Question:

I came across your web site by chance while searching for information on divorce and separation. Below is my question:

I have been married since earlier this year and separated from my husband only a few months later. I am older than my husband, and unfortunately we didn't date as long as we should. I am in my thirties and he is 19. My husband packed his bags and left stating he was unhappy. Less than a week later I found out he had reconnected with an ex-girlfriend, and they were now considering themselves in a relationship. I asked my husband to reconcile but he stated he did not want to, that he does not love me, his feelings were not real, he never wants to be with me again and to leave him alone.

I have a preteen child I had out of wedlock and he was devastated when my husband left. I let him know all we could do was pray and that is what him and I did.

Less than a month later my husband contacted me. In between this time I'd let him be and had not contacted or bothered him. He repented, said he was sorry and had went about things the wrong way. He said he left because he felt I was not affectionate enough or showing him enough attention. I work full-time, go to school, and take care of the household. He wanted to reconcile and come back home. I consented and he came back. I asked him had he been intimate with anyone else and he said yes, he and his ex had sex more than once.

He was back for a week before he started to look distant again. I asked what was wrong and he stated his ex could possibly be pregnant. He then struggled with what to do, since he felt he needed to be there for her and the baby. Less than two weeks later he was back, he was leaving again stating he was confused.

Fast forward a week later, we finally spoke and he says he loves me with all his heart, but he wants to experience life, going out, other women and having fun. He feels I had a chance to experience life, learn from my mistakes and regrets, so he wants the chance also. However, he wants me also and doesn't want to lose me in the meantime. He understands he may be making a mistake and thinks of me all the time, but he has a yearning to experience what the world has to offer. He keeps saying he loves me, but he wasn't ready and wonders if it is possible for us to remarry once he matures a little.

I know this is about him being with other women while he is young and so on. He seemed content and happy with our intimate life once he came back. I showed him plenty attention and met all his physical and emotional needs. However, once he found out his ex was pregnant he became withdrawn again.

Now to my question: I am not sure if I should wait on him to file for divorce, if I should file for divorce, should I stay separated and allow him this time he needs, or even ask one more time if he wants to reconcile. I don't want him to get the impression that it's okay to treat me in such a manner, break his vows and I will be right here waiting on him. We both realize we should have dated longer but now we are here, and I feel we should make the best of it. However, I can't make him want to work it out. I am also not sure if maybe we should just stay living apart for a while so he has time to think about what he truly wants. I love my husband and do not want to divorce, but don't what is the best course of action. Any help or guidance will be appreciated.


Answer:

"Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

I suspect the reason your husband married you is because he doesn't think like an adult. He wanted someone to mother him and so was attracted to your mature way of thinking. You can see his immaturity when he says he needs to be with the mother of his illegitimate child while at the same time arguing that he needs the opportunity to sow wild oats with other women. He wants to run around, act as he pleases, and know there will always be someone there to accept him back if he needs a place to escape to.

You won't be doing him, you, or your child any favors leaving the door unlocked for this child in a man's body. He will only take a lack of action on your part as acceptance of his sin.

You don't have to divorce him. There is no requirement to do so, it is only an allowance. But in this situation I believe it is the best thing that you can do for his sake. Whether it will be enough to shake him from his sins, I cannot tell, but he needs to learn that marriage covenants are serious matters.

If in the off-chance he decides he wants to return and you have not married by that time, then you can offer him a chance. But that means you and he need to date for a proper period of time without sex, while he proves to you that he deserves to be your husband. My guess is that he won't accept such terms.

I appreciate your speedy, wise and godly response. I have been struggling for days with how to proceed with this situation. Though sad, I do feel divorce is the necessary step to take in my situation. My husband has unresolved issues with his mother, and I always felt he wanted to be with me as a replacement because I accepted him in a way his mother and family didn't.

Thank you very much and may God bless you.

Well, I let him know I'd be filing divorce papers and he seemed okay with it. However, for the past two days we have been in contact, and he tells me how the past two weeks he's been in church and was learning about being a chosen generation and royal priesthood. He is now saying he wants to be the man God called him to be and a good husband. I reminded him how he kept saying he wasn't ready and wanted to live a little more. He says he guess he just wanted space and how he had never lived with anyone or stayed the night with anyone and how everything was overwhelming. He says he loves me but would get thoughts that he was missing out and needed to be out there doing what everyone else is doing.

I believe the fact that I've never met his parents also plays a part in all of his confusion. Now he says he wants to stay married, that he regrets his actions and wants to take necessary steps and do what he has to in order for us to work. He claims he has been by himself since leaving two weeks ago and has not had any sexual contact with anybody, nor the desire to. I believe he is sincere or at least thinks he is, but what if he wakes up and feels different again? He is asking me to hold off on the divorce and give him time to get himself together and be a better man.

I guess my question is can someone have a genuine change of heart so fast? Is he just using me to feel good about himself and feed his ego? Should I allow him more time to prove himself and what should I look for to see genuine change? I love and care for him, but don't want to send him a message that it's okay to disrespect me. I don't want him taking my ability to forgive, knowing we all make mistakes, as a weakness to be exploited.

Thank you for any guidance.

"Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 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." And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith"" (Luke 17:3-5).

It is because we can't read another person's mind that we are left wondering if we are being taken advantage of or not. Can people suddenly turn around? Yes. I've seen it several times. Is it true of your husband? I don't know.

Given Jesus' statement, I believe it is best to give a person the benefit of doubt. What I would suggest is that hold off filing and ask your husband to see an elder or preacher about his sins and to learn to be a good husband. State that you'll take him back if the elder or preacher is convinced that he is sincere. This gives you a second person's opinion about the situation, but it also gives you a measure of your husband's sincerity. If he isn't sincere, he won't do much of anything to improve himself or the situation. "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:16-20).

There is no guarantee that he won't relapse back into sin. He has a weakness in this area that needs to be worked on. However, you can't make decisions on what might happen. What might help is letting him know that if he does become unfaithful again that you will divorce him.

Even if he doesn't follow through, by doing things this way, at least you will have the confidence that you really did everything possible to help him straighten out. In this way, you can move on with your own life without doubts.