I have volumes written on my laptop and volumes written in my head of what I would say to a young woman about to be married, to a woman in a hurting marriage, and to a woman going through a divorce.  But if I could sum up my message to each, it would be this: 

To the young woman about to be married, if you are scared or unsure: don’t do it. Walking away now is a thousand times easier and better and healthier than a) either walking away later, or b) staying in a marriage so lonely you want to die. I have been single and lonely; I have been married and lonely; and I have been divorced and lonely. And trust me when I say this, married-lonely is the loneliest lonely of them all. Do not marry just because you don’t think anyone else will come along. Please, dear one. You are stronger than you think you are. Undoing a wedding is much less chaotic and messy than undoing a marriage.  Trust that God will come through — either with just the right partner for you at just the right time, or with strength to endure the gift of the single life. I know waiting is scary. But being stuck is scarier. 

To the woman in a difficult marriage: get help. Do not keep doing what you’re doing. Do not keep doing nothing. Or nagging. Or obsessing. Or telling everyone your woes. Or dying a little more each day. If you’re reading this, then you’re ready for the next step and the next step is to ask for help. But not just any help. Godly help. And do not just ask once. If you ask and don’t get help, or if you ask for help and are given a list of things to do to be a better wife without your spouse’s actions being addressed whatsoever, do you know what you need to do?  Do the things that you can to be a better wife but then also ask someone else. And ask again. And again. Until you are heard and understood and supported and helped. Until both you and your partner are held accountable. Until any abuse or addiction is addressed. Ask and ask and ask. Help is out there. Help will come. But you have to take the first scary step. Because being stuck is scarier. 

To the woman who is separated or divorced: rest and heal and forgive and let go and move on, in no particular order.  I have been all three of these women but I am currently this woman, so my heart is so tender to those of us in this sad place. You are grieving a loss and if you’ve been looking for permission to actually consider your separation or divorce a loss, you’ve found it here with me. Because it is. A profound one. Everything has changed. Circumstances, status, your heart. Everything. Let time go by. Be kind to and gentle with yourself. Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking a long time to feel normal again. Normal is reworking itself out in your life and has to find its place among the ashes. Just last night, I woke up startled and all misplaced and flustered from wonky dreams about my past, and  said outloud to no one, “How is this my bedroom?” In other words, “How is this my life? Where did my marriage go?” And that’s two-and-a-half years post-separation, one year post moving out, and six months post-divorce. It all takes time.  So, do the emotional work of processing the loss, thinking through your part in the demise of the relationship, forgiving your spouse, letting go of what was lost, and the scariest part of all – moving on. Because the alternative – staying stuck in the past – is much, much scarier. 

You have choices. You have options.  There are things you can do today to bring you closer to God, closer to wholeness.  No matter where you find yourself.  Don’t stay stuck, my friend.  Be brave.  Move forward.  One tiny step.  Because staying stuck is scarier.

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here  for more information.

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