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    Matthew Davis

    My wife and I have been married almost 12 years. We have two boys together. We are both confessed Christians and have served in our local church. I am a Seminary student with the desire to become a Pastor.

    Last Summer, She left me for another man she works with. They live together now and she is pregnant with his child. I’ve counseled with my Pastor and he has told me to wait on the Lord, but prepare for Divorce. My wife has made it clear that she doesn’t want reconciliation.

    I am trying to do the right thing in the midst of the extreme pain and depression. Both of us hasn’t pursued any legal divorce processes.

    My question is when should I do this. I and hoping and trusting God for reconciliation, but when do I know that divorce is His will for us?

    Rick Thomas

    Hey Matthew,
    I’m sorry to hear about your ordeal. Perchance, you are not aware, you did describe what happened to me 30+ years ago: I was in my second year of Bible college when my wife of nine years left. We were separated for two years, so you could say the marriage lasted 11 years.

    It sounds like your pastor has a good handle on your situation. I recommend that you follow his advice. Here are a few things to think about regarding your marriage.

    1. You’re in seminary, heading toward a potential ministry of some sort. It’s not vital for you to think about divorce at this time, as it relates to your vocation because you’re a long way from anything, career-wise. And because of your marriage issues, whatever is out there for you will take on many different shades before you figure it out.

    2. It would be better for her to divorce you for conscience-sake. If she divorces you, there will be some “peace of mind” that you did all you could do and did not act prematurely. And since you “don’t have to divorce her” now, unless there is something I’m missing, waiting could prove to be wisdom.

    3. The most vital issue is your children. The question is about who is going to have primary custody. Without knowing you or her, I’m going to assume it would be better for you to have primary care. Though “custody” is a legal matter, the essential thing is NOT legal, but who is the best long-term, spiritual caregiver of the children. And if she is living the life of an adulterer, I can only imagine that it will become worse for her, though it may not look that way today.

    The “way of the transgressor” is hard, and sometimes we lose sight of it when the blows come as they have for you. It took many years for me to see this truth in my former marriage, but after the whirlwind left me, it landed on her, and it never left.

    If you have not, I recommend that you consult with an attorney to talk about all the options and best strategies regarding your children. The most crucial thing in their lives is solid, biblical, spiritual care.

    4. If you have not read my book on my ordeal, I commend it to you; it’s called, Suffering Well: https://rickthomas.net/welcome-store/

    If you have other questions, please ask them, but also make sure you’re sharing what we’re saying to you here with your pastor.


    Matthew Davis


    Thank you so much for your wisdom. Matter of fact, I have read your book and it ministered to me greatly during this season. I thank God for you and how He works through you and your ministry in my life.

    As for the divorce, postponing my involvement in the legal realm and not pursuing actual divorce is what I have been doing. I agree with you that for my own conscience’s sake I don’t want to do anything prematurely. I don’t know God’s will yet on this issue, but it has been in prayer. I struggle Biblically with divorce because she is a confessed Christian, even though her life does not show it. I surrender this and was greatly encouraged with your wisdom as it aligns with what I have been thinking.

    As for the children, as of right now i do have majority “custody”. I get them four nights out of the week which is a major blessing for me. I am able to take them to church and disciple them, which my wife doesn’t do. I don’t know what the Lord will do in the future, but I trust that this trial is as much a part of their sanctification as it is mine.

    As for me, I do struggle with depression as I look at my situation. I am forced to watch my wife, the women I love, give to this other man the love that i so greatly desired from her. Because of this, I struggle with self-pity. I find myself in cycles of sin as i indulge my self-pity. The Lord has been gracious with me, and does pull me out, but i am finding it hard to stay constant because I have no joy in the Lord. I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is no joy in my sin and in the world, but there is no joy in the Lord. I do trust His Word and believe that one day there will be, but even that kind of trust and obedience has limits as the pain escalates.

    Sorry for the long response. I do hope it makes sense.

    Thank you.


    Rick Thomas

    You’re welcome, brother. The part about “legal advice” is not for action but for advice. You want to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

    Sometimes the despair of a person going through a divorce de-motivates and confuses them about how to think about and prepare for the worst-case scenario, and then they regret not “borrowing brains” and preparing about future eventualities. But then it’s too late.

    Oftentimes, the adulterer is more proactive (and even nastier) in these matters. Thus, while you hope there is no divorce, you should prepare.

    I’m glad you have the children. When it comes to legal action, temporary custody will matter, and if you do a good job with them, get them settled into their “new life,” the judge will be hesitant to disrupt them again.

    So the more you embed them in your “new life,” the better off you will be if the worst thing happens. Church, school, routine, where their primary things are, e.g., beds, clothes, etc., the better for you and them.

    As for the depression, the “potential divorce” is not the primary culprit, though it’s weighty. Your enemy is time, and there is no way to work through the “plodding of time” other than grinding through each day. In a year or so, things will get better for you, no matter where the marriage stands. The main thing is to be consistent in your life patterns, no matter how hard it seems, i.e., work, church, friends, children, etc. And, of course, keep pouring over our articles, here: https://rickthomas.net/topic-index/

    Thanks for being here.

    Matthew Davis

    Since we are still married, even though she lives and loves her new boyfriend, my question is how do I love her as Christ loves the Church? What is my responsibility toward her Biblically as her husband?

    Rick Thomas

    Hey Matt,
    This article distinguishing empathy and sympathy, will help. Study this: https://rickthomas.net/the-destructive-force-of-empathy-and-why-you-need-to-know/

    The temptations are twofold:

    (1) Revenge sinning as you drown in self-pity, which could look like you doing what she did (adultery) or succumbing to sexual sin like porn and masturbation. “Revenge sinning” is when you’re angry, don’t care any longer, and are full of self-pity, so you throw caution to the wind.

    (2) Giving her everything she wants and becoming a groveling, obsequious mess. This reaction is empathy per the article https://rickthomas.net/the-destructive-force-of-empathy-and-why-you-need-to-know/

    The right answer is to “steward your marriage,” which means many things:

    (1) Making sure you get the children because you’re the better parent. (Empathy says, “I don’t want to upset her so I will bend on giving her the kids.”)

    (2) Not giving her everything she wants. (Same as what I just said.)

    (3) Stewarding God’s money by not giving in to her requests. (Empathy says, “I don’t want to make her mad, so I will go into thousands of dollars of debt, though I would not be stewarding the money the Lord has given me to manage.)

    (4) Church discipline because she is proactively sinning against God, you, and His church. (Empathy says, “I don’t want to embarrass her.”)

    (5) Never being mean or unkind to her, which does not imply chunking sympathy and embracing empathy per the article https://rickthomas.net/the-destructive-force-of-empathy-and-why-you-need-to-know/

    Without being unkind, you take the position of Jesus: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers; it’s those who do the will of God.” You are to be kind and strong, direct and clear, and determined to follow Jesus, though you will never speak unkindly to her or about her to anyone.


    Matthew Davis

    I really appreciate all your wisdom. I have recognized a lot of your counsel from the articles i have read. If you can, can you elaborate on the Church discipline aspect?

    My leadership is very aware of her actions. She was very active in our local fellowship, and the church took a blow when she left. She has voiced that she wants to go back to our church, but wants me to find another church so she can be more comfortable. I told her that I wouldn’t do that.

    Rick Thomas

    Study this on church restoration, and be free to share with others https://rickthomas.net/how-to-help-a-person-get-right-with-god/ It would be foolish for you to leave, based on what you’ve shared here, and it would be doubly-foolish if the church let her return w/o going through this process.

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