I have been separated from my husband for three years. I had to ask him to leave the house because he physically abused me while I was pregnant. A few months ago we began talking again, even though he has never provided economically for our two children…. He told me that he would attend a church in order to seek help and for us to get back together, but yesterday I discovered that he chats with women, flattering them and asking them out.

Can I start divorce proceedings? How can I talk to my children about this? I have never been unfaithful. All of this is very painful for me.

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for handling a difficult situation so wisely! You are truly an unusual woman. We are so very sorry for the pain that you are suffering, but in the middle of the pain, you should have the confidence of knowing that you have made the best decisions for yourself and for your children.

It was the right thing to make your husband leave the house when he physically abused you. Many women continue to live with abuse even when they know that it is dangerous for themselves and their children.

It was also the right decision to wait for three years to find out if your husband would get treatment for his anger and aggression. He has recently told you that he is willing to get help, but why hasn’t he already done that in the past three years?

Furthermore, it was absolutely right to refuse to get back together with him when you found out about his communications with other women. If he loved you and were dedicated to your marriage, he would not be seeking out those women.

And it is right for you to mention that in the past three years he has not cared enough to economically support your two children. This is just one more indication that he is not dedicated to the family.

You wonder how you can talk to your children about this. You should tell them as little as possible. When they are older they will find out all the truth, but for now it is better that they think the best of their father and that you encourage them to have a good relationship with him.

You also ask if you could initiate a divorce. If you know that your husband has been unfaithful to you during the past three years, then he has broken the marriage vows already and a divorce would just be the legalization of his betrayal. However, if he has not been unfaithful, then we recommend that you wait until he initiates a divorce. People who are followers of Christ can have different viewpoints as to when it is Biblically acceptable to dissolve the marriage through divorce. But most would agree that infidelity is a valid reason.

We recommend that you seek economic help for your children through whatever means is available in your country. It is right and fair that your husband should help support his children. We also recommend that your husband have frequent visitation with the children, and that you encourage them to love their father.

Lastly, we recommend that you seek help from your Heavenly Father for the pain and suffering that you are experiencing. He loves you more than you can imagine, and wants to give you strength and help.

We wish you the best,