The Day I Walked Out on My Husband and Children

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I’ll never forget that day.  It was an ordinary day for the stay-at-home wife and mom.  A day filled with infant feedings, diaper changes, toddler tantrums, and training the strong-willed child.  A day of utter exhaustion laced with despair–at least in my mind.

I didn’t know what else to do.  I was isolated.  Ill-equipped.  Depressed.  And overwhelmed with my roles in life.

Just five years earlier I had been a career woman, a woman who denied the existence of a God, and a woman who was living with my then boyfriend.  But now I was a new woman in Christ.  I was now a Christian wife and mom of two.  My world had drastically changed in just a few short years.

The Day I Walked Out on My Husband and Children by Jolene Engle

I had old ways to cast off and new roles to learn, and boy, was this a long, hard road. And then there was the rage that I saw growing up.  How a parent responded when things didn’t go according to their plan.  I knew this was not the way to handle conflict or difficulties in my marriage and parenting.

The Bible talks about the renewing of your mind . . . I had to do a lot of this since my past wasn’t something I wanted to hold on to.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

So instead of lashing out, I turned inward and shut down.  Not a smart move, either.

And that’s what happened on that fateful day when my husband came home from another long day at his business.  He walked through the door and I handed him our nine-month-old and our two-year-old and I walked right out the door. No kiss. No explanation. Not even a goodbye. Nothing.

And I got in my car and sat there with no place to go.  So where does any woman go when she’s got time on her hands?  To the mall, of course!  So that’s what I did.  I didn’t go there to purchase anything; I simply walked around.  All. By. Myself.  And it was wonderful! I’m sure I ate some chocolate, too!

Three hours later I came back home refreshed and rejuvenated like nothing ever happened.

Sadly, back then I really didn’t know how to communicate to my husband what was going on inside of me.   Telling him that I needed a break from everyday life of taking care of the needs of my family made me feel like a failure as a wife and mom.  I didn’t have the luxury of having grandparents take my kids for an overnight stay or even for a few hours. Nor did I have friends at that time that could help me out.  To say that I felt isolated as a wife and mom would be a gross understatement.

But ironically, I was at church every Sunday with my husband.  And not only did I attend Bible studies, but at the time, I was leading one.  Christian music played in my home and in my car on a regular basis, and I was reading the Word of God.  Yet . . . I was losing it.

I couldn’t handle the demands of my young sons, cleaning and keeping a home, doing laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, meeting the needs of my husband, etc.  It was all just too much for this gal to handle.  This proud, self-sufficient woman couldn’t do it all.  I had been so busy trying to care for and refresh others, that I was just worn out.

And being that men like to fix things, my husband asked me several questions when I got back home that day.  He realized that I couldn’t go through life like this or I’d shut down again–and walk out again.

My husband taught me to take time for myself and to not feel guilty when I do.  

“…those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  Pro. 11:25 (NLT)

It’s been well over a decade since that day. I have learned that I have nothing to prove to anyone and I don’t have to do it all in my marriage.  Sometimes I just need to lean on my husband and trust the Lord in my life.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6,7

Ever been in this place, my friend?  Worn out and beside yourself?  Try not to shut your man out.  Let him know what you need. Work together to find solutions when life feels overwhelming.

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  1. Thank you for this post. I too am feeling like this and I do not know how to ask people for help. It makes me feel guilty and ill equipped for the role I am in. Thank you for the inspiration

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Oh the guilt! I think every mom wears that hat from time to time. As well as the thought the we’re ill-equipped to mother our children. It’s when we run to Jesus that he removes our guilt and covers us with His strength for the day. And sometimes He breaks us and then we’re at that spot where all we can do is cry out to Him. He’ll bring the help because He’s faithful. He’s walking with you, friend!

  2. I reached that point one day in 1997. I was alone with our 6 month old infant again. When my husband came home, I went out the door to the park. Unfortunately, I walked down a grassy hill in flipflops, fell at the bottom, and broke my arm. Then I had to drive myself to the nearest hospital. Looking back it’s easy to see how I could have done things differently, forestalled the anxiety that lead me to that point. Luckily, I’ve made some progress since then! :O)

    1. (Smiling)
      LuAnn, isn’t it funny how God works in our lives? Of course at the time your story wasn’t funny, I mean, what mama needs a broken arm while taking care of a 6 month old?? But now you can look back and see how God shaped and refined you in the process. That process is something, isn’t it? Sometimes it just brings us to our knees and forces us to realize our need for God even more.

  3. This is something I needed to hear. I relate so well. I’m serving overseas as a missionary with my family (an almost 3 year-old and a 4-year old) and I’m struggling so much trying to do everything and be everything. I pray, pray, pray and still I struggle. I feel like a failure as a mother, wife, and missionary everyday. It’s so hard.
    Thanks for this message.

  4. It is nice to know others feel that way but not everyone has a husband who is understanding nor cares if you take care of yourself or not…

  5. Yes I am in that spot right now except I don’t have a supportive husband to help me or encourage me 🙁

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