The Temptation of a Better Love(r)

So many times over the years, I have had people express this kind of sentiment to me. “You are a delightful woman, if you would just leave your husband, you could then find a man who will love you like you deserve.”

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve written on this before, but time to write on it again.

There is no location in Scripture that promises that a divorced woman will find a man who will love her like he should be loved. It’s not there. Some would argue that Scripture says that a divorced woman should never remarry. Ouch. Are you willing to go there?

Now, if my husband chose to leave me, then I would not feel constricted from pursuing another marriage in my future to hopefully the “ideal” man. Oh, wait. He would probably want the ideal woman and that would most certainly not be me.

If someone listened to my husband’s real version of our marriage–not the edited one he presents to people to make himself look good–they might encourage him to leave me too, and get the wife he deserves:

  • The one who will encourage him to pursue his dreams–even if it means not being able to provide for his family.
  • The one will let him control all the money. She’ll probably need a full-time job so as not be dependent on him.
  • The one who is model thin and beautiful. Oh, well, we are talking fantasy right. She’d need to be blonde too. Hey, he’s told me these things.
  • Oh, and she’ll love to have sex no matter how poorly he treats her.
  • She might need to be blind because my husband is not a model.

The fact is, I’m a sinner. Yup. I’m not perfect. I screw up. I’m not perfect or blameless in the demise of my marriage. However, I have sought to honor God and respect my husband even if he fails to love, cherish and provide for me, much less treat me as an equal heir to the throne of grace.

And even if I were a widow, there would be no guarantee of a better marriage for me down the line.

Some people get that dream. I’ve heard the stories and met them and I am so glad for them that they were free of a difficult marriage and found a spouse who loves and adores them through the good and the bad. A man who is worthy of respect, even when she disagrees with him. A man who is easy to follow because he first follows God and loves his wife out of that. It is a beautiful thing to behold.

*sigh*

I do find these guys in the romance novels I write (under a different name). I may not have it in real life, but my characters get a man to admire, who loves them in a Christ-like manner. They get great sex too (implied). Hey, I don’t get any in real life. I give my characters what I cannot have. At least at this point in time.

So ladies, leaving my husband to find the perfect man is a dream and a nice fantasy. It is not a valid argument or even a fair one to dangle in front of a woman struggling in a hard marriage. Oh, it would be so nice to have a man who, as one  quote says “will hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will fit back together.” Until then, and even after (if it ever comes to that day), I’ll cling to Jesus.

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The Un-Anniversary

I love Facebook, especially when women post about how much they still love their husbands after many years of marriage. Or men who proclaim the beauty of their wives after a long period of marriage. The “I would do it all over again,” is sweet to see.

Actually, bittersweet.

This Sunday will be my 23rd wedding anniversary. It’s not acknowledged or celebrated. I try to keep busy and ignore the date because my husband does. See, it’s not important to him because I am not important to him. Many years ago he decided we couldn’t do that recommended “date” thing because it costs money. Even after learning ways to do “dates” that cost nothing, he held to his belief that it is not something he could or would do because he doesn’t want to spend the money on me.

It’s not about having the money. It is a testament that I am not worth spending it on.

Ouch.

It’s been years since I’ve worn a wedding ring. I wear a ring on that finger because I am not in the market for an affair. I really don’t have a marriage and yes, my choice to stay married for a variety of reasons, means that I cannot seek another who might really love me. I put my ring aside and over the years my husband has never said a word to me about it missing.  Either he hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care. I have at times been tempted to sell it to provide money that my husband denies me. Yeah, I can be a bit passive-aggressive.

Part of me wonders if I could even do love. If I could give myself to another person and trust him.

Part of me wonders if my husband ever repented could I really trust that and embrace a new marriage with the man who has hurt me so deeply? I haven’t had to cross that bridge.

Can I regret marriage as difficult as it has been and continues to be?

No.

I’ve grown. I’ve matured. I’ve written a book. I’ve three children to parent here and one waiting for me in heaven. I’ve had heartache and pain that enables me to reach out to others in their hurt and validate their pain. My book about those lessons learned is due out in January of 2014.

Would I have spurned all that for the opportunity to be loved for who I am, protected and cherished as a wife? It’s a moot question since I did have opportunity before I ever had kids, to walk away from the marriage and I didn’t. Twice my husband threatened to divorce me and he didn’t.

23 years of marriage though is in reality 30 years in a relationship with this man. I’m not the same woman he met at our first date. My husband lives with a stranger because he doesn’t care to know me.

Sunday is a mile-marker like one sees on the highway. A little post that is missed if you blink, whizzing by faster and faster as the years pile up.

How about you? If you are in a difficult marriage, what are anniversaries like for you?

Blessings,
Lilly Grace

 

 

Abuse of Emotion

I often felt alone, even as a child, even though I had several siblings quickly added to our family.

I was a girl, three boys followed and it seemed that they were more special than me. I also have two much younger sisters that came later.

My mom didn’t  know how to cope with my frizzy mop, or my hyper-sensitive nature. I developed asthma and I think now that it wasn’t due to allergies (although there is a component of that) but that it was due to anxiety.

I was told just how much my medication cost a month and how they couldn’t afford it. What I heard was “You are an unnecessary burden to our family and we resent you for it.”

Ah, the travesties of childhood.

I would walk a mile home from school and I can remember dallying on the way. Spinning with my arms wide open and looking up at the sky hoping that maybe, just maybe, God could see me and that in spite of messages I heard, HE loved me.

I was told later by my family that NO ONE would love me. I picked scabs (probably an obsessive-compulsive behavior as a way to cope with stress). I was told no one would love me with those scars.

In puberty I gained weight. Potato chips were a comfort food given early on when my mom didn’t want to deal with my emotions. No human comfort was available but food soothed. Then I got messages like: “She would be really pretty if she weren’t so fat.” I would be called “bubble-butt” and “thunder-thighs” and led to believe that my weight made me unlovable. Ah, but this wasn’t bullying in school. This was my daily home life.

As I struggled with depression as a teen I was told, when I fessed up to my feelings, that I was being manipulative, trying to get attention.

With all that rejection, there wasn’t much motivation to try hard. No one cared about my grades, or my successes. Getting a top score in solo-ensemble I was still told by my mother that I didn’t support my voice enough. Nothing I ever did around the house was good enough.

I’m a flawed human. That much was clear from early on.

Sometimes I think back to that little girl with frizzy hair and two pigtails that curled in frizzy ringlets who looked up to heaven for approval and I cry. God? Can you see me? Can you hear me? Is my picture on your refrigerator? Does anyone think I’m special?

All these years later I still struggle. It wasn’t “safe” for me to share my emotions, much less my hopes and dreams then. It’s not safe to do so now. Sharing emotions and dreams only leads to abuse from people who were “supposed” to love me.

And I struggle to be a healthy person in the midst of an unhealthy, emotionally abusive marriage. I haven’t found the balance. How do I experience my emotions in away that is safe for me? Holding them in and feeding them potato chips or sugar doesn’t make the problem better. Sharing them puts me at risk of more abuse. S0metimes I feel so needy and I”m afraid to overwhelm friends with that lest I find that they too are put off by me.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Sometimes I avoid journaling because I’m afraid of my feelings. I get discouraged at the chronic nature of my difficult circumstances. Will I ever NOT grieve the loss of a dream of a man would love and cherish me? I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how thin I get neither him or my family will love me for who I am. It’s a losing battle to even try to curry their affection.

And God? He loves me just as I am. Right here. Right now. Muddied emotions, scars and flab. HE looks beyond it all and he values my hopes and dreams because HE placed them in my heart. He values my efforts to serve because HE called me and equipped me to do it.

Now if I could only get my head and my heart to live fully in THAT reality.

How about you? Have you struggled to deal with emotions in the midst of difficulties and lack of validation?

Lilly Grace

Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt (Book Review)

love isn't supposed to hurtI don’t often review books here but this one captured my interest.

I’m not even sure just how Christi Paul was able to write this book, Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt,  using her real name. In it she tells the story of emotional and verbal abuse and alcoholism of her first husband and gives him a different name. While that is nice, both are in work in television news. It didn’t take much to figure out his real name and find him on-line. What is sad is that he  lost his job because he felt she had lied in this book and obviously hadn’t resolved his alcohol issues. Not sure where he is now but I kind of feel bad for him. Sure, it’s years later, but who wants their dirt publicized for all to see?

Christi tells her story and she sought counseling. She didn’t go through the church for help and healing although she claims faith. She did divorce her husband although to her credit, as the book gives evidence, she did try hard to save the marriage.

So far I haven’t said a ton of positive about the book. It’s a story and a common one, but here is where the really good stuff comes. At the back of her book she has questions that she journaled through and some of them I think are beneficial for anyone in a challenging marriage and may make the price of the book worthwhile for you (hint: I got it free on kindle). The questions are not your typical assignments but a bit more challenging.

For instance:

  • How did verbal abuse serve me?
  • What is the benefit of being alone?
  • How has feeling betrayed helped me?
  • If the painful situation had never happened, what would have been the disadvantage, or what wouldn’t have happened that I now value?

There are many more like these with some examples of her own answers. The rest is her story and I’m glad she had the platform and confidence to share it and spread more awareness of just how even the most accomplished appearing woman can feel trapped in abuse. It raises awareness. Christi Paul is happily re-married and has children and is living a better life. Not everyone gets that kind of outcome. Still, I found the questions at the back of her book compelling to getting me to think about my challenges in a fresh way. Maybe you’ll find them beneficial too.

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Why I love Dancing with the Stars

dancing with the starsYes, I admit, I watch Dancing with the Stars. There is something about watching a couple in synch moving about the floor, interacting with each other physically and emotionally, that is breathtaking. The man leading with care and grace and the woman following but very much her own person.

Every dance expresses emotion. It’s more than going through motions because when it is it’s not as beautiful to watch. There’s the much flaunted “musicality” where the dancers need to keep in step with the music and not get out of timing with it.

When it’s done right, it is beautiful. A well done dance can make you smile or cry.

I guess I see it as an illustration of marriage. First, it takes two partners equally committed to the steps of the dance. Second, it takes a listening to the music of the Holy Spirit as God guides the couple through the ups and downs, spins and turns of life. Third, it takes discipline. None of the dancers can do what they do if they are not committed and practice. The final dance seen on the show is only the result of the hard work done behind the scenes: sore muscles, fights and tears, trips and falls, but the couple completely committed to following through – together.

A dance is not beautiful when one partner fails to practice, or doesn’t care, refuses to listen to the music or doesn’t even show up to the floor. Those dancers don’t stay on the show long. The other partner can dance 100% but if the slacker is there it only highlights how poorly he or she is really doing. My heart often goes out to the professionals who had given it their all with a partner that just can’t get it—or won’t.

A marriage is the same. It looks “off” when one partner refuses to dance or even touch the other. Where there is only animosity. Life is not an unending pase doble.  Or when the partner walks off the floor but still calls them self part of the dancing team of two.

I’m not fond of all the skimpy costumes on the show, but I am fond of the romance of it, and the fun. I love the behind the scenes where you see how hard it is.  Winners though rarely complain, they just dig in and do the work and don’t waste time thinking about just how hard it is.  Losers however justify their failures with how hard it is. They become victims of the trial before them – a trial they chose.

I would love to dance in my marriage in time with a spouse to the beauty of the music of the Holy Spirit.  I dance alone and sometimes I resort to the whining about just how hard it is, especially without a partner to support and encourage and share the hardship and joy of the dance.

Yes, I’m still married, but my spouse has stepped off the dance floor and doesn’t care about how well I do. Still, I need to do my best, even if it’s a solo number, and give it as much dedication and passion as if I had that partner to share it with. I need to imagine that Jesus is that partner.

How about you? How are you doing in the dance of a difficult marriage?

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Be Jesus to Me

Scripture tells me that God loves me. He died for me. He chose me before the beginning of time. Zephaniah 3:17 states he even delights in me.

I realized though that right now my relationship with God is a bit stale. I’ve been wounded to be sure and while those wounds were not from God they make me a bit hesitant to engage with Him. When words and actions of those who were supposed to love me have been anything but loving and kind, it’s hard to know that God is not like them.

I struggle. I know God is good. He has been very good to me. I know He loves me. He’s faithful. I struggle to grasp the depth of his delight in me. His unconditional regard and love for me even in my distance.

It’s not that I want to be distant. I don’t. Certain people who swore they loved God and said they loved me have proven to be false. It’s an unfortunate reality of life in a sinful world.  I’m amazed that God still speaks to me, uses me, works in and through me in spite of my perceived failure in drawing as close to Him as I feel I should be.

I know. I shouldn’t should myself. It’s a nasty habit.

I’m being honest. When day after day my husband abuses or ignores me, it feels like God is too. My husband is not God but in a biblical sense a husband is to be Jesus to his wife. He is to love her as Christ loved the church. That’s a tall order.

I long to be loved like that. I long to have a man love me as an extension, albeit flawed, of Jesus’ love for me. I long to be cherished as God cherishes me. I long to be sacrificed for, considered worthy of being protected and served.

Instead I get abuse and neglect. The wounds cut deep because the longing is huge.

Maybe someday God will send me a man who is worthy of that task who will be willing to bridge the hurt and help me to trust again. Maybe he won’t so I don’t make that man an idol. I long to be loved like that. I long to be led by that. I can barely fathom what it would be like to be in a relationship like that.

So maybe it’s unrealistic? I’m married to a man entrenched in his own self-importance and blames me for his own sins and failures. I become hopeless that he will ever change although  God is perfectly capable of doing it. However, if a man refuses to even admit his need for God and his need to change, God leaves him to his own devices. As a result I’m left with nothing but a shell of a marriage, in name only, and that hurts.

I wish I had an answer to my dilemma. I will continue to pray. I will be faithful to my vows and will not seek solace in another man’s arms. I will keep pursuing God with my wounded heart and pray He will continue to lovingly and gently woo me to himself in spite of the roadblocks humans have erected in my path.

God will hold those who hurt me accountable and I can take solace in that fact. The hurtful words and actions have consequences for me now but for them in eternity if they fail to bend their knee. Someday, my Prince will come and all will be made right because Jesus will be Jesus to me even if my husband refuses to.

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

The Lonely Heart

The Lonely Heart

They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

But what if you’ve lost love but still have the person?

The pain of rejection on a daily basis is a profound loneliness that too many struggle with.

The wondering of “What is wrong with me that he can’t love me?”

The loss of the dream of ever feeling cherished, wanted and desired.

It is demoralizing.

It is painful.

And if she wants to honor God, it means she cannot seek solace in the arms of another.

Rejected and alone.

Rarely able to express her heart’s deepest longings and be understood.

Never to be nurtured.

Hopeless and voiceless .

But God sees.

He knows.

He cares.

As the lover of the wounded soul He understands rejection and abuse.

And He waits for us.

We hold on.

We pray.

We long.

We remember that this world is a blip in the timeline of eternity.

Sooner than we realize we will be home.

Embraced.

Cherished more than our human frailty could ever withstand here.

And our suffering will have been worth it.

So wait.

Hope.

Stay faithful.

And know – you are not alone.

 

Lilly Grace

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