“Ask a Priest: What If I Want My Estranged Husband to Die?”

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Q: My husband left me four years ago. I tried to save my marriage but could not. He had fallen for another woman. That didn’t work out, and three weeks later he found another woman and lives with her until this day. My question is twofold. First, am I an adulterer if I divorce him and meet another man? And second: I feel so betrayed that I don’t want him to live. He continues to hurt me and our son and constantly has me in court and lies and cheats every time. My pain won’t end because of it. There is no point in my lying — I pray for his death to give me freedom. Will God save me from this pain or do I need to continue to suffer? – S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the family situation. But I doubt that your husband’s death would bring the kind of freedom you truly need.

Our Lord taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Jesus backed that up on the cross when he died even for liars and cheaters and hurtful people.

He knows that you are hurting, but he also knows that wishing harm or death to anyone will only hurt you more. You could be so enslaved by a desire for revenge that your spiritual health will gravely suffer.

For your own good, you must try to forgive your husband, even if it is not reciprocated. He will answer to the just Judge one day, and you should pray that he will have a change of heart and seek forgiveness before that happens.

You should also seek counseling for yourself and your son, as well as legal advice, to come up with a plan to protect yourselves psychologically, socially and legally.

The fact that your husband cheated on you, then ended up with yet another woman so quickly, might indicate that he had deep-rooted problems at the time of your wedding.

It might be good to speak with your pastor about the possibility of seeking an annulment. If a decree of nullity were granted, you would be free to date and possibly marry in the Church. Without an annulment you couldn’t enter a valid marriage with another man while your husband is alive.

Before all else, you want to guard your own relationship with Jesus. And he calls us to forgiveness.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, however. It’s understandable that you don’t trust your husband and don’t want to be around him. But what you don’t want to do is nurture hatred for him — that will only hurt you further.

Jesus wants you to be at peace. To that end it might help to stay close to the sacrament of confession. You need to feel the healing that God’s grace can bring you.

You want to open yourself to this grace, not only for your own good but for your son’s. Your husband might have robbed you of a peaceful marriage. You don’t want him to take away your chance for interior peace.

In any case, try to speak with your pastor. He can guide you about the steps you could take to move forward.


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One Comment
  1. I’ve been in 12-Step rooms for over 25 years as I don’t wish people dead even while most of them were alcoholics and/or addicts as the anger towards family members in active addiction and/or alcoholism can become violent. Have had a couple active addicts and/or alcoholics become violent toward my oldest step sister and mother while my natural father was violent toward my mother. Everyone deserves love even those who have treated us badly as forgiveness can take many years to happen especially when violence is involved with addiction because I realized that in the last couple weeks I couldn’t go to church unless I don’t receive the eucharist knowing I don’t like being around alcohol due to the violence I’ve witnessed towards women as I stick around people in AA, Al-Anon, NA, Nar-Anon or EA as addiction may be involved but know that addiction and/or alcoholism affects everybody around the friend or family member that’s addicted. Hurt people hurt people is Step 9 in a nutshell as all of us are hurting and human in many ways as resentment of a certain person because of a relationship ending is a difficult way to control ones anger as I hope they do look into a 12-Step group that deals with anger such as Emotions Anonymous which I’ll have 26 years in August 27th. I hope this will help many people and I am greatful that I can talk about this in this manner while praying that you’re able to get the help you need

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