“I Just Want You to Be Happy”…Wait, What?!?

Some conversations stick in my mind from years and years ago. I remember sitting on my couch with a friend while our kids toddled at our feet, and my friend was sharing a story about her husband and she said, “He just wants me to be happy.”

I laughed. I thought she was kidding.

Fast forward a handful of years and I was away with three of my closest friends and I was recalling a recent incident where I had been standing by my thermostat trying to cool it down by waving a piece of paper at it and begging Jesus to make the number go down, moments before my then-husband was supposed to come home, as I had it turned up higher than he liked and forgot to turn it back down in time.

They all looked at me, stunned.

I said, “What, you guys don’t do that?”

They shook their heads no and one of them said, “I’m pretty sure my husband would just want me warm and comfortable in my own home.”

I thought she was full of BS.

And one time, I was with a girlfriend shopping, and she was updating me on how her husband and marriage were and she said, almost in passing, “He just cherishes me.”

I started crying right there in the scrapbook store.

Clearly, my normal was so far from center and yet so completely ingrained in me that I honestly thought all those friends of mine were in the minority.

Until recently.

Because I’ve not just met a man who adores me and treats me well, but now that we’re planning a wedding together, I have been very, freakishly, pleasantly surprised.

Me: “Honey, how much input do you want to have in the wedding plans?”
Tall-Shadow: “As […]

Hello, New Girls!

Hello new subscribers (and longtime readers)!

I wanted to acknowledge all the new readers that found their way here from my Crosswalk.com article that was recently reposted, and welcome you.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I am a 44-year-old mother of two great teenagers, Sara (18) and Jack (16-1/2). We live in a sweet little town in Illinois. I’ve been writing and speaking for almost fifteen years, doing what I always wanted to do but never dreaming I could or would.

Most of my writing these days is borne out of the pain of my very difficult almost-nineteen-year marriage that ended in the summer of 2012 when my then-husband counter-filed for divorce against my filing for legal separation after a fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that ended with our church leadership releasing me to separate.

I write candidly because I remember feeling so alone for almost twenty years.  I remember the pain like it was yesterday. And yet, I have grappled with the grieving and the lessons learned and accepting my part in the demise of my marriage. I am now an advocate for women in difficult Christian marriages and those who find themselves walking through divorce. I get abuse of all kinds, the intricacies of addiction, and the pain of being shunned within the Church. My desire is to be a voice to those of you who are hurting and to create resources that help hurting women like you by bringing you hope.

Here are a few of those resources that I have created over the past few years:

If in a difficult marriage:
My e-book/PDF, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, came out of my almost-nineteen-year difficult marriage, available here.

My novel, World Split Open, about a […]

“You’re Moving On”

I received a Facebook message from a dear woman who is a member of my private group for separated/divorced woman that read:

“I should be happy for you…for being where you are headed…back to marital bliss. And I am very happy for you and truly wish you well.  It’s just that a time like this I wish I were you.  I feel like I am one of those hurting women who had looked up to and had started soaking in your wisdom, then you are moving away again. I know I am not right feeling this way…you’ve never met me or known me. Despite all my whining…I really wish you God’s blessings in your union. May God continue using you greatly in this life. And truly am sorry if I have crossed the line, dear Elisabeth.”

This is so precious to me.

First of all, I one thousand zillion percent get where she’s coming from. During my hard marriage, it was difficult for me to hear stories of women in good marriages (which I was surrounded by as my closest girlfriends are all in good, good marriages).  Then during my divorce, it was hard for me to hear of a woman finding a second chance with a good man. It felt out of my grasp. It felt cruel, as if God or life were keeping something so sweet just out of reach.  So I totally get this part.  And, sweet one, I think it’s pretty darn normal. No apologies necessary.

But secondly, as far as “moving away” now that I’m getting remarried.  I can see where some of my readers might think that.  My writing has progressed through the stages of my hard marriage and separation and […]

My Husband Is Not In Love with Me Anymore

One of my sweet private Facebook group girls asked this: “How do you deal with this: my husband isn’t in love with me anymore, his heart belongs to someone else, but he is staying because of the fear of the judgment of God?”

My heart is breaking for this woman.  It’s hard enough to be in a difficult marriage when it’s just the two of you, but add a third party who has taken over your place in your husband’s heart, and it’s near impossible.

She didn’t say outright if her husband is actually being unfaithful, but if he is, I want to make it clear that she has clear-cut biblical grounds to divorce him.  I’m not saying she should or has to or any of that (I will never say that). I’m simply saying that she would be allowed to do so and begin the process of healing and moving on. She does not have to wait for him to do the divorcing.

But I’m going to assume that she is choosing to stay, that she is choosing to wait for him to take the first step, that she is choosing to try to remain committed to her marriage.  So, sweet one, here are some thoughts.

I believe your very first step is to fully acknowledge your reality. The fact that you could form that question is a good indication that you are aware of what’s really going on.  If your husband has outright told you that he no longer loves you, that he loves someone else, and that he is only staying because he’s scared of God’s judgment, your husband has, essentially, moved on, and has broken the covenant, and is acting as if he is […]

How Do You Co-Parent with…

…an ex- who doesn’t communicate?
…an ex- who doesn’t share your morals?
…a controlling abuser?
…an addict?
…a deadbeat?
…a lawbreaker?
…a jerk?

You don’t.  You can’t.

I have a friend whose ex-husband feels compelled to text her with the ways she’s making their children’s lives miserable. I have another friend whose ex-wife doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do in their parenting agreement on a regular basis. She doesn’t pay her share of co-pays and kids’ activities, she drops the kids off early and cancels and doesn’t do her part of driving them even when it’s her parenting time.

Again, I proclaim that divorce day does not end all the problems.  Co-parenting with someone that you do not get along with can be one of the most maddening situations that follows divorce.

I was recently struggling with an issue of my own, and all the ways I wanted to (immaturely) handle it, and I had this one thought:

We can’t change our exes. 

So, instead of giving you a list of tips on how to deal with specific situations, like when your child gets blown off at the last minute (horrible) or when the check doesn’t come in (awful) or when you get a super-long and inappropriate text from someone you are not married to anymore (sad), I’ve just got one thought for you (and me) today and it’s this:

We are responsible only for ourselves. We need only keep our side of the street clean. We need only be the best parent we can be.

Is it a shame that our children are getting the shaft in the parents’ department?  Yes, of course. (And I put us in that category because post-divorce, we’re struggling too.)

But, really, is there anything you can say or do that […]

Men Don’t Change

I recently wrote a post that garnered more comments than I expected.  I talked about how someone had told me that her ex-husband had changed into the man she had spent her marriage praying for, and that now she wanted him back.

My entire point was a gentle encouragement for the ex-wife to let go and move on, but a few of the comments went in a direction I hadn’t expected.

Basically, some of the women said that there’s a good chance this man isn’t really the new man he is portraying himself to be, so the ex-wife shouldn’t be too upset about it because his true colors will more than likely rear their ugly head soon enough.

And though, yes, that is a possibility of course, I thought that was a sadly cynical way to look at that situation.

And I had three reactions to this line of thinking.

First of all, women are just as capable of not changing as men. I do not believe in men-bashing here. Women and men are equally human, equally capable of sinning, equally capable of hurting the opposite sex. It’s not just men who lie, manipulate, and then show who they really are.  Women can do this too.  Please know that I get that we women have been very hurt by men, but we need to be careful not to assume the worst about an entire gender based solely on our specific experiences with one man.

Secondly, however, people are capable of change. Thank God.  It happens all the time. Especially when someone has gone through a very difficult time.  In fact, hopefully it happened to you, sweet reader. Hopefully, you came through the fire of your difficult marriage or divorce or […]

Why Your Story Matters

Being in a relationship, post-divorce, in my 40s, as a woman who barely dated at all as a teenager, is brand new, sometimes scary territory for me.
Most of the terrain is delightful and life-giving and an absolute gift that I am grateful for every day.
But then there are some small bumps in the road – outside-of-the-two-of-us obstacles – that have hurt my heart.  Things I’ve cried over.  Things I hadn’t expected.  Things I wish were different.  Things I have no idea how to navigate because it’s never been my experience til now.
A recent morning was one of those times. I woke up with a heavy heart over something that I’m not going to name and I didn’t have a place for it in my head or answers on how to move forward.
But then I remembered something I had read a few years back.  It was a story of a woman who was recalling a challenging season in her life, a season that matches the season I find myself in.  And I looked for the book and I found it. And then I sat on my couch, fire lit, candle lit, tea by my side, heart hopeful and needing…something.
And I reread the story that I remembered from so many years ago.  And I was right: she had been through what I’m going through.
And her story reminded me that it’s going to be okay, even if it’s not.
That things take time.
That relationships are tricky.
That nothing is perfect.
That you can’t make someone like you.
That some things aren’t about you at all.
That you can only do so much.
That being kind and available and even leaving space is sometimes the next right thing to do.
And I cried.  Because her […]

Post-Traumatic Relationship Disorder

Okay, so that’s not really a thing, but it totally should be. I was visiting with my mentor to catch up. It was completely not a “birdie session” as we call it, when I come with a problem (or twelve) in hand.  But after I shared about a half dozen things, a couple kinda hard, mostly good, shedding a tear or two, she said to me, “That is A LOT. You can’t go this long without getting this out.”

And I told her I didn’t think to get together with her because none of it seemed all that bad or big.

Huh.

And then it occurred to me that while I was living in my hard marriage, I was, as my mentor described it, merely surviving.  She even acted out me swimming underwater and then coming up for gulps of air as often as I could.  Everything was hard. For a very, very long time (as in, about two decades). (For those of you not in hard marriages, please simply imagine being in a fight with your husband that lasted for twenty years. Yeah.)

And so when you get used to everything being hard, and then when you’re out of it for a while, regular-hard things don’t seem hard. At least that’s been my experience.  And what I’ve been noticing is that I’m just taking them in and taking them on and not really working them through because they just seem so trial-lite, so NBD.

But I think back to something my counselor said to me about ten years ago that bears repeating.  She said that we were created for short bursts of stress not long bouts of crises, and so when we’re in a long bout, we suffer […]

How He Proposed

You asked for proposal details, and Tall-Shadow said I could share, so here we go…

But first, a recap of our story:

I Signed Up for Online Dating

I’m a Christian Serial Dater Apparently

Getting to the 2nd Date

The Online Dating Sites I Used

Recovering Love Addict

Happy is a Four-Letter Word

Now That I Have a Boyfriend, My Life is Perfection

A Little Relationship Update

My Relationship is Too Easy

What I’m Doing Differently in My Relationship

How Do You Know When You Love Someone

Who Needs Men???

Some Super Fun News

(Oh my lands…good thing Tall-Shadow is okay with me writing about him!)

As you can probably tell by my blog and my Facebook writer page, we take quite a few pictures together.  I never used to be a huge picture-taker but it’s been such a sweet thing to document our courtship, which my creative fiancé used to his advantage in his proposal plan.

On December 29, we were sitting together, and he pulled out his phone, opened up to his photos and started scrolling through these…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I’m just thinking he’s completely adorable that he had taken the time to add little captions to some of our pictures, until he scrolled to this one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He then pulled out the precious ring (that we had stumbled upon together way back on my birthday when we were window-shopping), told me he loved me and asked me if I’d marry him.  Mouth gaping and tears streaming, I said yes.  (How could I not say yes to a man standing in front of a John Deere???)

I share this story with you – along with all the other personal stuff – because I so desperately want you to know that you’re not alone. That there are second chances. That there is redemption. That there […]

Some Super Fun News!

2-1/2 years post-divorce (which is KEY)
+
114 dates (that averaged 4 to 14 hours each)
+
Freeway and Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts workbooks completed together
+
premarital counseling already finished
+
so much in-love-ness
+
a sense from Jesus that this man is a gift from God to me

=

TALL-SHADOW PROPOSED AND WE’RE ENGAGED!

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