The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
Getting Past the Past
Real Family Talk
Wille and Elaine Oliver
What to do when a man is married to a woman who has a history of sexual abuse? How would you show this woman total love and security?
Brokenness is a reality of being a part of the human family. Since our ancestors—Adam and Eve—sinned, we’ve all borne the marks of their legacy in some tangible way. To be sure, many have experienced greater levels of dysfunction than others. However, we all need the saving and transforming grace of Jesus in our lives to be successful in all our relationships.
We are pained to hear about the sexual abuse that took place in the situation you describe, and what this may mean for this marriage relationship. However, we are pleased how you worded the question, giving us an opportunity to respond in a way that can make this relationship viable.
David’s heartfelt prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10, ESV), serves as the cleansing power of God in one’s mind to develop the right attitude and thoughts about one’s wife in this predicament. This will give a husband the capacity to relate to his wife with compassion and love, without which little will be accomplished to make this marriage meaningful and formidable. This prayer will also help a husband let go of any anger or unforgiving spirit toward his wife about something over which she had no control.
Our favorite New Testament writer, the apostle Paul, also shares crucial counsel essential to convey a sense of total commitment that fosters security in marriage: “Love is patient and kind. . . . It is not arrogant or rude. . . . It is not irritable or resentful. . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, 7, 8, ESV).
What comes to mind after reading this passage are the words usually found in marriage vows that say: “To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her so long as you both shall live.”
Of course, with a case such as the one you have presented, in addition to using the Bible to give this husband the right frame of mind and attitude towards his wife, we suggest engaging the services of a competent Christian counselor, one who has had extensive experience with these types of cases in order to help the wife, and the husband, process the emotional damage she has endured.
You will continue to be in our prayers as you trust God for spiritual fortitude to navigate these very challenging waters in marriage, believing that with God all things are possible.
Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister 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 contact them at Family.Adventist.org or HopeTV.org/realfamilytalk.