I’m Scared to Get Married Again

Let me say this upfront: I like Tall-Shadow. I love Tall-Shadow. I’m in love with Tall-Shadow.  And I believe to my core that he likes, loves and is in love with me right back.

I mean, c’mon…

Let me also say upfront: I believe God is in this.

So when I say I’m scared to get married again, I do not mean I am scared to get married to my sweet man.

I think when I say I’m scared I mean a few things.

One, that all of my quirks that he thinks are now adorable will turn into annoyances and he will stop liking me and stop thinking I’m cute. You know, things like how I hate waking up to a dishwasher full of clean dishes. (I’d rather stay up late and unload or not start a full dishwasher til the morning. I have no idea why.) Or like how I have a fifty-seven step (okay, maybe eight-step) morning routine. And how I get a little, umm, something, when it’s disrupted.  Or like how I really, really prefer getting ready by myself instead of sharing the bathroom. Or…I can go on. Trust me, I can go on.

Two, that all of my quirks that I have gotten used to will be impeded upon, and I will become not so nice anymore.  You know, because I’m high maintenance. And I’ve, at this point, been living as a single person for four-and-a-half-years. And because I’m old (-ish). And because I’m set in my ways. And because I’m way less go-with-the-flow than he gives me credit for. And because I’m stubborn.  And because I can be super selfish.

But those are kinda little things. So I think even more than all that, […]

Taking Care of Others & Yourself, At the Same Time

Question from a reader:

“As someone who has been through an abusive relationship and now offers counseling words to others facing the same issue, I have a question: how do you do it? I have a friend in an abusive relationship who comes to me for counsel; it’s triggering me and it’s wearying to me. How do you remain strong for all of us but take care of yourself at the same time? How do you be a caretaker when you’re still a little broken?”

This is such an excellent and important question.  Because life does not stop for everyone else when we go through a crisis, there will be times when our sad seasons will overlap with our friends’ or family members’ or children’s rough patches, and so a great skill to cultivate is learning how to take care of ourselves and others simultaneously.

So I have three tips for you.

Get filled up. If you are in a situation where you are counseling or walking someone through a difficult life circumstance, it can be draining even for people whose lives are going just fine.  Add the dynamic, though, of you trying to get through your own thing, and it can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful.

So, I would make sure that you are in counseling, in a support group, in a small group, have a mentor, and/or have a friend that is there to listen to you.

Know your limitations. When I was in college, I decided to apply to be an RA. I wasn’t immediately accepted and I think I know why.  I recall describing to the interviewing team that a friend had come to me for help, how I prayed and fasted […]

Haters Gonna Hate

I’ve talked here often about how I’ve been judged through my separation and divorce process (heck, I was even judged for the kind of wife I was) and how much pain that added to my already broken and fragile heart.

And I was reminded of the harshness of judgment when I saw a post on Facebook.

A fairly famous couple were congratulated for fifteen years of marriage.

Their back story is that they were both married, then they both divorced, and then they married each other. There was speculation over the nature of their relationship throughout their marriages, though they claimed to have only been friends until they were both divorced.

And though most of the thousands of comments seemed kind, here were a few that stood out to me:

Have a hard time supporting a marriage that destroyed another Christian marriage…..and calling it “Godly”!

Sorry, but their marriage didn’t begin in a godly way and another marriage was destroyed to make way for this one. Not something I can pat them on the back for.

Don’t support them; she was a married “Christian”.

Nice but too bad two marriages had to BREAK UP so they could get married!!!

They both divorced their spouses to marry each other.

I don’t support them at all. They broke up their families to marry each other. That is against God’s law. No way will I wish them happiness.

Wow. First of all, this is a celebrity couple. I’m wondering how many of the above people actually know them, are friends with them. I’m guessing zero.  So, in other words, they do not know the details of their individual or collective stories.

Secondly, this was on a public Facebook page, inviting words of congratulations.  Have these adults never […]

By |March 23rd, 2015|judgment|7 Comments

My Daughter is Leaving

I was the mother (and by was, I mean, I still am) who marched her kids to the front yard for a first-day-of-school picture and then cried as I walked home from the school or drove home from the school or, now, while my kids drive away to the school themselves.

This past August, we had our last both-kids-in-the-picture picture, because Sara leaves for college this fall.

But here’s the thing.  She’s already leaving. And I’m already grieving.

Technically, she’s been leaving me since the day she was born, something us mothers know deep down but pretend with everything in us isn’t our reality.

But more specifically, she’s been leaving the past six or so months, it seems.  She has a boyfriend. (As do I.) And our men have ended up being cushions for us, preparing us to move away from each other a little at a time.

I think it starts with the reality that through my divorce, Sara and I became closer. 
And then there’s the layer that she’s my firstborn. 
And a daughter.
And that she’s so much like me (and yet, fortunately for her, so very much her own self).
And I’m it on the parenting front. She’s just got me right now. And I think I feel the weight of her leaving as if I were two parents in one. 
And the man I brought her into the world with, well, we barely speak (not that I’d want that in anything other than theory at this point). 
And then there’s simply: I enjoy being with her; she is a delight to me.

And she’s leaving.  And I can feel it.

She and I have talked about it.  How the next several months are going to be […]

How Can I Help My Friend Who Is…

This post is for anyone who has a friend or congregant who is living in a difficult Christian marriage, or who is going through a divorce, or who is a single mom.  You want to help her. You want to support her. But if you’ve never been in her shoes, you might not know what she needs.  But I’ve been all of these, so I want to help you to help her.

If your friend is in a hard marriage:

Pray. Ask the Spirit to help you know things you do not know, to give you the right words, and to soften your  heart.

Ask her. If your friend openly talks about the difficulties in her marriage, great. But if you just think she may be in a hard marriage, or even an abusive marriage, you will need to go to her. But be prepared that she may be defensive because she may either be in complete denial, she may not be ready to admit it to herself, or she may not be ready to deal with the potential fallout.

Read up on the subject. There are some amazing books out there on this subject. I’d recommend The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick, Foolproofing Your Life by Jan Silvious, or my e-book Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage.

Gather resources. Do some investigating for your friend. What kinds of support groups and social service agencies are available in your area that you can recommend to her?

Offer to go with her to talk to someone. If your friend readily admits that things in her marriage seem more difficult than they should be, gently suggest she talk to someone that she trusts, and offer to go with. First of all, […]

Why Women Stay

If you are in a healthy marriage or have never experienced any kind of abuse firsthand, first of all, thank God for that gift.  But secondly, it can leave you scratching your head and wondering why someone would stay with her abusive partner.
Why does a woman take being called names over and over for years?
Why does a woman call the police but not file charges?
Why does a woman allow herself to be controlled, manipulated and lied to by her partner of all people?
Why does a woman go back to her physically abusive husband?
I’m going to give you several reasons why an abused woman does not leave her abuser.
She doesn’t know she’s being abused. I remember sitting in my car after being told by my new counselor that my marriage was abusive. This was fifteen years into the marriage. I was a fairly intelligent woman with a psychology degree. And I was in shock. I had known for a while at that point that my marriage was in trouble and rife with conflict and not the average bear, but abusive had never entered my mind.  That was the stuff of Lifetime movies, not of good Christian girls’ marriages. I had stayed so long, in part, because I hadn’t known.
Her faith culture makes her think she has to stay. In those moments after that counseling session, before I started my car and drove away, I just sat there. And I said, out loud, to no one, to myself, to God, I don’t know, “Great…I’m abused. Now what?? Christians can’t get divorced for abuse. So now I just get to walk around knowing this for the rest of my life?!” I was furious.  With my perceived constricting […]

Not All Marriages are Created Equal

Every marriage is different. I think we all think we believe this and yet, if a couple (or if a spouse) comes to someone in church leadership asking for help, I think a lot of times they are given this formula (or some version of it):

pray more + monthly date night + join a couples’ group = everything will be fine

But not every struggling marriage should be handed this formula. Because not every struggling marriage is the same.

Some truly are just in a funk. Some are just experiencing one spouse being seasonally stressed or selfish. Some just need a nudge.

But then there are the other kinds of struggling marriages – those with abuse or addiction or mental illness or pornography or infidelity issues. And that formula not only won’t help, it has the power to make the person who came for help feel unheard and it has the potential to make the relationship worse.

So, if you are a person of authority – a pastor or elder, a women’s ministry director or small group leader – and a woman comes to you with marriage tales that don’t fall into the black and white standard reasons for divorce (adultery and literal abandonment by an unbeliever), I have some thoughts for you.

• Believe her when she says her marriage is harder than the average hard. If she has come to you, she has come close to her bottom as she’s finally admitted to herself that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be, and she has more than likely exhausted other avenues of help. She has probably been to counseling or a recovery group, and she’s coming to you as her last chance. […]

You Can Be in an Abusive Marriage and Not Know You’re in an Abusive Marriage

I think most people think of abused women as mousy, as cowards, with black eyes hidden under thick make-up, as – as harsh as this sounds – fools or, worse yet, just plain idiots.

Because who would willingly stay in an abusive marriage? What kind of woman wouldn’t be strong enough to do what she’d need to do to get herself out of something like that?  You just leave. How hard can it be??

Right?

Sigh.

There are so many things wrong with those perceptions, I almost don’t know where to begin.

But I’ll start with this: abuse is not just a black eye. Trust me, it’s so much more than that.

In fact, take a look at this. It’s called the Abuse Wheel of Power & Control.

It’s stunning, isn’t it?  Not as in beautiful but as in, you should be stunned by what is really considered abuse. It is words and actions and mindgames and sickness incarnate.  Abuse is anytime another person tries to exert his or her power over you. We all abuse each other from time to time, but what I am talking about here is a consistent pattern of abuse between one spouse over another.

So, abuse is more than just physical, bottom line.  All of you who have never been abused who think you know what an abused wife looks like, you don’t. She could be your quirky neighbor, your kid’s ultra-competent teacher, your serving-all-the-time pastor’s wife, your strong-willed women’s ministry director.  So, get that mousy, weak image out of your head.

But then switching to the actual woman in a hard marriage who just thinks her marriage is hard and she needs to keep sucking it up and trying harder.

Let me be clear, sweet one: you […]

What are Singles Looking for?

Sweet Tall-Shadow had the fun idea of polling single women (and then I added on the men!) to find out what they are looking for in a future marriage partner.

I’m grateful to all who took the brief survey, and thought I’d share what was discovered, so if you are out there in the dating world, you can see what the opposite sex is truly hoping to find.

(A quick disclaimer: there were at least another ten or so traits I wanted to add, but I needed to keep the question manageable. Hope you understand!)

What men are looking for in their future wives:

Godly
Trustworthy
Attractive
Kind
Servant-hearted
Humble
Good conversationalist
Dependable
Cheerful
Adventurous
Funny
Sensitive
Generous
Hard-working
Agreeable

What women are looking for in their future husbands:

Godly
Trustworthy
Dependable
Kind
Servant-hearted
Hard-working
Humble
Funny
Good conversationalist
Sensitive
Generous
Cheerful
Attractive
Agreeable
Adventurous

(Author’s note: One can’t help but notice that men rate attractiveness at #3 and women rate attractiveness at #13. I’m sorry, girls, but I kinda think you’re blowing smoke.  But I still love you!)

Regardless, happy searching, sweet ones!

Before you start dating, heal up first! Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage can help.

By |March 2nd, 2015|dating|6 Comments

My Marriage Needs a (Very Specific) Miracle, God

Several years ago, in the middle of my church-led reconciliation attempt, we were in a meeting with several church leaders who had been trying to put our cracked marriage back together.

And one of the men said this, “My prayer is that someday down the road, our prayers will be answered for a miracle and I will be able to tell other couples who are on the verge of breaking up to go talk to you two…that your marriage and lives will be shining trophies for Jesus.”

Hmm.

I knew he meant well.  Every person who told me they were “praying for a miracle” meant well.  But this is what I said in response, “Please take this with all due respect, but whether or not this marriage ends, I fully intend for my children and for me to live lives that are shining trophies for Jesus.  If this marriage ends, my kids and I will not be straddled with God’s plan B for the rest of our lives.”

I had so many people tell me that they were praying for a miracle.  And when they said this, they meant only one thing: that my then-husband would come around, and that we’d reconcile.  I want to be careful not to discount that because yes, if we would’ve reconciled, that would have been a miracle; trust me.

But here’s what I know now that I didn’t know then: reconciliation wasn’t the only miracle for our situation. I was programmed to believe that it was, but it wasn’t.

(Do not get me wrong: RECONCILIATION IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF EVERY HURTING MARRIAGE and I AM NOT A PROPONENT OF DIVORCE.)

But think about the implications of staunchly believing reconciliation is the only miracle. If […]

%d bloggers like this: