Dear Dr. Smith,
I met a friend who is studying to be a pastor. He is married with young children but has a serious problem - his wife is physically and emotionally abusing him and his children. He walks around with visible bruises but lies about them and comes to classes exhausted from arguing all night. He has only confided in me and one other friend, and is terrified of mentioning this to anyone else because he is afraid of losing his career and damaging his family. He has tried to go to therapy outside of the church system but to no avail. His friends and I have experienced his wife's anger, as she has followed us when we are all together and embarrassed him in public several times in front of us. She has also called each of us threatening us. Sometimes he says no to going to class events or to dinner with us because he is terrified of an argument or fight when he returns home.
It breaks my heart to see my friend this way because he is an honest man and really loves the Lord, but he is clearly suffering. What more can he do? What advice do you have for him or how can we support him? Please help, it's so hard to see someone hurt like this.
I read your concern and wondered why are you so heavily invested in this man’s private life. I can understand a problem between a husband and a wife, but that is their problem not yours. Why are you so committed? You keep saying "my friend", he is someone's husband and that is stronger that your "apparent" friendship. The Bible says, "for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, not to "his friend". You, therefore, need to keep out of his marriage and let him go solve his marital problems with his wife, he is not a baby he is a man. You are not a professional counselor so why are you listening to and counseling him?
You are asking what advise I have for him? None to give you! Simply put, if he has a problem in his marriage, he needs to reach out himself. He is the one having the problem and he should do something about it. He is married; you can’t be his advocate regardless of how close you thing you are to him. His marriage is a sacred institution and you should not be triangulated in it. As a matter of fact, it is quite possible that most of what he is telling you might not be true, he could be doing this to gain your sympathy.
I believe the reason the wife cursed him out in your presence is because she thinks that you are intruding and meddling, and frankly speaking, she might be right. Cut your so call "friendship" with him. Let him stop telling you his marital problems, if he is studying to become a minister, he ought to known better, besides, if he cant find professional help then he needs to fast and pray and take it to the Lord in prayer. If you should continue along this so called friendship path, before long his marriage might be ruined. I have seen this happened too often and I hope you have the spiritual resolve to avoid it. I pray you will accept my counsel and walk away from this relationship and let him go and work things out with his wife.
I will be praying for him, his family and you as well.