106 Should I marry her or leave her?
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Dear Dr. Smith,

My question is: Should I marry her or leave her?
 
Details:
I was born in the SDA Church but did drift away from when I was 18 until I was 30. I am 32 now. I met a girl when I was 23 and did have an earthly relationship with her. We traveled the world, lived together and partied a lot. We had fun all the time. Upon my baptism at age 30, I ceased my drug use, alcohol consumption, use of cigarettes, and all the partying. However, we did continue to have sexual relations, my biggest mistake.

We argued a lot. She complained that I was now boring and contemplated breaking up several times. She moved back with her parents and I bought a house. She turned up pregnant. She moved in during her pregnancy so she can be emotionally stable plus her living conditions were poor where she was living. I made it clear that my family was going to live the Christian life and if she wanted to have a family with me she had to make an effort to learn the Christian life and make a decision. We stopped the sexual relations while she was pregnant.

She comes with me to church every Saturday and just goes through the motions because she knows that’s what I want. It’s been 14 months that we’re going to church together but she’s not ready to make a decision for Christ. How long should I wait? She thinks I am with another girl because we were so sexually active before and now it’s pure abstinence. She still wishes we were living the life from when we first met. She blames me for changing.

Our son is now 5 months and I would like to see him raised with Christian values. We disagree on several issues: i.e.: no Halloween, baby baptism, watching T.V. on Saturdays, a Christian education for the baby, no unclean food, pork, lobster, music, etc. All important issues to raise the baby right. I am no saint and I have my flaws too. Big time. But I also need someone to help me when I fall not someone to encourage un-Christ like behaviors. I can say I love her and she says she loves me.
 
What can you suggest?
 
1.    Continue living with her and living by example and hope she follows suit someday? (and let the Holy Spirit work on her)
2.    Leave her on the basis of unequally yoked? And look for someone who wants to live a Christ like life. Legal matters will be involved
3.    Go to marriage counseling with the end result of marriage?
 
 
Sincerely,
JFM
 
 
Dear JFM,
You have provided me with one of my biggest puzzles in marital relationships. There are no easy answers and no easy way out. You have done an excellent job in explaining the presenting problems, the only thing, I am only hearing your side of the story. That makes my task even more difficult. But since I only have your side, I am forced to respond accordingly.

Looking at the three options you gave, I would say option three is the more practical and Christ like way to approach the problem. I think you both should go for marriage counseling with the hope of getting married. During the counseling you both may agree that marriage is not the best thing to enter into and you may be able to work out some amicable agreement as to how to conclude the relationship. On the other hand, the counsel may create the change that is necessary for a healthy relationship. You will never know until you try.

Option one is not a good option if you are thinking of living together but not married. Co-habitation or friends with benefits is un-biblical and no matter how hard you try, eventually you will give in and it will become a sexual relationship again. Before you know it, you will be back to you old ways of living, forgetting the peace you are trying to embrace. Even though you will be trying to live by example and hope that she will follow, it is easier said than done. Besides, the fact that you are now baptized, it is against the principles of your Church and the word of God to be living together and you are not married.
 
Option 2 is cruel at best, if you did not first try to get professional help. Unless of course, she refuses to go for the counseling. Several factors should be brought into play as to why you should not just end the relationship:
1.    You chose her when you did not know Christ, not her fault
2.    She has spent years with you, investing into the relationship
3.    You both are parents to a child
4.    Your change of lifestyle is fast, sudden and shocking to her
5.    You are now asking her to love someone she does not know and to make changes she does not understand or maybe not even
care for
6.    The symbiotic relationship between you both is strong
7.    She is someone you may ultimately lead to Christ
My immediate responses to you your many questions are:
1.    Try and work on the relationship
2.    Don’t use religion as a sledge hammer, but an instrument of love
3.    Encourage her to join you in professional counseling
4.    Help her to see the grace of God more than the law of God
5.    If she refuse to work with you, but rather stay with her lifestyle
6.    Then, you should refrain from marrying her
7.    Do not get into any other relationship for now
8.    Try to find your own space and peace

May God grant you the wisdom to do the right thing, His grace to keep you strong and the blessings to make everything work out the best possible way. Thanks for reaching out to me.

Dr. Smith
For more information about Dr. Smith's services go to www.familyfixers.org