The sentence “I don’t love you anymore” is commonly thought to be the death knell for any romantic relationship. But it doesn’t have to be. That’s what Laura Munson heard from her husband, but she responded differently.

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.

He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”

Read the entire encouraging story, “He Said He Was Leaving. She Ignored Him.”

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10 thoughts on “One Brave Woman’s Response to “I Don’t Love You Anymore””

  1. That lady = Courage.

    There’s no guarantee her approach would ‘work’ in another family. But her refusal to let his crisis be dumped on her is amazing!

  2. Doug says:

    Great post Thabiti. Thanks for referring it.

  3. Andrew Orlovsky says:

    It interesting reading the comments section on the article. Whether someone “feels happy” has become the idol of our time.

  4. Pete says:

    This is the second blog on GC that I’ve seen this story. I don’t get it, there is nothing about the Gospel in this story. It’s a celebration of humanism. Fleshly “courage” with fleshly results. Or am I missing something?

    1. Thabiti says:

      “Fleshly”?

      A. What’s “fleshly” about fighting for your marriage in the best, non-combative, remain-focused way you know how? I’d say that’s faith, not flesh.

      B. Who doesn’t battle their flesh in situations like this? I’d say her confession of her fight to remain focused on herself and his obvious sins were testament to the fact that we’re in this body of death and we’d better be sure to “give no room to the flesh.”

      C. What’s a “fleshly result” when a man and woman on the brink of divorce forgive one another, reconcile and persevere in their marital vows? I wish a good number of “Gospel-believing, gospel-centered” Christians would demonstrate such “fleshly results.”

      I love you, brother… but I do think you’re missing the entire story.

      T-

      1. Pete says:

        Thanks for the challenge, brother. Here’s what I mean:
        “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.” “No. He was in the grip of something else — a profound and far more troubling meltdown that comes not in childhood but in midlife, when we perceive that our personal trajectory is no longer arcing reliably upward as it once did. But I decided to respond the same way I’d responded to my children’s tantrums. And I kept responding to it that way. For four months.” Where is sin and dealing with sin biblically?

        “You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “the End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.

        My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.” Human, fleshly philosophy – I, I, I. Not the Scriptures; not the wisdom of God. And the result – the triumph of the human spirit – not the glory of God. No sense in this article at all about God or Christ. This was a secular story of secular marital “success”. Notice: “Go trekking in Nepal. Build a yurt in the back meadow. Turn the garage studio into a man-cave. Get that drum set you’ve always wanted. Anything but hurting the children and me with a reckless move like the one you’re talking about.” “How can we have a responsible distance?” I went to my desk, Googled “responsible separation,” “Daddy’s having a hard time, as adults often do. But we’re a family, no matter what.” I was not going to suffer. And neither were they.” “This man was hurting, yet his problem wasn’t mine to solve. In fact, I needed to get out of his way so he could solve it.” “And I saw what had been missing: pride. He’d lost pride in himself. Maybe that’s what happens when our egos take a hit in midlife and we realize we’re not as young and golden anymore.”

        “And one day, there he was, home from work early, mowing the lawn. A man doesn’t mow his lawn if he’s going to leave it. Not this man. Then he fixed a door that had been broken for eight years. He made a comment about our front porch needing paint. Our front porch. He mentioned needing wood for next winter. The future. Little by little, he started talking about the future.

        It was Thanksgiving dinner that sealed it. My husband bowed his head humbly and said, “I’m thankful for my family.”

        He was back.”

        “happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal.” “My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out.”

        Please! This is fleshy, human, worldly philosophy.

        “8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
        I love you too brother. But, I think you missed it this time.

  5. Pete says:

    I’m left dumbfounded that you believe this story illustrates biblical courage. I don’t see her relying on God’s strength or God’s wisdom. I don’t see her turning the other cheek. This story is not a story glorifying Christ or His Gospel, but one of glorifying the triumph of the human spirit. It’s not about sin and repentance and reconciliation. It’s not about overcoming in the strength of His might. But, of triumphing in the strength that comes from loading horses and baring children. It’s a secular story about secular people “gaining” secular marital “success”. This is not a story that magnifies the stuff of the Gospel. Or I must really be missing something.

  6. Pete says:

    Christian or biblical faith is rooted in the Word of God and has its object the Person of God.

  7. Pete says:

    Focused on herself? Not gospel. His obvious sin? Where is that point made in the article or in your blog about it? Give no room to the flesh? What is the philosophy of losing ones pride in oneself anything other than making room for the flesh?

    I didn’t see anything about forgiving one another. Or that she had done anything that needed his forgiveness of her. The fleshly result was a conclusion that didn’t comport with handling sin biblically. I don’t think you would find these “principles” in John Piper’s; Tim Keller’s; or Jay Adams’ books on marriage (I’ve read them and you won’t find encouragement to deal with marital problems in this manner). I pray that we would become less and less enamored with “fleshly results”.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Pete,

      Take a deep breath, friend.

      I think what you’re missing in all of this is that a story can encourage us in meaningful ways without being a “Christian” story or even using the language of Scripture.

      Which of us would deny that a man wanting to divorce his wife for no reason is deeply sinful? See Matt. 19. Yet that language doesn’t appear in the story and it doesn’t need to in order to make the point.

      Likewise, who could deny that this woman showed genuine courage by refusing to break her own vows or lash out in anger or simply acquiesce as so many people have? Again, she doesn’t need to cite chapter or verse–or even be a Christian–for fair-minded folks to recognize heroism and grit in her response.

      And as someone who regularly counsels couples in marital trouble, I can tell you that often the survival of the marriage hinges on someone being still and not reacting poorly. It’s not a matter of her not seeing her fault or sin. It’s a matter of her taking responsibility for her action and insisting that he do the same. Did she quote, “each one will give an account for what they do in the body”? No, she didn’t. But we know we live in a culture where blame-shifting is the rule of the day when it comes to personal responsibility. She doesn’t let him do that to her and she doesn’t do it to him. That you don’t find that commendable is far more troubling than the fact that she doesn’t cite chapter and verse to tell her story.

      And if you don’t think happiness doesn’t depend on all of us making the decision to not only base our happiness in the right things but also taking responsibility personally to pursue it and fight for it, then you’ve not been reading Piper or Keller in a number of their other books. And, more importantly, you have not been reading the many passages in the scripture which call us to seek our own joy in the things of the kingdom and Christ. It begins within. You can call it repentance, and that would be appropriate. But at bottom, it’s also deciding somewhere inside ourselves that how we respond to things (or not) is often within our control and often determines our chances for joy.

      So, you see it the way you see it. That’s fine. But you’re riding a very high horse when you toss everyone else aside as “fleshly” and prone to “human, worldly wisdom” because we see common grace in this story. Come down off that horse and see the goodness and kindness of God more plentifully down here with the rest of us struggling sinners making our way.

      T-

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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