This is a continuation of a new series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. I sent out the call for stories that answered either ‘what is one lesson God has taught you?’ or ‘what is one way God has healed you?’ through their hard marriages, their separations, their divorces, their single mothering seasons, their forays into dating post-divorce, or even their remarriages. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone.
Hope: The Double-Edged Sword
I understand why people have trouble leaving unhealthy and destructive marriages.
You are together for so long and you go through so much together. You see it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. But you always hope for the good to win. You continue to see some good from your husband and it overwhelms you with hope and anticipation for permanent (or at the very least semi-permanent) change.
But it never happens. Promises made at the altar are broken and you are told “I’m sorry. I will never do that again.” But it does. It keeps happening. Your heart breaks continuously. You withdraw to protect it. Your hope diminishes, but it is still there.
Your close family and friends see only the bad in him. They see your pain and his erratic behavior. At times, they fear for your physical safety. They see your marriage falling apart and his addictions getting worse. They don’t see the good in him that you see as they lost hope long ago. Besides, they weren’t the ones at the altar making those promises. You carry on, hoping things will get better.
You feel like you walk on eggshells every day and your ultimate goal is not to set him off. You have tried to tell him that his behavior is unacceptable but that NEVER goes well. It usually ends with him exploding with anger towards you. You tried to go to a counselor but he ended up yelling that people can never change while you sat crying next to him.
You fell hard for that man and you share his last name now. How can love and fear co-exist in a marriage? It is like the two are constantly battling each other while you hold your breath, waiting to find out which one wins. You hope it’s love.
The years pass. The roller coaster continues. But then something happens. A series of big and horrible events that you can’t ignore. Not this time. You are actually afraid of him. But this is a different kind of fear than what you are used to. He never laid a hand on you, but his actions are so erratic that you are physically afraid of him.
Another series of scary events follow but the cycle you felt trapped in finally starts to crumble. You get it from your head to your heart that “I’m sorry” holds no credibility. You lift the veil from your eyes. You recognize that his behaviors are abusive. You are surprised to learn that abuse isn’t just physical. It shocks you! How could you have been so blind to his manipulation for this long?
Separation. Divorce. You break free. With that freedom comes physical safety and more protection from the emotional “attacks” you were used to. You begin realize just how broken and shattered your heart has become. You try to sever the control he still has over you. Never before have you experienced such a “pot” of burning, conflicting emotions all at the same time: fear, hope, loss, relief, pain, and joy. You still have hope. Hope for a better life for the both of you. For healing. For healthy relationships. For peace.
Healing doesn’t happen with the snap of someone’s fingers or the signing of a divorce decree. Despite all that has happened, you still miss the good you saw in your husband. And you mourn the hope you clung to for all those years. You have trouble letting go of that hope. But each day, it gets easier and God gives you startling clarity over current and past events. You are so grateful and begin to comprehend how much God loves you. It is a pure and peaceful kind of love! It was your choice marrying your ex-husband and letting your relationship be controlled by fear, but God protected you through it all and brought you to a safe place. You turn your face forward and have hope for a brighter future.
If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:
If you would like to join one my private Facebook groups (difficult marriage, separated/divorced, single moms, remarried), please send me a friend request at www.facebook.com/elisabethkleinfisher.
If in a difficult marriage:
Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is available in paperback/e-book: http://tinyurl.com/phowp95
If a single mom:
Moving on as a Christian Single Mom is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
Thanks for this, so well put. Can so relate to much of what you say. Yes, I miss the good I saw in my husband but it was so hard to reconcile that with the behaviour that created fear in me. Let’s keep trusting in God’s unfailing love.