On Wednesday I began a short series on what to do when your husband leaves you. If you missed that initial post, I suggest you read it and then come back to this one. You can find it here.
There are many angles to consider during the early days of abandonment, above all, honor God in your speech and conduct. When you do have contact with your husband, continue to give him the message of openness toward his repentance and marital restoration. Repentance is paramount and despite your personal desires for all that reconciliation brings, this must be your primary prayer for him. God looks upon abandonment, adultery, and divorce with holy anger.
Because I want to give practical counsel as well as spiritual, I am strongly urging you to consult an attorney. I am not suggesting you file for divorce, the goal is restoration of the marriage. However, you must protect your home and finances; especially if there are children involved. You must ensure you have a place to live, food, heat and the financial ability to care for the children. If you have been a stay-at-home mom you are facing the reality of having no income until a judge puts a support order in place. While I am not offering legal advice here, I will say that you should not be shy or fearful about holding your husband accountable to provide for his family.
This is very, very important! Do not allow him to manipulate you into staying out of the legal system by offering you side deals and promises of payment. Women have told me they are fearful of taking any legal steps because they think it will anger him and drive him further away, ending hope of reconciliation. Don’t believe it. Your husband has not been faithful to the promises he made to you in marriage; until he repents you have no reason to think he will be faithful to any new promises he makes regarding taking care of you and the kids (especially while he is living in open rebellion and sin). When a husband is angered by this move it is he knows the legal system will hold him accountable through financial enforcement procedures, and this will take funding away that will enable him to carry on his new life. This is of course very important to him. He may call you names and hurl accusations about your character when he learns you are holding him accountable. He may use this as an example of why he left you and wants out of the marriage. If this happens, you must understand he is revealing his heart. There is only one person responsible for his abandoning you, and that is your husband.
If you have children, consider arranging visitation schedules through the courts. I know, you really hope he will be friendly and cooperative, but it rarely works out that way. Your husband is in the midst of gross sin and he is not being guided by the Holy Spirit. Sadly, you cannot trust him to deal righteously with you at this time. Having a visitation plan in place takes diffuses the emotions that accompany having the kids see their dad.
Many kids are confused about how to feel and act regarding visitation. We can often see in the child the attitude of the parent about visitation. They can see you are in deep pain and want to be loyal to you, yet they love and miss their dad. You are going to set the emotional tone for the kids regarding visitation. If you are upset, emotional, angry and hostile about the visitation your child is going to
have a much harder time. Treat visitation as an expected part of life.
It is impossible to address every circumstance or issue that is wrapped up in abandonment. My goal has been to bring out some of the initial problems we see repeatedly in these unfortunate cases.
As I close, I want to make it clear that there is nothing you can do to make him love you again. Love is a gift that is freely given and cannot be commanded or forced. However, there are things you can do that will bring sweetness or bitterness into an already difficult situation.
If you focus on the rejection and
the hurt you will struggle more with anger and a desire for revenge. This will yield bitterness. Instead, begin immersing yourself in 1 &
2 Peter. In fact, put it in park there. I find both of these epistles to be
very helpful in dealing with unjust and difficult
authority. You should find encouragement and something to hold on to in those two epistles. I want you to see that you can experience loads of amazing grace (favor) to go through this time in your life. You will also be pointed to Christ as the example as to how to suffer. Especially verses 21-23.
My heartfelt encouragement to you is to turn the
justice for this wrong over to God, and believe that He will judge this case
righteously. Your job right now is
to remain on the side of righteousness in every phone call, court appearance,
child visitation, and interaction you have with your husband. Remember, regardless of what he says or does,
you are to do what is right, because this is what honors and glorifies God.