Dear Esther :: June 20, 2016

Dear Esther,

I have three sons who are now 33, 34, 35. Two of them are unable to work due to health issues. They very rarely ask for anything. My husband is the father of all three and we have been married for 37 years. My husband refuses to help them financially and if we have extra food, he tells me not to give them any.

The only way I could get him to give $10 for gas or food is to get into a big argument. I am unable to work so I have no income to help. He gets mad at me if I offer to watch my grandkids occasionally or want to buy them a birthday present.

He provided for the children when they were living at home, but only basic necessities. My youngest son is able to work, but my middle son has chronic migraines and fibromyalgia and is on social security. My oldest son has degenerative disc disease, has facet joints that are failing, ruptured discs and is in extreme pain. He worked many years in construction until he couldn’t handle the pain. He has been trying to get disability for the last three years.

The oldest receives $200 general assistance a month and the middle son receives about $500 a month to live on. They do get some food assistance, but it is so small it barely lasts two weeks a month. There are times I go through my cupboard or freezer and give them food, hoping my husband won’t notice. My husband’s father was a pastor and a very loving person; my husband has no reason to act this way. Our sons never ask for help unless absolutely necessary; they are very independent.

I have no idea why my husband refuses to be compassionate about his children and grandchildren. He refuses to help in any way and the only way I can get him to help is to get into a big argument. If I offer to watch any of the grandchildren he gets furious with me and will leave while they are here. I don’t watch them very often because I get tired of the arguments.

My husband has always been this way and claims he is an Christian. If I receive money for Christmas or birthdays I try and help them. My sons are believers and God does meet their needs, but there are times they have gone without food. The reason the two oldest go without food is because of low income.

I don’t belong to a church here, but am considering one. No friends either, I have health issues and is difficult for me to retain relationships. My sons pay rent through government programs that pay most of the rent. I have been a believer for 45 years now and I am so blessed to be a child of God. He has given me the strength I need to make it through each day.

There are many times I cannot be honest with my husband about me helping them, I have so much guilt about that. How should I handle this situation?

God Bless,

Yvonne

div
Dear Yvonne,

Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear about your circumstances. An aching heart of a mother is one that many can relate to; the circumstances may be different in each case but when such division exists in families a common denominator exists; abuse. You certainly are in a very tough situation.

You cannot force your husband to be generous. Your husband is a professing believer but has no compassion? I have thought about you so many times over the weeks since I first read your letter. We know we cannot change people, and your husband sounds like a very stubborn and heartless man.

When it is all said and done, as you have learned over many years, Jesus is truly the only One we can count on. Friends, family and acquaintances often disappoint us. Nevertheless there are some good people out there who do care.

In your particular situation the one person who should be doing anything and everything to make life easier for you and your sons is the very one who is causing the difficulties. You are enmeshed in a very difficult situation because you are dealing with a cold-hearted selfish man. You have been together for a very long time. If you have not seen any positive change in him by now, it is unlikely he will suddenly become a doting dad and grandfather.

I actually pity people like him; they are so intent on getting their way that they alienate all those around them. And what is worse, people like that don’t seem to care one bit what others think of them. It sounds like you are a saint to endure your husband’s negativity all these years. You and the rest of the family are neglected and affected yet it does not sound like he is one bit convicted of the pain he causes all of you.

The only possible way your husband may have a change of heart is if he becomes a man who genuinely surrenders his life to Christ, studies the Bible and learns that it is his place to be a loving husband and begins to place you and your children in high regard. But since his father was a loving pastor, surely he must have learned that at some point in his life. So whatever his problem is, it is all his to own.

Can you find a Bible study that you could attend together? If your husband is unwilling to go, then please find a church or some kind of Christian organization where you can get involved. I would suggest the same for your sons. I know it is not always easy to find a good church or ministry but many do exist. And it isn’t easy to get around when we are not feeling well.

But if you would find a way to reach out and make an effort to create a small circle of Christian friends, life could get better. Although you have had some problems retaining relationships because of your health issues, maybe they were not the right people, anyway.

Some caring and good people will go the extra-mile and to come to people’s homes to visit or drive people to events. When you pray, ask the Lord to bring such people into your life and the lives of your sons. Cry out to him like never before and ask him to miraculously intervene.

A common pattern in situations similar to yours is isolation. It seems that the abusive spouse finds a way to isolate his family from others; that way the abuser cannot be held accountable. Isolation can lead to devastation (as you already know).

It is one thing to be somewhat of a loner and independent from the need to have frequent interaction with others, but it is another thing to see a pattern of isolation where there is chronic underlying abuse going on behind the scenes.

Over time, as you interact with other believers you may get some moral support and possibly connect with others who might help you find ways to raise money for your sons. In that way you would not have to hope you can convince your stingy husband to do what is right. Yvonne, God willprovide a solution to this and life can get better.

Because of your own fragile health it is especially hard to be as assertive as you may want. But there are many good people and if you take steps to interact with others, you might even start feeling better.

As far as feeling guilty about the help you give your sons, your husband should be the one to feel guilty. Shame on him for being the way he is. I would say your husband has forced you into a very difficult situation. As a caring mother how can you not try to help your sons? Your husband is the guilty one; don’t let him twist your love and compassion for your children into some sort of spousal betrayal.

Although we do live in a fallen world where selfish behavior is the norm, there is always hope in Jesus. Please pray for His intervention into your life and the lives of your sons. Pray for a miraculous intervention. Cry out to the Lord and state your case. Ask Him to bring loving believers into your lives who will become like family; those who will help carry your burdens in pragmatic ways.

Whenever I hear about greedy self-centered professing Christians I am deeply saddened. I live in a community where there are a lot of Mormons. I am always amazed at what a tight knit bunch they are and how they help each other in every and any way possible. And they do not even serve the true King of kings! But as believers we do have the true Jesus and He is there for us 24/7. In Christ there is always hope. Trust that He will intervene and change things for the better.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:4-5).

Trust that the Lord will turn your situation around. Your husband may never be of any help, but Jesus can orchestrate things for your benefit in ways we cannot. The important thing is to trust in Him and not give up. Even one person can make all the difference in a person’s life. God may just have the one right person out there somewhere ready to help.

Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things evolve. Go forward with confidence that there is a solution and that the Lord will provide a situation where you and your sons are not feeling like casualties of one man’s despicable and disgraceful behavior.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).