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Pastor, would it be a sin to divorce my mentally ill husband?

Monday February 10 2020


Depressed wife. There is a lot that needs to be known by a couple before marriage. Issues such as their temperament, values and background. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Hi Kitoto,

I met and fell in love with a man whom I moved in with within a year of meeting — we lived together for six months before we had a wedding. Our marriage was okay, but later turned into a nightmare because my husband developed manic depression. Six months after the wedding, he left his job and began abusing bhang and became violent towards me. His parents later confided in me that they knew about his condition. They said that whenever he was placed in a care facility, he would run away. With time, I had to leave him because I could not take the violence anymore.

My question is, can the church allow me to divorce him, not because I hate him, or because he is ill, but due to the fact that he and his entire family knew of his condition yet they intentionally hid it from me. He also refuses to accept his condition and won’t take his medication. He also won’t stop abusing bhang and does not want help of any kind. There is also the fact that he has on various occasions threatened to kill me. I’m aware that marriage is sacred, but I refuse to go on like this for the rest of my life.

Hi there,

There are several issues you have raised, directly and indirectly. These include the fact that you started living with this man soon after meeting him, before you got married.

Of course this did not give you the opportunity to get to know your man. There is a lot that needs to be known by a couple before marriage.


Issues such as their temperament, values and background. We may never know everything about them, but we need to know some things.

Another issue you have raised is his mental illness, which is complicated by his abuse of drugs and the violent behaviour he exhibits. Your husband is unwell and needs help.

His mental disorder is a big concern, and the chance of him sinking further and abandoning himself to drug and substance abuse is great.


My prayer is that you find a way to help with the assistance of a health professional rather than abandoning him at his moment of need.

Of course your safety is important, too, but don’t abandon him out of fear. The issue of abuse and refusal to take medication is worrying, and may need aggressive intervention.

Do all you can to get him help. If my wife left me because I was sick, I would be devastated. How about being of assistance from where you are, safe from his violent acts?

That said, I think it is unfair to fully blame his parents for the predicament you find yourself in.

How about considering the fact that both of you should have dated a little bit longer before marrying? You would have uncovered a lot.

Get pastoral help as well as a counsellor’s help to cope. You also need his family’s help and support, this is a mountain you cannot scale on your own.

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