What follows is a transcript of a private chat I had with a hurting woman, who approached me for counsel on her marital problems. The issues were so diverse, that I couldn’t select the particular one to focus on for today’s Reader Questions, so I copied the correspondence, only editing out anything that might reveal her identity, and I’m sharing it with you, with her permission. I shared some more thoughts at the end, too. I hope you are blessed as you read.
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Reader: After reading quite a number of your articles I felt like sharing my marital challenge. Its quite a big one, sensitive, and sometimes gives me sleepless night and headache. Hummm. My marriage of almost 13 years is shaking terribly and love seems to have gone.
Ufuomaee: I’m sorry to hear that. Don’t worry, you can trust me to keep our discussion confidential.
Reader: I’m sharing this with you because I can see that you are a child of God and God has deposited some materials in you that can help someone like me, hence I decided to share my pains, fears, and confusion with you. I thought I was happy and secure in the marriage until 2014. Since then it is one issue or the other. Long story short: The problem is centered on the fact that I don’t have a baby yet. Twelve and a half long years no baby. Right now, it is either there is a child or no marriage. I was shocked when my hubby indirectly presented this option. However, all his attitude and language speaks it to my face right now. Well, I do not blame him already, because he is suffering too like myself.
Ufuomaee: Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear your story. Your husband is pained, please forgive him, because he knows not what he does. But your marriage can stand, and you needn’t worry, because you are not the maker of children, God is. All both of you can do is put it in God’s hands and leave it there.
Worrying or scheming (remember Abraham and Ismael) can not accomplish the will of God. Faith, hope and love is what is needed. Please remind your husband of that. You both also need to receive godly counsel and encouragement that will help you to keep trusting in God and enjoy your marriage. God’s timing and will is the best!
Reader: Thank you. What actually triggered his fears and worries lately is the last medical report I had, in which the Dr said age factor has is showing on my cycle and so the chances of me getting pregnant is so slim. I’m in my forties and my period has actually started fluctuating. But despite any report, I was still strong trusting God until he started speaking negatives to my face.
Ufuomaee: Who would you rather listen to, God or men? Don’t let anyone take your gaze from God. Trust in Him despite the storm. Despite the impossibility, and abide in that place of expectation and submission. That’s where miracles happen. I’ll pray for God to work on your husband, that he will also be submitted to God in this matter.
Whatever happens, baby or no baby, God is enough. When we understand that, then God will entrust us with more. Sometimes, He keeps back from us, so that our faith and dependency may grow…and we may be stripped of all our idols. The baby must not be an idol for you or your husband. Let your worship return to God alone, with or without a baby.
Reader: Dear sister the last 2 paragraph blessed me so much. Children or no children, Jesus remain Lord… That has been my stand ever since especially in the early years when he was diagnosed of low sperm count. Even though the doctor tried convincing me otherwise I stood by him, because I’m brought up to respect marriage as a life thing. So I became heartbroken when he couldn’t do same for me. He said he will prefer to remain alone and single than for him to have me in the house without a child playing around. At the moment he talks harshly to me with no regards. It hurts so much, I’m light-hearted, even little things affects me.
Ufuomaee: I’m really sorry about this dear Sister. Please abide in Christ and be nourished there. Remember His sufferings, and be long-suffering with your husband. May God show that His grace is sufficient in your weakness.
God is your only help. Don’t step outside of faith in Him to get what you or your husband wants. Rest in Him, and let Him do what only He can do. I pray that He will renew your joy and help you and your husband see the many ways you are already blessed 🙂
Reader: Amen and thanks. He dropped a condition however, that we should go for adoption, we have been on it for some time now without any result yet, this delay also is so inconveniencing. Please join me in praying that God mercy will show forth in this.
Ufuomaee: Adoption is a good compromise. Keep praying and be patient.
Amen! May God truly be merciful to you. I pray that you will declare Him faithful and true, when He shows you that His grace is sufficient. May you know and feel the abundance of His love and realise that He is your great treasure. You are already blessed!
Reader: Amen, thank you. I have taken much of your time already, but there is something important I forgot to mention, don’t worry even if you are unable to respond now, no problem. Its about our sex life.
Ufuomaee: Okay… Go ahead.
Reader: About a year now, our meeting time reduced drastically, and when we manage to meet, it is not interesting,
Ufuomaee: I thought this might encourage you, on the first issue we discussed about your expectation: YOU ARE MY WEALTH
Reader: I love it a bit more often – not longer than a week. When I tried expressing my desire to him, he puts me off by saying… it is monotonous without pregnancy.
Ok, I will open the link. Apart from this, other things that has made sex somehow tasteless is his statement about some part of my body, e.g. he said my breasts are too small, etc. That is to say, I’m not appealing anymore, and do you know what, at the time of love making, these resentful words play back and I don’t enjoy it, it ends in pains.
Ufuomaee: Your husband is not treating you with love, but you still owe him the duty of love. We are to love one another, even as Christ loves us…in our depravity and unworthiness. Only love covers a multitude of sins. This is the only way you can deliver your husband from the bondage of sin, by showing Him the love Christ showed you and has for him too. You need to be humble and be as gracious as God with your husband.
Don’t take his attacks personally, lay them on Christ. Remember your worth and beauty in Christ and nourish your spirit by His word. I’m sorry your sex life isn’t good, but you can’t resolve that issue until God heals your husband. He’s not spiritually well, so pray for him and be a light unto him. I hope this post blesses you, and encourages you to love even your unloving husband: SHE MADE LOVE AGAIN
Reader: My God! #crying# This is so hard to achieve, and this is a tight corner for me. I need a lot of love to carry on Sister Ufuoma… The only reason I never wanted to be married in those days was because I didn’t see love between mum and dad. And when my elder sisters got married, I didn’t see love. And I concluded there is no love anywhere and so there is no point getting entangled with any man. Let me just be on my own.
Until I became a Christian, found the love of Christ and discovered real love among the married brethren. It made me lower my resolve and I settled for marriage, and I married a brother in Christ, who we started well together I supposed. After all these years why should I go back to the era of my parents and my elder sister? (to love even though you are not loved, remain humble and submissive even when you are maltreated). #my God please where did I missed it?????# Please bear with me.
Ufuomaee: I don’t know. I think we are all in the same boat. There is no perfect marriage. We also do not love like the world loves. The vocation of marriage and the vocation of singleness are both trying with their own crosses to bear. But through it all is our realisation of our dependency on God and the appreciation that GOD IS ENOUGH.
In marriage, we are broken, and in singleness we are tested. In both, God is glorified and His grace is sufficient.
Ufuomaee: Your will grow past this phase if you choose rather to learn the unconditional love of God and give that to your husband. Even if he doesn’t change before you die, God won’t keep your crown of righteousness from you, because you were faithful to His command.
Reader: ….. Jesus… are you serious?
Ufuomaee: YES! Remember the Cross? Jesus said you would carry your own. This is it. But He won’t leave you alone. You will grow in grace and wisdom as you obey and abide in Him.
Reader: My sister pls pls pls mention achievable ones. This is simple difficult.
Ufuomaee: You were not called to an easy life. You were called to imitate Christ. As long as you bear His name, that’s what you are to do…follow Him. It will get easier when you turn your focus from your challenges to your Redeemer.
Reader: The one reason I’m going crazy is because he resent me and don’t love me. I was able to overlook, forgive and forget when he slept with another woman.
Ufuomaee: Wow…. maybe you should have told the whole story in the beginning. You’re telling it in pieces.
Reader: I’m mentioning this first time to a third party, I didn’t count on it so much.
Ufuomaee: However, this doesn’t actually change the godly counsel.
Reader: even when the bible says for infidelity I could separate?
Ufuomaee: Have you read the posts I shared with you? Here’s another post I think will shed more light on God’s will: FAITHFULNESS – LIVING WITH YOUR CHOICE
Reader: I will surely read them in the evening at home.
Ufuomaee: I think you should read them before we discuss more. There’s a lot in them. Read also AS GRACIOUS AS GOD
We, who are in Christ, are called to one law… that is the new commandment Jesus gave us, to love one another, as He loved us. This is the kind of love that is unconditional and forgives all wrongs. Read 1 Corinthians 13. It endures all things, hopes all things and believes all things. It is the most powerful thing in the world. And we have the grace and power to give that love if we truly have God’s Spirit in us
That passage about divorce in Matthew 19 is misunderstood by the Church, who do not understand that they are under the new covenant, and not the old. Jesus didn’t give a concession for divorce. In your own strength, you can’t obey God…but pray for more of His grace and enablement, and take the focus off yourself and your husband. God lives in you… The life you live is not yours, but Christ, who lives in you. Put yourself at His mercy and let Him show you the power of His love.
I have to go now… but let me know when you’ve read the posts and if there are still things you would like to discuss. God bless you!
Reader: Ok I will read them now, but the point I’m making is that I can manage other situation, but not resentment and lack of love from my husband. and I’m yet to see such grace, pls I’m sorry to sound like this.
Its been so wonderful, I have cleaned my tears severally, have smiled, laughed etc. thank you. Later.
Ufuomaee: No problem dear! This is God’s business. You are important to Him 🙂
Hi, I have a weekly feature called Reader Questions. Can I share our discussion? I won’t reveal your identity. If you say no, then I won’t, but I think others going through something similar would be blessed.
Reader: Oh with all pleasure, go ahead and share, let my pains be somebody’s strength. Yes, no identity pls. Which day of the week? so I can spy it too.
Ufuomaee: On Friday at 3pm! Read the last one I shared: I REALLY LOVE HIM, BUT HE’S CATHOLIC. WHAT DO I DO?
Thank you so much! May God bless you and heal your marriage.
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Okay, for those of you thinking, “Oh my goodness, how can you advice her to stay in such a horrible marriage?“, I’d like to remind everyone that this counsel is for Christians. As Christians, we enter marriage for better or for worse – for life. God’s heart is for reconciliation in all these things, and we must culture an attitude of forgiveness, long-suffering and faithfulness. We need to have God’s heart in us, if we want to see His power at work in our marriages.
Having said that, we are called to peace (1 Cor 7:15)! The law was made for man, and not man for the law. And even as we seek to love our spouses with the love Christ gave us, we also must love ourselves, and give ourselves due regard. A case for separation could be made for this couple, and others in similar situations. But before that is considered, all efforts at reconciliation must be exhausted, with a heart that is truly forgiving and hopeful for the restoration of the marriage.
Jewel (can I call you that, because you are a treasure in God’s house?), the way forward seems to be for mediators to come in, hence the marriage counselling route. You would both need to attend this, and be committed to this, for your problems to be addressed. This will also give you a chance to air your views in a safe space, and share your grievances with your husband, with a spirit of humility. I’d suggest Christian counselling, with your Pastor or someone you both trust. If he refuses to get counselling, then what we have is an uncooperative spouse, who does not have the heart of reconciliation and love.
In this case, your husband is being unChristian, not in keeping with Christ’s Spirit. You can draw on Christ’s teaching on grievance resolution by involving TWO witnesses to help you resolve the issue with your husband not wanting to get counselling, even though you clearly have issues in your marriage. They can be your family members, or upstanding members of your Church. If he is convinced by them to attend the marriage counselling, then you will go back to the initial plan of seeing a counselor or Pastor. Not for one or two sessions, but until the counselor is assured that you are on the path of recovery, and your husband is repentant and ready to give you the love due to you.
However, if he is still not moved to attend counselling, after calling in your witnesses, or if he stops attending the counselling arbitrarily, or is uncooperative or disruptive of the counselling process, then I believe that the grievance can and should be escalated to include the Church as Christ taught (Matt 18:15-17). I don’t think it needs to be the whole Church (seeing as that is physically impossible), but a representing body of your Church, maybe the elders or Pastors. Your Pastor should be able to help in the selection of this representative body, if your Assembly subscribes to this Biblical practice.
Jesus says that if the offender refuses to listen to the Church at this stage, that he should be treated like a heathen – an unbeliever. In this case, I believe you would be in your rights to physically separate, and abide alone as Paul taught. He may yet repent, and come back. However, if he decides that he wants a divorce, because he is already considered an unbeliever, having forsaken the faith by not forsaking his error and submitting in love to his marriage, you do not need to resist him. When he leaves, it is like when an unbeliever leaves a Christian, and the Christian is free of the marriage (1 Cor 7:12-15).
If you follow this approach, then I believe you can be free of your marriage in good conscience, knowing that you did all you could to save it. Some may say that because he was Christian when you got married, that the marriage is inviolable, even in this case. But, I have presented this understanding based on Jesus’ teaching on resolving grievances, and treating those who will not repent as unbelievers. What more can be done? Again it remains that we are called to peace.
But the main thing to remember, which was what I was trying to communicate in our correspondence, is that we have been called into a new covenant, to love one another, as Christ loves us. That is not a love that forsakes a marriage because of transgressions, but a love that is committed to reconciliation and restoration (Matt 18:21-22, Matt 5:23-24). May God give you that heart, and may that also be your husband’s heart, so that you will come to know the power of God’s love in your marriage! It truly conquers all. Don’t underestimate it.
All the best from me! If you still need to talk, you know where to reach me.
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I could feel her pain and frustration as I was reading your conversation.
One thing I’ll like to add to your piece of advice is for her to have a one and one relationship with God, whereby she gets to commune with God even without involving her husband.
Though, it seems like they are together in this quest for children, but from experience only you know exactly how bad you want it. So as a believer of God who makes all things happen and understand how a baby is formed in a woman’s womb, she needs to seek God and walk this faith alone.
Then she’ll get to know the truth about herself and receive the grace to handle her marriage better.
Sometimes our emotions can over cloud our judgment and we begin to think and act irrationally.
It is well with her in Jesus name.
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Thanks for reading and making your thoughtful contribution. I hope she reads and appreciates it. It is truly well with her. I think she’s already in the good place of knowing that baby or no baby God is good. And even more, that the greater miracle would be the restoration of love in her marriage, than the addition of a baby at this time!
Thanks again for commenting 🙂
From one sister in a situation to another, I want to just reach out and give her a really tight and long hug.
This Christian life is a very hard one and unfortunately not one with a lot of earthly rewards.
This is going to sound tough to some, but I believe she should make up her mind on the road ahead because it is going to be long and hard. From a little experience that I have, the approach you (Ufuoma) described is the right path to take, discuss, pray, call in faith-based counselling, call in elders, and call in the Church and at every step continue with prayer, faith, trust and love. It’s so hard to do (trust me I know) and although that’s what the Church prescribes, sometimes you will just want to throw in the towel. But when you do, remember that it isn’t really him your commitment is to, but Christ, who he is representing here on earth.
If I may share what one priest said to me in the midst of my turmoil, ‘you need to be sure that at the end when you stand before Jesus and he asks you what happened. You can say with certainty that you did all you could (and even a little more besides) to save your marriage and your husband – because the truth is, it is actually your husband that you are fighting for’. My Church says that Marriage is a path to sanctity and in running the race of eternal life, your spouse becomes your relay partner. What will you do, if at the end of the race, Jesus starts asking you where the partner he gave you is? I don’t know the answer or the ways to get to the end, but I do know it’s a long road, one i’m still struggling to walk.
In conclusion, I will say that even if the husband decides to go ahead and request a divorce, she isn’t really free in a sense, as her covenant was ‘…to love..cherish..etc …until death do you part’ (assuming she married in a Church – I’m Catholic, so i’m going off of my faith here – please excuse me). So that’s literally, until either one of them is no more.
To the reader in question, just remember that however bleak this ‘sentence’ may seem, two things can give you comfort: 1. God will never give us more than we can bear and 2. through it all, he will be right by our side (even when we don’t feel it). I know it may not seem like much comfort now, but it’s all I have to lean on and to give.
Much love and hugs…..take care (and a little practical advice if I may, try as much as possible to find positive things to focus on – not necessarily about him, it could be about you, him, work, life, Lagos, Nigeria, etc. Wherever and whenever you can find a little joy, take it, create a memory and pull it out in the difficult times. That may help a little bit).
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Thanks Ejay for taking the time to share your word of encouragement and advice. I’m sure she will be blessed by reading it, and knowing that she isn’t alone in her struggle.
I love what the Priest said to you too, about fighting the good fight, not simply for yourself, but for your husband’s salvation. Your lives are tied together now, and you’re in it together.
God bless you for sharing!
adoption seems to be a good compromise, let them go for it, God will make it easy… I will be praying for them. Be strong ma’am
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Thanks Dammy 🙂