Real Family Talk – Leaving a Bad Marriage

Willie and Elaine Oliver
Real Family Talk – Leaving a Bad Marriage

My marriage has not been going well for a long time. In fact, I don’t love my husband anymore. Although we’ve been married for more than 25 years, and have three children, I don’t think I can stay in this marriage any longer. My husband, a high-powered professional, has no time for me or our children. I’ve been waiting without success for him to get less busy. I’m out of patience and I want out of this marriage.

We’re sorry you’ve had to endure the pain of loneliness in your marriage for as long as you have. It must be frustrating to hope things will change for the better.

Marriage, as you know, was God’s idea. At the end of creation week, after looking at the beauty of what He had created, something was missing: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). So, your discouragement with the reality of your marriage is understandable, given that God created marriage for companionship.

Satan has tried to destroy everything God created for the well-being and happiness of humankind.

Marriage was also meant to be the model for permanence in relationships, the catalyst for stability in society. This concept is illuminated in the New Testament, when Jesus quoted from Genesis 2 and adds a clearer picture of His intension for marriage: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:7-9).

The creation story makes obvious the fact that Satan has tried to destroy everything God created for the well-being and happiness of humankind, including marriage, the first institution God established at creation. And because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), it is rather easy to become distracted from God’s perfect plan for our joy in marriage. So, instead of marriage fulfilling God’s plan for companionship in our lives, it often becomes the most frustrating relationship we know.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). To be sure, while God’s love is perfect, human love is imperfect. Because of this imperfection, despite the deep desire we all have for closeness and intimacy, we often fear that the more someone really gets to know us, the less interested in loving us they may be. So, there is an uncouscious, sometimes conscious decision made in marriage to avoid getting too close to one’s spouse, for fear that we will be found out and rejected.

Every married couple has experienced, or will experience, a natural shift toward a state of alienation and/or separation, unless they intentionally connect with each other through the power of God. While sin separates, the love of God unites people who claim God’s power to be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).

God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16) because it separates people and destroys families. We encourage you to find a God-fearing marriage therapist who can help you and your husband be more in tune with each other and with your children, so you can enjoy what God meant for your good. Marriage research suggests that first marriages have the best chance of making it, and that every subsequent marriage has the potential for a higher rate of divorce.

So trust God to help you change yourself. Talk to someone to save your marriage. And choose to do something each day to communicate value to your husband. Remember, with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).

You and your husband will continue in our prayers.

Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You may communicate with them at or

Willie and Elaine Oliver