Although I had been in church all of my life and had been taught out of the Bible, I was not saved and did not know anything about being a wife. As I look back, I now know that I made many mistakes in my relationship with my husband.
I am 50 years old and have essentially been alone for 21 years. I never thought this would be my life. At no time did it cross my mind that my husband would ever leave me. Although I had been in church all of my life and been taught out of the Bible, I was not saved and did not know anything about being a wife. As I look back, I now know that I made many mistakes in my relationship with my husband.
Today, I see and hear young wives, and older wives as well, thoughtlessly making those very same mistakes with their husbands. They take for granted that he would never leave and file for divorce. After all, aren’t they both in the church and share that lifetime commitment? This sense of security seems to give them the feeling that they have the liberty to take a spiritually superior, adversarial stand, in myriad ways, against the wrongs, failures, and inadequacies of their husbands. I see it as either ignorance or a refusal to obey God’s injunction to wives, or a combination of both. This is why I write my story—lest you follow me down the same path.
I cannot answer for my husband’s failures. Who was most to blame doesn’t matter now. If I had known then what I do now about God’s commands to wives, what a man needs, and what I could do to fill those needs, it may have made all the difference. Older women have failed to teach younger women how to love their husbands.
An important point I want you to know is that much of the time, these things I did or failed to do were not everyday, not always overt, in-your-face actions. They were subtle, ebbed and flowed, but were there nevertheless, just enough to be a constant reminder to him that his wife wasn’t entirely pleased with him.
When my husband acted selfishly at home, allowed his temper to flare, and then went to church and acted spiritual, I gently withdrew from him emotionally, letting him see my cynicism and lack of confidence. I wish I had prayed positively for him, trusting God, openly showed love and acceptance of him for himself, not waited until he acted right.
When he failed our child, failed to have devotions, failed to be spiritual, failed to lead like he should, I was ‘privately’ disappointed, but he knew it. I wish I had completely trusted God and maintained unity, honor, reverence, and submission with a glad and trusting heart. When he made a statement about someone or something, I often countered, putting his opinion down, letting him know he was wrong. I wish I had understood about “chaste conversation” as described in I Peter. When he acted like a jerk, instead of letting him know what I thought about him and his actions, I wish I had remained quiet and prayed for him, loved him anyway. When he tried to make up to me for some failure, I wish I had not been so cool, waiting for him to be more intense and sincere about it. When he spent money I thought we didn’t have, it caused me anxiety, and he knew it. I wish I had shown continued confidence in him, regardless of his decisions.
When he wanted me to do something, and I didn’t want to do it, I wish I had cheerfully complied instead of making him sorry he asked. Hardheadedness is not a trait to endear any woman to a man.
When he needed someone to believe in him, admire him, approve of him, accept him, regardless of his failures, I wish I had been the one to give him those things. Maybe he would not have left and found another woman to take my place.
When I thought that keeping his faults before him—just small things he did and said—and keeping myself a little standoffish in my approval of him, was the only way he would change, I wish someone would have taken me aside and told me how badly mistaken I was to think that it was my place to apply and keep the pressure on.
When he did not know how to show love, and I felt a void emotionally, I gave up, turning to friends and family for my emotional support and needs. I wish I had borne all things and hoped all things, loved him steadily and fully, unconditionally. I never saw the need to endear myself to him. I took for granted that he would fulfill the husband’s moral obligation to love me. I wish I had gone to “God’s Beauty School” for the whole woman, spirit, soul, and body.
Time passed. I never knew my marriage was being strangled to death. Separation and divorce came. I was shocked, terribly scared, and ashamed. I was one of those women who thought that it would never happen to me. I felt like a failure. As someone so aptly stated, “Divorce is like a death, except that no one comes to bring food or comfort you.”
When my husband left, we were plunged into near poverty. He no longer felt the natural desire to protect and support his family. I received the minimum child support. At the beginning, once in awhile, he would stop by to see what we were doing—I think out of guilt. One morning, not long after he left us, I tried to start the car to go to work, but it would not start. I didn’t know whom to call and had no money for a mechanic. I went back into the house, sat on the sofa, scared of losing my job, ready to cry, when my ex-husband drove up. When I told him about the car, he said—completely at ease and unmoved—“That’s too bad. I feel sorry for you,” and casually drove off. It really hit me then. I was alone, so alone.
When the house and car needed repairs, there was little or no money to have the work done. So things slowly fell apart.
I dreaded the summertime. As I drove away to work in the mornings, I agonized over my child having to stay in the house, behind locked doors, alone for 10 hours a day. I couldn’t afford a babysitter or find someone willing and trustworthy. She was too old for childcare centers, but still too young to be left alone all day. Even in her younger-teen years, it was hard for her to be alone all day. At the beginning, when my child was sick, there was no one to stay with her unless I took off from work. And then there were the week-long bouts of colds, flu, ear infections, and other normal sicknesses. No job allows enough sick time to cover the worker and her child.
I became ill with a long-term, debilitating condition, made worse by always having to be alert, day and night, as a single mother, living on the edge, always tired, always stressed. But, I had to continue to go to work every day, no matter how bad I felt. I had no choice.
God was faithful to us. He was with us and intervened with his help many times. We never went hungry or cold. In good time, God gave me a family in the church that stepped in and were there when I needed them, for the long-term. They will never know what an enormous impact that had on our lives. They were a gift from God. But the loneliness at home, the feelings of rejection and abandonment, the financial struggle, were all still there, every day.
The stress and loneliness I experienced over the years was a combination of many things, but if I had I known and obeyed God’s plan for wives early in my marriage, my life could well have turned out very differently than it has.
Today, as I finish typing my story, I will go home to a little house trailer which I rent. I will eat alone. I will count the hours before bedtime. I call my daughter and the grandchildren, but they have their lives, and I want it to be so. God has been very gracious to me, but I am aware that I have missed the best he had to offer. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal 6:7).
As the Pearl’s personal secretary, I read the letters you send to this ministry. I see many of you doing the same things I did, but you don’t believe that this could happen to you. In fact, you may well be thinking that it would be a relief if you could get your husband out of the house. You think, “Well, I’m healthy and strong. I’m emotionally secure. I can handle it. I would get a good job. I have family around that will help. I have a good church that would support me. I would go get counseling, etc. At least I would have peace in the house, and could then live as I wanted to. I wouldn’t have all the problems to contend with.” These are all things that wives may think. But I know better. The facts of history have proven this outlook to be empty lies.
I hope this will be a wakeup call to those wives who are deluded into thinking that they have liberty to be the Holy Spirit and judge to their husbands. It will never, never work, and you may end up like me.
Isa 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: