As a child of divorced parents, I remember in my teens and early 20s thinking I never wanted to ever put my children through a divorce.
Of course, I didn’t have children at the time, but I imagined someday I would. Sure enough, like a lot of people, I fell in love in college and we married when we were 23. About five years into our marriage, we had our son.
I thought our life was going along fairly well. Not perfect, mind you, but if there were any red flags, I was missing them. When our son was just under 2, I vividly recall slipping a card into my husband’s laptop computer case one morning. It was just a “have a nice day” card. No special occasion. No big proclamation of anything beyond a gesture of love and “thank you” for being such a great husband and dad.
He came home that night and left me. I. Kid. You. Not.
His reason? “The person I am when I am away from you is who I really am.” Ouch. He’d been feigning interest and commitment to our marriage, and my card was his wake-up call that we were nowhere close to being on the same page.
We were clearly looking through different lenses, and the charades were too much for him to bear any longer.
The pain was excruciating. My broken life was scattered across the floor like chards of glass, which sounds so cliché. But that image best captures the depth of my pain and loss. Here I was with a toddler son, going through a divorce.
Months later, after I got my bearings, I was able to take a humble and raw look at our marriage, including the struggles that I conveniently minimized over the years. In no way am I excusing his unwillingness to hang in there and work on the relationship, but at the same time, I knew I had to own at least some of why he had become disillusioned with our marriage.
A big area of struggle for us was sexual intimacy. I remember naively thinking that “someday” our sexual disconnect would resolve itself, without us ever really having to work on it. Our sexual struggles weren’t just about frequency (although that was a big part of it), but also about my lack of being intentional about intimacy in our marriage.
We were in our mid to late 20s and we were rarely having sex. Without that connection, we drifted apart, but I underestimated what that drift would cost us.
God was tender and compassionate to me in the rawness of my grief, as I watched my marriage end and I baby-stepped my way to rebuilding my life. God met me in the messiness of it all, and He surrounded me with friends to shore up the pieces of my broken heart.
One other thing I credit God with is giving me a better vision for sexual intimacy and marriage. I vowed if I ever married again, I would not take sex for granted. I would be much more intentional about nurturing all forms of intimacy. I was fortunate to marry again, and we just celebrated 15 years! Neither of us has ever regretted our commitment to being intentional.
God took what was broken in my life, refined it and redeemed it. Today, all these years later, I speak and write on sexual intimacy in marriage, with an especially tender place in my heart for encouraging Christian wives.
I wouldn’t have asked for any of the lessons I learned through my divorce. But I wouldn’t trade even one of them now.
If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:
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If in a difficult marriage: Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
If separated/divorced: 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 in paperback/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books