Question:

I just came across this ministry column. I read a few emails and responses and I need your help too.

Recently my wife provoked me badly in front of my friends, screaming and asking for 'her' car keys. Keys to a car we recently acquired together and which has caused us many argument since her family is involved in this. I slapped her twice, knowing how she disrespects me especially in public, since this is not the first time. Just a few weeks before she promised to to stop being rude to me and to not disrespect me in public, so after that embarrassing moment I slapped her twice and drove off home so bitter. I smashed the front and rear windows of the car, which I replaced the following day. She filed assault charges against me two days later. Because of the nature of my work, I requested to be allowed to finish work and then turn myself in the next day.

When I went there, they called her and I was locked up. I have never been arrested for even a misdemeanor and I don't have a criminal record, but finding myself in the police cell gave me, so much peace and made me realize that this marriage is indeed over. We have been together less than a year, but we have fought many times. Were it not for my parents' intervention, she and I would have called it quits a long time ago. So I was locked up all day. She later came and said she wants to drop the charges and I just paid my bail. I know I was wrong for slapping her, no matter how she provoked me. I apologized as she is pregnant with my child. The officers and everybody told me maybe she behaves like that because of the hormones, but I doubt it because even before she got pregnant she was the same.

I love this girl so much. I just hate the way she treats me at times, especially in public, even after begging her to calm down and stop embarrassing me. I forfeited the family car, gave her the keys and asked her to have it. I don't need reimbursement of any of the money I spent. I told the officers I need time off to reflect and think about my life. I will never get off my mind that she got me arrested and if I stay with her, she'll continue her behavior and provoke me. I don't want to do time in jail.

Right now we are in the same house but in different bedrooms. I am talking to a few of my friends to accommodate me because I want to take time away from her. I know I can never continue loving her way I used to. I am in great pain. I feel betrayed. From the police station we went different ways. I took a cab home. I haven't said a word to her since the day this happened. Just before bed today, she tried to bring up an argument. I told her I am not ready to talk. She went on and I just left the living room. I am not ready to talk and I don't think I will reconcile with her anytime soon. I just need time off to think about all this. I know there's a baby involved and all that. I will take on my responsibilities but I don't think I will continue with this marriage. I believe I am a good man -- a one woman man. I loved that lady so much but now I can't continue with this relationship.

Please tell me what I should do. I am confused and in pain.


Answer:

"A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand" (Proverbs 27:15-16).

A contentious person is someone who is never satisfied or happy. She finds fault, even where no fault exists, because that is her nature. This is the type of woman you chose to marry.

If you are like most men, you thought that things would change. You thought you could make her be content and respectful. But she uses embarrassment to get her way and to get sympathy from others as she portrays herself to others as a victim. The sad thing is that it works. People give in to her because they are more interested in preserving their pride and self-respect and she doesn't care.

The reason you lost your temper is because you continue to believe you can force her to behave properly. You expressed your frustration by lashing out violently. You tried brute force where words were not working. But as Solomon pointed out, you cannot make a contentious woman behave. It doesn't mean she can't change, but she has to decide to change. No one can force her to change.

If you decide to end your marriage, understand that such will not give you the right to marry again. "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).

The proper way to handle this is to give yourself as much peace as you can. "Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman" (Proverbs 21:9). Always do what is right, ignoring your personal emotions about the situation. If she acts like a nut in public, feel sorry for her. Her behavior is a reflection of her, not you. She is the one who tells everyone she is a crazy woman. If she persists, simply walk away, going some place she cannot follow. It won't make her behave, but it will keep you from misbehaving. Perhaps it will eventually sink in that embarrassing you no longer works in manipulating you.

Meanwhile, you need to talk with God (I John 1:9). You can't solve this problem with violence.

Thank you. I am trying to be at peace with myself as I ponder what's next in my life.