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Question 95

Q: I’ve been married for about six years and my husband and I have a four-year-old daughter. Early on in our relationship, my husband became depressed then verbally abusive. He wouldn’t say anything unless it was to yell at me.

We’re separated now, and I’m living with my parents because we fear he could turn violent. He wants to get the family back together, and I do love him, but I can’t trust him. He spends very little time with our daughter, and what confuses me more is that there are times when he’s a wonderful husband and father. He seems to be two different people.

We’ve been to counseling, but now he doesn’t want to continue because, “we’ve tried it and it doesn’t work.” Both of us are Christians, but I can’t live with my parents forever. What should I do?

Asked by: Martha


A: Martha, my heart goes out to you, and I need to just simply tell you very, very plainly a couple of things.

First of all, your husband as you’ve described him, is not ready to come back into the home and live with you and your daughter. The abuse that you’ve suffered will occur again. You need to understand that.

You also need to realize that this confusing situation where he sometimes can be very nice as a father and husband, is something that’s very common among abusers. Abusers can, in fact, be charming. That’s one of the characteristics of the kind of abusers that’s called the “charming abuser.” So, he’s not ready to come back, and you’re not ready to receive him back.

Your husband needs help. And he needs more help than he probably realizes. What you need to do is have someone else intervene in his life. Someone else has to befriend him and tell him some hard things that he might not take from you. And unless he goes for help, I really don’t see reconciliation happening anytime soon.

Now you do say that you can’t live with your parents forever, and that’s true, but you certainly have to live with your parents for now. Because, after all, you do have that daughter—a precious little girl who’s going to be deeply wounded if her daddy comes back and begins to holler and swear at her. So, you need to continue to live there.

Maybe you can get a part-time job, maybe your parents can do some babysitting, while you can help out with the expenses. And all that I can ask is, once again, find someone to intervene in your husband’s life. And even as I write this, I’m praying in my heart for you that God, in His grace, might be able to grant the kind of grace that you need to put your marriage back together again. God bless you.

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