Your situation is not an easy one, to say the least. An abusive husband is difficult to discuss, and sometimes more difficult to overcome, but you simply must learn to create boundaries. I do not mean physical ones (though that sometimes must happen in the short-term, like going for a walk). I am talking about boundaries of behavior that you will and will not allow.
Sometimes Christian women, in their sweet and godly desire to obey God, misapply the term “submission” and allow themselves to endure much heartache in the name of love. While I certainly believe that submission includes the endurance of some hardships for the sake of the marriage and unity, I do not think it is wrong to stand against tyranny when it is possible.
Misguided Application of Love
Love will sacrifice for others, but not unnecessarily. Too often we say that Jesus suffered on the cross and we should be willing to suffer as well, and so we must endure terrible treatment from others. Of course it is true that Jesus suffered for us, but it does not apply the same in an abusive marriage. If you recall, Jesus asked the Father three times to let Him out of it if it were at all possible. If there were a different way to bring about the redemption of humanity, He would have done it. And it would not have been unloving if He did it another way. Suffering is not always the answer.
The simple fact is, you are not Jesus. Taking abuse from your husband is not the same as doing what Jesus did on the cross. He endured it because it was necessary for the salvation of our souls. You taking a beating from your husband (either verbally, emotionally, or physically) will NOT save that man, and it will NOT save you, and it will NOT save your children, nor anyone else on the planet. How is it like Jesus to endure such things then? It’s not. Jesus did not suffer for the sake of suffering. He suffered for a REASON as part of God’s PLAN. You’re suffering out of a misguided application of love.
You need boundaries.
I am absolutely amazed at how much abuse some women endure from their husbands and still keep their sanity, but you can only endure so much. And it is not an act of righteousness to accept unrighteous treatment, confusing it for the suffering that comes with Christianity.
Jesus Himself establish some boundaries and spoke up at times in order to stop mistreatment. When people took up stones to stone Him, Jesus said, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” That can be found in John 10:32. Was He wrong to say that? According to the view of some, He should have decided to submit and suffer the beating in order to be a good Christian. After all, the ones wanting to stone Him were in authority over him, the religious leaders of His day.
No, Jesus did the right thing by setting boundaries. He attempted to defuse the situation. They still attempted to stone Him though, and He escaped from them. Notice that He left the situation. He did not suffer for the sake of suffering or out of some notion of love, and neither should you.
Now please do not interpret me to say you should leave you husband. I do not believe such a thing. I DO believe that it is WORTH IT to endure some pain and challenges in order to improve your marriage and be there for your man; however, I also believe that circumstances may force you to find refuge somewhere besides your home. Stand up for what is right and good, and if need be, leave the situation for a little while.
You need to set rules of engagement. You need to stand up and tell him that you are not going to accept his ill-treatment anymore, and then be ready for whatever happens. His reaction is his, not yours to worry over.
It’s Not Love
As it is, you probably have justified your quietness by saying you are being submissive, or you are being godly, or you are being loving. But let me turn that around a little.
- Is it loving to allow him to sin against you without saying anything to him? You just take it as a dutiful wife. If that’s you then it may sound like a lovely sentiment, but it should not be confused with “love”.
- Is it loving to allow him to teach error to his children by treating you improperly?
- Is it loving to let him sin against you and have the guilt that he will feel afterward?
- Is it loving to accept the terrible treatment and reinforce his sinful habit?
No, it is not loving at all. You are enabling the treatment, and you need to stop it if that is what is happening.
Things You Can Control
You cannot control anyone, but you can have some control over how they treat you. I am sorry to be blunt. It is not your fault that you are being mistreated, but it is your fault if you continue to allow it because of a misplaced understanding of love and submission.
You are not alone though. Lots of people are going through similar circumstances. And I will be praying for your strength and wisdom. Am I touching a cord? Let me know what you are thinking below. If you need to contact me privately, simply make a comment below that you’d like to contact me, and I will see your email address that way and I will contact you. (Please do NOT leave your email address in the comments.)
[This post is MY opinion and does not necessarily reflect Robert Dodson’s opinion or the opinion of the elders that oversee The Truth In Love.]