My Jehovah’s Witness husband has really hurt me. What can I do?

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.:MY JEHOVAH’S WITNESS HUSBAND HAS REALLY HURT ME. WHAT CAN I DO?

“My husband has been a Jehovah’s Witness for 14 years. I am not a Jehovah’s Witness, but I have been studying with them. We have been married for seven years, but I just found out that he has been seeing another lady for over a year now and has been unfaithful to me. He told me that he has given his word to Jehovah that his relationship with her is finished, but I’m not confident that it really is.  He is so secretive with his mobile phone that I often feel like I am in bed with a stranger.  He is a heavy drinker and even acts aggressive towards me, even when there isn’t anything I can think of that provoked him. What can I do to?  I love my husband, but I am afraid of being hurt all over again.”

Dear friend,

We are so sorry to hear about your husband who is in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and treating you this way.  It sounds like you have a lot more going on in your marriage than just the fact that he is a Jehovah’s Witness.  You do have a reason to fear that you might be hurt again, because marriage problems like this do not go away with just a simple verbal commitment.  Unless the root sin, lust, and distrust issues that contributed to his vulnerability with this other lady are properly addressed and new boundaries are setup in your marriage, you will find it very difficult (if not impossible) to get over the hurt, distrust and fear issues that you now have in your relationship. If you are able to view this Internet video from Marriage Builders, you really need to look at it:

As you probably know from your studies with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they would not support the way your husband has been treating you. The Witness elders may even be willing to speak with him to try to get him to act in a Christian way toward you.  Also, because the Bible teaches that a Christian should not divorce an unbelieving spouse (except for the case of fornication), they would also likely support your marriage by discouraging him from filing for a divorce, although they may agree that you have biblical grounds for this.

However, Jehovah’s Witness elders are not trained, professional marriage counselors. They lack the necessary skills to effectively coach a struggling relationship with the power of God’s Spirit because Watchtower doctrine denies New Covenant privileges to the majority of its members and downplays the value of outside, professional help. Thus, in most of the cases that we have seen, rarely has the counsel from Jehovah’s Witness elders been effective to overcome serious marriage difficulties.   In view of this, here are a few steps you can take:

1. Seek the help of a qualified, professional marriage counselor. If you can get your husband to attend the counseling sessions with you, that would be most effective, but if not, at least you can go and learn what resources are available to you so that you can have the strength to establish boundaries that will help protect you against his abusive tactics.  In the past, Jehovah’s Witnesses discouraged any type of non-Jehovah’s Witness professional help, so if your husband refuses to go with you to counseling sessions, this may be a factor, but don’t let that discourage you from seeking qualified help yourself.

2. Read books and website articles to guide you and your husband in developing proper boundaries of protection in your marriage. Being a God-honoring submissive wife does not mean that you need to be a doormat for your husband to step on.  When Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), it was in the context ignoring an insult, not submitting to physical abuse. ** Although you have biblical grounds to pursue a divorce because your husband has been unfaithful to you, this is not God’s heart for marriage and with the proper help and commitment of both you and your spouse to work toward reconciliation and healing, trust may be restored to your relationship.  The following books may prove most helpful to you. You can purchase them online at amazon.com or your local bookstore:

    • Boundaries in Marriage, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend – This book helps you understand the hurts and betrayals in your marriage and teaches you effective tools to help you and your spouse move beyond these barriers, into a healthy relationship of mutual love, respect and intimacy.
    • Marriage Builders Website - www.marriagebuilders.com - This is a great website that has many FREE articles for couples who are struggling in their marriage with just about anything. This article will also be helpful for you: “How to survive Infidelity”on this website.
    • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them, Paul Hegstrom, PHD – If you suspect that your husband has crossed the line into physical and emotional abuse, this book is for you.  It identifies the power and control methods of abusers and discusses how to put a stop to these patterns of destructive anger that destroy many families.
    • Love Must be Tough, Dr. James Dobson – This book provides excellent advice on marriage and what to do in an abusive relationship.

3. Read marriage enrichment books.   In addition to reading books on establishing proper boundaries, you and your husband would also benefit from a few marriage enrichment books and articles as well. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs – This book identifies the key needs of each spouse, why each reacts negatively, when these needs go unmet and what you can do to resolve conflict quickly and easily and in biblical way.
    • For Women Only – What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, Shaunti Fendhahn

If you can get your husband to read, these two books might be helpful for him as well:

    • The Anger Workbook, Les Carter, Ph.D., Frank Minirth, M.D. – A 13-Step Interactive plan to help one understand how unmet needs can feed anger, how other emotions can influence anger, and how to find healthy ways to express and control anger.
    • For Men Only – A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women, Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

4. Understand how Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and policies affect your marriage, and what you can do about them.  These are a few of the articles on our website that you may find helpful:

bullets My husband just joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I feel like our marriage is falling apart. What can I do?

bullets I’m engaged to marry a Jehovah’s Witnesses. What would be the pros and cons if I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness?

bullets ARTICLE FOR YOUR MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: I’m a licensed counselor and my client is a Jehovah’s Witness. What do I need to know about this religion to be effective in helping this person?

bullets MORE Jehovah’s Witnesses Dating and Marriage Questions Answered

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** A slap on the check in the first century was a culturally accepted form of insulting someone, and was not considered physical abuse.

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