Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Am I right or sinful in choosing to leave my husband after twenty-three years of marriage because he abuses me physically for no reason and before my only twenty-two year old son? I am not trying to get a divorce, all I am looking for is to live peacefully alone.

I am glad you are not considering divorce; because  our Coptic orthodox Church does not believe in divorce. "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mt 19:6) and "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mt 19:6).

I do not know the circumstances that have led you to leave your husband, but usually when there is disagreement or abuse, the first thing is to find out what triggers this abuse and try to avoid it. Even if the spouse is unreasonable, the wife should try to be patient and give the spouse chances to change his attitude. I see that you have left him after twenty-three years. I wonder if you have tried to involve any priest in your problem and get him to talk to your husband before taking this decision.

In any case, physical, verbal or any kind of abuse in not acceptable in any relationship;  Neither God nor anyone gives a man the right to insult nor hit his wife. In the crowning (marriage) ceremony we read "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph 5:25). To give oneself to his wife does not imply at all to abuse her or even hurt her feelings. Then the priest reads the commandment to the bridegroom saying "My blessed son, who is supported by the grace of the Holy Spirit you are required to receive your wife at this blessed hour with a clear conscience, a pure soul and a full heart. Excel in doing all that is good for her. Have compassion on her and hasten to do that which will gladden her heart."

Then the priest reads the commandment for the bride "And you blessed daughter... you are required to honor and respect him, do not disagree with him but increase your obedience to him many times over what was commanded...So you must receive him with joy and cheer, do not frown in his face, do not neglect any of his rights upon you, and fear God in all matters with him."

These are the commandments given to each bride and bridegroom on their wedding day, and I am sure that if each one keeps his/her part of the commandment, their marriage will be a very successful one.

I hope that you always keep the door open for reconciliation when your husband is willing to change his behavior and follow the commandments given to him in the crowning ceremony.
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