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In the early days of our marriage my husband was kind and thoughtful, but recently he’s become verbally and physically abusive and has actually hit me on several occasions. Can anything be done to save our relationship?

Answer

No man has the right to hit his wife. No wife deserves to receive this kind of treatment at the hands of a man who has promised to love and cherish her “till death do us part.” Such behaviour is called physical abuse, and it’s a criminal offence. If this is what you’ve been experiencing, contact a pastor, a social worker or a local shelter. Seek intervention. Depending upon the level of violence occurring in a crisis situation, it may be necessary to call 911 or to remove yourself from the situation before things get worse. Once you’ve put some distance between yourself and the threat of further harm, you can begin to move in the direction of repairing the damage and possibly saving your marriage. 

You’ll be interested to know that we’ve heard from a number of women in your shoes, and they all tend to express themselves in similar terms. Those who are Christians are anxious to follow God’s leading. They want to do His will, but they feel stuck. They’re unsure of themselves, inwardly torn by conflicting emotions, intimidated by their husbands and fearful of aggravating them any further. Many of them wrestle with issues of resentment and feel guilty when forgiveness doesn’t come easy. They blame themselves and engage in endless self-examination, trying desperately to understand where they’ve gone wrong. These are all classic symptoms of battered women. 

Why are we telling you this? Because the problems you’re facing will never be resolved until you come to the realization that you’re not the guilty party. You’re a victim. Your first priority at this point is to listen to your instincts for self-preservation. Let your husband know that you cannot move forward in this relationship until the two of you have sought professional help together. If he’s unwilling to do that, don’t hesitate to see a counsellor on your own. In some situations, individual counselling may be advisable for a period of time before beginning the process of joint marriage counselling. 

You’ve taken the first step by contacting us with your question. You can go further by calling Focus on the Family Canada for a free consultation. Our counselling staff is available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific Time at 1.800.661.9800. If you need the names of registered Christian counsellors in your region, we can offer assistance in that area, too. Get the distance you need. Let your husband know that you want the marriage to work but that you are no longer willing to endure mistreatment and abuse.

In the meantime, remember that God has created you as a woman of incredible worth. He looks upon you as a precious daughter and has an exciting plan and purpose for your life. Marriage is His idea, and He wants every marriage to be successful and fulfilling. But He’s not asking you to risk physical harm in order to remain with a man who thus far has demonstrated very little respect for you as a person. There are other and better ways to confront the serious challenges your marriage is facing at the present time. 

Q&A: My husband is verbally and physically abusive. What should I do?

In the early days of our marriage my husband was kind and thoughtful, but recently he’s become verbally and physically abusive and has actually hit me on several occasions. Can anything be done to save our relationship?

Answer

No man has the right to hit his wife. No wife deserves to receive this kind of treatment at the hands of a man who has promised to love and cherish her “till death do us part.” Such behaviour is called physical abuse, and it’s a criminal offence. If this is what you’ve been experiencing, contact a pastor, a social worker or a local shelter. Seek intervention. Depending upon the level of violence occurring in a crisis situation, it may be necessary to call 911 or to remove yourself from the situation before things get worse. Once you’ve put some distance between yourself and the threat of further harm, you can begin to move in the direction of repairing the damage and possibly saving your marriage. 

You’ll be interested to know that we’ve heard from a number of women in your shoes, and they all tend to express themselves in similar terms. Those who are Christians are anxious to follow God’s leading. They want to do His will, but they feel stuck. They’re unsure of themselves, inwardly torn by conflicting emotions, intimidated by their husbands and fearful of aggravating them any further. Many of them wrestle with issues of resentment and feel guilty when forgiveness doesn’t come easy. They blame themselves and engage in endless self-examination, trying desperately to understand where they’ve gone wrong. These are all classic symptoms of battered women. 

Why are we telling you this? Because the problems you’re facing will never be resolved until you come to the realization that you’re not the guilty party. You’re a victim. Your first priority at this point is to listen to your instincts for self-preservation. Let your husband know that you cannot move forward in this relationship until the two of you have sought professional help together. If he’s unwilling to do that, don’t hesitate to see a counsellor on your own. In some situations, individual counselling may be advisable for a period of time before beginning the process of joint marriage counselling. 

You’ve taken the first step by contacting us with your question. You can go further by calling Focus on the Family Canada for a free consultation. Our counselling staff is available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Pacific Time at 1.800.661.9800. If you need the names of registered Christian counsellors in your region, we can offer assistance in that area, too. Get the distance you need. Let your husband know that you want the marriage to work but that you are no longer willing to endure mistreatment and abuse.

In the meantime, remember that God has created you as a woman of incredible worth. He looks upon you as a precious daughter and has an exciting plan and purpose for your life. Marriage is His idea, and He wants every marriage to be successful and fulfilling. But He’s not asking you to risk physical harm in order to remain with a man who thus far has demonstrated very little respect for you as a person. There are other and better ways to confront the serious challenges your marriage is facing at the present time. 

© 2010 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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