Monday, January 14, 2013

Can I Leave My Wife for My High School Sweetheart?

Covenant Relationships' Note:

Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at

Pastor Roger Barrier was asked this question on and I felt we should share it with you, our readers.  What do you think?

Dear Roger,

I am a 47 year old male, married for 18 years, with two teenage daughters. I have a 21 year old son with my ex. I married my wife because she was pregnant. While, I did love her in a way I have stayed with her for our daughters … I do not love my wife now, except for the fact she is the mother to my daughters. She is now claiming to possibly have liver cancer.

I did not see my son for 17 years, but he has suddenly come back into my life….as soon as I saw my son's mother, all the love I have felt since we were both in high school came back. We have been spending some time together for about 6 months now. While we both realize this is wrong, I do not want to ever lose her again…. I have loved her my whole life.

Due to our ages, the Army, time apart we never were able to be together for good and that is the great regret in my life. My question is, is it wrong for me to go after this happiness and leave my wife or should I stay because she is sick? I have told her that I don’t love her. I have been sleeping on the couch for almost a year. We have no common interest. We don’t have any sort of affection together. I know loving someone else isn't the way it is supposed to be, but I can't help how I feel.

Name withheld

This is Pastor Roger Barrier's response after the cut.

Dear Name Withheld,

What a shame. I am sorry that things have not worked out with your current wife. I am also grieving for you that you and the love of your life were not able to work things out long ago. Your life obviously would have turned out quite differently.

It is easy now to play the "What If" game. What if we had gotten married right out of high school? What if the Army (and other things) had not kept us apart? What if I had met another "sweet heart" I loved with all my heart and married her and not gotten "trapped" into a marriage I really didn't want?

The corollary to the "What If" game is to look at it like this: "What could have happened, did happen!"

Very seldom do we have the chance for a "do over." That is what I hear you asking for. Unfortunately, I think that in your case, "what could have happened, did happen" (and it can't be undone)." You have to play the cards you've been dealt. Or, perhaps it is more apropos to say, "You must play the cards you dealt yourself."

I don't want to sound harsh. You are not alone. I get asked questions like yours quite frequently. In some cases it is time to pick up the pieces and start over. In others, it is not.

Unfortunately, I don't see starting over as a legitimate nor honorable option for you.

Since your wife is sick with liver cancer (although there seems to be some doubt about this) I don't see how you can leave her in a time of need.

I see no grounds for you to break your marriage vows (Matthew 5:32).

I imagine that you're saying to yourself, "Your answer is not at all what I wanted to hear!" My response is, "I really am sorry."

I am assuming that you are a Christian; and, therefore, if you choose to follow my advice (Biblically based on Ephesians 5:20-33), you're perhaps asking, "What am I to do?"

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