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4 Things to Consider Before Leaving a Christian Marriage

Are you staying in an unhealthy or even abusive marriage because you’re a Christian? Perhaps you’re struggling with the “God hates divorce” decree in the Bible. You may also be influenced by your Christian husband, pastor, or religious friends. It’s important to step back from the external noise, pressures, influences, and and voices.

Take time to talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, and clarity. Take a deep breath and know that Jesus is with you every step of the way. Remember that the more time you spend in God’s presence, the more peace you’ll have. In What Jesus Says About Divorced Christians and Remarriage, I share tips for seeking God and finding answers.

Whether or not you’re a Christian woman, deciding to leave your marriage is hard. Getting divorce is damaging, painful, and heartbreaking. There are no easy answers, not even in the Bible. Scripture is a treasure trove of wisdom and parables, comfort and strength…but even the Bible can’t tell you if you should leave a Christian marriage. God rarely tells us exactly what to do in specific circumstances; He’s all about freedom, grace, and love.

A decision as big as leaving your marriage requires you to go beyond “the Bible is against divorce” and dig into your own journey with God. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and wise Christian counselors or mentors who you can be honest with.

4 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Christian Marriage

One of my Christian friends is dealing with emotional and verbal abuse in her marriage. Leaving isn’t easy even though she’s been unhappy for years. A She Blossoms reader recently asked for advice because she, too, is considering leaving her Christian husband.

“I am contemplating divorce even though my husband and I have been married for 19 years,” she said on Is My Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore. “We have had problems the past few years that keep coming up every couple months. I have stayed just because I’m a Christian and God hates divorce and there has been no infidelity. But now my husband and 15 yr old daughter are butting heads and he says she is turning out just like me. They got in a fight this morning and my daughter said she wants to be emancipated and move out. My husband said to give him the papers and he would kick her out himself. Now my daughter says she will leave and move out if I don’t leave him. I feel torn between trying to continue to make things work or lose my daughter. My husband says I have ruined his life and everything is my fault. I just feel drained. I have tried everything to make things work and I’m not perfect and have made mistakes too, but I can’t keep living this way. Should I leave my marriage, even though I’m a Christian?”

If you’re a Christian, you’ll find Bible verses that argue for or against divorce. You can argue and debate until Jesus finally takes us home! But it’s not the best way to spend your time because you’ll never find the correct answer. Instead, spend time in God’s presence.

1. Divorcing your husband isn’t divorcing God

Divorce is painful and difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary. Staying in an unhealthy or abusive relationship is never God’s will! Yes, He hates divorce — just like He hates disease, pain, suffering, war, and other terrible things that happen on this side of Heaven. But just because God hates it doesn’t mean it happens. Some Christian marriages need to die so something new can grow and blossom.

I believe Jesus’ heart is breaks for wives in difficult relationships. He knows the suffering and loneliness of an unhealthy Christian marriage. I wish there was an easy way out — or easy answers — but there’s not. Each woman must take time to seek God’s will for her life, spend time soaking up the presence of the Holy Spirit, and walk forward in faith, courage, and hope.

2. The Bible is not a rulebook for daily life

It can be tempting to quote Scripture that says “God hates divorce.” It’s also tempting to use that phrase as a blanket statement (or proof text) to support the argument that no Christian wife should ever leave her marriage. Don’t fall into the trap of taking Bible verses out of context and using them to make decisions. Instead, learn how to accurately interpret and apply the Bible to your situation.

For example, in Ephesians 5:25 Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This describes a healthy marriage. If you and your husband are struggling to serve and love each other, find ways to bridge the gap. If you or your husband are dealing with addictions, abusive behavior, problems that seem uncontrollable and destructive, get help. Don’t allow yourself to stay in an unhealthy, unhappy, even abusive marriage because you “can’t leave because Christians can’t get divorced.”

3. Explore your reasons for staying married

She Blossoms 4 Things to Consider Before Leaving a Christian Marriage
Things to Consider Before Leaving a Christian Marriage

Jesus Christ served the church by loving, protecting, defending, and serving her. When was the last time you felt loved and protected by your husband? Respected, honored, and served? Be honest about your own behavior, as well. Are you serving and loving your husband? I don’t think Christian women should leave their marriages and get divorced at the first sign of trouble. I am saying that unhealthy, unhappy marriages need to be taken care of. Unhappiness does not help build God’s kingdom. Disunity, disconnection, and sin in marriage is what the devil uses against Christians and God’s work.

If you are staying in a bad marriage because you’re a Christian and the Bible says “God hates divorce”, I encourage you to look at your husband, your marriage, and yourself more carefully. Talk to someone you trust, perhaps a Christian mentor, pastor or counselor. Don’t keep walking through the darkness alone. Get the help you need.

4. Consider talking to a Christian marriage counselor or a spiritual director

You might find it helpful to sort through your emotions and thoughts by taking to a therapist who understands both the Bible and marriage dynamics. Untangling your Christian belief system will help you see how your faith is affecting your choices, health, and life. Another possibility is a spiritual director, to help you learn how to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. Learn how to seek God’s presence and communicate with the Holy Spirit. Does He give you guidance and direction? Learn what this means and how to hear His nudges and whispers.

Divorce in a Christian Marriage

I also encourage you to read Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud. He’s a Christian psychologist who co-wrote the Boundaries series of books. This book will help you see your relationship more clearly, and even help you decided if you should leave your Christian marriage.

Take good care of yourself, for you are a child of God — and that means you’re worth taking good care of! Read 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Through the Divorce Process.

How do you feel? What have I missed? What do you want Jesus to do for you? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below.


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25 thoughts on “4 Things to Consider Before Leaving a Christian Marriage”

  1. I’ve been married for a little over a year. The biggest problem I have is that my husband seems to think it’s okay to date other women even though he is married. I say date because he invites other women to go out to the movies or go eat without me knowing who they are and he is alone with them. I have caught him going out with another woman at the movie theater. He lied to me about where he was going. It killed me to catch him do this. I’ve found out about other times that he has invited other women via text message or some sort of messenger. I dont know how many times exactly he has gone out, because he always deletes his messages. He claims that he would never be sexually intimate with them, but that he likes the feeling of dating. He also messages and texts other women in a flirtatious way. I noticed this behavior after only 3 months of being married. We dated almost three years before we got married. I knew he was social and friendly, but we both agreed that cheating would be anything that you try to hide from your spouse. We both got married with the idea that we would be each other’s closest confidants. I once found nude photos of another woman in his email. The worse thing about this behavior is that it is chronic. Whenever he is having a hard time in life he tends to do this. I’ve responded to his behavior with paranoia, arguing, distancing myself, and I regret to say that I’ve even been verbally abusive at times. I hate what I have become. I know I have control over myself, so I don’t need to respond that way, but I literally feel myself going crazy. I don’t trust him at all. He doesn’t do much to build the trust either. We have been to counseling a handful of times, but we don’t do what the counselor says. I feel like it is pointless. Even our pastor recommended us to the counselor, because he said there isn’t much he can do. I’ve prayed, fasted, and sought counsel. I have never spoken to pastor about divorce. I really don’t want to divorce, but I don’t think anything is changing. I recently found old messages of him asking out a girl who is 17. She clearly states that her parents would be uncomfortable about the situation because he is 31. He claims he did not know she was that age, but I don’t believe him. These were old messages, sent before we started seeing the counselor. I felt things getting somewhat better, but then I found these messages. He is supposed to give me all his passwords, but he still hasn’t done that. Is divorce my next option?

    1. If you stay married to him you are a fool and will have no one to blame but yourself for the terrible life you will end up living . He has already broken the marriage vows, run now while you still can.

  2. I am struggling with the decision of separating from my husband. I am his fifth wife. He is my 3rd husband. We are like oil and water mixed. He is harsh, rude, unloving and is angry all the time it seems. It comes out all the time in the way he treats me. Now I have become an angry person. I have never ever had to deal with this in a marriage. It never stops! We have been married 5 years and I don’t know if I can continue with this. My life is too short. i am 68 and want to live my last years in peace not in turmoil. I was glad to read what you said about husbands not loving their wife like Christ loved the church. And that it was acceptable to leave if need be. He certainly does not love me in that way. I am miserable and so is he most of the time. I love the Lord so much and want to do His will. I know we are grieving God and I just want to walk my walk of faith without all this turmoil and pain. I am praying about it. Thank you so much for the insight you have given me. He tries to make me feel guilty if I mention splitting up. With the words “God hates divorce”. Now I know it will be all right if I do decide to end it. God Bless You, Patricia

    1. Patricia I would suggest you pray for your Husband and show him God’s love. The bible never says you can leave because your Husband doesn’t show love. Answer this: If a wife had a Husband who wasn’t a believer do you think that Husband would love her as Christ does the church? No he wouldn’t the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:10-14 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 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. 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

      It does say God hates divorce in Malachi Jesus commanded not to divorce “therefore what God has joined together let no man separate” God is a witness to your union it tells you that in Malachi . And about you becoming an angry person I would say this as a child of God you are his workmanship and if you let a situation affect you you’re saying that you’re the workmanship of that situation. Here’s an example Someone is afraid of dogs because they were bit by a dog. By letting that put fear of dogs in them they’re saying they’re the workmanship of the dog I’ve been bitten many times by dogs and I’m not afraid of them because that’s just something I’ve been through it’s not who I am. I’ve also been through a carjacking that is just something that I’ve been through it doesn’t make me who I am God does. About having peace you have God’s peace but that doesn’t mean you won’t go through trouble in John 16:33 Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” So you have his peace to get you through the termoils. Did the apostles have a peaceful life? They were thrown in jail and people tried to kill them they had God’s peace to get them through those termoils. I pray this was helpful God Bless John.

      1. John, you are an idiot. She does not have to stay in an abusive situation. Nowhere in the Bible does it say she has to stay. It just mentions divorce. She CAN leave and live somewhere else. Maybe you are abusive and that is the reasoning you use to keep your wife?

        1. Al Metcalf I don’t believe in abuse if he was physically beating her that’s different some people don’t show emotion very well you don’t know this person personally. My wife shows no affection her mom is the same way and has a serious look on her face all the time not knowing her personally you would most likely think she was angry. God would want you to do everything you can to make your marriage work James said in 4:17 If you know the right thing you should do and you don’t do it it’s a sin to you. Mose gave the percept of divorce because of the hardness of man’s heart the church (believers) are suppose to be different than the world we are in the world but not of the world and today you can almost not tell the difference because there are so many conforming to the world.

          1. Abuse comes in many forms, even verbal, and NOWHERE in the Bible does it say someone has to stay and live with that. I’m not talking divorce, but move out.

          2. Al Metcalf I know all about verbal abuse I go through it all the time. You’re suppose to pray for your spouse not just leave we have the tools to get through these things in Christ. (Philippines 4:6-13 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.).

          3. Sorry John, you are just plain wrong. To subject yourself to abuse (any abuse) in a marriage is silly, that’s not being a Christian. Your text doesn’t even apply. I’m guessing YOU are the asexual in the relationship. Am I wrong?

      2. Thank you for your input John. Yes, I realize that divorce is not an option. I have been through 3 and I do not want another one. I would consider separation in order to work on our problems if need be. The bible says I can leave but remain unmarried or reconcile. I know me and my husband both have baggage having been divorced several times. And I pray for him daily. I also am starting to see how God is working in both of us to love and trust each other. And working on giving us His character. It is very hard and sometimes I want to run as far away as possible. But I know that is not what God wants. i will continue to work on my marriage and let God do His work in us. Me and my husband both agree that God is working to get us to where He wants us. We both do not know how to love, but God is teaching us how to love. So I say, bring it on God! If it will make me more like You! God Bless you !

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. It was my decision for my husband and I to separate 3 months ago after just nearly three years of marriage. I have the divorce papers readubabd will be filing them when I’ve moved house at the end of the month. We were in therapy from two months into our marriage and I gave it everything I had. My husband continually rejected me sexually and could not lay down his social life and second job (not needed for financial reasons) and put huge pressure on me to lead a life I couldnt (he’s massively extroverted and I’m far more introverted). He promised to lead us in regular prayer and spiritual development, but it only ever happened when I suggested it. He came to the marriage with £20k worth of debt (or around that) and never fully disclosed to me how much it was as we then started trying to pay it off together. I’m so exhausted from the last three years and devestated that I put all my hopes and dreams for a Christian life and marriage family into his promises that turned out to be empty in so many ways.

    1. Thank you for being here and sharing your story, H. I’m so sorry you’re going through such a difficult time in your marriage. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, and the conflicted feelings you must be experiencing.

      I’m glad this article was helpful! Please sign up for my newsletter; I’ll send you weekly encouragement to help you Blossom into the woman God created you to be.

      And, take good care of yourself – because you are worth taking good care of.

      With the love of Jesus,

  4. Your views are so one sided, and do not consider the man’s side of things at all. Very poor for a Christian I must say. Jesus first created and formed Man and not Woman know this.

  5. I don’t agree it is good advice to tell a spouse to side with a child. I also don’t agree with a husband being angry enough to not show his child unconditional love.

    I believe as Christians we should realize that children are a gift from God, as a rewarding experience that reflects the healthiness of our marriage relationships. I believe that we should resolve matters in this order and escalate if necessary, one-on-one, with a close third party, and the last resort is to take it to the church. This solution cycle is referenced in the bible as healthy confrontation.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts on Christian divorce, Tom! I really appreciate your insight. I’ll have to look at those passages more carefully, and see what the context of Jesus’ words were. Sometimes it helps to know what came before and after, in order to gain insight into His teachings.

    What advice do you give women when they tell you about their unhealthy or abusive marriages? Imagine your sister, mom, or daughter being married to a man who criticizes her, forces her to be physically intimate with him, or punches, hits or kicks her….or he molests or assaults their kids…how would you respond?