My wife left me five years ago. We have a seventeen-year-old son who lives with me most of the time. I am a leader at my Christian church.

I would like to make a fresh start. It seems impossible to get back together with my wife, even though I waited for her and told her so. But I can’t start over with another woman either [because of my Biblical view of marriage]. I have been praying and waiting for five years. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Dear Friend,

We respect you highly for waiting five long years for your wife to come back and for being true to your marriage vows. We also congratulate you for your priority, as a follower of Christ, to base your life on the teachings of God’s Word.

As you know, Jesus taught that a man should leave his father and mother, and be united to his wife. They are no longer two, but one. And no one should separate what God has joined together.(1)

Many people don’t understand how it is possible for two to become one, as this verse says. A good comparison can be made with coffee and milk. When we put milk in our coffee, is it possible to change our minds and take the milk back out? Of course not! The coffee and milk have become one and can never be separated. This is the design that God intended for two people who get married. In the permanence and stability of this kind of relationship, both partners can feel secure. On the other hand, those who consider marriage to be a temporary commitment can never feel that kind of security.

Unfortunately, your wife walked out on you. We are going to assume that you were never unfaithful to her and that you did not mistreat her emotionally or physically, either of which would have given her a valid reason for leaving.

You don’t say that your wife has had another man in her life. And since you don’t mention divorce, we will assume that the two of you are still married and that she has not been sexually unfaithful to you. That is important because we believe that the Bible teaches that you would be released from your vow to your wife if she had committed adultery.(2)

However, the Apostle Paul made a distinction for the follower of Christ who is married to someone who is not. He taught that if that spouse leaves or abandons the home, the vows are broken and the follower of Christ is no longer obligated to stay married. He or she is free to start over.(3)

Is your wife a follower of Christ, as you are? If so, we urge you to get professional marriage counseling.

We wish you well,

1 Mt 19:5-6
2 Mt 5:32; 19:9
3 1Co 7:10-15