An Open Letter to the Spouse Who Wants Out: I Know How You Feel

When there is a spouse who wants out, it usually starts with a phone call. Maybe an e-mail. 

And this is the part where I feel my gut clench; I find my fingers covering my lips. No matter how many times I’ve received the news of a spouse who wants out, I’m stunned for a bit. Broken.

The communication is typically from the husband or wife desperate for the marriage to work. He, or she, is pleading with me,

“Please call. Please, please meet with. Please email something — anything — to my spouse. Please do whatever you can to talk them out of leaving, or worse yet, divorce.”

Some of my most challenging, gut-rending work — though it’s why I do what I do! — is when one spouse who wants out is completely done with their marriage.

I’ve written previously describing what to do when your spouse wants out. But now I want to speak to the spouse that actually wants out.

To the spouse who wants out …

I realize you don’t know me.

Still — I feel compelled to tell you that I understand.

I should acknowledge I don’t know the details. You might have understandable reasons to be mentally composing your packing list. All those pieces coming together — the texts, the absences — on an affair. Or that “History” list on the internet peeling back that revolting addiction. You might be just dog-tired by the yelling, the name-calling, the dread when your spouse walks in the room. Maybe you can’t stomach one more bender. Perhaps you’ve been pleading for attention for so…long…you just want to be noticed, loved. Cared for by anyone. You’re just a spouse who wants out.

Whatever the case might be — I do get it.

My anger drove a wedge so far between my wife and [me], when she thought of kissing me, she wanted to vomit. (You can bet she told me.)

When I found out about my wife’s affair, I was done. I didn’t want anything to do with her.

When my wife uncovered my struggle with pornography, we didn’t talk for days. She didn’t know how she could continue to be married to a “sicko” like me.

If I’m completely honest, even some of our small arguments repeated over a period of years sometimes (embarrassingly, now) produces thoughts of not particularly enjoying being married.

But do not miss this, because it might be the last thing you expected to hear: God understands.

He’s been through what you’ve been through. Believe it or not, He lives it every day.

He understands what it feels like to be ignored and rejected. He understands that jealousy for attention, He knows people screaming, even hurling insults His direction. He even understands what it feels like to be cheated on, because He’s experienced the pain, loss, and sheer anger when someone he loves turns away — even in hostility. He understands what it’s like to slog through an ongoing, aching relationship and He gets what it takes to commit to an unhappy relationship. (If you need proof, make sure you check out the books of Hosea, Jeremiah, and Hebrews 4:15).

More than that, God cares. And it compels him to comfort you in your pain. His deep compassion motivates Him to extend strength to your throbbing soul. But He doesn’t just leave you there. He wants to wrap you in wisdom and direction during this baffling time (2 Corinthians 1:3).

See, God wants things to be different.

Remember when you and your mate first met? That first date? Those first months of dating, then marriage? Remember what originally magnetized you to your spouse?

Hans Molegraaf
Hans Molegraaf
Hans and Star Molegraaf have a powerful testimony of God's ability to revive a dead marriage. They served with FamilyLife for four years and now provide resources, events, and counseling to married couples through their own marriage ministry, Marriage Revolution. They and their six children live near Houston, Texas. You can find the Molegraafs at their Marriage Revolution blog, counseling site, Facebook, or Twitter.

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