Question:

It has been almost a year since I first wrote you about my thoughts of divorcing my wife. We have one child together. A lot has happened since then! I moved out of my house for two reasons: 1) because I had already planned to and 2) because my wife took out an order of protection because she was "fearful" of me (Although I have never put my hands on her in my life!). I have been living on my own since then and I have visitation with my son three days a week. I stopped preaching at the same time due to this situation and others. Now I am simply a "married" man that lives own his own. The order of protection is for a year. This time away from my wife has only made me learn to live on my own. I have gotten used to living life without her around. There have been a lot of hateful things said to each other including her parents.

My question is what am I supposed to do when this order of protection is up? Just go home and live with her? Although she is my wife, it would feel like living with somebody I don't know. Neither of us has filed for a divorce, but we are actually divorcing each other by not talking and me living on my own for a year!

So much about me has changed since living on my own. I have two new careers. She doesn't have a clue about the person I have become as a result of the things that her and her family has put me through. Now I don't blame them for everything because I had to give them something to work with. But they sure worked what I gave them! Now we don't talk nor do her parents talk to me.

I do wish that we could do better for the sake of my son, but it does seem like our marriage is way beyond repair. I think we are just waiting to see who files first.


Answer:

I realize that I am only getting one side of the story, so I understand that I don't know all the issues. People have a tendency, whether they want to or not to put themselves in the best light possible, so I try to keep that in mind when I advise people.

What appears hasn't happened is any honest attempt at understanding and forgiving each other. I understand the difficulty. When two people live together, they know just the things to say that can hurt the other person the most. And it is so hard to overcome the bitterness of the pain to do what you know needs to be done.

Even though you are husband and wife, Jesus' command still applies because you are also brother and sister. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). It's not an option or a suggestion but a command. Hard to do at time, I'll grant you, because some people aren't that lovable.

You are two people with something against each other. So what are you supposed to do? "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (Matthew 18:15). That doesn't mean accusations and yelling. The goal is to find a resolution to the problems that exist. "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:24-26). But notice that what you two have done is not talk. You haven't tried to resolve issues and so they fester instead. ""Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (Ephesians 4:26-27).

It doesn't matter who's fault it is. The problem is that faults left without being fixed and issues are being held onto without forgiveness because neither side wants the other person's forgiveness (i.e. they haven't repented). "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:4). There ought to be motivation to seek forgiveness -- not just words -- but an actual change in each other so that you can leave the issues behind and truly forgive. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Matthew 18:35).

So what do you do? "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 7:11). You hit the heart of the matter, you've lost touch with your wife. It might be too obvious, but how did you get to know her in the first place? Didn't you date her? So gently, carefully, ask you if you might have the pleasure of her company on a dinner date. And even if she rebuffs you, start doing and sending kind things which say you are thinking of her as a friend and not an enemy. If nothing else, it will improve your own attitude toward her.