Question:

My husband and I are both in the church of Christ. I have a been emotionally and financially abused for almost thirty years. My two sisters gave up on trying to be there for me, although when I could I was there for them in every way no matter how long it took. I have nobody to help me and I have no education, job, no money, no car. My husband gambles and lost his job.Both my adult boys are on drugs and feel they have no father to talk to. My marriage is very bad in every way and nothing is there to even try.I have tried everything I could to get a job be independent. My husband won't let me leave the house for more then 30 minutes.He makes thehouse very unpeaceful and there is no joy or laughter ever! I just can't take it anymore. Help.


Answer:

"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-15).

I don't know what you expect. You claim to have no education, but you can use a computer, send e-mail and write English proficiently. You claim to be unable to leave the house, but this is America. You can leave at any time. No one holds you at home but yourself. You claim that you and your husband are Christians, but then claim that your husband is not behaving as a Christian and you have not gone to the elders or preacher in your area for help. I'm sorry about your sons, but they are adults. I would love to talk to them about getting out of drugs, but unless they want to quit, I can't help them.

Not much can change unless you are willing to assess your situation truthfully. Only when you know where you actually are, can you move forward.

If you are going to improve your life, the motivation must come from yourself. Others can only advise. You have to put in the effort.

Thanks for your response. I have a few more questions. Is gambling a sin? And my husband keeps telling me to be submissive and he uses that almost against me when he wants his way and I disagree on anything. Like just today he said I made his day when I asked what am I doing today?

See: Is Gambling Sinful? Submission A husband - wife relationship is not a dictatorship.

Please help me. My husband will not stop going to the casinos and playing the slot machines. I e-mail you before about this and I showed my husband what you said about gambling and he doesn't believe me because it's not in the Bible as gambling. I talked to the church here where we go and everyone there knows my situation and still not stopping him. We are now to the point of having nothing at all. This is now been going on several year. Every day when he gets any amount of money in. When he wins he looses it also. I am so afraid and do not know what my options are because I would never make it on my own either.

Jeff has advised you in the majority of all aspects on how to handle the situation. To be able to stand up to your husband because of the abuse would show that you have finally hit the point of not wanting to live in certain conditions anymore. Hopefully it will not be a phase but your movement toward what is best for you and your husband.

Abuse and How It Works

Before we go on, I noticed you are telling us all this but have not taken any action in the sense of separating from your husband. This is typical of abusive relationships, here are two stories I have witnessed personally dealing with abuse.

Relatives of mine let a lady live as a caregiver to an elderly relative. This gave her a job, a place to live, and helped her out of an abusive relationship. Her physically and verbally abusive old boyfriend found her and she moved back in with him by choice. My family tried to help her, but she was too afraid and yet content in the situation she was in. Weirdly enough there is a comfort in abuse for men or women -- it is what they know. The expectation is always met and after years of living with it, people get afraid of anything outside of the abusive relationship. What the abuser does to them is make the person dependent. A few months after she moved back in with her boyfriend she was found beaten and dead - shot in the head.

I also have a friend who was in a verbal and physically abusive relationship with her boyfriend that lasted I think 5 or 6 years. She ended up marrying the guy just before he went to jail to try and help him get less time. She covered up a lot for him, getting him drugs, even to the extent the guy tried killing someone and had her as his alibi. Luckily he still went to jail for it. She would sit by the phone every day and if she didn’t answer, he would yell and scream at her for not answering within the first couple rings. Even in jail he still held this control where she always had her cell phone close to her and she was required by him to visit every week. She was considered a bad wife by him, if she did not show up. She even dropped out of college for him. All through their relationship she was not allowed to talk to other males at all or even hang out with girlfriends most of the time. Luckily this story ended a little bit better with some guidance from me and a few other people she left the situation and now has moved on with her life.

Your Situation at Hand

Maybe I am reading in-between the lines, but you are comfortable enough to stay where you are at because you are used to this situation in life. As were my past two examples of ladies that were in abusive relationships, you’re afraid of the unknown because, let’s be honest, the majority of your adult life has known nothing else. There is a choice you have to make! Are you going to live like you have for the past 30 some years of your life in fear, in a shell, and not able to serve God fully? In a sense you are choosing your husband over God. Or are you going to follow what God has called you to do and stop enabling your husband? "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29).

Imagine the shape your husband would be in if he had to do all his clothes, food, etc. without you there to support his habit. He might not have time to go gamble. He might have to go shopping, clean, and actually take care of himself. Without a job he has become idle. This is dangerous (Ecclesiastes 4:5). By leaving him alone in this situation it will make him hopefully not be so idle and not give as much time to gambling.

Also part of his sin is purposely abusing you. That has to stop either by moving out or not giving into his very abusive behavior. The idea is to help him realize that if he wants to flush his life down the drain you won’t go there with him. Part of being man is being the bread winner, providing for his family who are his responsibility (Genesis 3:16-19; I Peter 3:7), and loving his wife properly. He is doing none of these things. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Your husband, as many men do, loves to use one part of the Bible but not as a whole and always uses it out of context. Take for example, if he won’t work, he shouldn’t eat if he is not willing to try “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10). You must realize your husband is so far gone in his sin that he doesn’t care what you show him. He won’t listen to reason. He will always have an excuse or a comeback. He will keep living life the way he wants to feed the addiction. Part of his addiction is control, and you are part of his control sphere. Your husband reminds me of what the Prophet Isaiah said:

For the fool speaks folly,
and his heart is busy with iniquity,
to practice ungodliness,
to utter error concerning the LORD,
to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
and to deprive the thirsty of drink
” (Isaiah 32:6).

You mentioned the church knows about this. The church should withdraw from him until he repents, unless he is an unbeliever -- then that changes the situation a bit. But if he is a man calling himself a Christian, which it seems he is, then disfellowship should happen.

Here Are Your Solutions

Find a family willing to take you in (I Timothy 5:8). Ask relatives again to help you by letting you live at their house until your husband decides to turn around or you can learn to be on your own. Eventually find a place of your own. If they cannot there should be someone at your church or surrounding churches (another female or family, not a single male or one that has a male you will be alone with often) who would be willing to let you live with them, or have a guest house out back. I must be with the condition that your husband doesn’t know where you live and doesn’t have a phone number to contact you.

If all else fails, get some money, study for a driving test and get your license. Learn the bus systems or whatever transportation system you have there. Or ask people to drive you to and from work until you have enough money saved up to pay for a car or some type of transportation. Find a place to work that does not require much education, such as a house keeper at a hotel , fast food, or grocery store. Have a separate bank account. Do not have a card but have direct deposit -- for he could take the card by force. See if food stamps and any other income are available from the government or from non-profits, but it is only for you, do not share them or let him know you have them. Using aid is only for when you honestly need it, as you do right. Once you get on your own two feet you should stop using it. Use it to buy food and essentials to help improve yourself for getting a job. Most cities have a place to go to, to help you train for jobs and job placement, and a place for abused women -- physically and verbally.

That was the easy part. The hard part is if you get a job, your husband will tell you that you can’t leave the house, if you can’t find a place to move to. Your response is to simply tell him in a calm tone "I am sorry, but I am leaving." If he says to be submissive, just say, "If you would like to talk to a preacher what that means and how it is used in the Bible, we can sit down with a preacher together later, but until then I must follow what God requires of me and then leave." Overall if he keeps trying to argue just leave and don’t play into his games. Do not argue with him because arguing is what he wants. He might threaten you, but if he physically harms you instantly call the police and file charges to the fullest. This will be a rude awakening and a couple days to a couple years in jail can wake a person up and make them have a bit more sober judgment about a situation before they act like that again. Overall you are working to start being independent and on your own until your husband starts living the Christian life again.

“Misery loves company,” but don’t be your husband's company. When he sins, such as being abusive, he needs to know you will not stand for it. Sadly because of staying in this environment your children have suffered from it.

As for your children's situation, God is clear about one’s choices are their own. “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). Their drug problems are their own. They chose the life. Yes, it is true the upbringing most likely was part of the push, but it is still their own decision. The best thing you can do is be a good example by showing that God is their true father (Malachi 2:10). They need to follow Him. He is the one that will never let them down and that Jesus Christ can sympathize with them and help them in a time of need, but they need to commit to God (Hebrews 4:15-16). God doesn’t wish for your children to be apart from Him even if they are living an evil life. "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?" (Ezekiel 18:31). He calls out of love for them to turn to Him and repent of their ways (John 3:16; Acts 2:38).

The question is this: Are you ready for change and to take those steps into the unknown? Or are you going to stay in an abusive situation where it is probably not going to change and live out rest of your days in misery? I have seen people come out of situations just as bad, if not worse, than the one you are in and turn their lives around. Other times I’ve seen other people with not as bad situations choose the miserable life because of being comfortable with what they know. I hope and pray you choose to live life.

You will be in my wife and I prayers.

Alan Feaster

Thank you so much for your help. It means a lot to me.