Facing the end of your marriage is a difficult position to maneuver. This blog is a list of suggestions and resources compiled by women who have traversed these pathways. Just like any trial in life, we each have to find our own way. That’s one of the great things about God—He has created us as unique individuals, but He has gone before as the Son of Man and borne our struggles. He understands, He cares, He provides. He will continue to be by our sides during the refinement of our souls, so that we can trust Him and not be afraid.
“ What an abundance of promises He has given us for such times as these! ”
I love this scripture from Isaiah that paints a beautiful picture of how much our Heavenly Father cares and has accomplished on our behalf:
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
—Isaiah 43: 1-3
You will be led to resources that are not mentioned here, because God knows you as an individual and will speak to you in ways that only you may fully understand. And yet, there is God ordained community among us. What I have learned, I must share with you. The love that has encouraged me, I must pass on to you. As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 states:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
“ You must seek God in every decision, in every direction you turn. ”
And so we build one another up in the Lord while the Holy Spirit works in our hearts using it all and working it all together for our good. There will be sermons that God means for you to hear, and He will provide them to you in person on Sunday morning or on the radio or by searching for them online. There are scriptures that will be repeated to you, striking chords in your heartstrings each time. There will be songs played in your hearing that will let you know God timed it just for you. It will seem that you quite accidentally run into brothers and sisters in Christ who will pray for you at that moment and pronounce encouraging words over you.
“ Always consider God’s Word your main go-to. ”
Perhaps as you are reading this blog, you will discover suggestions that are perfect for you. God is orchestrating it all on your behalf. Through faith in Him we are His children, and He a faithful Father. What an abundance of promises He has given us for such times as these!
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Try your utmost to save your marriage—through counseling, talking, and laboring. I have heard stories of those whom God reunited over what many would consider the highest of obstacles. Sadly, that is not always the case; but either way, you must seek God in every decision, in every direction you turn.
“ Make your church the next most important place to dwell. ”
Sometimes, to honor God and to honor a spouse who doesn’t share your love for the Lord but who wishes to continue in marriage, you must choose to stay in an unhappy situation. There are situations where unbelieving spouses eventually come to the Lord, or where a godly spouse puts their love for the Lord above their own desires, enabling the marriage to become healthy and happy. But sometimes—as with abandonment and adultery—when all effort is futile for the wronged spouse, divorce does occur.
First and foremost, in all these situations, always consider God’s Word your main go-to. Live in it. In Scripture, we get to know God, we see Who He is, and we see how He views us. We learn of His kindness and goodness through Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” His Word is alive and given to and for us.
“ Being transparent about your feelings will also help to encourage others. ”
Make your church the next most important place to dwell. Let church members love you and heed the counsel of your pastor and elders. This is how God intended the Church to work. Some churches are better at this than others; but we need each other nonetheless. During our struggles, we may feel like we are particularly needy and have nothing to give back—but that is not true. In something as simple as saying thank you and being grateful for the kindnesses shown to you, you are blessing those who walk beside you.
Being transparent about your feelings will also help to encourage others. Look for other church members who may be in a similar situation, or who are walking through some sort of trial. One friend of mine says she found sweet support in a group of four women who gathered faithfully to pray each week with no exceptions. She also felt loved by friends who saved a place for her to sit with them in church. Some churches have support groups for divorced or divorcing members. Make it a point to connect, and join some sort of small group where people share their problems openly, encourage one another to seek the Lord, and pray for one another.
“ Find a Christian counselor to help you through this time. ”
If at all possible, find a Christian counselor to help you through this time. Our emotions often overwhelm us and we all need help sorting through them. You may be dealing with strong emotions, like anger, which isn’t necessarily wrong; but it is important to cope in a healthy way, so that bitterness doesn’t take root. Sometimes we blame ourselves when we aren’t to blame; other times, we need to ask forgiveness for our behavior that might have unwittingly contributed to the situation. It is important to learn the balance of humility and honesty—so that you can speak with your spouse or ex-spouse about how they may have hurt you, but are able to do so with a spirit of grace and forgiveness. Learning to forgive is essential to moving forward—even if no one is asking for it, or you never have the opportunity to express it verbally.
There are several Christian-based support groups for the divorcing or divorced. As I prepared for this series of blogs, I ran into a blogger named Laura Petherbridge. I used her “10 Things I Wish Church Leaders Knew about Divorce” on my February 10 blog. Laura is the author of several books on the subject, and speaks and leads events for life after divorce.
Renee Ettline, M.Ed., also an author and blogger, has founded After Divorce Ministries, LLC. The organization’s statement of faith and views on divorce seem to be scripturally grounded. This group offers curriculum for starting divorce support groups in churches, a concept I also saw for other ministries that are dedicated to helping people through divorce.
“ I believe one of the hardest things to admit in a failing marriage or after a failed marriage, is that problems in the unfaithful spouse were often ignored or enabled by the victim spouse. ”
I believe one of the hardest things to admit in a failing marriage or after a failed marriage, is that problems in the unfaithful spouse were often ignored or enabled by the victim spouse. Various types of addictions or other destructive tendencies may have been left unchecked over the years, with no accountability required. If this is the case, it then becomes very helpful to identify those problems and learn to understand the other person. It becomes even more crucial to understand your own behavior, and to strengthen your own ability to protect yourself by learning the proper boundaries and accountability that should be established as you continue to go through a divorce and co-parent.
One Christian counselor very gifted in ministry and writing on these issues is Leslie Vernick. Her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, is excellent. Her videos can be found by following her on Facebook. Leslie has also established an online support group for women called CONQUER. Leslie reaches out to those who may have been confused by what “constitutes a destructive relationship.” She points out that even if you have received some “clear descriptions, felt heard and encouraged, and received some fresh ways of thinking about what you can do to grow and heal…You need transformational truth specific to ONLY women. You also need some specific tools to take what you’re learning so you can apply them to your particular situation. …No one can do this all alone. You need other supportive women who know what your life is like to walk along beside you.” This is what CONQUER provides.
“ No one can do this all alone. ”
Here is a list of books that are helpful:
Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas
Exposing Financial Abuse by Shannon Thomas
Unraveling: Hanging on to Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage by Elisabeth Klein
Is It My Fault? by Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb
Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuse in the Church by Jeff Crippen
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
A Loving Life by Paul Miller
The Will of God as a Way of Life by Jerry Sitzer
Also check out Sermon Audio online to look for sermons on specific topics.
Some of these books are great for any trial you may be walking through. Please feel free to share this blog with friends or family that may find it helpful. The good news is that joy does come in the morning…just not the next morning. I can remember days where I thought I would never really feel joy again. But God is faithful. As a friend who shared some of the resources on this list commented: “Truth fights the despair of loss.” It surely does!