49 - Should I wait on him forever or can I divorce him?
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49. Dear Dr. Smith,
I have been separated from my husband for the past ten year. He migrated in search of job opportunities. However, he has never returned, his calls are infrequent and he gives little or no financial support. He says he is neither going to school nor working, but refused to come back home. What should I do? I have my needs, not just financial but emotional, should I wait on him forever or can I divorce him and go on with my life?


Dear Separated Wife,

I am not insensitive to the pain and anguish you are experiencing, and I pray that God will give you the strength you need for this challenge. Even though you did not indicate, my assumption is that you are a faithful member in your Church, hence the dilemma. If I am correct, then please print off my response below and take it to your pastor and or head elder.


Dear Pastor/Head Elder,

In response to the question that your member asked me, I am writing to you and admonishing you to care enough and help her. Kindly consider the following steps:

Please sit with this sister and have an in depth conversation regarding the issue at stake.

Investigate the legitimacy of her claim. 

Through your network of friends and families that are living where her husband is residing, seek to find out his present condition.

See if he is working, studying, have other children or re-married.

If contact is made and he has moved on with his life with another family, then this woman is free to do the same. Affirm any such desires she might have.

If he has not re-married, encourage him to return to his family

If he refused counsel and will not return to his family, discuss the matter with the elders of the Church, and then take it to the Church board.

The Church board should take action, and grant the woman permission to move on with her life. (Ten years of abandonment is a mighty long time)

Now Pastor/Elder, you might be wondering if I have biblical grounds for such recommendations. Well, Paul’s counsel in I Cor 7: 15 says, “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”

“But he is a believer!” You may say. Well, not in the true sense of a believer. A believer in Christ cannot abandon his family. A believer cannot fail to support his family. A believer cannot fail to render unto his wife due benevolence. A believer cannot defraud his spouse from her conjugal rights. A believer cannot refuse wise counsel form the Pastor/Elders. That is why Matthew warns, “but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” (Matt 18:17) I am not advocating easy divorce, I am merely empowering the Church to protect God’s heritage.
May God grant you to courage to change the things you can.
Dr. Smith