Overview: This is Myth 13 of 27 Myths about divorce that aren't likely to be true of committed Christians who love God and take their faith seriously. These messages make us worry if we're pleasing God. They contain little accusations that our motives aren't right. They make us second-guess ourselves when we try to get ourselves and our children to safety. Many of us have heard these messages all our lives and wanted to avoid them.  So although these myths may be true for people who are selfish or immature, they aren't true for a person who invested their heart and soul into the relationship, even when the other person didn't.  See all the myths on one page. See the next myth.

MYTH: The person who files for divorce caused the divorce.

TRUTH: The person who betrays, abuses, and breaks the vows is the one who caused the divorce.

“Divorce is not the innocent party ending a marriage. Divorce is the innocent party obtaining legal recognition that the guilty party has destroyed the marriage.”
—Rebecca VanDoodewaard [1]

Many people live with this misconception. They believe that only an unfaithful or badly behaving spouse wants to get out of the marriage and file for divorce.

The reality is often the reverse: the cheating, addicted, or abusive spouse wants to stay with the other spouse as long as they can benefit from it.

The lying, cheating, selfish, or abusive spouse wants the good spouse to earn the money, pay bills, make the food, clean the house, do the laundry, care for the children, help with homework, support them emotionally, and offer them a warm bed. Because of this, often the bad spouse will not leave. In fact, many abusive spouses fight to block or delay the divorce by quoting Bible verses at the victim, telling them they cannot divorce.

This is common in abusive relationships.

Even after the divorce is filed, the abuser refuses to discuss custody, living arrangements, money, and options on how to divide the assets. They don’t cooperate. They ignore the attorney’s letters. They make unreasonable demands, or they go silent and make no counteroffer at all.

Often the cheating or abusive spouse is not loving, honoring, and cherishing

rather, they are leeching, disrespecting, and exploiting.

It’s a one-way street, with one spouse sacrificing their health and wellbeing, bending over backwards to fix the marriage and making life as stress-free as possible; and the badly behaving spouse doing all the taking (though they often tell friends they are doing a lot). What selfish person wouldn’t want a one-way relationship?

But this is human nature unchecked. We all start out this way as toddlers, taking without giving back, thinking primarily of ourselves and our own interests.

In an adult, however, that behavior is not acceptable. And it has disastrous, harmful consequences to families and partners.

To let someone’s sin nature run rampant, unchecked, is not loving.

    • —Love says, "No."
    • —Love says, "You may not treat me this way."
    • —Love sets consequences for bad behavior.
    • —Love says, "I won't cover up for your sin and enable you to sin even more."
    • —Love says, "No, I won't lie for you."

Many abusive, cheating, and even indifferent spouses do not cooperate with or listen to the abused spouse’s protests and needs. They will not stop unless you force them out of your life. They may try to block the legal process of divorce by refusing to discuss the terms. And ironically, they love to quote Bible verses in an attempt to suggest you are the one sinning by divorcing them.

So, for some women (and, more rarely, men), bifurcating the divorce (ending the marriage now, and figuring out the financial terms later) is the only way they can get away and force their spouse to face the truth:

The marriage is over, and there’s nothing you can do to force us to stay together.

(Note: Ask your own attorney about bifurcation if you have a spouse who stonewalls; professional legal advice is outside the scope of this blog.)


1   Rebecca VanDoodewaard, “A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce,” Gentle Reformation (7/20/17), accessed 6/6/19, https://gentlereformation.com/2017/07/20/a-high-view-of-marriageincludes-divorce/.

Are you going through a life-saving divorce? I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." Just click the link and ANSWER the 3 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it. Supporters and people helpers are also welcome.  I’ve written a book about spiritual abuse and divorce for Christians. Also, sign up for my email list below.



Start Here



Does God Hate Divorce? He May Hate Divorce, But He Hates Abuse & Betrayal More!


Physical and Emotional Abuse & Infidelity


God Allows Divorce to Protect Victims


How to Find a Good Supportive Church


What If My Pastor Says It Would Be Wrong to Get Divorced for Abuse?



Divorce Saves Lives: The Surprising (Wonderful!) Truth About Divorce Nobody Told You

Will I Ever Find Love Again? Dating After Divorce: Good News

Finding Happiness and Health After Divorce


Thriving After Divorce: These Christians Tell their Stories

Self-Doubt, Second-Guessing Ourselves, and Gaslighting


Children and Divorce: Researchers Give Hope


High Conflict Divorce and Parenting


Recommended Reading List and Free Resources for Christians and Other People of Faith


Common Myths






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