Being a writer sometimes means that when I toss words out into the universe, someone (or someones) will not like them and will toss some words right back at me. This has happened to me quite often and I totally get why; because I’m not writing fluff. I’m writing about things that some people don’t like to think about and because I’m writing about things that some people totally disagree with. Get it. And I’m fine with it.
So I’m here to set the record straight, in case anyone cares or thinks of me in wonky ways.
I don’t hate men. I love men, actually. I love my husband. I love my sons. I love my Dad. I love my stepdad. I love my father-in-law. I love my brothers and brothers-in-law. I love my guy friends who have stood by me and fought for me and protected me. And I’m even grateful to all the boys who have broken my heart along the way, for the lessons I’ve learned from them.
I don’t hate marriage. I love marriage. I wanted to be married my entire life. I think marriage is beautiful. I know many gorgeous marriages where the husband and wife treat other with honor, where they enjoy each other’s friendship, where they are partners who fight together to push back the darkness, where honesty reigns and vices are laid down and grace is shown.
I don’t hate the Church. I love the Church. I love the church that I spent nineteen years being a part of. And I love my church home now. I have learned and grown so much during my time within the spaces of my faith communities, and I will be forever grateful that Jesus led me to these precious churches.
And yet. And yet nothing is perfect.
I love men, but I’ve got some men issues. And I’m working through them, and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been but I’ve got a ways to go. And that is why I write what I write.
I love marriage, but my marriage was hard and I failed and it ended. I still grieve that loss, the greatest loss of my life so far. I’m getting there, and I’m definitely not sad all day every day anymore, but it still saddens me. And that is why I write what I write.
And I love the Church, but my church experience was not without its flaws. And that is why I write what I write.
I have the absolute privilege that my first marriage and church experiences were intertwined in the specific ways that they were. Twenty or so years ago, I asked for help; I got some significant help, but we didn’t get holistic help. (Side note: I take responsibility for this. Though in part I didn’t know any better, and I was young, and I did ask, I wasn’t persistent enough and I didn’t ask loud enough and long enough until I was truly understood. I know better now.)
But fast-forward to a few years ago and I asked for help and we got it: holistic, time-intensive, long-term, both-parties-taken-to-task serious help. And I can’t help but wonder if what we experienced – a fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that looked at both of our lives and hearts full on – had occurred twenty or so years ago when I first asked for help, if my marriage might have had a fighting chance. There is, of course, absolutely no way to know this, but I have a deep and distinct hunch.
And that is why I write what I write. Not because I’m standing up for women at the peril of men and marriage but because I think my marriage could’ve been saved if things had been caught and stopped earlier. That’s why I want to shake the Church by the collective shoulders sometimes and push back and speak over the din because there are women who are dying in their marriages; because I know marriages can be turned around; because I believe that every marriage can be saved if both parties are held accountable.
And so this is why I write what I write.
Because it’s not okay for a husband to abuse his wife.
And it’s really not okay if the husband claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
And it’s extremely not okay if his church leadership knows about it and doesn’t do everything in their power to stop it.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to hit his wife and for people to stand by and do nothing.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to force his wife into having sex and for people to stand by and do nothing.
And it’s not okay for a Christian husband to hide bottles of alcohol or drugs around the house or text another woman all hours of the night or watch endless hours of online pornography or call his wife an idiot or a lying moron or to tell her condescendingly that her behavior would be explainable if she were bipolar or to tell her that her saying she wants them to get help is bringing Satan into their family, all while people stand by and do nothing.
It is totally and completely not okay.
I love men. I love marriage. I love the Church. But my heart is broken for hurting marriages and I’ve heard too many horrible stories from too many hurting women. And I’m standing up for them. For the rest of my life, I’m standing up for them. And I am begging the Church to stand up too.
Because I believe in a God who loves us and wants us to be whole and can restore absolutely anything, if we contend for the vulnerable and if we hold people accountable and if we help each other and really listen and if we pray and believe.
If you would like to partner with me to help hurting women by bringing them hope, go here for more information: www.patreon.com/elisabethklein.
Write on!!! Almost every statement you made about what’s not okay has been said or done by my husband and yet church leadership listens to his side and not mine. I was actually accused of being a coward!
Longsuffering gets taken advantage of by an addict very easily.
Its sad to see that men forget that everything they are is because of the first woman in their lives; their mothers. Its even more appalling when you hear such things happening in the Church. I hope more men read your articles and really understand a woman’s unsaid words.
What the church and those who stand by, watch and do nothing: they enable them to continue to be who they are and not who God designed them to be, living carnal! For any professed Christians to be apart of this “turn the head and be quite” syndrome are people pleasers and not God pleasers! (I fill a spirit of slap rising up….(sorry Lord, forgive me.!) The Lord does not turn His head when His daughters are being abused in any form of manner! I don’t know what bible they are studying about God’s character and who He is but its not my bible! We are suppose to be like minded in spirit and in truth filled with His love! When a brother see’s a brother sinning, they are to gently correct them and when that don’t work, bring the elders in! Lord help them all…Remove the veils from their fogged minds! Sorry again Father, I am a bit agitated here! I feel for women in these situation! I was for over 30 years, divorced three and still has many sad memories!
wow..RIGHT on…I swear you live on my shoulder and in my head….I have been saying this to my brains and speaking it out for a month now, and YOU put it into words – thank you!
I do believe the Church has to wake up and take notice. 7 years ago, well, now 9 years ago my husband kissed a woman and confessed it to a pastor — but what they told him and what transpired over the next 7 years..( an on again off again affair that led to him leaving and believing that she was his soul mate)…..I still believe could of been different…if they had really prayed…if they had paid attention, but they were young, we were young….And praise God that 7 years later ( the past 2 years) we did have godly and professional counsel and there was a miracle, and God has restored and redeemed our marriage – 25 years.
God wins. I thank you for writing. Keep writing. Keep sitting on my shoulder – God teaches others through you ….
Elizabeth I am so grateful for you! I am praying that as you put all your trust in Him, He will lead you on a path where your dreams are fulfilled. You have helped so many of us in difficult marriages just by providing a place where we can connect and pray for each other. I am grateful that God is healing you and you are being used by Him to help so many women find healing. I hope my words of encouragement take away some of the sting of Christians who can’t see the value that you bring to the kingdom!
Shannon, thank you so, so much for these super kind words and prayers…they mean so much to me! -Elisabeth
So true! When you said “I did ask, but I wasn’t persistent enough or loud enough”! Wow that was me. But it was only my husband I asked because I was afraid to go to the church…. You see my husband WAS THE PASTOR!!!! I was afraid he would lose his job if ANYONE knew what went on behind closed doors!! And where would that leave my children and me! Praise God though, I did learn, too late, to place boundaries! It didn’t save my marriage but it did save my soul! Only a very few, extremely dear, and close friends know the whole story behind my leaving. My ex stopped being a pastor many years before my divorce or I am not sure I could have gone through with it. I would have hated to hurt the church in the process of saving myself.
But oh the regrets I have of not doing more sooner! I was naturally submissive, so reading all the marriage books out, (10-15 years ago?) were about being the good submissive wife. All that did was feed the monster! I so wish I would have been BOLD!! Stood up to him! Maybe…. Just maybe, that would have saved our marriage!
Praise God, though, I am a new creation. 2 1/2 years later. I have amazing peace. I still don’t date (I just turned 50)! I love being single! Sorry ladies and know so many of you still long for a good man! But for now God has removed that desire from me! My sons are 19 (off to college) and 17 (a junior in HS). I have a job I love, and girlfriends I hang out with, and a bible study and church that keeps me grounded!
God bless your ministry here Elisabeth!! Unfortunately it is so very very needed!! Praise The Lord for new beginnings!
Thank you for sharing, Jan! So, so glad to hear of the peace you have found on this side of things. That encourages me so much! -Elisabeth
I have to add a HEARTY amen!! I will be speaking with my church ledership about a small group for Fall based you your books. It’s important that we not condemn folks who are divorced and we usher them into the presence of Jesus so they can be healed. Love you!!
Thank you, Kim! Let me know how it goes with your church leadership! -Elisabeth
You are 100% right! I just found your blog and though I have never been married I do know that there are tons of marriages dying and the church refuses to help. Maybe they don’t know how! Keep speaking your truth in love, so that some hurting, abused wife can know that it is not alright to be anyone’s punching bag even if her church is silent! And maybe if we collectively speak up, the church will take a more active role in saving marriages. Great post by the way.
Welcome, Ebbie! Glad you found us! And thank you for your kind words! -Elisabeth
I always love reading your posts! I wonder….if emotional abuse goes on or any kind for that matter, and the spouse refuses to look at themselves or their behavior or get counseling or help of any kind, is it then okay to separate? I know it takes two people to make a marriage work and not just one doing all the changing and trying.
Deanna, thank you for your sweet words! This is my stance on divorce, for what it’s worth: https://elisabethklein.com/my-stance-on-divorce/.
Thank you Beth! More women (and men) need to know just that!
Thank you, Marcy! -Elisabeth
Amen Sistah! You should not have to apologize or go to such great lengths to explain yourself! This is REAL suffering and real issues and real flaws in the church and in our larger culture – and it NEEDS to change. I validate you and support you. And the fact that you spent 15 MONTHS working on a church/spiritually-led reconciliation attempt should be proof that you honor marriage and enough to give you a clean conscience to know you gave it 110%.
Great blog again Elisabeth! You said, ” love marriage, but my marriage was hard and I failed and it ended. ” I disagree that you failed. You might say it failed, or your husband failed you.
Caroline, I see your point…thank you. -Elisabeth