A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

The Erroneous Idea that Leaving is “the easy way out”

Lately, I have seen little Facebook posts or blog posts that talk about the tough road of marriage. There have been discussions about how marriage is not a fairy tale . . . how you must stick it out and make it work. How it is worth it in the end. I do not doubt this. Almost everything worth having takes a tremendous amount of work. In fact, I believe this with such fervor that I tell it to my kids. Do you want something? Well, then, you are going to have to work for it. Oftentimes, these well-meaning-marriage-posts will then tack on something at the end to the effect of:

Don’t take the easy way out. Stay in. Fight for your marriage.

I can see that. And, boy . . . would I EVER fight for the marriage I have right now with my amazing husband, David. He is most definitely worth fighting for. I have the utmost respect for my man. And I hope and pray that we would never get to the point where there is even a question of whether or not one of us should stay or go. I have full confidence that that would never happen. We nip things in the bud; we stay on our toes; we do not allow little sins to enter into our marriage and grow and fester. My husband is a loving and model husband and . . . a man of God. For reals. I don’t have to cowboy up with him and press on as though I were in this dreadful thing called “marriage” and I hope that I can just “make it through” because “it will all be worth it in the end.”

Here is the thing . . . when a woman, who has shown signs of following the Lord . . . who has tried and tried and tried . . . . finally leaves an abusive marriage . . . most likely . . . it is not the easy way out. Good heavens! Do you know what she is facing? She faces divorce, court hearings, terrifying child custody issues and scares, loss of income, possibly having to go back to work for the first time in years or decades, the possible loss of support from her own family (depending on whether or not they were raised to believe that “divorce is not an option”) . . . she probably loses his family, she may lose support from her local church, she faces single-motherhood, she wonders if she will ever find love again. She wonders if her self-esteem and/or self image will ever grow from the minuscule dot it has become. She wonders if she will be rejected from church. She is looking at a failed marriage. And those around her are watching the marriage fail. She does not know if she will receive child support or alimony. Listen . . . Whatever small amount of security she may have had in her marriage will now be gone.

Whoever says that leaving a marriage is the “easy way out” . . . has never walked in her shoes; has never lived in her home; has never EVER had to face the kind of gut-wrenching decisions she has had to face for herself and her children.

Let’s not judge; let’s stop saying things like “don’t leave and take the easy way out”. Let’s have some compassion.

42 Comments

  1. joepote01

    Major life changes are almost always extremely difficult and require much strength and courage.

    Starting a marriage and working through all the little issues of learning to share life with a spouse requires strength and courage.

    Choosing to work through major issues in a failing marriage and to go through the difficult process of self-evaluation and change both to become a better person and to build a better relationship requires much strength and courage.

    Choosing to recognize that a marriage has failed beyond the point of recovery and to go through the difficult process of divorce, custody disputes, single parenting, and redefining one’s self-identity requires tremendous strength and courage.

    What choice requires the least courage? Choosing to do nothing…and to give up hope of ever improving…

    Good post, Megan! I did a post a while back titled “Courageous Divorce” that also touches on this topic: Courageous Divorce [Internet Archive link]

    • MeganC

      I will look at that post, Joe! Thank you so much! I love what you said . . . . choosing to do nothing requires the least amount of courage . . . truth.

    • Barnabasintraining

      What choice requires the least courage? Choosing to do nothing…and to give up hope of ever improving…

      This is so true.

    • Brenda R

      Good post Joe and so true.

  2. Brenda R

    There is no easy way in an abusive marriage. There is only what will be best for you and your family. For me, it has been best to leave possessions and income behind and move on.

    • MeganC

      I understand, Brenda. And the choice you made was courageous, indeed. Sometimes, it is not a matter of “what to do” but a matter of “there really is no other choice.”

    • Joe Pote

      “There is no easy way in an abusive marriage.”

      Amen!

  3. Katy

    I ignore people who post things like that.
    I finally unfriended one couple on facebook who were in a completely normal, loving marriage who were constantly preaching about how they have to “work so hard” at their marriage. They had no concept of the difference between “scheduling date night and communication” with “forced to sleep with the devil and try to keep your soul from dying”.

    There are also some poor souls who think that if they make it to their deathbed with the same spouse they started with, no matter how evil and crazy the marriage was, that they will get a special merit badge from Jesus. I think I used to have that idea in my head….it didn’t last though, because you start to daydream about suicide (or murder…) 😦

    • IamMyBeloved's

      I know people who masqueraded under that “we work so hard – but look how good it is”, only to find out that they fought about every statement each one made. It really turned out to be two sick people who were sticking it out and were each sick enough to do it.

      • Just Me

        “forced to sleep with the devil and try to keep your soul from dying”. Katy, I think that is the most perfect choice of words I have ever heard to describe being a Christian who is married to an abuser. How do you teach your children to love the Lord when their father is leading them to the gates of Hell? And the church teaches extreme submission to this person……

    • MeganC

      Brilliant, Katy. I, too, had the merit badge notion in my head. It was a race to the finish line, right? Dead or alive . . . I’m going to make it. 😦

    • Robin M

      This is a perfect description!!! And I’m sure I’m fighting the “merit badge” struggle right now.
      He is being nice again. Over the years, each time I would tie a knot on the old “hope rope” and start swinging, now, after 23 yrs, of this cycle, I look up and there doesn’t seem to be enough rope left to tie anymore knots. And as far as my soul? I’ve been really worried about that lately…it’s far too numb anymore. 😦
      Those “work so hard” posts only work to keep us in a mental and spiritual bondage I fear. That if we don’t hang on, we’re not giving God enough time to work. After all, ALL prayers are answered, “Yes. No. or….not yet.” Whay self condemnation we fall into when we lose sight of the difference between “fighting for a healthy marriage” and “fighting for our soul”

    • AJ

      I copied part of your comment to save in my notes for later. Many, many laters I promise to read it!

      “They had no concept of the difference between “scheduling date night and communication” with “forced to sleep with the devil and try to keep your soul from dying”.

      A friend read this before I got here and sent it to me in a text because she knew, well she just knew. Thanks for saying it out loud.

      • Yeah, AJ, that thing Katy said is so good, I’m gonna put it on our GEMS page. 🙂

  4. Heather 2

    As always, Megan, your words speak what we all know in our lives to be true. Thank you again for your sensitive and genuine words. You bring understanding and hope to many women who struggle with all that they are facing.

    xx God bless you

    • MeganC

      Thank you, Heather 2. xo

  5. Forrest

    Great post, Megan. Leaving is never an easy option. The “easy” option is usually to stay and not rock the boat. It takes great courage to leave when you are a victim of abuse.

  6. Healinginprocess

    Thank you Megan for stating the truth so clearly. Not one of us left our abusive marriages easily. Leaving and divorcing was not easy but was necessary to protect myself and my children.

  7. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  8. IamMyBeloved's

    Thanks Megan, for speaking the truth once again! It goes to the point that unless you have walked in another’s shoes, you should just keep your mouth shut. People who think they have great marriages, who are working so hard to just keep it together – in reality – don’t have great marriages. Great marriages, are ones where Christ is the center and two people live together in marriage to work to please Him. He is the focus and without that, you just have a mess. I’m not saying that there isn’t work to living with another person, but if Christ is truly the center of the Christian’s life, which He should be, and He remains the center of the marriage, then those should be small matters to be worked out. Not the matters of abuse. I think we all get what those “small matters” should look like, so I won’t go into them here.

    Once the marriage turns and you are now living to please the spouse, because they demand that you please them, the focus is taken off of Christ and things get turned upside down, and we all know what happens when you turn a glass of water upside down. It all runs out and is left empty.

    • MeganC

      That is a great analogy, IMB. I remember telling our counselor that I felt like I was constantly “pouring water down a rathole” to fill up my ex’s cup. I was failing to do it and was constantly running on empty. He became my unwilling idol as I tried to do everything I could to “save him”.

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        From “As You Like It” …”or rather bottomless, as fast as you pour affection in, it runs out”

  9. It is a scary decision to leave an abusive marriage. I remember weighing all the choices I would face if I stayed or if I left. I had already been divorced once and was single parent for 6 years before remarrying so I wasn’t going into divorce completely blind. I remember making up a list of bills that I would have to pay on my own without his income and trying to decide what I would have to do in order to pay them. When I did leave I was so scared. I spent 3 days sitting on the couch in my parent’s house watching out the window just waiting for him to show up. I couldn’t close my eyes because I was so scared of him. Thankfully he never came but there was a knock on the door a few weeks later when he had divorce papers served to me. What a relief that was but only temporarily. He dragged my name through mud spreading rumors around town that I was an adulteress and just painted me out to be the bad person in everything. I left because of the abuse, there never was an affair. I lost people whom I thought were close friends because they believed him. They looked at me as if I were on the prowl after their husbands next. The hardest day was the day at court. Thankfully we didn’t have children together so there was no custody battle and I asked for nothing which is what I got. The judge even ruled that I had to return the car that I was driving and was in his name. If it hadn’t of been for my parents support I don’t know what I would have done. They were just thankful that I was out because they saw it coming before I did. I know not everyone is so lucky to have the support of family.

    • MeganC

      Tammy . . . I feel like I could have written your post up there. I felt the same way and took so many of the same losses. The rejection, deception and back-stabbing were almost more than I could take. 😦 So thankful you are safe and cared for. Big hugs.

  10. Just Me

    “Don’t take the easy way out. Stay in. Fight for your marriage.” Great post, Megan. I sometimes wonder what people mean exactly by this statement. Who or what are they fighting when they “fight for their marriage?” Do they not understand the impossible predicament someone is in when the person they are “fighting” for the sake of “saving the marriage” is the person they are married to? We can’t force our spouses to be decent people no matter how hard we fight for it. They’re either going to be of high integrity or they’re not. They’re going to be an abuser or they’re not. They’re going to be an adulterer or they’re not. There’s no amount of fighting for your marriage that’s going to change the other person.

    • Heather 2

      All very true!!!!!

      Am I the only one who reads these comments and feel the need to hold back the self condemnation? It’s as though I am hearing everything that I was taught for so many many years. And it has been a trigger. Amazing!!!!

      Every one of these comments have contained so much truth. I know that when I read them we are all in the same family that no one else can fathom. Others are blind, patronising, and full of head knowledge that prompts them to tell us what we are doing wrong…..It reminds me of the women who have never had children who are “experts” at child rearing and discipline issues.

    • Brenda R

      Amen. You’ve got that right. I can want someone to change all day long. It isn’t going to make it happen. I wonder sometimes if people saying this nonsense think I wanted all of these things to happen in my marriage just for grins and giggles. None of it is what I wanted or expected.

      • Katy

        “fight for your marriage” – JustMe that phrase grates on my nerves, I hadn’t thought deeply about why.. but that’s exactly it. You are in a war with your spouse to save “the marriage” – it’s so ridiculous

        2 examples just for fun! 🙂 because I’m avoiding work right now.

        #1. I had another social media acquaintance (lol) who would post about her and her husband “fighting” for their marriage. about all the counseling, all the personal “hard work” blah blah blah. What was the issue? Well he had a habit of sleeping with prostitutes and was highly abusive. But somehow they “SAVED their marriage!!” (and honestly? I did not trust that the marriage was saved and I felt like vomiting while people were leaving lots of “congratulations on sticking it out!” comments 😦 )

        #2. I heard someone in an actual (for realz) GOOD marriage say that her marriage was “work” only in the sense that it felt like tending a garden. (Very Piper-esque, ha ha) – she just did some occasional weeding and it didn’t feel like drudgery. She said if her marital “work” started feeling like cleaning up a crime scene on a daily basis then she would have to question whether it was “worth it”.

      • Brenda R

        Katy:
        Example 1. Have to wonder how many diseases were brought home and wonder how they were fought. For me this was not a marriage or worth saving.
        Example 2. Did she use a hoe, rake or rotatiller to weed the garden and was he eventually buried and thus needing the crime scene cleanup.
        I’m also avoiding work and have no desire to start back up again.
        Brenda

      • sigh I waste time at work because it sooooo unfulfilling but hey — it’s better than being married to my ex. SILVER LININGS! (I’ll be here all week) ;P

        #1. I didn’t think it was worth saving either, yuck and #2. She talked about gardening like it was a fun activity. So maybe in my world, “working hard on a marriage” should be like getting the lid unscrewed from the moonshine bottle. SO HARD and yet SO WORTH IT
        🙂

      • Brenda R

        Katy, I love gardening and normally I love my job, but right now there is not much to do so it makes it a long day. Digging in the dirt is the ultimate in relaxation and the closest way to get to God in my opinion. After all, that is where He made it all begin. When I read that the first time I was envisioning the not so good marriage and the X being planted in the garden making it into a crime scene. Kind of like a Lifetime movie. But that would most likely just spoil the soil and nothing would grow there again. Why ruin a perfectly good garden? I’ve never tried to open a moonshine bottle, but if it is anything like a pickle jar, I understand completely. Brenda

  11. Child of the One True King

    Amen!

  12. 10 are Free

    This kind of advice from people is partly what kept me trapped for over 20 years to my abusive husband. It used to make me feel guilty…but no more. I have learned that I cannot fight for my marriage on my own. My husband would tell me that he saw me as the enemy, and that’s exactly how he treated me. We were fighting all right….but it was war, it wasn’t two people fighting to save their marriage.
    People seem to think that choosing to become a single mother to 9 children, having almost no income of my own, being forced to leave my church and my kid’s Christian school, now homeschooling 5 children, and facing divorce and possibly losing our home was the “easy” thing. I have been separated from my husband for 14 months. This has been the hardest year of my life in a lot of ways. The worry, the stress, the demands of my children, the lack of money, filing bankruptcy, making life changing decisions when I was never allowed to make any before, being pressured, made to feel guilty, being lied about, having my husband threaten repeatedly to have my children taken from me and put in foster care, being told that it is my sin of unforgiveness and bitterness that is keeping us from reconciling, and I could go on and on and on. Oh yeah…the easy way.

    This has also been one of the best years of my life. Now that I know what it is like to NOT live that way anymore, there is no way, no how, and nothing anyone could say or do that would make me go back. I couldn’t do it to myself, and I couldn’t do it to my children. Even with the craziness that he still brings into our lives, at least crazy isn’t living in our home anymore. We still have a long way to go, but we have found peace, relief, and healing in this last year. There is absolutely nothing that will make me give that up.
    Even when I knew I had to leave, it took me another year and a half to do so because of how hard it was going to be and I could not possibly see how we would make it. I was crippled by my fears. And though I could not see it at the time, I realize it was a lack of faith in God my Father to take care of us. I had become so totally dependent on my husband, and manipulated by his threats, that I gave him more power in my life than I gave to God. I sat one night with a friend who had been in an abusive marriage herself at one time. We talked about how I knew I had to leave, while I kept giving all my reasons and excuses for why I couldn’t. What she said to me finally broke through my fears. She said, “So you aren’t going to do anything, until you are willing to lose everything”. Light bulb moment. Why in the world was I waiting for that? I knew what I had to do and by the next week, I had him out of the home.
    Fight for my marriage? When people say that, they don’t understand that it has went way beyond that. I was in a fight for my sanity, my future, my children’s sanity and futures, and our very survival. I was watching my children shatter in front of me. I saved us all when I walked away from my abusive marriage. It took courage, and strength, and more fight than I thought I had in me, but I am doing it and God has led me every step of the way. My motto has become, “I’m just going to keep walking toward my Father.” I am fighting for myself and my kids now, and I know my Father is proud of me because I am a fighter!

    • Wow, 10 are Free. What a story!

    • Brenda R

      Amen. Your story is inspirational. All I had to get out was me and I found it hard. God bless you and your children. Your strength and love are encouraging. Your children will rise up and call you blessed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    • Barnabasintraining

      “I’m just going to keep walking toward my Father.”

      ^ This.

    • thepersistentwidow

      I read your story twice and both times it gave me goosebumps! So glad you got away, stood up for what is right, and glad that your children have you to protect them from the craziness.
      Your motto is so on target. Like you, I have found that since we left our abuser, life has been like a walk through the wilderness, trying to keep our focus on walking to our Father. Sometimes it is like walking through a blizzard, unable to see where we are going,surrounded by harsh circumstances, but we press on, resolved to not turn back. God has always provided what we needed through his faithfulness. Fight on! I am proud of you, too!

  13. bluesinaminor

    those who accuse us of taking the ‘easy’ way out are the first to tell us the ‘difficulties’ we encounter are self inflicted. they need to make up their minds – its either easy or difficult. In reality, its the most difficult decision one will ever make. None of us entered these marriages planning on leaving if it got a bit tough. Most of us have stayed through all the normal toughness of marriage plus all the abuse. Just arriving at the decision is difficult. and thats before you even start the process of how do i do it, how do i survive.

    • MeganC

      That is a good point, Blue. 😦

      “Those who accuse us of taking the ‘easy’ way out are the first to tell us the ‘difficulties’ we encounter are self inflicted.”

      It is a gross lack of mercy. I wonder if this is how my ex has justified not paying child support for the 16 months? And how my family seems OK with that? I really do wonder if that is their justification . . . “She brought it on herself”. I don’t know. But, I honestly cannot figure out an honorable one for it.

    • yep yep yep!

  14. King'sDaughter

    Love the “we come from a time when something’s broken…” one (Not Really). UGH UGH UGH! Those hurt and it makes me mad… I think, “well, why are you posting this? To brag?”. If you really think about it, what purpose do those posts serve? other than to box up and shame people (the MANY people) who could not “fix it”. Life is not that simple.
    I’ve seen a lot of these facebook posts lately and want to post about it or comment on them, but I’m just not in a place to do that right now. Glad I found this post, Meg! TY!
    On a positive note, one of the incidental blessings of being through “failure” (again, not really) is that the little platitudes that I once would have cheered on and posted an resounding “Ay-Hay-MEN!” on, are now revealed for the smallness and profoundly UN-Christ-like attitude they represent. I AM thankful for that. The thick tomb of cement that encased me has been demolished. I’m FREE! Its a beautiful think to WALK with The Lord instead of being a statue in a religious garden!

  15. Finding Answers

    Forrest commented ……..Leaving is never an easy option. The “easy” option is usually to stay and not rock the boat. It takes great courage to leave when you are a victim of abuse.

    ^That.

    Applied to all relationships.

    Until my walls crumbled almost one year ago, I fought for all the relationships in my life (personally and professionally), without realizing they were abusive.

    On a few occasions, I terminated the relationship, without understanding why I felt the time had come to call it quits.

    (The individuals involved did not go quietly…..)

    Since my walls crumbled, God has been teaching me discernment. He isolated me from past relationships, guides me in learning from the past, and helps me understand the different tactics.

    Leaving is never “the easy way out”. If I had known this many years ago, I might have saved myself a great deal of anguish.

    Instead, I thought staying took courage.

    Now I understand either choice – leaving or staying – may require courage, depending on the quality of the relationship.

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