Dear Dr. David:

I have been married for several years to a leader in the church. My dilemma is my husband refuses to open himself to me. He doesn't communicate, help around the house or assist financially. He is like a piece of furniture in the house (when he is there) as he sits on the computer all day and talks on the phone fulfilling his ministry obligations.

I have two children by a previous marriage and we recently had a child. He helps very little with the care of the children. Within the first year of marriage he was communicating telephonically and via email with various women. I confronted him about this and he just denied it until I totally withdrew from him. He promised to stop this behavior but I caught him doing it again a short time later.

I desperately need advice. I want to be obedient to God, but there is nothing within me that desires to be with this man. I believe God ordained for us to be together to carry out a specific assignment in the earth but I have nothing left to give and I don't want to take my children through this. I suggested counseling before we got to this point but he always makes an excuse. I know that he is to be my first priority after God, but I give up. I don't want to embarrass him or taint his ministry, however I do need someone to advise me. Please reply with some wisdom and guidance. ~ Kathy

Dear Kathy,

There are many issues needing to be addressed in your marriage. Let’s consider them one by one—and that, incidentally, is the best way for you two to address them as well.

First, it’s time to create a crisis. If you do not succeed in creating a mini-crisis now, you’re headed for a much bigger crisis down the road. Attempt again to get your husband’s attention. Let him know that you want to address problems in your marriage, one by one. Let him know that if he won’t attend to the issues now, they’ll only grow larger, interrupting your lives even more.

Second, address the inequality of roles in your home. You comment about your husband’s busyness, while you sound exhausted caring for your children. He doesn’t communicate, help around the house or assist financially. That suggests that in addition to caring for the children, you work outside the home. There are many families that must renegotiate the assignment of roles within the home. While traditionally it has been the woman’s place to care for the home and children, this must be discussed and agreed upon by you and your husband. Perhaps your children are also old enough to take on more responsibility within the home.

Third, there appears to be a possible sexual addiction not addressed in the home. Your husband’s involvement on the computer, and communicating with other women, is dangerous, to say the least. It suggests he is carrying on an emotional, and perhaps physical, affair with other women. This is a violation of the sanctity of your marriage and must end. You state that you don’t want to taint his ministry—but he is already doing that. He is failing to maintain clear boundaries, and the end result could be disastrous.

You mention your desire and vision has been to be in ministry with your husband. You appear to have demonstrated a willingness to partner with him. However, the Apostle Peter makes it clear that he has some responsibilities to you in this area. "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (I Peter 3: 7)