Relationships: When to Cut Your Losses
"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife [or husband]."1
Among the most painful of life's experiences is rejection by a loved one.
When a couple is in a hopeless situation where there is continual rejection, hatred, and/or physical and emotional abuse by one or both partners, should they stay together for the sake of the children or should they cut their losses? Some say they should stay together no matter what. Others say to do so is insanity. But what does God say?
It is true that God hates divorce. "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel."2 But who in his right mind doesn't? Jesus, in the Gospels, was also against divorce.
God's Word also says, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife [or husband]."1 And again, the Apostle Paul wrote, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."3 This implies that it isn't possible to live peaceably with everyone.
Because of what God’s Word says, I believe that divorce should only ever be the last resort. Marriage partners need to commit themselves to resolve their disagreements and seek all the help needed to achieve this goal. However, in cases where one partner refuses to work on resolution and files for divorce, the other spouse doesn't have a choice.
Also because of what God's Word says, where there are major conflicts and only one partner is willing to work on the relationship and get marriage counseling, tough love is needed. In these—and especially in abusive situations—the one being abused needs to set boundaries and kindly but firmly say to his/her partner, "Unless you are willing to seek help together, I will no longer tolerate your abusive behavior and will have to separate myself and the children from you." When one sets boundaries, he/she needs to keep them. This won't guarantee resolution, but without setting and keeping strict boundaries, it will almost guarantee that there will never be resolution.
Furthermore, wherever a spouse and/or children are being abused, physically, sexually and/or emotionally, the abused spouse needs to separate herself and the children immediately. The separating spouse needs to make it very clear to the abusive partner that he/she will not get back together until he/she (the abusive partner) gets help and overcomes his or her abusive behaviors.
In broken relationships playing the blame game doesn't resolve anything because both partners are contributing something to the failure of the relationship—even if one spouse is too passive or codependent.
Only when all else fails should a couple file for divorce.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, whenever I am in a conflict situation, please help me to see what I am contributing and, rather than playing the blame game, get the help I need to resolve my issues. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Proverbs 21:9 (NIV).
2. Malachi 2:16 (NIV).
3. Romans 12:18 (NIV).