When You Lose Friends Because of Your Difficult Marriage

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Difficult marriages are often a journey of years, even decades, for the wife who chooses to stay. Initially she may not even realize it’s difficult. Marriage can be hard, can’t it? But when challenges become more defined and efforts at making the marriage better are rebuffed and blame is repeatedly placed on the wife–reality is hard to escape.

And it can be a devastating burden.

I’ve had to sever or at least limit my contact with some individuals who were not supportive of my struggle. Who recognized they really could not support me in my effort to stay. I have enough negativity and blame in my marriage. I don’t need it in my support system too.

Not that I don’t want truth tellers. I do. I need to know when I cross a line or sometime be gently reminded of certain truths that maybe I’ve forgotten in the dark cloud that can consume me.

I don’t have BFF’s though. In the middle of the night there is maybe one woman I would feel comfortable calling should I be that desperate. I have a friend who had to remind me that when I’m down, she wants to be there for me. I cried realizing that I had a deeper friendship in her than I realized. The fact is . . . I have to spread my pain out amongst a wider net of friendships and to differing degrees so as not to overwhelm one person with the weight I carry daily.

I wish I could say “God is enough.” But sometimes we just need Jesus with skin on.

And yet accepting the help can be hard to do. I don’t always believe I deserve to be treated well. And I’m used to being the one who serves and cares for others. To receive it is humbling and uncomfortable. But I’m learning that when it happens, I need to be grateful for the way God provides.

I wish I could give solace for the injuries and wounds left by others who don’t understand your journey, your struggles or your grief. Your dedication to stay married is only for one person and one person alone: Jesus. It is out of obedience to Him that I stay. Should He tell me to leave (separate) . . . then I need to obey.

The thought terrifies me but I have to remember, looking back at my life, that there have been decisions and choices I have made before that now I look  back and wonder how I did it.  I don’t remember any fear. I do remember some of the pain of those choices but mostly I look back in admiration that my obedience gave me the courage to follow through and do things my scardey-cat self would never consider.

Only God can do that when He leads us. It won’t be without struggle either way. But He sees and knows. 

And I am grateful.

Lilly Grace

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Alone

I met a young mom the other day quite by accident. I had prayed and listened to her over the past few years as she struggled in her marriage. She told me how her husband had taken her out to dinner and told her he didn’t want to be married anymore. He came home and told the children that Daddy didn’t love Mommy anymore. The kids were devastated.

Then he filed for divorce.

She is struggling because hasn’t date in so long and doesn’t want to. She said she is lonely and afraid she will die alone.

She told me she would rather go back to the verbal abuse of her marriage than live this way.

He’s treating her nice now. He’s spending more time with the kids with the visitation. He grumbles but doles out his child support.

She said if only he could have been this way while they were married, then maybe. . . .

I have a couple of things to say about this.

  1. She didn’t choose the divorce. She knows she messed up in the marriage and is counseling for that. He didn’t want to do the work. He made the  choice.  My suspicion is he is not a Christ-follower. My hope is that others will give her grace and not let her divorce status, something she did not seek or want, be a negative mark to her identity.
  2. She gave up going to church. I encouraged her to come back. Worship. Be with other believers. She won’t feel quite so alone.
  3.  I gave her information on Divorce Care and another support group of women that gather socially. She hadn’t been sharing much with any one out of shame – so she was missing key resources that could benefit her.
  4. She was borrowing trouble from the future. “I’m afraid I will die alone?” That could have happened while married too. You just have to die when no one else is around. The fact is, we can’t predict the future and will she grow old and be single? Well, a lot of widowed women do it too and survive. Being single is not a death sentence.
  5. This woman’s grief is still raw. She has a long journey ahead of her.
  6. She may be alone but her kids finally get a dad who is paying attention to them and she is finally being treated with respect. It’s sad that she would trade that for the agony and abuse she had experienced, just so she wouldn’t be alone in bed at night.  She’s in a place many divorced women would envy.

I’m pro-marriage. I really am. The fact is, just because we choose to stay and work on our marriage doesn’t mean our spouse will. Sometimes the choice is taken out of our hands. Sometimes a door slams in our face and God gives us a clear way out of the marriage. As painful as it is to let go of what is familiar, my prayer for this young woman is that she can embrace the good things she will learn and gain from this time as a single mom. She’s not alone. Ever. And she doesn’t need to distance herself from her church family either.

Work hard for your marriage, but realize that it takes three. God is working with you towards reconciliation, but your spouse has a role to play in that too an if he drops the ball and walks away from the game, it’s over and no on wins.

Someday, that could be you or me. I would hope for love and compassion should that happen just as I would hope for it now by staying. Our paths are unique as we seek to obey God. There is no one way to walk this path in a difficult marriage except for this: Obey Christ and seek to honor and glorify Him in every aspect.

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Redemption before Healing

The other day, I was able to encourage a young mom whose marriage is on the verge of divorce. It is amazing how many similarities her life challenges are to my own. She’s got some tough choices ahead, and if she chooses to stay that will be challening, but it can be done and done in a way that helps her grow in her faith and as a woman and a mom.

Last week I got a chance to encourage a woman with some health issues who just wants to be healthy. Since I’ve had a little journey with natural medicine and little money, I was able to point her in the direction of some inexpensive things to try to help improver her general health before she even steps into a doctor’s office. I’m not a doctor. I’m just someone who’s got an autoimmune disease who is on a journey. . . but she felt that in some ways, that was better because I wasn’t trying to sell her anything (I don’t sell supplements or get commissions on anything I told her about).

On a recent Sunday after church, I was able to sit and listen and then pray for another woman struggling in her marriage with a spouse who is not coming to church or walking with the Lord.

I’m not telling you this to brag about how great I am because I can help people. I’m only sharing to say this: Sometimes, even when we are in the midst of our own struggles, God can use that experience to help people just starting on that path. If we are leaning on God, and can offer hope and encouragement in the darkness and confusion of this world, God is redeeming our pain, while we are still in it, for HIS glory.

I can’t make promises to woman that their lives will be dramatically improved and they will have all their heart’s desire for their marriages or health. I cannot promise that life will get easier. I can only be honest and say that I still struggle but I’m still here, plugging along on the path God has me on, and trying to be faithful to Him with each step I take. I can also give a hug. Sometimes we need “Jesus with skin on.”

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I need others around me to lift me up in prayer as I struggle with the challenges and my courage fails. Sometimes I need someone to remind me, once again, that God is GOOD. That He will be good to me, and that He is forever faithful to His children. Sometimes when I am called upon to share those truths with someone else who is hurting – I am also speaking to myself.

What a relief that I do not have to “arrive” to be usable by God. That bruised and broken at times by circumstances and stresses of life, God can still be seen in me, and can still use me to help others along the path. It reminds me that none of us are there yet and God designed the body of Christ to help us support each other in the battles of the world and against the enemy our soul. What a sweet privilege. My heart grieves for those that hurt like I do, but I take comfort that I am not alone in my challenges and that somehow God uses it all to further His kingdom.

How about you? In what ways have you seen God using you recently in your areas of struggle – to minister to someone else? If you haven’t seen that happen, pray and ask Him to show you those opportunities. There is great joy in being used by Him to help another struggling soul as we walk this road called “life.”

Blessings,

LGB