Just Married

So, as you probably know, I just got married.  To the sweetest man I know.

Our wedding day was everything I could’ve hoped for and more, filled with poignant moments and laughter and most of the people closest to us who have helped us walk from broken to healing.

The first thing Richard said to me after the ceremony (after we sang and danced away from the ceremony site to American Authors’ “Best Day of My Life”) was, “That was awesome!” which was so endearing and so affirming because I knew he meant not only that it was great to be married to me but that he thought I’d done a good job planning everything, something that I always, always second-guess myself on after years of criticism taken on as truth.

But what I really wanted to share was the second thing he said to me, as we took a few deep breaths before heading back out to do pictures and then on to the reception.  And I wanted to share it because it took my breath away. And because it shows his true character. And because it was the kindest, best way ever for a marriage to begin.

He said to me…wait for it…“Is there anything I can do for you?”

In that moment, he was showing to me that he was already going to live out what it talks about in Ephesians 5:25 when Paul admonishes husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

He could’ve reached for a beer.  He could’ve checked the mirror before pictures. He could’ve done any manner of things in those moments.  But his first instinct was to check on me and see if I needed anything and he went on […]

Out of the Darkness: Exposing the Secret of Difficult Marriages in the Church

Picture a closet, bursting at the seams. Now picture a girl, back to the door, doing everything she can to brace herself against it to keep the contents from tumbling out all over the place, because what a mess that would be.

Hi, I’m that girl.  And I’m going to tell you about the dirty little secret that was in my closet.

I’m a Christian. And I don’t say the word Christian lightly. I don’t say it to mean like I’m a Protestant. Or I try to be good. I mean that I’m a born-again, asked-Jesus-into-my-heart, weekly-church-attending, used-to-be-on-staff-at-a-church, quiet-time-having, worship-music-in-my-car kind of Christian.  I was that kind of Christian bracing myself against the world finding out what I was hiding.

And that was this…I was in a very difficult Christian marriage.

And I don’t say very difficult lightly either. I don’t say it like I mean he didn’t bring me flowers anymore. Or the toothpaste cap was always off. I mean it as in there was more fighting than peace, more crying than laughter, more hiding than truth, sobbing-on-my-bathroom-floor-asking-Jesus-to-kill-me-because-divorce-wasn’t-an-option-in-my-Christian-mind kind of very difficult.

And I didn’t want anyone to know.  And yet, I was just praying and hoping deep down that someone would figure it out and rescue me.

Between the time I truly stopped hiding once and for all and now has been five years.  During that time, I went through a fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt.  I was released by my church elder board to legally separate.  I was then served divorce papers three months later.  My kids and I moved out.  Our divorce was final.  And my marriage has been in my rearview mirror for two-and-a-half years now.

And in the past few years, I’ve been writing about all […]

My Hard Marriage is a Waste of My Life

Something has recently transpired that has made me question the moral foundation of my entire twenty-three-year first partnership.

I shared it with my counselor and his response was, in part, “I’m not saying your entire {Christian} marriage was a sham, but…”

And someone else recently referred to my upcoming marriage as my first real marriage, as if my previous marriage was so bad, it wasn’t worth counting.

But I heartily disagree.

Even if all the good that came from my first marriage were my two precious children, that would be enough and thanks be to God.

But I believe so very much more came from that relationship that made it worthy of existing.

I’ve been thinking back on the books I read, and the dates I initiated, and the tears I cried, and the counseling sessions I sat in on, and the fights I fought, and the prayers I prayed.

Those books shaped me. They taught me things. They helped me feel not so alone.

Those dates proved that I could do something I didn’t want to do when I thought I was doing something that was right.

Those tears were my balm, and have been saved in a bottle by the Creator of the universe and counted, and, I believe, treasured as precious.

Those counseling sessions taught me to be authentic. And to be humble.

Those fights taught me I was both walk-on-able and that I could be very mean. Neither are good, both are scary. I needed to learn this about myself.

And those prayers…they didn’t just waft past God as he rolled his eyes, thinking how this marriage didn’t even count since he knew it was going to end.  Not in a million freaking years.  They mattered. Every prayer I prayed in […]

My Four-Year Stint as a Single Woman Smack Dab in the Middle of My Life

Four years ago this month, I was released to legally separate by a church leadership team who had invested fifteen months of their time in putting my marriage back together. Though I believe my first relationship was not a partnership in the truest sense of the word and I therefore always felt basically on my own, I have been living as a single woman and a single mother for four actual years.

A big part of me thought I’d be living singly for the rest of my life – and I had come to terms with that and had accepted that – but it turned out to be just a season. (Lesson: we never know how long a season will last.)

These past four years have been the hardest, most stretching, most healing, most peaceful, most lovely, most happy, best years of my entire life.  Seriously.

And as I headed into my final few days as a single woman, I decided I would look back on these past four years and take stock: what did I learn, how did I fare.

Physically:  Though I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself to be in shape, during the non-winter months, I tried to walk or bike every day. I continued drinking my green tea and smoothies daily. I took an occasional yoga class. I did not under- or over-eat. My weight did not go too far up or too far down. I went to the doctor as needed. I got enough rest. Turns out, I am capable of taking care of myself physically, even during a really, really hard time.

Emotionally:  I felt all my feelings. I didn’t numb them or stuff them. I did counseling. I did DivorceCare. I met with my […]

So, I Got Married Today…

So, Tall-Shadow and I pretty much got married, like, TONIGHT. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!

I’ll write more when we get back from the honeymoon.  But I wanted you to know that I love you all and, reminder: I’m not going anywhere. I’ve still got your backs and I’m going to keep on being our voice.

Much, much love, sweet girls!
xoxo Elisabeth

P.S. Please pray for us if you think of it…many, many changes and transitions up ahead for both of us and all our children. Thank you for your sweet, sweet support along our journey so far!

How Do You Know You’re Not Being Fooled?

A reader recently asked me, regarding my relationship with Tall-Shadow, “How did you know you weren’t having the wool pulled over your eyes again?”

The woman who asked this question represents every divorced woman I know, including me.  One of the reasons I had come to a place of deciding I would more than likely be single forever was that there was no way I wanted to put my heart out there again only to have it trampled on again.  I had been so hurt before; why in the world would I want to risk reliving that kind of pain?

But I went through a season where I was awakened to my desire for partnership, and then my girlfriends nudged me to try online dating, and then I stumbled upon Tall-Shadow, and now here we are, engaged.

So, here is how he earned my trust, how I know that I am not being fooled.

Questions before. Before he and I ever met in person, I had riddled him with questions through Match.com email, then through text, then over the phone.  I felt like, in part, I knew him before I met him.

Questions at the beginning. Our first date was one question after another, going both ways.  And our second date was a round of mini-golf where we each had to ask and answer a question on every hole. And then I bought a couple books of questions for dating couples and would pull it out on long dates.

Questions still. Just last night we were out, and I said, “Tell me something random about you I don’t know.” I do that a lot. I keep asking questions.  Little questions, big questions.

Okay, but those are just words, you might be […]

What are You Hoping for?

I have a friend who just got some wonderful news.  I asked her if she were going to post it in a group on Facebook that we’re both members of and she said she wasn’t sure.  I asked why and she said she didn’t want anyone to feel badly.

I totally get this.  As Christians, we’re completely fine sharing our bad news and asking for prayer but when something good happens, we feel guilty about it.  As if life for us is only supposed to be hard.

I struggled with this when I started dating Tall-Shadow, whether to share it publicly.  I write to women who are living in the day-to-day difficulties of hard, hard marriages, and to women who are recovering from divorce and are nowhere near ready to date, and to women who have been trying to find someone for a long time.  I didn’t want to make anyone feel badly.

And yet, if I were to have left out that part of my life, I would have been leaving out a significant part, along with the lessons I’m learning, so I decided to move forward with sharing about him and about us.

But something interesting has transpired.  At first, I was grateful to hear a common thread response but now I’m starting to worry just a tad.

When I post things about Tall-Shadow doing something for me, like plant flowers or paint a table and chairs for me, I occasionally get comments like this:

So these kind of men really DO exist and not just in fairytales?

I sure haven’t ever met any; my heart’s desire one day is to find one.

Am I hallucinating??

I completely understand these statements because my heart used to be hurting like their hearts […]

Why I’m Getting Remarried

Some may wonder why a divorcee – let alone one who claims to have been so hurt in her former marriage – would ever want to get remarried.

Is it because I’m a glutton for punishment?
Forgetful of what I’ve left behind?
A hopeless romantic?
A believer in fairytales, in happily-ever-afters?
Because I think I deserve it?
Because I’m a fool?

No, none of that.

It’s in part because of this:

“It is risky to give yourself to another. There are no guarantees, and there are lots of ways for it to fall apart and break your heart. But the upside is infinite. There is a mysterious, indescribable, complex exchange that can happen in the space between you, filling you with joy, confirming your intuition that marriage is not only good for you, but good for the world. Marriage has the uniquely powerful capacity to transform you both into more loving and generous and courageous and compassionate people.”  –Rob & Kristen Bell, The Zimzum of Love

I believe this with my whole heart.  I believe that marriage is a gift. That what I experienced the first time was not what I was meant to experience, that what I experienced was the exception and not the rule. That marriage truly was meant by God to be gorgeous. That it, when working well, is light in a world that desperately needs light.

And though Tall-Shadow and I are not a perfect couple, and though he and I are both human and both sinners, and though we both bring with us baggage and marriages that we could not keep together, there is something between us that is a mystery to me…an ease, a security, a peace…something that I have never experienced before.

Let […]

Just Because I’m Divorced Does Not Mean You Can Divorce

A few years ago, I wrote a four-part article that ran on Crosswalk.com called The Unraveling of a Christian Marriage. To this day, I still get emails about this article.  And the email usually sounds something like this:

Thank you for writing my story. I no longer feel alone. I’m in a horrible marriage. I want out. You’ve given me hope.

These emails simultaneously make my heart hurt, make me grateful, and make me cringe.

With everything in me, I hate, hate, hate that there are so many broken Christian marriages, most of which are being played out in secret. (To prove there are “so many”: there are over four hundred women in my private Facebook group for women in difficult Christian marriages, and I believe I am just barely scratching the surface). I believe this is one of the worst and biggest secrets that the Church is keeping: that the marriages of some of their members are imploding and they don’t want the outside world to know or they don’t understand the intricacies or don’t know what to do about addiction or abuse because it doesn’t fit into the mold of one or two certain bad things happening (i.e. adultery or literal abandonment), so they do things – even if unintentionally – that make matters worse.

And yet with everything in me, I am so grateful that God has used the pain I experienced for twenty-five years for something other than just to break me into a million pieces.  One of the main reasons I write is so that you precious women who feel so stuck and caught and broken and isolated and ashamed no longer feel alone.  Because you’re not; I get it. If you’re reading […]

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, […]

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