Top Misguided Reasons To Stay In An Abusive Marriage

“If you don’t like where you are in life, there comes a point when you must give up the part of you that’s keeping you back.”
–Dr. Sonya Friedman

Divorce is difficult. So many emotionally hurt people are involved. This is one of the reasons why couples all over the world choose to stay in unhealthy and even terribly abusive marriages, despite all the signs indicating they are being abused and an inner voice urging them to leave. Rather than heed all the indicators of abuse and this internal guidance, people seek out or invent reasons to justify remaining. They allow themselves to become co-dependent to the point of excusing the abuser over and over and even blaming themselves. All they are actually doing is creating a prison without walls to incarcerate themselves and their children in. They allow their children to grow up believing this is how relationships should be!

Many float through life in a perpetual state of confusion or ambivalence because things are not so awful., at least that is what they convince themselves to believe. However, their self-esteem is in the toilet and depression begins ruling their thinking. They feel drained but can't figure out why. Being in a constant state of confusion and depression, they can’t possibly be asked to make a decision so they rationalize staying with their verbally abusive spouse is the best choice, waiting for something to happen which will make it clearer as to whether they should keep the relationship together or not. Only to find they continue making excuses for their abusers again and again and losing themselves in the conflict. For others, the fear of the unknown is simply too daunting so they "numb out" or "take on a workload helping family and friends to make life with their partner bearable" (for example, by workaholism, prescription drugs and/or alcohol addiction, and spending on trivial household items building a Pollyanna world). In some cases, the fear of leaving is not about the unknown, rather it is the known that paralyzes them. The other spouse has threatened the one who wants to leave with some kind of abuse: “outing a secret,” bad-mouthing him or her to friends, loved ones, or employers, or even physical violence.

Never Put Up With Spousal Abuse

Leaving your marriage may be the biggest challenge you will ever face in your life.  If you are emotionally, physically or spiritually abused and you have sought help but it was never taken seriously by your spouse, your marriage is over! If you believe that you have done all you could to save the relationship, it is more of a disservice to yourself and the world around you to stay. Never allow anyone to touch you that does not love you! EVER! Never allow yourself to be dismissed, demeaned, or dealt harshly with! EVER!


Misguided Reason #1 to Stay in a Abusive Marriage: The Kids
Many of those who divorce have known that their marriage was over long before they began to actually physically separate. When I ask these people what kept them from leaving sooner, the number one reason they give me is, “because of the kids.” I have no doubt that every parent who has said this believes wholeheartedly that this was a noble and selfless reason to stay. Staying and sacrificing their lives seems like the only thing to do.

Quite often, those who feel committed to keeping things together to this degree are children of divorce themselves. They swear that they will not put their children through what they had to endure. What they don’t understand is that they can get divorced differently than their parents did and spare their children much of what they experienced. How a couple divorces does more to determine how well children fare than the mere fact that they divorced.

While I would agree that being a good parent entails giving up a big part of yourself every day, I also know that you cannot give what you don’t have. If you are having to protect your children from an angry spouse they will undoubtedly feel that and suffer on some level as well, even if you don’t think your unhappiness shows. Children (and all of us, for that matter) are negatively impacted by being exposed to a loveless, tense, angry environment, regardless of the circumstances in which it has been created. They are impacted more deeply because they have not yet built up the level of defenses that we have. It is as if they have half the thickness of skin that we adults do. The good news is that they also tend to be more resilient than we adults allowing them to recover faster from unhealthy situations.

When you stay in an abusive marriage, children come to believe that relationships are experiences that entail suffering, pain and even a slow death. You are not happy, your spouse is making your life miserable by degrading you and, in turn, your kids are not happy because they see and feel the turmoil but do not understand why things are so bad.. The world doesn’t need more married couples for the sake of having married couples - the world needs more healthy people in healthy relationships!

Misguided Reason #2 to Stay in an Abusive Marriage: Money
While it’s understandable that having become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, most people don’t want to give that up, it’s often not a good enough reason to stay together, especially when your soul and spirit are dying. It is very scary to face the world as a single person after being with a partner for a while, whether it’s one year or thirty years. Of course, it’s scarier for the people who have been in longer-term marriages, or for those who have never worked, have no apparent job skills and who are now faced with having to get a job, but everyone in this kind of scenario feels challenged and overwhelmed.

The expense of keeping up two households is enormous. The spouse who has not been working, or who has worked but earning less, may want to hold on to the financial security blanket and stay with their counterparts. The spouse making more money may justify staying as a way to avoid having to support two households. What I find ironic is that people who marry for money are judged very harshly, but people who stay for the money are not.

Money is not the only financially related perk of marriage. Medical insurance coverage is also a very real benefit that can have a tremendous monetary impact. Many people feel they have to stay married to keep their health coverage. It used to be that couples could agree as part of their divorce settlement to continue the ex-spouse on the employer’s health insurance plan. This is no longer the case. While alternatives for health coverage exist (COBRA’s or private health insurance plans), they are usually temporary and/or quite costly. However, a new day is dawning in health care and many states have coverage for those who qualify for assistance. Use your support mechanism too to find a good job, money as needed until you get on your feet. It is not that hard if you just try. Do not make deals with your abusive spouse when it comes to settling the financial affairs. You helped him earn what he has whether he recognizes it or not you are entitled to half of everything you have both built!

Misguided Reason #3 to Stay in an Abusive Marriage: You Promised!
Those of you with kids will have heard this (“but you promised…”) said many times. Kids are brilliant and they know that calling you on your word is important and can evoke enough guilt for you to give in to their desires. However they understand very little about the dynamics of abuse and how devastating it is to the abused. They will also grow up mimicking your abuser in their own marriage if you do not stand against his sickness. They will believe that is the normal way to conduct their marriage!

Exchanging vows of being together forever is a very powerful exercise. It is a wonderful ideal and it is wonderful that most people do take this commitment seriously. But let’s examine reality again. Seasons change. Tides change. Relationships change. People change. Life situations change. Everything changes. That is life. That is what is supposed to happen.God is not fooled or mocked. You were never meant to suffer abuse at the hands of anyone! If your spouse is abusing you he broke the covenant not you! Marriage is a covenant based on agreement you made with God to love, honor and cherish. IF HE DIDN"T YOU AREN'T HELD TO A BAD CONTRACT! Many ministers today are becoming aware that emotional abuse is as devastating as a death in the lose who you are and what God intended you to be!

I remember looking back at my high school yearbook and my friends saying, “never change!” I had to laugh because, although I knew the sentiment behind this comment (you’re a great person and please stay a great person), not changing isn’t really something to aspire to!

Neale Donald Walsch writes about this in his book, Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue. Walsch is talking to God about the whole concept of marriage as we know it. God tells Walsch that the intention of joining two people together was never about binding them, rather, quite the contrary. It was about letting the other person be true to themselves while being true to yourself. Joining with, not attaching to, another soul. He adds that, “until you can predict your future, you cannot promise anything truthfully.” According to Walsch, God does not endorse promising yourself forever to another person that did not take his vow before God seriously.

MOST BIBLICAL SCHOLARS AGREE THAT PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SEXUAL ABUSE IS THE DEAL BREAKER! If you can't trust him for your safety and well-being you are not in a Godly covenant! These men who commit acts of abuse within their own home are covenant breakers, in Romans, Chapter 1 it talks about such men who disregard the covenant they made with the Lord. They worship themselves rather than honor God's covenant. Making themselves wise in their own eyes and playing the role of God within the marriage covenant itself.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [m]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not [n]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22  Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever...
28 And just as they did not see fit [u]to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, [v] haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.


Too many women hide behind these misguided reasons to remain married to abusive men believing they are “doing the right thing.” Nothing could be further from the truth-especially where children are involved. While I agree that they are important considerations and should be seriously pondered, but not a hindrance to getting yourself out of emotional and possible physical danger. If you want your life to be worth living, live it with someone who respects your life!

See you next blog,


  1. Ted, I find this to be one of your most well-written and thought provoking blogs. You hit upon many things that go through the minds of many christian women in bad marriages. Thank you for all your efforts to educate and help those in this situation. You are making a tremendous difference.


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