I was divorced when I married a widow, who has two children that I accepted as if they were my own…. She had been physically abused by her mother and then by her late husband, and she repeated that abuse with her children…. She even started treating me as if I were her third child, to the extent of abusing me physically and verbally….

She constantly threatened that she was going to leave me, and she finally did… taking her children and all her belongings with her.

In spite of everything, I still love her. But she says that she’s happy on her own and doesn’t need a man by her side. What should I do? … I tried to understand her, but it wasn’t enough…. I never gave her any reason to act like that.

Dear Friend,

Many people are not familiar with cases in which women abuse their husbands, so your situation may cause them to question whether you are accurately reporting all that happened. They may think that men are always physically larger or stronger than women, or that you are exaggerating how serious your situation was. However, for our purposes we are going to accept that everything you are telling us is accurate.

We always advise anyone to take measures to keep themselves safe, no matter who is causing them to be in danger. We don’t know if your wife’s abusive behavior could have ever been life-threatening, but if so, then the fact that she left you could have saved your life.

When a man is physically abused by a woman, he must practice a great deal of restraint. If he fights back, almost anyone will assume that he is the aggressor. But if he doesn’t fight back, he may be injured. If he restrains the woman to protect himself, he could still leave bruises on her that would imply that he is the abuser.

As a child, I saw my very small mother attack my much larger father at times when the two were inebriated. She would become very aggressive, while he would only want to go to sleep. The effects of alcohol completely wiped out the fact that he was much bigger and stronger. Fortunately, she never hurt him badly, but they did get divorced when I was ten years old.

You ask what you should do now. Based on our understanding of Biblical principles, we would rather advise you what not to do. Do not assume that your wife is gone for good. And do not even consider romantic relationships with other women. Remember that you vowed that you would be faithful to your wife, and that unless or until she divorces you, your vows are still in effect.

Instead of ruminating on your own problems, turn your situation over to God and ask Him to lead you in this new season of life. Let His love fill you up and give you new purpose.

We wish you well,