My husband and I have difficulty managing our conflicts. We knew marriage would be difficult. Ours, however, has turned out to be much more difficult than either of us anticipated. Sometimes our anger spills out in front of the children. Can you share something to help us do a better job of dealing with our differences? —Diane, Honolulu, Hawaii
Long Distance Relationships
by Willie and Elaine Oliver
About three years ago I went to work in another country because the economic situation at home was not very promising. My husband of seven years and our two children—six and four years of age—remained at home, since the country where I emigrated does not allow complete families to make the move. I am beginning to feel this may not be the best arrangement for my family and me. What do you think?
God created marriage for husbands and wives to live and stay together. In fact, most marriage vows include the words “to have and to hold from this day forward ‘til death do us part.” Being together and staying together seems to be the reason most couples get married.
In the Bible the apostle Paul wrote: “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2, ESV ). In verse 5 of the same chapter, the counsel continues: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
If we take the counsel of the Bible seriously, we would have to agree that living away from one’s spouse for any significant period of time is against God’s counsel for married people. Unless, of course, one is devoting oneself to prayer the entire time one is away from one’s spouse.
In our travels we have met many individuals in various parts of the world who have left their families for extended periods of time to improve their financial circumstances. To date we have not met one person who feels the sacrifice has been worthwhile.
A woman who had been away from her husband and children for 15 years told us, “My children don’t even know who I am. They are happy for the clothes and toys I send them, but they don’t even want to speak to me on the phone when I call.” By the way, she didn’t say anything about her husband. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to know, as was pointed out by the text in 1 Corinthians 7, that her husband is probably not living his life on hold until she decides to come back.
We encourage you to have a serious conversation with your husband based on your values, and determine if money is more important to your family than your presence. You may also want to seriously consider what kind of relationship you will have with your children, who are growing up without your daily presence and influence.
As you can see by our response, we don’t believe being away from your family for an extended period of time is a good idea, even if it means additional income for your family. However, this is a decision you and your family have to make together. We are praying for you.
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 at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You may correspond with them at family.adventist.org.
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.