Someone recently asked the following question in a comment:
Wanted to ask you a question regarding a comment made in that other blog that linked to you (Jan. 9). I know that you consider it a Biblical precept to submit to your husband. But what about the point he other blogger made - what if a woman's husband really is a supreme jerk (she used a less polite word for it)? I'm honestly interested. what would you sugget to the woman who may try or want to submit in principle but whose husband is selfish, mean, abusive, bad father etc., etc. (you can think of lots of adjectives). I'm glad to see that your husband does not appear to be any of these things, but I'm sure you know that these things do happend - and what is a woman's recourse then if she has multiple children, has never worked outside the home and has a similar worldview to you?
This is a question I have been asked a handful of other times, so I thought I'd address it in a post of its own.
First of all, chances are that the "victim" in this situation made their own bed, i.e. married that person out of their own free will. I'm not trying to play a blame game here, but choosing the right spouse is our own responsibility. It is not the duty of the spouse to live up to our fairytale expectations of them. My mother always taught me to marry someone I loved the way they were, because they were not going to change as a result of marriage - what you see is what you get. I think women especially have a tendency to feel pity for some loser of a guy and marry him in hopes of reforming him. It's a lost cause - people are who they are. Disillusioned, these women then despise that same man, when they would easily be able to overlook those same faults in others.
Which brings up my next point - many times, we perceive people the way we want to perceive them. For instance, take a child throwing a screaming fit in the store, demanding this or that. To a random onlooker, the child might just appear like another undisciplined brat. But to the mother, who loves her child and is therefore more willing to look past his behavior, he might just be an overtired little boy who stayed up too late the night before, or didn't have a proper meal all day, or whatever other reason may have helped bring on this tantrum. If nothing else, she will blame herself for his behavior, much more than the child. When you love someone, you are willing to overlook their faults and shortcomings, and excuse them.
What I am trying to say is this - what one woman calls a jerk, may at another time have been someone she loved. Or he may be someone that another woman (who doesn't live with him) would consider lovable. The way we perceive people is the way we want to perceive them. One could just as easily will oneself into thinking highly of one's spouse and children. It is our own choice to focus on the negative, or the positive attributes.
The reality of the matter is that we all have a tendency to piecemeal our ideal spouses. We want a husband who fixes stuff around the house like husband A, is considerate like husband B, looks like husband C, makes as much money as husband D, fathers like husband E, and so on - you get the idea. Nevermind the fact that husbands A-E all have different faults from one another, none of which we would want to put up with any more than the faults of our own spouse. Nobody could live up to such unrealistic expectations, therefore, disappointment is inevitable. This disappointment will turn into bitterness, anger, and eventually hatred for that "jerk" husband. It is really just a matter of how we look at him. I'm pretty sure that the mother of this "bad husband" would look at that same man (her son) and think very different of him - yet it's the same person. Choosing to love him makes all the difference.
Besides all that, my personal observation has been that those who complain about their spouses all the time, or think to themselves what a jerk he is, really are not a pleasant person to be around themselves. Maybe it's them who is the problem?
Just hypothetically, let's assume that a sweet, godly lady marries a nice godly guy. After they are married, completely out of the blue, he changes personalities and turns out to be a complete jerk. What should she do? Does she have any "recourse"?
Based on the Bible, I believe that divorce is always wrong, whether or not the wife is able to survive on her own financially, whether or not there are children involved, etc.
Even if the Bible didn't spell that out so clearly, looking around at divorced homes I would have to come to the conclusion that a bad spouse is still better than a divorce. Divorcees suffer the emotional consequences of a divorce for a lifetime, and their children usually suffer even more. I have seen this countless times in people I have come into contact with.
There are several "mommy blogs" I used to read a few years ago, and when I visited them again a year or two after forgetting about them, lo and behold, they were in the midst of a divorce, or just through one. None of the cases I am thinking about right now were based on something egregious like adultery (which would still not make a divorce right), but were rather of the "he/she is a jerk and I'm sick of them"-kind. Reading about the impact these divorces have on everyone's sanity, chiefly that of the children, is so sad I never can go back to those blogs. I have to ask myself - was it really worth it? So your husband was a jerk because he didn't spend enough time with the kids, wasn't funny and romantic, or bought birthday/anniversary gifts at the gas station after remembering the big day at the last minute - but why would you trade that for him never spending time with the kids, never doing anything romantic for you, and never again giving you any gifts? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. To top it all off, the children become depressed, suicidal, medicated, aggressive, withdrawn, and will grow up to be every bit like their parents when all is said and done, so for all that you still have to put up with all the faults you were hoping to get away from. Now you don't just have to feel bad because of the divorce, but you can forever beat yourself up about having done this to your children.
Unlike merchandise, spouses cannot be returned for store credit. Getting a divorce used to be as unthinkable as giving your children up for adoption because you are sick of putting up with them. It's just wrong, no matter how bad they are.
The only Biblical recourse for a horrible marriage, or any marriage for that matter, is death. If your husband is an abusive, mean, hateful, fill-in-the-blank jerk in spite of you doing your best as a wife, God can kill him whenever He wants to. If he is still alive, God must want you to still be married to him. A wife could pray and fast for her husband/marriage, and for the kids to turn out right in spite of marital problems. If nothing else, it will be a great lesson for the kids, who hopefully will grow up and make wiser and more careful choices regarding their future spouse, rather than learning that marriage can be dissolved at a whim.