Question:

I need help trying to discern God's will for my life and the life of my family. I am prayerfully hoping that you will be able to help me with how to go about making this decision.

I have been married for nearly twenty years and have several children. I don't know how much information you would need, so I will just sum up my relationship and leave it open for you to ask any questions that you would need to help me out. I have come to understand how much God truly loves me and my children and how things are part of His plan. Sometimes if we allow fear to control us we end up getting stuck and not doing God's will. This leads me to this huge question.

I would say that my marriage is not a healthy marriage -- it never has been good. I would say that it is dysfunctional. My husband prays, but I don't believe that he is a follower of Christ. His actions do not show proof of his belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. I have come to realize this. I am a believer and he is not; we are unequally yoked. We have experienced physical abuse, verbal, emotional and financial abuse in our marriage.

Most recently with my husband almost every day telling me to pack up my stuff and to leave our home. This is not the first time this has happened to me. He has physically removed me from our home where I have slept in one of our vehicles for the night and other times where I have stayed with a friend or with my mother. After a day or two he would ask us to come back home and apologize for his actions and things would go about as normal.

My children are much older now and I feel like staying is hurting them more than if I were to leave. He has become more abusive with his words toward our children and toward me. There is no consistency with the discipline of our children and no boundaries. When he gets upset it's almost like the end of the world. We don't even respond to him but his words, no matter what, cut real deep into our hearts and our souls. He wont leave us. Even though he threatens to leave, he doesn't. This is his home. We live here like we would in a prison. My children are able to go to school and other places if he allows them to. My concerns are about my children and our lives. He swears, insults and degrades them.

My fears if I leave: Where would I go? My mother's home is not an option -- there is no room for us there. How would I support my family? I currently do not work outside the home. My children would be stuck in a much greater crossfire between me and my husband. How will he react? Will he physically hurt us? Will he try to take my children away from me? Will our lives be in more danger? My children growing up without their father. Failing my children by not being able to give them the gift of a stable family, Failing God by not being able to complete my calling as a wife. Would I hurt my children more emotionally by leaving? Would I be endangering them by leaving? Would I be going against God's will? He has called me to be a wife. By leaving I would basically be giving up. Would I be able to function and care for my children?

I have lived this way my entire marriage. Is it too late for me to leave? I feel now like I should've left a long time ago. I feel like I messed up my kids by staying and being a part of this unhealthy relationship. Instead of giving my kids the best, I didn't. I feel like I have messed them up emotionally. I feel like I have failed them.

If I stay: My family has a home, even though he tells us to leave and that it isn't our home. My husband would provide for us for our basic needs. He does not give us money. He does buy us groceries. We are together; we are not separated. I am continuing to allow the abusive behavior to happen. Is it better for my kids? I don't know. I will continue to fulfill my first calling as a wife. My children will not know how to properly treat a woman or how a man is supposed to treat a woman. They will likely end up in a relationship like mine.

To be honest with you I don't know what to do. My kids are angry. They are disrespectful toward me and my husband but mainly toward me. They treat me like their father does. I just feel like a complete failure. I don't know what to do. Maybe there is something wrong with me? Maybe I am the reason why all of these things are happening? I don't know what to do.

I want to do God's will, but I don't know exactly what that is. I have given it to the Lord daily. He has given me strength, He has given me peace, and He has given me comfort through all of this. He has been my everything. I hurt for my children. They don't know God like I do. We don't participate in any church, and they don't have that in their lives. If God is asking me to continue in this marriage I will. Because He gives me the strength to do so but my question is: Am I hurting my children by staying?

More recently my husband has been very upset -- angry really. He has called me every foul name in the book and has told me to leave, to pack my stuff up and to leave. He has even cussed at our children.

This is the reason why I am writing this letter to ask for guidance. I don't even know where to start. I have no place to go. He won't leave our home because he says that it is his home and not ours. For the past couple of days I have been asking God to guide me. But I don't know what He wants me to do. I want to pursue God in everything and I want His will to be done, not mine! I need to discern how. I don't have any money, I don't have a phone unless my husband leaves me his and I don't have a car to drive unless my husband gives me permission to drive and leaves me with gas money to put in the car because he leaves them on empty. I must admit that recently I have been asking God to set me and my children free. But what does that mean? Will He change my husband? Does it mean that my husband will leave us or does God what me to leave?

Other than these outburst that he has randomly, he is a good person when he is in a good mood, but to be honest this is very rare! I know that this is a lot to ask you. But I need your help. I don't have anyone to whom I could confide in and to trust with these questions that I have and to give me an answer that is guided by God's wisdom and grace. I don't know if I am emotionally strong to be able to leave. But I will do want God wants me to do. Will you pray with me and help me to go through these emotions to help me discern God's will? Thank you so much for your time and your prayers.


Answer:

God's will is not hard to learn because it is written out for us in the Bible from long ago. It is just that people usually don't think that this is enough or they don't think to look in such an obvious place.

Your husband has been abusing you and your children. You have been allowing it to happen. You can't control your husband, but you can control yourself. When you say that your children are growing up without consistent discipline and are allowed to be wild, well, you are one of their parents. It is hard to raise children well when one parent is out of control, but that doesn't mean you can't have a backbone.

What I suggest that you do is contact a battered women's shelter in your area. Since you have access to the Internet do a search on "battered women's shelters." You can contact them by email, borrow a neighbor's phone, or ask the mom of one of your kid's friends to drive you and them over there. The point is that you've never been trapped, you've only seen yourself as trapped and have not looked for a way out. From there, without the pressure from your husband, you can decide what will be your next step.

Divorcing your husband will not give you the option to seek out a new husband. If you decide to leave, you are making a decision to live and support your family on your own until your husband gets his behavior under control. That is what needs to be made clear to him. It isn't just the abusive language, but it also has to be an acceptance that you are his equal partner in this marriage.

By the way, you claim that you are unequally yoked. That is not a true statement. A marriage is the joining of two people, a "yoke" if you will, but it is one of equality. The fact that your husband doesn't act as he ought doesn't change the nature of the relationship. You have been degrading yourself all these years and to a bully, like your husband, it merely causes him to view you with contempt. This is another reason I suggest going to a battered women's shelter; they will teach you to stand on your own two feet and be a responsible adult.

Your children have not been raised in a good environment and that cannot be undone. Instead of moaning about the past, you still have a few years to alter their future.

What I hope happens is that your husband realizes the depth of his sins and gets help for himself. With both of you starting over to learn what marriage is supposed to be, perhaps you'll be able to reconcile. "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).