Relational Triangles

Relationships of all kinds can be tricky.  But a relationship is between two people. Any kind of relationship is between just two people.  Yes, you can have a group of friends. And yes, you can live in a family with more than two people. But each relationship is one person plus one person, sharing their hearts, giving and taking, when working well, in equal parts.

My job is to take care of my relationships with the people in my life.

It is not my job to help scootch along anyone else’s relationship with someone other than me.

If someone wants a relationship with my children, I will not be the setter-upper. I will not be the driver, if that person can’t drive. I will not be the middle man.

I get questions all the time from readers wanting to know things like, “How can I get my ex-husband and adult son to communicate?”

Umm, you can’t. They’re both grown-ups. You can’t get them to do anything they don’t want to do.

And secondly, you shouldn’t. For the same reason: they’re both grown-ups. And if they want a relationship, they should both be initiating and trying to build or rebuild their relationship. (But in my opinion, one person can only do so much; if the other never responds to the initiating, that is not the fault of the initiator.)

Relationship triangles are a bit like being too attached.  When we detach from someone – with love, which is key – we allow them to experience their own victories and live with their own defeats and consequences.  Just like when we allow two people to have the relationship they’re going to have – without interfering – they can […]

I’m Divorced. Now What??

The first few minutes, hours, and days will envelop you like a fog, whether you’re the leaver or the left.  Trust me.  I stood there before the bench and heard the judge ask my spouse, “Is your marriage over?” and I heard this response: “Yes.” And in my head (after eighteen hard years of marriage and prayers for both healing and release and fifteen months of reconciliation attempts and a legal separation filing on my part), and I screamed, “It is?!?  Since when?!?”  This is called shock.  And it’s completely normal.
So here are a few things I would suggest you do during your first year of being divorced.
For the day of:
Make a plan. Will you go to the courthouse alone or do you want a friend there for support?  Will you go straight home and into bed? Or will you go shopping?  Or get a massage?  Or meet a friend or two for tea or prayer?  Do not just go get divorced.  You will walk out of that courtroom having no earthly idea what to do with yourself if you don’t have a plan for your day.
Within the first couple weeks:
Don’t do anything drastic.   Don’t cut all your hair off.  Don’t get a tattoo of something big and scary and I-am-woman-hear-me-roar on your neck. Don’t buy a sports car. And don’t marry that guy you’ve been inappropriately texting throughout your separation.  You’re a mess right now, even though you don’t think you are…big decisions can and should wait.
Within the first six months:
Take DivorceCare.  I don’t care if you think it’ll be hokey, or not for you, or you’re an introvert, or you’re not “one of those people”, or you don’t think you’re messed up.  Just […]

The Aftereffects of Emotional Abuse

The aftereffects of living under abuse are long and complicated. It’s a bit like a brain tumor that has wrapped itself around the brainstem and all throughout your skull. There’s not just one easy way to undo all that’s been done. There’s no off switch. One of my bosses several years ago told me this in my annual job review: “You rush to make decisions, and then you second-guess yourself to the point of sometimes undoing the entire thing. You might want to look into that.” I spent well over fifteen years second-guessing myself.

I believe this happened for two reasons. First of all, what I thought was my reality was not my reality, for most of my adulthood. So, that totally threw me off base as you might imagine. And secondly, I was told things that made me question myself, like that I was out of my mind or my behavior would be understandable if I were mentally ill. Frankly, and I seriously mean this, I have no idea how I got myself dressed every day, let alone how I raised two children, wrote some books, kept my home looking somewhat decent, traveled to some third-world countries or held down a job. Because I was ninety-five percent emotional mess/five percent functioning adult. It was exhausting and I didn’t know if I were coming or going most of the time.

So now I’m on the other side of it, other than a few tiny blips on the screen that still come up.  (And I sit there stunned and thrown back a few years and forget that I’m a grown-up who can think and talk.) But on this other side – the healing side – I have taken two steps in working through all of the leftover emotional […]

There are No Good Men Out There

Recently on my Facebook writer page, I posted the following:

Relational PSA: Sweet girls, there are good, kind, tender, thoughtful, generous, God-loving men out there, who, hypothetically, may cause you to tear up in gratitude, often, and won’t get tired of you after, also hypothetically, seventy-five or so dates.

And then the responses rolled in:

Really? Sounds like a total pipe dream. I’m glad you have found one, though.

Where???

I sure hope so!

I’ve all but given up completely.

Woman…don’t play with me like that! You have a sighting?

Not really seeing them in my area or online for sure. A single man who catches my eye and who is honorable and honest is a rarity. Sadly, even those who claim to be God-honoring are just as disrespectful and dishonest. And many of my single Christian friends are finding the same in their dating.

Sigh.

I get it. I really do. I recognize the cynicism that is born out of deep betrayal and marriage & divorce pain.  Before I tried online dating, I didn’t think there were any forty-something, Jesus-loving, single men in my area. I just never ran into any.

So, I’m here to officially say a couple things:

Yes, there are immature men out in the world who have no business dating who end up hurting my sweet girls. (And I want to ring their necks.)

But (ugh) men don’t have a corner on the market on jerkiness. There are just as many immature women out in the world who have no business dating who end up hurting some sweet men.  (And I kinda want to, more gently, ring their necks too. Or at least tell them to stop dating and heal up, for their own sakes.)

Both genders are equally sinful, equally capable of hurting […]

By |July 23rd, 2015|dating|7 Comments

Celebrity Break-ups aren’t Really about the Celebrities for Me

(Warning: today’s post is a random venting.)

I know I don’t really know Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck (though I like to think Jen and I would be BFFs) and I know I don’t really know Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert (though my daughter and I love to belt out Little Red Wagon and Richard and I had our first dance to God Gave Me You so I kinda feel like I do), but I don’t.

So why did the divorces of these two celebrity couples make me sick to my stomach, make me text my husband, make me sad, linger in my thoughts?

I don’t think it’s about them being celebrities and me being all into gossip, because I’m not.

And I don’t think it’s because I’d like to think I actually know these people, because I really do know that I don’t.

I think it’s about one simple thing. Divorce doesn’t feel right. Divorce was never supposed to be. And though I don’t know these couples, their divorces make me genuinely sad, for them, for the children involved, for the fact that divorce is even a thing.

I hate divorce. Like, I really, really hate divorce so very much, and I hate – really, really hate – the hard marriages that lead to them.

I’ve hated divorce since I was a little girl and I hate divorce even more now that I’ve been through one, and now that I’m navigating a new marriage and all the baggage my sweet husband and I both bring to the table.

Another marriage falling apart is simply a reminder to me that relationships are so fragile and that there is pain in this world and that people are hurting each other all the time […]

By |July 21st, 2015|divorce, pain|2 Comments

Do Not Try to Win Your Husband Back

When I was in trying-to-save-my-marriage mode for that fifteen or so year stretch, I asked for a lot of help and advice and read a lot of books and prayed a lot of prayers and I put several things in place in an attempt to turn things around.  Things like:
*I was counseled to praise him every day for thirty days.  To which I added, serve him and pray for him every day for thirty days.  I was told a few days in to stop, that it was insincere. So I stopped.
*The infamous-among-my-friends 3-Day plan.  Day one, we would have sex; day two, devotions; day three, break; then repeat the whole thing over and over into marital bliss.  Yeah, this petered out fairly quickly as you can probably imagine, though I held up my end of the bargain.
*The season I attended a recovery group and went through the twelve steps and did my amends step and how small and sad, and oddly not freeing, it unfortunately made me feel.
*And my personal favorite, when I did the Love Dare.  You know, that little book that was an off-shoot of the movie Fireproof?  A few days in I was told to “stop love-daring.”  O-kay. I took sick pleasure in burning my copy of that book and never looking back.
I have two theories why none of this worked to save my marriage.
First, and I’m embarrassed to say this, but heck, I say a lot of embarrassing things here on the blog, so why not, right?  My motives were overall impure.  Yes, I wanted my marriage healed, but when I would go to ask for advice, I was always, always hoping I’d really get some pity and then an intervention of some […]

Hope for the Hopeless

My private Facebook groups are nearing fifteen hundred women. That continues to blow me away…in the sadness that there are so many of us who are reeling from broken relationships…and in the gratitude that we are finding that we are not as alone as we once thought we were.

But something happened recently that stopped me in my tracks.  I found out that a former member of one of my groups – who left because she wasn’t feeling as supported as she felt she needed – took her life, leaving behind two children, family, friends.

I’m not sure what to do with that. I am brokenhearted for the depth of pain she was in, and for her children, of course. And my knee-jerk reaction was to shut down all the groups because I can’t have this kind of responsibility on my head anymore, because there’s too much pain and I can’t fix it.  And yet I know that I did not do this to her.  That there was nothing I could have said or done, nothing the other women in the group could have said or done.

We are not little saviors.  There is only one Healer.

And though I cannot heal anyone else – I can’t even heal myself – I know that for her and for the rest of the women still in marriages that leave them wanting to die (I was there once, I remember that pain so clearly) and for the women who are no longer in their marriages and are having a hard time moving forward, the groups will stay open and I will keep doing what I’m doing.

So if you find yourself in the darkest of places as you trudge day […]

Sex & the Divorced Christian Woman

Last year, I wrote about sex and the single Christian girl. And I cringed the entire time I wrote it. But I look back now and have to laugh a little bit because (and I admitted this then) it’s super easy to talk about something when it’s only a theory. Because I wrote it when I wasn’t dating. Let me be more specific: I wrote it when I had been divorced for a good solid year or so and had not even been looked at by a man in like twenty-five years, let alone asked out even once.  Which is like telling people to not eat junk food while you yourself are stranded on a deserted island with only some coconuts and plant life. In other words, I wasn’t living it; I was just talking about it.

But this topic came up again for me recently as, you know, I was dating for a while there, and as I had the privilege to speak to a couple single moms’ groups, and during the Q&A (that happened to include Tall-Shadow, which was simply precious) – both times – the questions came up of: are you waiting to have sex and, if you are, how are you waiting when our culture deems sex outside of marriage as the norm?

Yes, we were able to answer that we were waiting. And as a woman who is now on this side of being remarried, I can say that we did, in fact, wait until our wedding night to have sex. (AND I AM SO FREAKING GLAD WE DID.)

But as to the other question, I was thinking about that one and it occurred to me that our culture has absolutely nothing […]

By |July 17th, 2015|dating|6 Comments

Can I Have Sex with My Ex?

Those of you who have never been divorced just said to yourselves, “Ew, why would anyone want to do that?!”

I know, it sounds atrocious.  But there are justifications we women make in our heads.

Things like, I’m lonely.  (Ending a marriage is a very, very lonely thing.)

Or, I miss him.

Or, I still love him.

Or, I have needs.

Or, maybe it’ll make him want to get back together with me.

I heard from a reader a while back who told me that she and her ex-husband had sex right after they went to court to get their divorce. She said that she thought it would bring closure. It, unsurprisingly, did the opposite. It hurt her deeply. Why? Because sex was created to bind two people together, not help them say goodbye.

So, can you have sex with your ex-husband?

In a word, no.

One, because once you are divorced, you two are no longer married, which means you would be fornicating.

But two, if you want to hi-jack and dismantle all the grieving and healing work you’ve done up to this point, by all means, go sleep with your ex.  But if you want to continue to move forward into healing with your head held high, refrain. Do not let a few moments of passion undo all the hard work you’ve done.  It is not worth it.  It will send you reeling and send you back months and months healing-wise.

But I want to tackle an off-shoot of this question.

Can I have sex with my estranged husband? (Meaning, can you and your husband be having sex while separated?)

In my opinion, no.

But why not? We’re still married, you might be screaming at me right now.

For the above reason that you will undo your healing, […]

Sex & the Single Christian Girl

Oh for the love. I have put this off for a very long time and actually told myself I would never, ever write on this topic for one reason: I have two teenagers who would be mortified.  But they don’t read my blog and even if they do, I’m not about to say anything that would scar them for life. Fingers crossed.

I’ve been asked about this and I know enough divorced Christian women at this point that the topic comes up, frequently.  And, I mean, come on, I’m writing a blog that focuses quite a bit on being divorced; not bringing it up was my elephant in the room.

So, what do we do about sex?

Tons of books have been written about this and I’m not about to cover the entire topic but I will tell you simply where I land.

I have not had sex in a long time.  Like, awhile before my marriage officially ended.  And I think it’s safe to say that I’m not going to have sex for another long time.

I will not have sex until I’m remarried.  Which means, that if I don’t remarry, I will never again have sex.

And here’s why:

For Jesus’ sake, I will not be having sex before I get married again, even though Jesus isn’t my boyfriend.  Because I believe the Bible is clear about this.  (And not because God is mean, but because he loves us and wants what’s best for us.)

For my kids’ sake, because they are watching me live my life and they are watching the choices I make.  I can’t say one thing to them and then go and do another.

For my future husband’s sake (if there is one), because I want to honor him.

For my sake, […]

By |July 15th, 2015|dating|28 Comments
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