Dear Dr. David:

I have been married to my husband for twelve years. Over the years my husband has become increasingly disinterested in our marriage. He comes home at night, plops himself in front of the television, and then becomes verbally abusive if I complain. I feel like I have to tiptoe around him, and I don’t like it. I am afraid of my husband and feel very lonely in my marriage.

Recently I have heard that my college sweetheart moved back to town. He is a Christian man without the anger of my husband. While I don’t want to become another statistic, I don’t think God wants me to live in fear any longer. I wonder if God might want me to be with this other man who I loved once. I’d like your opinion on this matter.

--Confused

Dear Confused,

There are several issues needing your attention. The prophet Malachi has some important things to say concerning your situation.

Malachi 2: 15-16 reads, "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the Lord Almighty."

This passage challenges us to guard our marriages because God hates divorce. A successful marriage requires self-discipline and restraint. We need to guard ourselves against worldly desires, and realize that giving into the temptation to stray from "the wife of our youth" (or the husband) will lead to great pain and suffering. Ask anyone who has committed adultery whether they regret it. Odds are, they will say they do. God knows the kind of heartache we face when we are unfaithful, and the kind of heartache we cause in those of we are supposed to love. He knows what happens when we take the smallest step of unfaithfulness, which usually leads to another, and another. This means that the temptation you face of fantasizing about, and perhaps pursuing, your college sweetheart, is a dangerous path for you.

Having said that, we also read that God hates violence in a marriage, apparently as much as divorce. I have worked professionally with many couples where even the smallest hint of violence is enough to damage the fabric of their marriage. Marital happiness and integrity cannot thrive where there is fear of violence. God does not want you to live in fear of your husband.

My encouragement to you is to deal with both issues in a forthright manner. Close the doors to the temptation of your college sweetheart. Focus on what you can do to restore your marriage. This means several things: getting professional help and support; confronting your husband, to the best of your abilities, letting him know that you will not tolerate violence, or threats of violence; seeking counseling as a couple; seeking God earnestly for the strength to take these steps.

God bless you as you make these difficult decisions.


Dear Dr. David:

Your answer to "Ann" regarding her marriage problems and her weight gain are very troubling to me.  I agree that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and for that reason as well as for health purposes we should be concerned about our weight and being attractive as a nice additional benefit.