Desertion in any form is cruel, but abandonment in marriage is especially hurtful. When couples fall out of love emotions can run high; and love can quickly turn to hate. Couples in crisis might resort to drastic measures to end bad relationships; some may even desert a husband or wife in an attempt to escape more conflict or start anew in another place or with another person. Understandable is the case where a spouse feels compelled to flee because of physical, mental or sexual abuse; but when a former mate deserts loved ones with little regard for their well being, the act is shameful. "But if any provide not for this own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (I Timothy 5:8).
Abandonment in marriage may occur frequently but is seldom discussed. Tales of husbands or wives coming home to empty houses to discover the furnishings gone and the bank account wiped out are common. The ramifications of desertion may be devastating on the husband or wife who is left behind. Abandoned spouses must undergo the emotional trauma and shame of rejection, the pain of losing a mate through betrayal and deceit, and the economic toll of having to start all over again alone. Deep depression, suicidal thoughts, uncontrolled anger or crying, sleeplessness, or nervous disorders may all result from abandonment in marriage. "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife" ( I Corinthians 7:10). The first reaction may be disbelief that the husband or wife who shared a home for years could resort to such drastic measures and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting spouse. But economic pressures, infidelity, unresolved anger, or deep seated bitterness can fester beneath the surface of the marriage relationship. When husbands and wives fail to resolve differences the outcome can be unacceptable behaviors or action contrary to a spouse's character.
An important consideration for deserted spouses is how to continue living when abandonment in marriage occurs. Putting the pieces of a life broken through desertion requires some sober thinking. Addressing financial matters, such as joint bank accounts, must be a priority. Deserted spouses should contact the bank or financial institution immediately to ensure a measure of financial stability. Banks may have policies or regulations that will dictate how finances in cases of abandonment are handled. A wise decision might be to close joint accounts and open new ones after outstanding checks have cleared. Safe deposit boxes to which a former spouse has access should also be examined to determine if contents have been withdrawn. Changing the lock on a safety deposit box and removing a spouse's name from bank records might also be advisable. Abandoned husbands and wives should also contact brokers about shared investments like stocks, bonds or certificates of deposit. Safeguarding assets will be crucial to continuing life alone.
Quite often, abandonment in marriage can affect whether a husband or wife can continue living in the family home. If the abuser was the primary breadwinner, the remaining spouse may not be able to keep up mortgage payments or manage the household finances. Moving to a more affordable home or living temporarily with family or friends may be options. In extreme hardship cases, homelessness could result. A forsaken spouse should contact the bank or lien holder carrying the home mortgage to see assess whether payment arrangements can be made to avoid default or foreclosure. Due to the U.S. foreclosure crisis, banks offer some creative financing and occupancy options to bail out troubled homeowners. Most lenders will not issue foreclosure notices until homeowners are at least three months in arrears. During that 90-day period, victims of abandonment in marriage may be able to arrange financing or obtain other living quarters. Thrift stores, yard sales, or rent-to-own stores offer low-budget options for replacing furnishings or appliances taken by an irate spouse.
While making financial and living arrangements is relatively easy, working through the emotional trauma of abandonment in marriage is a lengthier and more difficult process. Husbands and wives undergoing the aftermath of a marital crisis need spiritual counseling to help heal a broken heart. "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him. The Lord is their strength, and He is the saving strength of His anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever" (Psalm 28:7).
Individuals with a strong belief in Jesus Christ will need to draw on their faith to be sustained through the dark days of recovery from abandonment in marriage. Deserted spouses should try to find a Bible-teaching church that provides nurturing for divorced or separated believers. The road to restoration will require forgiveness for a former mate, constant prayer, and a steady diet of the Word of God to rebuild confidence and empower those who are hurting to go on. Forgiving the offender helps expedite the healing process, as bitterness or resentment begin to fade away. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: . . . A time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. . . He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8, and 11). The God of all grace is able to restore the joy and the hope lost through abandonment, making all things beautiful in His time.