fact our very own bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…" (Eph 5:25).

"do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor 6:19-20, NASB).

I am grateful that Christ doesn't base his love for me on my youth, sexual attraction, sports abilities and charming personality! Instead, Christ lovingly sacrificed himself for His church.

He loved those who were unlovable. He gave up His "rights" to control everyone and everything. Instead, He submitted Himself for the one that was weaker, so that His bride could live a better, eternal life tomorrow and the next day and the next…

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Are You a Winner?

I doubt you were a real "winner," either, when Christ died for you. Thank goodness Jesus has better values and commitments than we do. Like a lot of us you probably claimed that you would die for her! That sounds pretty hollow now.

How important is a man's word? Is your word your "bond?" Do you demand that others keep their word to you? And what are you teaching your children about the value of commitment and the sanctity of your word to them? Why should they keep their commitments to you when you do not keep your commitments to them.

I recognize that you probably stopped reading this a while back, but I will finish anyway because I have seen too many good men wreck their lives and that of their families because of this problem.

A Model of Spiritual Realities

Marriage is a model or a "type" of spiritual realities and a picture of God's divine plan for his church. Through parables such as the Ten Virgins of Matthew 25 and direct references to the bridegroom and His Bride the Church, we are given insights into the significance of marriage to God.

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready…Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7,9, NASB).

Disregarding Types or Models

As we see in the Bible, God does not respond well to those who just disregard "types" or models significant to Him. For example, when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness to obtain water for the whining Israelites rather than "speak" to the rock as the Lord commanded, God forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:11-12).

That seems like harsh punishment, doesn't it? After all, Moses only disobeyed once.

Yet, the "rock" Moses struck at Massah was a "type of Christ." By striking it, Moses violated its "type" or significance as a Christ-symbol.

This is a good example that while we are forgiven of our sins we are not always prevented from experiencing the consequences for sin in our lives (Sproul 2005, 118).

How do you think it affects God when we lightly disregard our marriage vows which are a symbol of Christ's love and commitment to the church?

Accountable to God

Don't just assume you are saved by "grace" and therefore free of all consequences for your actions either. The New Testament is clear that while all believers will be in Heaven, we will receive rewards or suffer serious loss for what we did on earth.

1. We will be judged for the good and bad things we do (2 Cor 5:10).

2. We can "shrink in shame" before Christ when we stand before Him (1 Jn 2:28).

3. We can lose out on a full reward when we stand before Christ (2 Jn 1:8).

4. We can even be "turned over to Satan" and die early because we have disobeyed the Lord! (1 Cor 5:5).

These are serious consequences for believers!

Here is another:

Hindering our Prayers

The Old Testament prophet Malachi warns men that God may no longer listen to his prayers if he disregards his marriage:

"And this is another thing you do: you cover the LORD's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning, because He no longer respects your offerings or receives them gladly from your hands……"the LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant…"'If he hates and divorces his wife,' says the LORD God of Israel, 'he covers his garments with injustice,' says the LORD of Hosts. Therefore, watch yourselves carefully, and do not act treacherously'" (Mal 2:13-16, HCSB).

Remarriage Equals Adultery

Jesus warned men:

…"anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery" (Matt 5:32).

No, Jesus doesn't make an exception for your nagging, critical wife. Only adultery is a biblical excuse for leaving your spouse.

Conflict Resolution

Sometimes the church must be called in to intervene when a spouse is divorcing his wife (and children) for selfish reasons. These are guidelines for the church:

"If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But, if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won't accept the church's decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17, NLT).

A Christian who is treated poorly by a partner may surely take his or her situation to the church for assistance.

The Real Heroes

So, my fair weather friend, if you want to risk premature death, feel shame before Christ, disregard models and types dear to God, lose out on rewards, find your prayers hindered and hurt your kids and grandkids - all so that you can live a happier, more fulfilled life now and not have marital responsibilities anymore - Hey…that is your choice.

Our real heroes are those big enough to endure tough times. We want to live our lives so that they are worth something in the long run. It will all be over before we know it and the consequences are eternal. I pray for the grace to understand and comprehend how short and fleeting my life is and to make every moment count (Eph 5:15, James 4:14).

For me a "deal is a deal."


Sources&Recommended Resources:

Fireproof - Film starring Kirk Cameron, DVD. (Affirm Films, Sony Pictures, 2008).

Chuck Missler, "Being Faithful in a Faithless World" (Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House). Tape-set. www.khouse.org

R.C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible, ESV (Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005).

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