I just returned from California, visiting my daughter’s family and being Nana to 3 adorable little girls. There is nothing better than being a grandma. My oldest granddaughter Amaya celebrated her 4th birthday.
The RBC (Radio Bible Class – Daily Bread) webinar that deals with Shepherding an Emotionally Destructive Marriage, will be offered on April 2. This webinar is geared for church leaders, pastors, counselors, and lay leaders who need to be better equipped to deal with emotionally destructive marriages. Once again, Chris Moles and I will share what leaders need to know. Sign up by clicking here for it even you can’t attend, as you will receive a link to listen later. You will also receive a free e-book written by me, on The Church’s Response to Emotionally Destructive Marriages. Please share this with your social network, friends, and church leadership.
Today’s Question I married my High School sweetheart and we were married for 28 years. I loved him, and was attached to him, very much, but know now that it was often an unhealthy relationship. There were good times, and fun times, (he is fun) but he also hurt me a lot. When I finally said that things had to change and that we had to go to counseling, or we would have to separate, he chose to leave, and then he said that he didn't love me anyway. I was devastated; I thought he would choose to save our marriage. He put my children and me through a lot (later, he said he was trying to teach me a lesson), and he didn't come back. I filed for divorce, and we were divorced.
After he had been gone for 3 years, he said he loved me and wanted me back. Of course, I said that I wanted him back, but only if he we went to counseling – and he said he would do anything. I didn't let him come back into our home (my children, and family were very upset that I was seeing him again), but I began seeing him regularly, and I was so very happy- except for the pain of finding out all that he had done while we were apart. He began going to counseling with me. At the first session he seemed sorry (he did a lot during those 3 years away that were so upsetting and so painful for me), and he talked about how much he loved me, and that I am the best thing that has ever happened to him, and that he wanted to re-marry me right away.
But beginning with the second counseling session (and these were only once a month, because of the cost, and my ex said he we couldn't afford it), he began to get angry with the counselor (and the counselor is an excellent Christian counselor) and after the fourth session, he would not go again. By then, I was already attached again to my ex, and I kept seeing him, but, after about a year, I caught him in some lies, and he was acting different, again. He was going back to his old lifestyle, the porn, and the men, and women he had partied with. I had been with him (and intimate with him) for a year and a half, and then he abruptly walked away again, right when our youngest child left to college, and he has now been gone for about a year and a half.
I know it is crazy, but, even after 6 years of this, I feel like I still love him and I still hurt over all of this. I am also very, very, lonely – even though I love the Lord, and I work full time, and I go to church on Sunday, and Wednesday, and I go to counseling regularly, I walk regularly, and I might get to do something with a friend, or my sister, once or twice a month. (But I love to be with very close friends, or family, a lot more than that.) My friends, and sister, are married, and they are all so busy that it seems hard for them to get together with me very often.
Someone said to me that it is better to be alone, than to be with my ex – and I said, “No, it isn't.” As I said, there were many difficult times, and pain too, in my marriage, but this is also very difficult and painful, and very lonely – which I did not go through when I was married.
Also my ex-husband, will still contact me, by text, asking me how I am doing, and even asking me if I am seeing anyone – and I have never even met another man, in 6 years! He said he asks me that only because he hopes that I meet someone, because he wants me to be happy and in love – and that statement hurt me. It is hard for me when he texts me, and I have asked him not to, but he still does. Even though he is with other women, he wants to still have contact with me – but that is too hard for me to do.
I also have contact with him, because of financial reasons. I barely make it month to month, just trying to pay for necessary things, like rent, power, and food, and I can't afford to buy cars, or pay for any type of insurance. So, the cars that my son and I drive, are cars that my ex will let us use. Also, I was awarded a small amount of alimony each month, but it is usually late, or short, and I end up having to ask him for it.
My questions are – How do I get over him? Will it ever stop hurting to see him or hear his voice? Will I always love him? Will all of the hurt and pain, and loneliness, ever go away?
Also, everyone, and I mean everyone, keeps asking me if I am dating yet, (it has been 6 years since he first left) but, I never even meet any other men. I so desire to be married, but I still seem to have feelings for my ex. If I finally, completely, get over my ex, will God bring me a husband one day? (I can't imagine life continuing to be this way)
Unfortunately, at this point, even though I did go through hurt and pain in my marriage, I would rather still be married to him, than to be alone. Even though my marriage was difficult – on top of my feelings for him, many, many, things about my life changed when he left. Can you help me with any of my questions?
Answer: I shortened your question a bit but left much of it in tact because I think many other women will relate to your pain. When you are with someone so long and from such a young age, it can be very hard to imagine a quality life without that person or with someone else. You never really had a chance to become a fully functioning adult without being married to him. You went from being emotionally and financially dependent on your parents to being emotionally and financially dependent on your boyfriend/husband.
One of the great tasks of adolescence is to learn to be independent. To learn think for yourself, to find your own group of friends, to develop your own sense of competence and mastery, and to have a voice that reflects your own values, ideas, and feelings. When a young woman marries before completing these tasks, she then often becomes focused on raising her own children and her personal growth remains dormant, leaving her in a very vulnerable place especially if her marriage fails.
Here’s the deal. Either choice you make will involve pain. Right now you’re longing for your old life because your current life isn’t very exciting, financially stable or as people-centered as you’re used to. Your letter reminded me of the Israelites who longed for the leeks, garlic and onions and other wonderful food they enjoyed in Egypt (even while they were slaves) because the journey through the desert was so tough and they were sick of eating God’s provision of manna (Numbers 11:4-6).
You’re reminiscing on the good times you had with your spouse, but you’re minimizing the pain of the bad times. Here’s what you’ve told me: Your ex-husband cannot be trusted. He lies. He loves you, he loves you not. He’s cheated on you. He is involved in pornography. Even now you have to ask him to give you your court ordered alimony and often he comes up short. Yet he has money to hang out with his friends, take vacations (that no you no longer get to go on with him) and have extra cars on hand that you have to ask to borrow. Your children don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be in touch with him and he still ignores your requests to not text you.
Therefore it seems much smarter to me for you to choose to work through not only the pain of letting your ex-husband go, but the pain of learning how to create more of the life and lifestyle you want. You said loud and clear that you are lonely but that your friends, sister, and children are busy with their own lives. Okay, but that doesn’t mean you have no other options. What can you do or where can you go to meet other single women who also would love to have a companion to go to a movie with, have dinner together, or take a walk or a bike ride? Where can you volunteer so that you have the opportunity to meet more people, be more active, and perhaps even meet a healthy single man that would be a better fit for the person you want to become than your ex-husband? For example, what about attending a Christian singles retreat? Even if you don’t meet a man, you may meet many wonderful women who are also single and longing for someone to share activities or even some expenses with.
I know as more of an introvert, it’s harder to initiate those social situations. But volunteering at church, at a hospital, a soup kitchen, or other large organization will bring you in contact with other volunteers who might be great candidates for new friendships. You might also want to look into going back to school for a job that will provide greater financial security for you in the future. You are not too old and if you visit your local community college, you can often find grants and scholarships that are available for women in mid-life who are reentering the job market or need new skills to gain a better paying job.
Last, but not least, where is God in this whole picture for you? Can you trust him that he has led you out of slavery and into a new place? Can you continue to walk with Him through this desert time into the new place he wants to take you? If all your emotional, mental, and psychological energy is focused on what you wished you had back then (and I’m not sure you really want that – I think you are still hoping for some fantasy of what you wished you had), you are not able to avail yourself of those same resources you need to press on to create your own future.
Life is a lot like creating your own novel. God or even other people may orchestrate some of the chapter titles but we are co-creators with Him in writing our own story. So my friend, right now you’re in the chapter, After the Divorce. How would you like that chapter to end? Write it down. Then back track and ask yourself what specific steps do you need to take, now, a month from now, six months from now, a year from now, to be closer to where you want to be? And then, what would you like your next chapter to be called? Your life-story is far from over. Don’t be passive, but co-create with God and you will be amazed at what takes place.
Friends, share your journey of how you’ve taken more ownership of your story, how you’ve let go of your ex-husband, and grown up into your own life.