When we get married, most of us expect that our marriage will last a lifetime. We are hopeful that we will be able to work through all the hard times, weather every storm. In religious circles, people believe that marriage is a lifelong commitment and that God hates divorce and you cannot get one except for a few extreme circumstances. So, then how could there possibly be signs God wants you to end your marriage if He hates divorce? (You may want to check out my article on what is really meant by the phrase, “God hates divorce.”)
There are indeed signs God wants you to end your marriage. Those that are mentioned specifically in Scripture are adultery and desertion. The ones that are implied throughout Scripture are any pattern of ongoing abuse, any danger , or leaving your family’s faith.
Before we go on, I do want to reiterate the fact that while two people willingly go into marriage, the same is not true for divorce. It only takes one person to want a divorce to make it happen. Even if you do all the “right things,” you may not have the happy ending you worked toward your whole life. Let’s take a closer look at all of these issues.
Table of Contents
First Sign God Wants You to End Your Marriage: Adultery
This is probably the most obvious sign God wants you to end your marriage and one that is pretty much universally accepted by every church. The reason for this is clear. The Bible specifically states adultery is a justified reason for divorce. So, the majority of churches will easily agree with your divorce if adultery is involved and proven. But that is also where the issue gets complicated.
It can be difficult to prove adultery. And the offending partner may not admit it, causing the church to be unwilling to push into it to intrusively. Many churches (as well as courts, incidentally), will not even consider a complaint of adultery unless the offending partner is caught in the act. Which rarely ever happens.
In the case of the adultery being proven and/or admitted to, most people will have little to no pushback from their church. But that doesn’t mean they won’t face unpleasant consequences of that divorce, even if they are in the right.
Unfortunately, even when you are 100% in the right, there will be people who don’t see it your way and will choose to side with the adulterer. But this really isn’t a bad thing! It enables you to see who your true friends are. And it helps you to eliminate the toxic or unhealthy relationships from your life pretty much instantaneously with the divorce. You will be able to surround yourself with healthy, supportive people.
Second Sign God Wants You to End Your Marriage: Desertion
The second sign God wants you to end your marriage is in the case of desertion, or abandonment. This does not simply mean leaving the home and never coming back. More often abandonment can take the form of emotional, spiritual, or psychological abuse. The partner may still be there in person, but not present at all emotionally or physically. This issue is more recognized by therapists and churches in the past decade, but much more progress needs to be made.
In 1 Corinthians 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 and 1 Peter 3:1, God makes it clear that if someone is married to an unbeliever, as long as that unbeliever is honoring and treating their believing spouse well, they are to stay and live with them in harmony. The idea is that showing that sort of love will bring the unbeliever around to a saving faith.
But in circumstances where the believing spouse does not look out for their partner in a loving way emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, physically, or in any other way, it is considered abandonment. And with this behavior, the believing spouse is off the hook for staying married to them.
This doesn’t mean that due to occasional bad behavior the believing spouse can call foul and leave. But if there is an ongoing pattern of any one or combination of these behaviors, the believing spouse does not have to stick around to become the unbelieving spouse’s doormat.
But what about the case of a professing believer who refuses to properly care for their spouse? Does that mean they are doomed to a life of misery because God said only spouses of unbelievers were free to leave a marriage characterized by abandonment of any kind? Nope. If a professing believer refuses to repent of the sin they are committing against their partner and they have been warned of the problem with their ongoing behavior without repentance or change, they are then Biblically deemed an unbeliever. And that puts you right back on those Scriptures mentioned above.
Third Sign God Wants You to End Your Marriage: A Pattern of Ongoing Abuse
The third sign God wants you to end your marriage is a pattern of ongoing abuse. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 31 years because I thought the abuse “wasn’t that bad.” It was a “death by a thousand paper cuts” situation. I was too embarrassed to talk to anybody about what was happening because it seemed so petty. And that allowed my ex to keep doing those things to me. He knew I wouldn’t say anything because I had stayed silent for so long.
The best thing you can do for repeated patterns of bad behavior in your marriage is see a counselor. You need to make sure that it is a well-regarded counselor from a reputable agency that you connect with well! That counselor will help you to see what is really going on and help your partner to recognize the bad behaviors and find better and more healing ways to relate to you.
Unfortunately, many times the abusive partner will not choose to heal and treat you better, even with the best of counseling. That is a very difficult place to be in. There will always be loss involved on your part when you realize the relationship will not heal. But there will also be great freedom and emotional health if you learn that the relationship will not get better and choose to heal yourself anyway. Whether you stay or leave the relationship will be up to you, the severity of the ongoing abuse, and whether your spouse is willing to be accountable for their behavior.
I recommend an amazing book for helping you see through all of the complexities of this situation. It literally changed my life. And subsequently, is the book I recommend the most. (In turn, I have gotten word back from many people that the book has had the same positive changes for them as it did for me.) The name of the book is The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick.
She begins the book with a short test you take to help you decide if you are in a disappointing marriage or a destructive one. She then guides you through healing yourself so you can have the right mindset and learn how to handle the abuse in healthy ways. And she guides you into making your own decision as to whether you should stay or leave the relationship. This changed my whole world as I realized for the first time in decades that I actually was in control of myself. And I could make it to a healthy place! This book should definitely be on your must-read list. You can click on it below to learn more:
Fourth Sign God Wants You to End Your Marriage: Finding Yourself in Dangerous Positions
The fourth sign God wants you to end your marriage is when you find yourself in dangerous positions. It is a given that if you are in any physical danger that you need to get out immediately. And the vast majority of the time, others will see and/or understand your position and give you the support you need to get out and heal. But there is so much more to the story than this.
You can be in danger from financial abuse, as well as emotional, psychological, spiritual, sexual, or any other kind of abuse. Financial abuse can put you and your family on the street or in an unsafe neighborhood. Emotional abuse can cause you to behave react to abuse in emotionally unhealthy ways. The same is true for psychological abuse, which can have far reaching effects, even to the point of you being institutionalized because you don’t realize what is going on with you psychologically.
Spiritual abuse can put your eternal perspective in jeopardy. And sexual abuse can be just as toxic or even fatal as physical abuse. It is important to realize that danger in relationships is more than seeing someone with unexplained bruises on them.
Fifth Sign God Wants You to End Your Marriage: Leaving Your Family’s Faith
Just like the previous points, this sign God wants you to end your marriage has multiple facets. It includes not just the other spouse leaving his or her faith but also still claiming to be a child of God while asking you to do things that are disobedient to God. But it isn’t always so easy for you to see what is going on.
If you are married to a narcissist or other abuser, they know they have to disguise their attacks and abuse on you in ways that you will think they are taking good care of you, are sincerely concerned, and are serving God in obedience alongside you. People can be abused for literally decades without realizing it because their abuser is so good at masking their abuse. And the abuser can convince you that God wants something totally different than what is clearly expressed in the Word of God.
If you want to see a really good example of this abuse cloaked in concern, watch the movie Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and a very young Angela Lansbury. In it, Charles, who played Gregory, pretends to Paula’s face that he loves her dearly, while at the same time, pretending to be very concerned that Paula is not well to everyone around her. So, they begin to treat her as though she is not well because they didn’t want to speak directly to her about it, plus Gregory had warned them to stay away from her “for her own good.” He played everyone very well. And the experienced abuser will be at least that good.
Many of us get married to the “big man on campus” in Christian circles, thinking that we will be right in the middle of God’s will. We had no idea that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This scenario becomes even more tragic when the wife continues to struggle to make the marriage meaningful and healthy for years and often decades after realizing she chose someone totally different than she thought she was marrying.
While this issue happens much more with narcissistic men than women, there are men that thought they married a godly wife and realize too late that they did not. There have been a few men in my DivorceCare support group that have agonized over the fact that their wife has left them along with their faith.
At the end of the day, we can only be responsible for ourselves and we cannot force a marriage if the other partner refuses to be married. God realizes this. And He gives us definite signs that He wants us to end our marriage based on how things turn out.
Have you seen signs from God that you should end your marriage? How long did it take you to see them? Did someone else have to point them out to you or did you see them yourself? How did you act on those signs? I would love to hear about your journey, whether you were able to work it out with your husband or not. Feel free to share in the comment section below.
Are you just now in the beginning stages of recognizing narcissistic abuse in your life and not sure where to go or what to do next? Marie helps people start to put the pieces together to get quickly on the pathway of healing. She has many resources you can check out here, but if you would like quicker, more direct guidance specific to your situation, a direct consultation with Marie may be more helpful to you. You can check out the various consultation options here.
Hugs, love, and prayers,
If you found this article helpful, you may also find the following articles valuable:
- How Narcissists Use Religion to Control and Manipulate You - December 26, 2023
- Do Flying Monkeys Ever See the Truth? - December 16, 2023
- Flying Monkeys Spying: Understanding and Dealing With It - September 21, 2023