I often wonder how many Christian women are sitting at home beating themselves up about contemplating divorce or finalizing a divorce. How many women are riddled with guilt because they didn’t do more to make it work? How many are torturing themselves playing the same scenarios over and over in their heads wondering if they had done something differently or hadn’t made certain comments or been a better wife that maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation? How many feel shame and guilt for somehow “letting God down” or not “following His laws”? That’s a horrible, ugly place to be in. I’ve been there.
For any women sitting at home going through this torture, I want you to remember this: It’s Not Your Fault.
I came across this brilliant blog post the other day. It’s brilliant because it’s true. And spot on.
I hate the fact that upstanding Christian women are torturing themselves over something their husbands did. I hate the fact that Christian folks who have never been through this sort of betrayal and abandonment think they have something to add to the conversation. I hate the fact that the things these Christian folks are adding to the conversation are words of guilt and shame and “It’s your responsibility to fix this”. (God bless them. I know they mean well, but unless you have found yourself in this situation, you cannot possibly give tips and pointers on how to progress out of a mess the spouse has left behind.)
Here’s a novel idea: Your spouse is responsible for the decisions he makes. He is responsible for his actions. He is responsible for the mess he has made. He is responsible for fixing it. No one is perfect in a marriage, but unless you stepped out on your husband, initiated an affair, lied to him about it and then walked away from the marriage and abandoned him… NONE OF THIS IS YOUR FAULT. I don’t care if you nagged too much, or spent too much time in sweat pants or didn’t help out around the house enough or didn’t always appreciate the things he did for you. It’s still NOT YOUR FAULT. No amount of your adoration, beauty, and helpfulness was going to prevent him from doing what he did. He made his decisions. He is responsible for them. Not you. The same applies when the roles are reversed. Guys, if your wife cheated on you… it’s still NOT YOUR FAULT.
In the aftermath of the deceit, betrayal and abandonment, you are going to hear from well-meaning Christians who think they know what you should do. They will tell you that God hates divorce (He does) and that you must do all you can to keep the marriage together.
No, you do not.
While God does hate divorce, once a spouse has broken the vows of marriage and walked away from the marriage, sometimes you have no other choice than to divorce. If the offending spouse is truly repentant and taking steps to repair the marriage, then if you want to work on the marriage, by all means do. But if the offending spouse refuses to take responsibility for their actions, refuses to remedy the behavior and wants to continue the affair and walk away from the marriage, you no longer have any responsibility in keeping that marriage in tact. The subsequent divorce is on their head, not yours. God will not punish you or hold you responsible for your spouse’s sins and shortcomings. Unfortunately, if one spouse doesn’t value their vows before God, sometimes divorce just happens. It sucks, but it happens.
Now for the well-meaning Christians who think they know what you should do and want to offer Godly advice… Unless these well-meaning Christians have been through the same thing, they do not and cannot fathom the pain your spouse has caused through their deceit, betrayal and abandonment. Therefore, they should not be giving advice on things which they do not fully understand. These well-meaning Christians should certainly offer support and prayers… but NOT advice on what you should do. Their role right now is to support you, help you and pray for you. Not judge, chide, advise, exhort or question. (Well-meaning Christians… if you have never been in these circumstances, please keep your mouths shut and your advice to yourself unless it is solicited.)
Divorce does suck and it is certainly not God’s best for us. But if anyone understands what you’re going through, it’s Him. He will guide you, comfort you and give you wisdom on what to do next. But he will not blame or shame you. He understands and knows that this is NOT YOUR FAULT.