Real Family Talk: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Willie and Elaine Oliver
Real Family Talk: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?
Woman praying in meadow at sunset with gradient

Does God expect me to stay married to a drug addict? My husband is one, and I’m sometimes afraid for my life and for the lives of our children when he becomes violent.

We are very sorry to hear about your grave situation. We don’t pretend to know how serious this reality is for you and your children. Most critical in addressing these kinds of experiences is to make sure that you and your children are safe, either with relatives or transitionally in a shelter that handles these kinds of matters. Such programs usually provide the professional support you and your children need, as well as offer referrals for your husband to get the help his condition requires.

While marriage is God’s idea, what you have described is far from the ideal He envisioned when He performed the first marriage in Eden.

The Bible describes a series of events that took place on the sixth day of Creation Week, culminating with the amazing story of the first human wedding:

“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ . . . And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. . . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:18, 21, 22, 24).

Everything God asks us to do is either to help save us, or to help save someone else.

“After a long list of things God made during Creation Week and called good or very good, God finds something in the middle of His creation and identifies as not good; the reality of a man (humanity) being alone. Then in Genesis 2:24, the word joined underscores the close harmony that should exist in marriage.”*

Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24, and accentuated the permanence of marriage by stating: “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 apostle Paul further illustrates the seriousness of marriage, getting even closer to your question, when he wrote: “And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband” (1 Cor. 7:13, 14).

Finally, to clarify when divorce may be possible, Jesus declared: “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except for sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 5:23).

Indeed, everything God asks us to do is either to help save us, or to help save someone else. And although the situation you have described is far from what God intended, He has promised to supply all your needs if you trust Him (Phil. 4:19).

Our counsel: encourage your husband to get into a detox program. Give him your emotional support, and pray for God to perform a miracle in his life. Also, avail yourself of the prayers of loved ones and friends who are willing to assist you through this difficult journey. We will also be praying for you.

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

Elaine Oliver, MA, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at or at

*Andrews Study Bible Notes. Andrews University Press (Berrien Springs, MI).

Willie and Elaine Oliver