So he just spoke the words that you’ve dreaded all your life. Maybe he said them quietly, perhaps he unleashed them with a vengeance:
“I don’t know that I’m going to stay with you.” Or maybe even, “I want a divorce.”
Your heart drops and you’re suddenly very aware of the feeling in the pit of your stomach – the one that threatens to rack your body.
And your immediate response is, “What will I do?”
I never wanted to be someone who had the answers for you – meaning, I was so sure my marriage was rock solid, until the day it all came crumbling down.
And so since I now have some answers, I want to share them with you, in no particular order.
Yes, of course this is my first response. It sort of goes without saying. However, I’m saying it because prayer will change your life.
FEEL YOUR FEELINGS
Please know that whatever you are feeling on any given day, it’s legitimate. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to unpack your feelings of anger, that’s ok. I would recommend calling a friend, a pastor, a trusted mentor. Maybe you’re having a good day – that’s awesome! Enjoy it! Whatever you’re feeling, please take time and sit with your feelings.
SEEK WISE COUNSEL
You will probably need someone to talk to. I’m the one who can plow through and fix anything, and even I needed a professional to help me talk through my feelings. This is one area where you may say, “No, I don’t need this.” Please, make time for this one. It just may save your life.
DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE
I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I don’t need to. Wherever you find yourself, decide what you can handle. Will you be able to deal with one more knock-down drag-out fight? Can you put up with the yelling? Determine your boundaries and make them clear to your husband.
And when the line gets crossed?
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE
Where can you go quickly and easily if you cannot stay at your home? Maybe you just need to be out for the night, away from his anger. Maybe you are feeling too explosive and you need time to cool off. Determine where you can go – to parents? friends? your church?
Maybe you feel like you don’t have a safe place. You will need one.
You will also need a few trusted friends.
CHOOSE YOUR TRUSTED FRIENDS WELL
Not everyone will be able to make this journey with you. We have seen so many friends walk on out of our lives. And today, almost 2 years later, I can tell you that it’s okay. God is so faithful – He will bring you just the right people, just the right sisters to gather round and pray you through.
MAKE YOUR PLANS
Consider what will happen if your husband does leave you. What will you need? And who can help you? Here are a few thoughts:
*Who will you call if/when your hot water heater breaks?
*Who can provide emergency childcare or run to the grocery store for you if you are sick?
*Who can help you change a tire?
What about finances? What will you need to keep on going?
*Will you need a job? full time or part time? Let’s get going on this because it will alleviate panic and stress if you can get working toward steady income.
(Ok, I know you want to lay in bed, pull up the covers and cry. That’s ok; you can still do that. But there will come a moment when you can be brave, even briefly, and take a step out in faith. Do it.)
*What can you cut immediately if your husband leaves?
*Does your church offer any help?
*What resources are available to you through your county or state?
BE OKAY WITH CHANGES
I’ll admit – this one is hard for me. I was not okay with changes. I wanted my marriage to work. I wanted my family to stay together. But a wife is only one part of a marriage. You can’t control what your husband does, and neither can I control what my husband does. If he ultimately chooses to leave, you’re going to need to find a way to eventually be okay with that.
Maybe this will be your time to learn something new – go back to school, take a class, learn a new skill, do something you’ve always wanted to do. This may help you transition into your new life with a little more ease.
MAYBE YOUR MARRIAGE HASN’T ENDED YET,
AND YOU’RE DETERMINED TO TRY TO MAKE IT WORK.
Prayer is going to need to be your complete heart attitude. Maybe it already is. Trust me when I say that this situation you’re walking through will drive you to your knees. You’ll find yourself in your car, or walking down the street, or folding laundry and you’ll realize you’re praying. Keep at it. Pray specifically. Trust God with your biggest requests.
PUT ON YOUR ARMOR
Ephesians 6 tells us about the full armor of God. Take some time to really study this passage. The enemy is going to go to work on your life, especially if you decide to try to stay and work it out. Learn about the armor and then get up and get dressed in your armor, intentionally, every day.
Sisters, this is a battle for your heart, for your husband, for your marriage. Believe me when I tell you that the enemy is going to fight you at every step.
I once read a short post from Leslie Parrott that has changed my life, my story, and my approach to battling in the spiritual realm. You can read it in full here, but I’ll just share a bit with you.
“They shared their story of successfully standing up against the trafficking of girls in their community. I asked how they had the courage to do this. One mother pointed to the desert landscape and simply said that someone had to be the first drop of rain, even though you may be small.”
Inspired by the story of these women, Leslie Parrott wrote a book called “The First Drop of Rain” and the description says everything that I long to put into words about this journey:
“Have you ever felt plucked out and suddenly dropped by the hand of God into the wasteland?
Have you felt desolate, dry, and fragile? No sign of God, no sound of water?”
I don’t know just where you are in your journey. I only know where I have been, and I know where I am now.
I have listened to God, I have begged for restoration and redemption for my marriage and for so many others.
I have listened to God as He said, “Do not move,” and I have longed to run away.
I read the very short blurb above, about the women who dared to trust God for the safety of their children.
I stood in the wilderness where not many dare to trust or fight for their marriage. I planted my feet, and I did not move.
The enemy has tried, over and over again, to tear things apart. I’m sure he’s gotten angrier at every glimpse of me waiting on God, because he has fired what I believe to be some of his very sharpest attacks in my direction.
I want to make it incredibly clear:
I am PRO marriage.
This marriage stuff can be so hard, though….
I want to share what I’ve learned, especially with women, because we are so emotionally tied in to our relationships.
And that’s not a bad thing.
In that manner, you can say I am PRO woman.
But more than anything, I get up every day – every single day – and I stand my ground. I believe God for the promises that He has given to me. I stand waiting for answers for the requests of others struggling within their own marriages.
And I stand, waiting for even the first drop of rain, because I believe that my God is stronger and mightier than any attack the enemy can send.
I am PRO redemption.
Yes, even from the ugliest of sins.
If you are here, maybe it’s because you need these bits of advice. Maybe you need hope. Maybe you’re praying for redemption.
I can’t take the journey for you, but I can promise you that I’m on the same journey – a fellow traveler, a sister, a friend. I am standing here, reaching out my hand, hoping you will take it and join me in fighting FOR the restoration of our marriages.
By the grace of God, my marriage is improving dramatically! God has been so faithful to us in this journey.
I am praying for you. If you would like me to pray specifically for your situation, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) I will gladly pray with you and for you, trusting God to send the rain.
sharing at Grace & Truth