Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have a complex question for you, but you might have a simple answer. My husband walked out on me after 15 years of marriage. We knew our relationship was in trouble and we sought counseling both inside and outside the church. We are a Christian family and are grounded in our beliefs. I did not believe in divorce, but filed for divorce after my husband abandoned our two small kids and me.
I didn’t let the divorce make me bitter and encouraged my husband to have a relationship with our kids. The struggle was hard initially, but after a year I started to grow closer to Christ and learned to accept being a single mother. I cried in secrecy and worshipped in the open.
Right when I found myself in a good place and at peace, my ex husband returned and asked to reconcile. I am at a loss for words and feelings. I love him, but not in the dedicated way that I once did. He is in the church and has grown closer to the Lord. He says that he has changed, but I am not sure what to do. Should I work toward reconciliation after being abandoned by my husband?
I want to do what pleases Christ not only for me but also for my family.
Guarding My Heart
Dear Guarding My Heart,
Your question is definitely complex and unfortunately I do not have a simple answer. However, I would encourage you to follow your heart. I say this because you should not try to fool yourself to mentally accept what your heart cannot handle.
Your decision has to be balanced between intellect and emotional intelligence. Our intellect allows us to make sound decisions and our emotional intelligence allows us to recognize and manage our own emotions. I am discussing intellect and emotional intelligence because people often fail to see how both impact our decision-making process. What we think and feel does not always align. And when it comes to matters of the heart we often allow our intellect to be distorted.
What we think and feel does not always align.
You stated that you still love your ex-husband, but not in the dedicated way that you once did. I think that you should focus on this problem area before you entertain anything else. You probably will never be able to have pure love for your ex-husband again, but this does not mean that you cannot love him differently.
Loving him differently might mean that you view him as a sinner who has fell short of your approval. Seeing him in this manner might help you gain a better understanding of how God views all of us. When we fall short he does not change his love for us, but he does expect us to repent. I cannot tell you if your husband is a changed man, but he appears to be regretful man.
Pray to God and ask him to show you who your ex-husband is. Also, do not feel pressured to please Christ because He knows the condition of your heart. You have to learn to be one with Christ and yourself before you can become one with your ex-husband again.
As you think through this dilemma please return to therapy. I believe that you have to combine psychology and theology in order to approach your situation with a balanced perspective.
Historically speaking, theology and psychology have contradicting approaches to addressing and human healing emotional wounds. Theology is the study of religious faith, practice, and experience or the study of God and God’s relation to the world. Theology focuses on spiritual faculties (Faith, Hope, Reverence, Prayer and Worship). Psychology on the other hand, is a natural and social science that deals with the relational aspects of being human. Psychology focuses on reasoning and emotions.
Balancing how you process your situation will enable you to come up with an answer that works best for you. As long as you align your mind with your heart you will find and maintain peace with or without your ex-husband in your life.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.