When Freedom from a Difficult Marriage Comes Unexpectedly

Image courtesy of Craftyjoe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Craftyjoe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have often said that if God wanted me out of my difficult marriage, He was perfectly capable of doing it.

  1. My husband could change.
  2. My husband could choose to divorce me (and I would most likely not fight it, he stands before God on that).
  3. My husband could die. (And no, I am not seeking that end!)


God does change marriages. I have a friend who seperated and was ready to divorce due to her husband’s addictions and verbal abuse. God worked through those months where she started to carve out a new life for herself and He turned her husband around. They are back together now and working on their marriage. It can and does happen!


A few months ago a friend and I sat down for coffee. She was visibly upset. Her speech was rapid. “I did everything you suggested to stay and now he’s divorcing me.”

The marriage was filled with distance and verbal abuse from her spouse. But she had hung in there and now he had filed. She had just come from meeting with her attorney and was armed with what she needed for her future and for the future of her children. In spite of that she grieved the death of her marriage.

I reminded her that she had asked God to release her from her pain and heartache and He had! No one wants divorce but she was free of the daily struggle (or would be one the divorce was final). She paused with her mouth agape and eyes wide. Yes! God had freed her and she did not file for the divorce and she could stand clean before God for her efforts to save the marraige. I was so proud of her for her perseverance and dedication in spite of the emotional pain. She’s a stronger woman because of it.


A friend who got me on my path of writing about this, almost seperated from her husband years ago. He chose to do counseling and while the changes didn’t last, she forged a life for herself in the midst of the missing emotional and physical affection and was there through his addictions, various health crisis and cancer diagnosis. She lived her faith and loved her husband in spite of his sins. Her heart was broken for his spiritually lost soul.

And then he died.

There is no way I rejoice in his death. There is no way I would go to my friend and cheer “You are free! You are free!” She has arrangements to make and a new life to settle into. She will have much to grieve. I’m not sure if he ever accepted Christ either.

I do know that she lived her life with integrity and she loved her husband as an image-bearer of Christ even though he may never have returned that love. I think he loved her in his own way.

She is now a widow. She can stand before the throne of God clean and hear “Well done,” because she served sacrificially in her marriage and now God has freed her. He also freed her husband from a life of pain and struggle. Maybe in the end God freed her husband to be a child of the King of Kings. Sometimes we don’t ever really know.


So often we are told to leave. We deserve better. But each of these three women chose not to divorce. The leaned into the reality of their struggle and while the outcomes are different the result is the same. God freed them from the pain of their difficult marriages.

I’m not telling you to pray for death of your spouse. Or change. Or that he will divorce you. Pray for the courage to stay and do what you need to do to be all God has called you to be and to love your spouse. Seperation is not divorce and is, at times, a useful tool but not an easy path. None of these paths are easy, but choosing to walk away (i.e. divorce) is a path that can close the door to God’s work.

Having said that though, divorce is not always the end either. In what feels like another lifetime ago, I witnessed a divorced couple come to Christ individually. They ended up at our church and soon reconnected as new creations in Christ. Yes, they had divorced. I was there for their remarriage. What a beautiful thing to witness! We have such a big God!

So hang in there and stay faithful to the God who sustains and cherishes you more than you will ever know! Freedom is never easy. It comes with a price tag, but when it comes by God’s permissive hand, it can be endured and there is light on the other side of the pain.


Lilly Grace


Secondary Gains, Part 2

This was originally posted in Sept 2010 and much has changed in my life – but the concepts here are good.

So I last wrote about the adaptations that can become stumbling blocks when it comes to chronic, physical issues.  But what does this mean for relational ones?

When relationships are difficult, if we have the courage and possibly healthy background – we confront the issues and move on to repentance, reconciliation and relationship.  This is healthy and biblical and definitely worth the effort. But it takes two.  What if ongoing sin issues by another person, and a lack of repentance, keep all of this from happening?  We are to forgive certainly (Jesus forgave us though we didn’t deserve it).  But reconciliation and relationship are missing.  So how do you move forward in that kind of relationship?

Some people simply leave.  But let’s say that’s not the right choice for you for whatever reason.  We don’t abandon our children simply because they are difficult and while we can manufacture space with parental units, totally cutting them off can be challenging.  There are simply some difficult relationships we cannot escape even though we would wish to.

We adapt.  This can be good in that it can keep us sane. It may mean not investing in that relationship. Lowering our expectations of what that person can do to meet our very real wants and needs.  It does not mean revenge or resentment is a good place to camp. God asks us to love the unlovely and show respect for others, even when they have wronged us, simply because – well, HE asks us to.  They are as equally created in the image of God as we are and deserve our consideration and prayers even if we cannot have a true relationship with them that we would desire.

So we adapt. We work around the issues.  We learn new ways of ‘doing life’ with that person that keeps us feeling safer in the relationship. Maybe it means stepping back, not sharing our deepest thoughts.  It may mean finding other places to get our needs met (I am NOT advocating emotional or physical affairs here. . .).

But what happens if they do change?  That is what we want after all, isn’t it? Anger, resentment, hatred will all raise their ugly head at how that other individual has messed up and destroyed any hope of relationship with us.  We find freedom by moving away from that person.  We sometimes find our own ego stroked by comparing ourselves to them.  But then they go and change?  Whoa! Hey, that’s not allowed unless we dictate it – right?  Yet God has the power to change a human heart and we are to pray for those who persecute us.  So, what if He answers that prayer?

This happens in difficult marriages.  Husband decides finally to be the spiritual head of the home.  Even if he repents of his past failures and tries to keep his wife involved in the decisions and changes that are taking place (this is ideal guys, dictating to us will only garner resistance), the wife is going to have difficulty– even if it has been what she has prayed for.  She has to give up control and freedom to a person who has not proven himself worthy of the trust he is now demanding of her.  See how difficult this is?  She’s adapted, and even though it is not what she originally wanted, her life had become a predictable, even if unhappy – then the rules changed.

So here’s the tough question.  If someone is bugging you because they won’t change, ask the question, “If they changed overnight, if God did a miracle here, would I be able to accept it?”  If the answer is “no” then the real issue is not the other person – but you.  Let God deal with them and you get to work with Him over all that’s holding you back from the abundant life He’s calling you to, regardless of whether the other person changes or not.  Lean into it and see what God can do in you!



A month ago I wrote about accidental living and having a mission and a vision for your life. I also mentioned a “word of the day.”

I’ve not posted for a few weeks because I was finishing up my book, “Lessons from the Trenches: Staying in a Difficult Marriage” to submit to a contest, and so I can renew my pursuit of a literary agent. I finished it and am deeply grateful for the help of my amazing editors who spend time and energy into making me a better writer.

I was also pondering my “word for the year” and it is COURAGE. Yup. Someone said that was a dangerous word because God would give me more reasons to have courage. Maybe so. Kind of like praying for patience–be careful what you pray for, right?

I already knew that going into this year I was going to have to face down some of those deep fears that could potentially keep me from my desire to be published. See, it’s one thing to sit alone and write a book and maybe show it to a few people and get some good feedback because they actually like me to begin with. It’s entirely another thing to put it out there where ANYONE could read it. It’s another to consider the other aspects of marketing a book that would put ME out there as well.

Those who know me understand that I have no problem talking. I love to talk. I love to teach. But I have deep set insecurities (just like so many of us) that would keep me from possibly speaking out on THIS topic especially. Lilly Grace Brown is my nom de plume to protect my identity and husband simply because of the provocative nature of my writing on this topic. So there is fear of exposure. Fear of being told I’m doing my marriage wrong or that I’m a failure.

Ah, the vagaries of being human.

I also need courage as a mom and wife. When I want to run and hide from the challenges I face, I need to have courage to stand up and make the decisions that might make my son angry. Then I have to face that rage. I don’t like rage. Or maybe I have to face my husband’s verbal or emotional abuse if I challenge him on something and he dislikes it.

Courage. Strong word for a weak person who simply wants to walk in a way that would honor my God.  But in Psalm 31:24, it says: “Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD” (NASB).  Courage. It doesn’t mean I won’t be afraid. It will simply mean that when the choice comes, I can stand firm in who God made me in Christ Jesus, and do what He is calling me to do, even if it takes me out of my comfort zone.  Like Daniel in the lion’s den, I need to simply move forward in the face of my fear and in confidence in Christ, whether I feel like it or not. And then trust Him with the results.

I am grateful that God does not leave me to do this on my own. I’m grateful for the power of His Holy Spirit within me to enable me. I’m grateful for the people He has placed along the way to encourage and pray when those moments come.

So my word for the year is courage. If you were to select a word for this year for yourself, what would it be?