Living With A Hurtful Spouse

One of the saddest things I encounter in Biblical Counseling is when a woman comes for this kind of counsel. Usually, the couple has been married a while and some have children while others do not.

Often she will tell me that her husband is just plain hurtful towards her. He says things that are cruel about her appearance (You are fat, you look old, I am not attracted to you anymore), her intelligence level (you are so stupid, how could I marry someone so dumb, you don't stimulate me intellectually) her "performance" as a wife and or mother (you are a lousy cook, you don't keep the house clean, the kids are picking up your bad habits), and he may even tell you he is embarrassed by you in front of his friends and co-workers.

This is crushing to a woman who has many times poured her life into her marriage and family. I usually find the women to be pleasant, personable, kind and competent. I really can't see why a husband would turn on the woman he promised to love and cherish in this way. These are difficult pieces to pick up. Sometimes, the heart of the woman is smashed in so many little pieces and scattered so far abroad that it is nearly beyond repair.

This is another incidence where I thank God that He is the one who is truly the Counselor. He is the one who binds up the brokenhearted.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NASB)

If this post finds you in this place today, let me tell you that I understand both personally and as one who has seen many women in this situation. How can I advise you? How can I comfort you?

I would counsel you to soldier on along this very difficult road. God is not ignorant of your situation, nor is He ignoring your plea for relief. Please realize that Jesus Christ is with you in this ordeal. He is participating in your sufferings because you are in Him!

We are often called to suffer for righteous things, and these sufferings make us sacred; they make us holy. Suffering rejection should cause you to cling to Jesus and cry out to Him for help and comfort and the love you so badly want from your husband.

You cannot control your husband, or what he says to you or does to you- but you can control your response to his sinning against you. You can control your tongue and what you say in response to his criticisms. Suffering silently like a whipped puppy does not equal submission dear ladies! If you are criticized, ask yourself before the Lord if there is any truth to what he said to you. If there is, admit it and seek God's help to change it! Tell your husband when he is right in his observations and tell him that you now realize that (whatever he was critical of about you) does not glorify God in your life so you have asked God's help to change that thing.

It is perfectly ok to tell your husband that you don't appreciate his tone or his language or how he said what he said and to ask him to be more aware of that next time.

If you are not sure his criticisms of you are accurate, you will need to get some outside input from someone that knows you well. You must give them the freedom to be very honest with you and accept their opinion graciously. In all this, you must not sin against your husband by gossiping about him or putting him down.

If you conclude he is not accurate in his observation then pray that his heart would change toward you on this issue and try not to do this thing that irritates him- out of love for him and respect for his position as headship in your home.

Now, that being said, I also realize that there are some situations where nothing- and I mean nothing is good or right or acceptable. The husband has simply turned his heart away from his wife and is sticking it out because he is too lazy to divorce her or just hanging around for the kids. In our current financial crisis, many couples are not divorcing because they cannot afford to!

I would urge you to read and re-read 1 and 2 Peter. These two epistles are full of godly wisdom and counsel for people who are suffering under unjust rulers. These letters were written during the persecution of the church by Nero. Nero was crazy and was actually using Christians as human torches for his about suffering...

I wish I could take the pain away. I wish I could stop the suffering in your lives, but no blog can accurately address such painful issues of the heart. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can soothe those places of deepest hurt and pain. Listen to the words of God...

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. “For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” Says your God. Isaiah 54:4-6 (NASB)

The Lord calls you His own, His bride, His love. He is cradling you, and loving you, and walking with you through this terrible time in your life. He is faithful even though your husband may not be faithful. He is trustworthy even if your husband is not, and He will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.

Run to Him and cling to Him. Stay within His loving embrace.