How should a Christian wife handle a deadbeat husband Episode 1

“My husband only works when he feels like it. For six to seven months out of the year he refuses to work on his business… he does nothing but play video games. This leaves me with the majority of the financial burden when he is in no mood to work for months on end. He asks his brother for money when I have used all my resources to pay the rent and there are utilities and groceries needed…

So my question is this: If my husband continues to refuse to provide for his family, to habitually deny me sex for no legitimate reason, to refuse to make provision for the possibility of children of our own, and continues to be emotionally abusive, do I have a right to, One: Divorce him on biblical grounds, and Two: Remarry without being presumed an “adulteress” someday?”

This is part of an email I received from a Christian wife who wants to go by the name of “Aria”.

A lot of my posts deal with the evils of feminism and in truth I believe it is a much larger problem in our society than the issue with men that we will discuss here.  But just as God hates rebellion in women he also hates laziness in men. So while the problem of deadbeat husbands may not be as great as the problem of unsubmissive wives in our modern culture it is still a problem that we as Christians must address.

I have received several emails like this from women over the last year and I feel it is time to start to share more of their stories so that other women will know that that God does not expect women to be trapped with deadbeat husbands.

But before we continue with Aria’s story though we need to define what I mean by a “deadbeat husband”.

A deadbeat husband is a man who refuses to fulfill any one of these 3 minimal requirements of marriage that God requires of all husbands toward their wives:

“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

The new testament also reinforces this principle of these requirements of husband toward his wife when the Apostle Paul states:

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:” – Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)

The word “nourisheth” has the idea of feeding or providing for and “cherisheth” is not a romantic term as we now think of it but has the idea of protection.

So if a husband refuses to provide food, clothing (also shelter) and sex to his wife she may be free of such a man in divorce.

Now that we have defined what a deadbeat husband is from a Biblical perspective now we will look at Aria’s story.

Aria’s Story

“Hello,

I have come across your blog recently in a search for answers to my biggest questions concerning wanting to divorce my husband. I will be as straightforward and matter of fact as possible as to my circumstances and my reasons for wanting out of the marriage.

A little background:

I grew up as the daughter of a minister who, despite leaving the ministry in a professional capacity, still taught and studied, abundantly, the Bible, and the works of Spurgeon, Sproul, MacArthur, Calvin, Luther, etc. I lived with my parents until I was 27. My mother was/is an extremely domineering, psychologically abusive woman, who ruled our home and my father with an iron fist. I lived in fear of her for thirty years. I was always taught that a woman should remain under her father’s authority until he gave her away in marriage, however, I saw the situation as being flipped on its head; my father being ruled by an unruly and unstable woman, and allowing it to happen. I did not feel safe nor did I feel my father had any real authority. I left that home at 27 and continued to date my husband-to-be. My family disowned me.

I married my husband 6 years ago when I was 28 and he was 39. We dated for about little over a year. We are both professing Christians. We had a Christian wedding. My husband was divorced. His wife cheated for two years, he refused to divorce her, and she, in turn, finally, divorced him – that is what I know of the story from his side only. I have, since being married, heard, second hand, that he was impossible to live with and lazy. They were 7 and 9 (boy and girl, respectively) when we married.

My husband promised to have his vasectomy reversed and for us to begin having children one year into the marriage, which he soon declared after that I had agreed to 3 years (which I did not).

These are the issues I am dealing with currently:

  • My husband only works when he feels like it. For six to seven months out of the year he refuses to work on his business blaming it on it being “the slow season” – so he does nothing but play video games. This leaves me with the majority of the financial burden when he is in no mood to work for months on end. He asks his brother for money when I have used all my resources to pay the rent and there are utilities and groceries needed.
  • My husband is irresponsible with money. He spends money on games for his PlayStation 4 and XBOX ONE (and yes he has both) before/instead of paying the bills. I have tried to be his help meet in this area going out and getting a full time job of my own. I have no issues with the income he brings in, however, it is gone by mid fall, and I am left with supporting the family from October to March or April of every year. He even got angry with me for getting us each life insurance policies, both of which I pay for myself.
  • My husband refuses to have his vasectomy reversed, and I am now 33 and am losing my childbearing years at an alarming rate. I am being denied the ability to be a mother. He has not kept his word about getting the reversal after the first year that we both agreed on before marriage. He promises me every year that he will get it done. We are now halfway into our sixth year of marriage.
  • My husband refuses to lead spiritually. I have expressed that I would like him to, but we don’t attend church together, and he only does a devotion with me if I ask him to. He has no desire to attend church or lead his family in a biblical way. He attended church regularly in his first marriage and while we were dating, so I did not see this coming.
  • My husband habitually denies me sexual relations for no legitimate reason whatsoever. (I am well within a healthy BMI, I have been a model, and am frequently asked to model. I have very good hygiene, am regularly groomed and shaved, dress well every day, and do my best to present well – this is not a brag, it is to say that there are no physical obstacles as to why I should not be pursued. In fact, he told me early on that I was his ideal woman, but that he would not tell me how beautiful I am so that I would not get a big head.)
  • I don’t know what you believe about psychological abuse, but I constantly feel manipulated, and am lied to regularly about everything from finances to when we are going to have children to what he may have told me two minutes prior. I feel the withholding of sex is just another way to try to create an insecurity and doubt within myself about whether I am worthy or not.

I moved out nearly five months ago, leaving him with the understanding that I would file for divorce by the end of this year if he did not have his finances in order, continued to refuse to get a vasectomy reversal, he continued to deny me sex, and refused to get counseling with me. I am completely self-sustaining, and he is in no way financially responsible for me at this time – but I have gone without many things I am in need of for it.

I have done my part caring for his children, being sexually available (and pursuant, despite continual rejection and verbal shaming for wanting sex), being a partner to him, keeping the house in order, respecting him and his decision-making to the best of my ability, and taking care of myself while he remains overweight, etc.

So, apart from how all of this causes me to feel worthless in his eyes, I am more concerned with what is the right thing to do under these circumstances. I believe he has not been a husband to me in any sense of the word. And, honestly, I waver, as I was taught, my entire life, that you only divorce when your husband has physically “cheated” on you, or if he is beating you and will not get help and repent. I was also taught, if you do divorce for any reason other than physical infidelity, you cannot remarry and will be considered an adulteress.

So my question is this: If my husband continues to refuse to provide for his family, to habitually deny me sex for no legitimate reason, to refuse to make provision for the possibility of children of our own, and continues to be emotionally abusive, do I have a right to, One: Divorce him on biblical grounds, and Two: Remarry without being presumed an “adulteress” someday?

On a different topic; have you ever delved into psychological and emotional abuse? I feel this is a subject that the world does not shy away from, but is prevalent, even in the church. It is an invisible, yet terribly scarring type of abuse. It goes against everything the bible says about “living with your wife in an understanding way,” caring for her as “the weaker vessel”, and loving her, giving oneself up for her “as Christ gave himself up for the Church.” To crush ones spirit, and to use emotionally manipulative tactics to do so, is abominable, and not uncommon. My own mother was this way. My own father was not obedient to God in disciplining my mother to keep her from wreaking havoc on her own family, which is scattered and broken, and has spread throughout both sides of the extended families.

Any light you can shed on the divorce and remarriage issue would be taken into careful consideration. As I feel very much like a slave in bondage needing to be loosed. I am just wrestling with the rights and wrongs and what is biblically allowed for someone in my situation.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Aria”

My Response to Aria

I have actually known men personally who have done what your husband has done staying home playing video games while they send their wives out to work or they depend on other relatives to financially support their laziness.  It infuriates me when I see this.  I believe it also infuriates God when men do this. While laziness is sin when it happens with men or women – I believe it is especially heinous when it happens in men. God created men to be ambitious and work and make their mark on the world.

A man who has no drive to work is like a woman who has no drive to have children.  It completely goes against the gender directives that God designed in men and women.

All husbands have failings in different areas just as all wives have failings in different areas. You are right that Christian husbands have a responsibility to discipline their wives for their sinful behaviors as your father should have done with your mother.

But while husbands and wives may sin against each other in countless ways God does not allow divorce for just any sin.

The story you describe is painful to imagine any Christian wife going through. But things like a husband lying to his wife, not fulfilling his promises (even denying you a child) or not spiritually leading as he should does not give a woman the right to divorce her husband.

There are many tough marriage situations where a wife is called to practice the I Peter 3:1-2 principle toward her husband who is being disobedient to God:

“1Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” – I Peter 3:1-2 (NASB)

So sometimes as tough as an ungodly husband may make things on his wife – she is still called to continue to serve him, reverence him and love him.  In some cases women can even win their husbands to obedience to God by their continued submission and service to their husbands.

However God does allow a woman to divorce her husband for these reasons:

  1. If he fails to provide her with food and clothing (shelter is implied with clothing).
  2. If he refuses to have regular sexual relations with her (sexual defraudment).
  3. If he physically abuses her or makes attempts on her life.
  4. If he abandons her.

See my article “For what reasons does God allow Divorce?” where I discuss all the Scriptures relating to each of these four points.

What about “adulterous marriages”?

The only marriage in Scripture that could be considered an ‘adulterous affair’ or ‘adulterous marriage’ is when a woman unjustly divorces her husband and then marries another man. In this case she would be considered an adulterous and the man who married her would be considered an adulterer.

Please see my article “Is there such a thing as an adulterous marriage?” for my discussion about all the Scriptures related to this topic.

What about psychological and emotional abuse?

I do not disagree that husbands and wives can treat each other in uncaring ways.  They can say hurtful and spiteful things to one another. They can sometimes do as you have said and crush one another’s spirits with their actions.

When a husband or wife do this they are not living up to the way that God expects husbands and wives to treat one another.

But I don’t think we need a special carve out for “physiological or emotional abuse” any more than we need special “hate crime” carves outs for crime as we have made today.  Murder is murder. Assault is assault. Not honoring your wife is not honoring your wife.  Not reverencing your husband is not reverencing your husband.  Provoking your children to wrath is provoking your children to wrath.

We just need to call sin what is – sin.

We don’t need new categories for sin – God has given us all the types of sin in his Word.

So can you divorce you husband?

While your husband may have committed a litany list of sins against you there are two that stand out as sins that God considers grievous enough for you to end your marriage.  The fact that he does not work consistently and makes you have to support his laziness is enough by itself to allow you to divorce him.  His sin of sexual denial by itself would be enough for you to end your marriage. These two sins together make for an air tight case for Biblical divorce.

I applaud you though for giving your husband time to repent. I don’t think anyone should enter divorce lightly without giving the offending spouse a certain amount of time to repent.

But if he fails to repent by the end of this year I believe that you can be free of your marital bonds to him as Exodus 21:10-11 clearly says.

While God can do anything it sounds like your husband has been a lazy man for most of his life and it is highly doubtful he will change.  When this year ends if God gives you peace about this I think it would be right for you to end your marriage.  And you are free to marry another man and it will not be an adulterous marriage to do so since you have divorced your husband with for just causes.

Update 5/1/2016

For those who read this story when I originally published it she has asked me to change her code name to “Aria” and remove a few details from the story that she feels may make it too specific if her husband or family were to ever read it. So if you remember her previous code name or those details please  don’t reference them in comments. Thank you.

 

How a Christian wife should handle a controlling husband

ControllingHusband

It is no secret if you have read many posts on my blog that I believe the vast majority of problems we face today as a society lie squarely at the feet of feminism. But even coming from a Biblical gender roles view as I do, I still believe in and have seen the controlling husband.

I believe there is a Biblical view of what a husband should be, if a husband acts outside those bounds he may be a controlling husband. But the world, including many people who profess faith in Christ and his Word, have rejected the Biblical view of a husband, and that makes them have a very expanded view of what a controlling husband is.

Let me first state a concept that is extremely clear in the Bible – God instituted patriarchy in the home, the church and society at large.  Ladies, if you want to follow the Bible, you need to leave feminism at the door.

We will first look at what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview, and then what actions are NOT those of a controlling husband(even though the world claims they are).

This is what a controlling husband looks like from a Biblical worldview:

  1. He is infuriated that his wife actually has different opinions from him.
  2. He not only wants her to act a certain way, he wants her to feel a certain way.
  3. He may or may not yell a lot, but he dominates every conversation in such a way that she cannot get a word in.
  4. He refuses to let his wife be involved with other women, whether they be friends, or family and insists her whole life be focused on his needs, wants and desires.
  5. He may or may not be physically abusive.
  6. He may or may not be verbally abusive.
  7. He makes his wife like less of a human being.

These are the Biblical passages that support the definition of a controlling husband I have given above:

A Biblical Husband doesn’t hold grudges against her

“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”

Colossians 3:19(KJV)

A Biblical Husband Honors his Wife – Respects her as an adult human being, with her own opinions, thoughts, likes and dislikes

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom

Proverbs 31:26(KJV)

A Biblical Husband sacrifices himself for his Wife

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

Ephesians 5:25(KJV)

A husband who is controlling is acting contrary to these Scriptures I have just mentioned. Such behavior is despised by God, and according to I Peter 3:7 God will not hear the prayers of a man who treats his wife with such contempt.

Now that we have discussed what a controlling husband is from Biblical view point, we will turn our attention to what is NOT a controlling husband from Biblical view point.

These behaviors are NOT wrong or controlling for a husband from a Biblical worldview:

  1. He completely controls the finances, even money his wife may earn, and gives her a weekly allowance for groceries, clothing and things that she or the children may need.
  2. He sets the discipline polices and rules for the children.
  3. He determines where the family goes to church.
  4. While he allows his wife to express her opinions on all manner of subjects privately with him, he determines the public family opinions on religion and politics.  He determines what the children will be taught from a religious, social and political viewpoint. He also teaches his wife from the Word of God. He does not always expect that his wife will agree with his interpretations, but he expects her to have a teachable spirit and respect for his right as her husband to teach her the Word of God.
  5. He expects his wife to fulfill her duties as a wife, including having sex with him and caring for their home and their children.
  6. He expects his wife not to disagree with him in public, but that she will keep her disagreements for private discussions with him. Even when she disagrees in private, he expects her to do so in respectful manner.
  7. He expects his wife to be respectful of other men as well, especially in mixed gender gatherings. He expects that his wife will not correct other men, or be too opinionated in the presence of other men.
  8. While his wife may be courteous with other men, he expects that his wife will never ever flirt with another man. While his wife may communicate with other men in his presence, he expects that his wife will never have a private friendship with any man other than her male relatives (father, brothers).
  9. While his wife may find other men attractive, he expects her not to gawk or act in an unladylike manner toward other men.
  10. While a husband should allow his wife to have lady friends with whom she can share her feelings and have a bond in a way only women can, he also has the right to restrict her from certain women whom he feels are a negative influence on his wife.

What to do if you have a controlling husband

If you have looked at the first 7 points I gave about a controlling husband, and he matches most of them then you indeed have a problem. But hopefully you have also ran your thoughts by the 10 items I have mentioned above, and you are not considering you husband to be controlling because of any of these actions.

So if you still believe you have a controlling husband these are the steps a Christian wife should take:

  1. Examine yourself first. While 80% of the problems in the relationship may be from his selfish and ungodly actions, you need to make sure you have cleaned up your own house first. Are you routinely disrespectful toward him? Whether it is public disrespect or private disrespect, this can cause your husband to act in unloving ways toward you. I am not justifying his actions, only giving one possible source of the problem.
  2. Pray for him. Do not under-estimate the power of prayer.
  3. Try to communicate with your husband how you feel in a very respectful way. Communicating things in an angry or disrespectful way will not accomplish anything, and two wrongs never make a right. Make sure you communicate these things to him in private, not in front of other people.
  4. Physical abuse does not have to be tolerated. Contrary to what some Christians have taught, if he is physically abusing you – you do not have to stay and take that. The Bible commanded (Exodus 21:27) that slaves had to be freed by their masters if they caused any serious physical damage to their slaves. This would be no less for a wife who is physically abused by her husband, as a wife had more rights than a slave. A wife has the right to be released from a husband who physically abuses her.
  5. Verbal abuse is different situation. I don’t think there is anything wrong with you taking a walk if your husband is using verbally abusive language, but there are no Biblical grounds for divorce in this situation. You also do not have the right to stop performing your duties and responsibilities as a wife and mother due to his unkind words. I Peter 2:18 tells slaves to be respectful and obedient even to masters who are cruel or unkind. This concept applies to the behavior of wives towards their husbands as well (I Peter 3:1-6).

Conclusion

Make sure your husband is truly a controlling husband. If you are bucking your husband for any of the 10 things I stated above that are NOT the marks of a controlling husband, then you need to repent to God and your husband for rebelling against his God given authority over you and your family.

If however, your husband is truly acting in controlling or unloving ways towards you, first examine if you have been a disrespectful or unloving wife toward him. Make sure you have made your own heart right with God first.

Once you have examined yourself, and have addressed any failings you have had toward your husband, try to address the situation with him in a private, and in a very respectful manner. If you are being physically abused –get out and try to get help for him. If he will not change, I do not believe you are bound to him in this case. If he is not physically abusive, but refuses to change, you need to pray for God’s grace and give your husband to God.

You are not the first wife to deal with an unkind or cruel husband, and you will not be the last. Our unchristian world says “leave the bum” if he treats you in unkind way. The Bible says to love him even more, and maybe, just maybe you may win his heart to Christ.