Dear Esther
If you are having a challenging day or burdened with some personal problems, then you can be sure others are too. Write to Esther and she will have some good sound biblical advice and answers for you. You will be helping others by sharing your need or concern. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).


You can email your question to Esther at:
dearesther7@yahoo.com

    



June 22, 2015

Dear Esther,

I have been married for eighteen years. I had always served God to the fullest for twenty-three years. From the very beginning after I married my husband he wasn’t very kind to me. I understand we have ups and downs in marriage, but ours has been more down then up. We have three beautiful children who are in their teens.

For the most part in my marriage, I have been a stay-at-home mom. My husband left God for about six years and my marriage was a wreck. I forgave him for all the infidelity, mistreatment, physical abuse (not anymore), and verbal abuse. He was involved with a woman for about ten years and the most part I didn’t know. He stopped the relationship, when he came back to Christ four years ago.

This woman and my husband have continued to communicate with each other during those four years. We lost our home and cars because of her. We started over by trying to work out our marriage. This took a toll on my kids. I kept holding on to God and hoping God would change him. The attitudes, mistreatments are still there despite him trying to work on our marriage. I forgave him, and he said that he had stopped the communication with the woman, but every time this woman called it brought back the resentment in my heart.

I simply gave up on my marriage in the end. My husband saw the change in my heart. I continued to serve God and showed my children to serve God. My kids tell me that I am all they have. They resent their dad and don’t respect him at all. They have major attitudes towards him, and he blames me. I got a job, and God blessed me with a vehicle. I filed for divorce because that woman did not stop her calling. I am tired of this life.

Now this is where I went wrong...this past year I met up with a friend from the past, and we started talking. We are having an affair and I am so torn into pieces. I filed for divorce for the way my marriage has been. I am not filing because of the affair. He has nothing to do with this.

When my husband found out about it he said he would blackmail me and tell people but now says he will keep this between us. I am just afraid he would use the affair information against me with the church and kids. If the church he is attending finds out, I am kicked out. I want to still have access due to family attending there. I am unsure about all this. I do love my husband with my all

He has confronted me once again about all this about what decision I am going to make. I know my kids are hurting in all this. I feel responsible, because we are in limbo due to the divorce. My children and I are what my husband only has. He does have family, but are not close at all. Honestly, what I see in my husband I just feel sorry for him.

I mentioned before...I have seen a change in him though. I am just cynical due to the past. He has been trying to win my heart. I do feel my heart melting. I feel God telling me to forgive him.

The friend I have had the affair with is willing to marry me. He has an education and knows about my children. He is willing to take them under his wing. He wants to buy a nice home for them and build our lives together although my kids have never met him. I have mentioned him in the past about what a nice person that he is. (I was dating him when I was a young girl out of high school.)

My husband has changed a bit for the better ... I do see it, but I know it’s temporary. He now tells me that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I still love my husband despite everything, but I have been there and done it. He tells me to choose him or my friend.

I have gotten the approval of the divorce by my pastor. I am just afraid of life. I am afraid over all of starting over. I don’t make enough money. I also feel guilty over this affair I am in.

I want to get things right with God. I don’t want to lose this man, too. He is really kind. I know what I did is morally wrong in the eyes of God. I never in my life thought I would end up this way. I don't want my children to know about any of this. Please guide me in the right direction. I know that confusion is not of God.

I am aware that I have to forgive all in all. I still love my husband dearly. I also see my friend as an opportunity for a better life. I am just stumped in all this. I know that if I choose my husband I will hurt my friend dearly. He has waited patiently for one year and one month. I hope to hear from you.

Thank you,

Truly Sad


Dear Truly Sad,

I am including all your communication here with my response and I am going to ask you to read it aloud by printing it out, if you can. When no one is around, read it out loud. Read it out loud several times. Listen to your life. This entire dilemma must be looked at from the early years of your marriage.

Straightaway things were not right. No man, especially a church going professing Christian man should abuse and disrespect his wife in any way. And what is “truly sad” is that it happens far too often.

A man who cannot control his anger and has even physically abused his wife clearly does not have “the fruit of the Spirit” which would give evidence of true salvation. Your spouse is out of order and failing in his obligation to you, your children and most important, to God. He seriously needs to learn what it means to be a Christian husband and father and behave like one.

Your husband is not in a position to make any type of demands on you whatsoever. What I find really ridiculous is that after he said his ten-year affair was “over” he did not cut-off that relationship, but continued to torture you with the girlfriend’s phone calls for four more years (after he supposedly came back to Christ).

What does that mean, “When he came back to Christ?” Who is really this man’s lord, anyway? Is it himself? “By their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matthew 7:16a).

Your husband is in dire need of regeneration. He has brought so much confusion, heartache and shame into your marriage. Even the children don’t trust their father and have lost respect for him. Generally children want to be with both parents. They will forgive all kinds of things. But when the situation gets to the point where they lose respect and trust in their father then the damage that has been done is very serious.

Of course what you did is not right by engaging in an affair. You must stop and repent immediately if you are still involved in a sexual relationship. But considering the long-term abuse and degradation that has gone on in your marriage why would anyone be surprised that you became entangled with someone who seems to truly care about you?

And if your husband tries to use this against you, he needs to look in the mirror at his own pathetic track record and point his finger at himself and not you.

And trying to blame you for the way the children feel about him is wrong. Right there, he does not want to take responsibility for the damage he has caused all by himself. Instead, he blames you.

Do you understand that this is underhanded manipulation?

Telling you now that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you sounds nice. But didn’t he say that to you eighteen years ago? Did he have a trio of violinists on the front lawn to serenade you when he made his recent plea? He can say whatever he wants but his track record is terrible. And you have admitted that you know his improved behavior is only temporary.

As far as making a decision about your future and the future of your children I would not make it based on the approval or rejection of your church. If they cannot forgive you for your indiscretion, then you are in the wrong church. God will lead you to a church where forgiveness is understood. Your family members involved there should be able to understand that.

You say you feel God telling you to forgive your spouse. Yes, you must forgive him, as you have in the past. But there comes a point where when his words and promises must be turned into action. You mention that you see positive changes in him but you know it is “only temporary.”

With that said, then how can you possibly subject yourself and your three children to more uncertainty with this untrustworthy, unstable, derisive man? You clearly have grounds for divorce as your pastor has said.

And the fact that he has little family should not be the determining factor for you. You can feel sorry for him but you don’t have to sacrifice yourself and your children because you pity him. He had his family. He was too busy messing it up with his girlfriend and with his abusive behavior.

Also, people who have been subjected to long-term abuse cannot always think clearly and they often make excuses for the perpetrator of the abuse: so be careful not to fall into that trap. You can pray for him with a forgiving heart but you don’t have to swallow his poison.

The broken-condition of the marriage is symptomatic of his lack of commitment to God. Without serious and genuine repentance he has no chance and neither does your marriage. Unless he is truly born-again by the Spirit of God he will never change.

As far as your friend, you must be as upfront with him as possible. If he is truly your friend then he will be there for you. If you believe you must give your husband one last chance to make things work, then that is your call. But unless he becomes truly born-again and sincerely apologizes to you and your children, there is little hope that anything will change for the better for any length of time.

From the outside looking in it sounds like your friend cares much more for you than your husband. I assume he is a believer. If he is not, then you should absolutely stop any thoughts of having a future with him unless he does come to faith. If he is a believer, you must repent together of your sin and vow not to engage in any sexual relations until after marriage vows are made before God.

The fact that your friend wants to marry you, take on responsibility for your children and provide a peaceful secure future for all of you is quite telling. I would not take it lightly. Considering you have given your “husband” a very long time to change I would be very cautious of any of his verbal overtures to try to keep you, now.

If you decide you want to marry your friend then I would thank God that there is someone kind who is willing to take on important responsibilities that your spouse has woefully neglected.

If you decide you want to have a future together with your friend, then I would talk to your children privately. Feel them out. Ask them how they would feel if they could have someone special to provide for all of you. If they are pleased then you could tell them more and assure them that they will have a stabile home life a last and that of course they can always visit their father.

I would then introduce them to their future stepfather. If they want the family to stay together regardless of their father’s reckless shameful behavior then you will have to strongly consider that in your final decision.

Once you make your decision please let me know and then I will have a few more suggestions for you, either way. Think carefully and wisely. A Scripture has come to mind for me several times while I have been writing this:

“As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

Please spend some time alone with the Lord and ask Him to strengthen you and give you the resolve you need. You need not be confused any longer. Change can seem frightening sometimes but with Christ all things are possible. Change can be wonderful. You know you would not want anyone you care about to continue in a seriously ruinous situation. You must apply that same thinking to yourself.

And don’t underestimate your children. They have already been subjected to a lot. Perhaps if they knew they have a chance at some sort of stabile life they would be celebrating and feeling free of the stress that they have had to endure because of their father.

If they should somehow find out about your friend in a derogatory way, you can tell them the truth and I would bet that they would understand considering their father’s selfish and hurtful behavior.

If your children knew that this man wants to take care of them and provide a home for them, I don’t think you will have much to worry about at all. He did not cause this divorce. Their father is responsible for his own destructive actions that have resulted in this situation.

God bless you, and know that we have a very compassionate and merciful God. Spend some quiet time carefully reading from the book of Proverbs. Pray fervently and ask the Lord to strengthen and guide you.

Now do what you have to do and the Lord will give you the peace you so desperately need.

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

In God’s love,

Esther

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10).