How abortion may affect your marriage is a question that may take years to answer as you will learn in this article I wrote for my friend Sandy Ralya’s Beautiful Womanhood blog:
Bonnie is a ministry leader who thought her marriage was rock-solid even though she had been emotionally wounded by abortion prior to meeting her husband Dave. Their story illustrates the healing power of honesty—and the hurt which can happen when it’s withheld.
When I first started dating Dave, we were each trying to put our lives back together after a difficult divorce. I told him about the abortion when I was young and single. He was so kind and understanding that I knew he was a very special man. Later we married and the abortion issue never came up until eight years later when God finally freed me of the shame of it at last. I stepped out in ministry and he was right there with me—serving as treasurer of our conference ministry and attending many, many fundraising banquets where I told the story of God’s grace.
Two years into my healing journey, I finally took the step of attending a Bible study support group which included a memorial service for our lost children. We each invited friends and family, so naturally I wanted Dave to be there. I sang a song I’d written as my tribute.
As I sang, I noticed Dave weeping. I had seldom seen him cry—much less in public. On our way home I asked him about it.
“I had two abortions in the marriage to Terry,” he said, looking straight ahead.
I was stunned. How was it possible that I was just now hearing this news?
“What happened?” I asked, “And why have you never mentioned this before now?”
“It wasn’t mine to tell. The decisions were hers,” was all he said.
“That’s it?!” I thought. “You’re protecting her?”
Feeling crushed and betrayed by him, I was also so sad for his loss. And I was relieved that he had found the courage to share the truth with me.
Abortion always presents a confusing array of conflicting emotions and competing affections—both before we choose it and in the aftermath. And abortion creates secrets and forbidden spaces where entire rooms of our hearts end up marked Do Not Enter. When key facts about our lives are withheld from our spouse intimacy is impeded. And marking off the territory of our hearts leads to the loneliest isolation of all—feeling all alone with the person sitting next to you.
Marriages can recover from the harm abortion does to men and women. Bonnie’s marriage came back stronger than before she learned Dave’s shattering secret.
“It took years for us to be able to work our way through it because I indulged Dave’s avoidance, and I forgot the power of love to cover a multitude of sins. When I began to pray that we would be able to give honor and dignity to those two children in heaven, our marriage began to heal.”
Bonnie’s prayers softened her own heart so that Dave felt safe sharing the whole story with her. He had been dominated in the marriage, and the abortions stood as the fatal verdict of his loss of manhood with his former wife. Other couples may suffer because the husband dominated in the abortion decision of his wife or a former partner thereby destroying the dignity of womanhood and mothering. In either case, couples can begin praying together for the healing of their marriage. As Bonnie and Dave did, Dave was able to process his grief and exercise true leadership in his home.
“He named the children Alpha and Omega because they would have been his first and his last. And he bought flowers in their honor for the altar at church that Easter.” Bonnie says.
“I’m so proud of him. Now we speak together as he encourages other men.”
It’s important to seek God first if abortion is an issue in your marriage. Also find the caring support of friends in faith to guide, direct, and pray with you. You may each need a confidante or mentor of your own to help you follow Christ where the healing journey leads. But find a way to follow Jesus with all your heart.
And keep on loving and forgiving each other, just as God loves you.
Kim Ketola’s book Cradle My Heart, Finding God’s Love After Abortion is a biblical resource for healing and restoring family relationships in the wake of the abortion choice.