Ithink we were standing outside the back door, out by the white pickup under the Big Dipper, when I turned and said it.

Said I hated him.

The dark can make you brave.

Or a fool.

But when you’re twenty-two and think you know everything, panic can tear up your chest like this howl that has to rip free.

“I hate it when you stand there all quiet.”

He kicks the ground with the toe of his boot, drives his hands deep into his Wranglers. Does he hear me at all?

Hate how you just pull away. Hate how you always think I’m the problem and it’s never you. Hate it, hate it — hate y…”

There. There it is, spewn sick over everything. And the moment that ugliness wrenches free, I feel released — and wretched. Ill.

I want to fling that wedding band encircling my finger and everything. And I want to somehow hold on tight.

I want him to hold me tight.

He turns his back.

How in the world did we get here and so fast and isn’t this the mad dance that drives the wedded wild? For the first two years after our vows, it’s the only dance we knew.

I’d thought I’d married the wrong man.

I don’t know how many meals I ate silent, never lifting my eyes from the plate.

I do know how the dance went: a few steps and we’d rub each other the wrong way, irritation building and intimacy falling apart. I’d discuss and he’d distance. I’d rage and he’d disengage. I’d escalate and he’d escape.

Then the icy silence sets in — all this continental distance between us shifting past each other cold in the kitchen.

He’d say he had a migraine and go to bed right after dinner. I’d cry over the sink with the water running. I didn’t know that the first law of love is to listen — listen to the ache under the anger.

No English teacher ever taught me what nearly 18 years of marriage now gives credence to: Anxiety and anger, they come from the same root word.

Anxiety, it can drive anger.

And an angry voice, it can be a cry of fear.

Fears dress up as anger why didn’t I tell him that sooner?

That’s what I had to tell him is begging behind my angry fronts: all these anxious fears–

“Are you really here for me? Do you really care? Can I really depend on you?”

Under everything, that’s what we’re all terrified of:  being left and abandoned. We’re all desperate for connection and God made us for communion, for koinonia.

And whether I’m frustrated that he didn’t take the garbage out or bring the mail in or hang his coat up, whether this is about paying attention or spending money or investing in kids or budgeting time — no matter what words, or volume or tone I use, what my words are stammering to say,

“Can I really count on you? Are we connected? Do I matter to you? Will you love me?

Please — just hold me tight.

We are always the child.

DSC_0904

I didn’t know the research said it, but my heart already knew it: Falling in love again isn’t so much about communicating better, but about connecting deeper.

Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls — it’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate. When we’re well attached, we communicate well and when we aren’t fully communicating it’s because we don’t feel connected.

No matter our age, it never stops, this need to feel securely attached, and messy marriages can be because of attachment disorders. That’s what good relationships are: safe havens in the world, this base that makes us brave to venture out into the world — and safe to come home.

That’s what He made love to be: for love to bear all things. “Bears,” it’s  stego in the Greek — “a thatch roof.”

Love bears all thingslove literally becomes a thatch roof.

That’s what real love always is: I become a roof for you, a wing for you, a shelter in your storm.

Come to me. Count on me to hold you.

I had once choked it out in this wild desperation: “Are women really like ambulances? When we are most in need of tender care, we’re these screaming sirens? And that’s why men pull far away — getting out of the way and off the road?”

He had looked over at me. Looked into me. For a moment, we’d stood there, searching each other — waiting for someone to open a door and be a roof. “Can I count on you? Do I matter to you?”

He’d shook his head, chuckled softly — and reached over, grabbed my hand and pulled me right into him.

So when you’re angry — it’s really this alarm? That you need care?” He tilts my chin. What if God bound us together — to help us bind up each others wounds?

I nod slowly.

“And what you really need  is ER — an emotional response?” He leans his forehead against mine.

I close my eyes.

In this dark, I’m the wild fool who is safe. 

And I nod and he holds me tight,  his arms enfolding, these trusses all around, and together we stand under this expanse of love, fears flung far away …

::

::


5 Ways to Fight through to Love:


1. You don’t need honed communication skills

As much as the will to connect hearts.

2. Get to the tender wounded question behind  every fight:

“Can I depend on you? Do my feelings matter to you? How do you care about me? Hold me?”

3.  In the anxiety that’s masking as anger, don’t up the ante

Don’t up the ante with name-calling, labels or threats of the D word (divorce).

Critical language can register in the brain as the same area as physical pain — which leaves your spouse dealing with their own pain, instead of caring for you in yours.

4. Be your spouse’s ER:

Emotionally Respond. Listen to the cries of fear behind the fighting. Hear anger as a cry for attachment, this call for connection. Have the courage in the midst of the heat to tenderly reach out and touch the bruised places. Reassure that you’ll always be there, that you care, that you’re in this together.

5. Hold each other close and long

Love bears all things. Be a roof, a wing, a shelter in the storm.

::::::::

Related:

How to {make} Love {into a marriage}
5 Secrets to Make a Marriage Last
The 4 Minute Marriage Habit : How to fall in Love All Over Again

~ Ann Voskamp…. from one struggling heart to yours…


Q4U: If you could ask anything at all about how to make a marriage work — what would you ask?

What’s the hardest thing you’ve worked through in your marriage?

What’s one thing you’d tell newlyweds now that you’ve learned the hard way?

How are you forging through to love right now?  How can we pray for you today in your marriage?


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  1. 1

    Thanks for the endless encouragement! I think the hardest thing we’ve worked through in 6 years of marriage is not being able to be intimate and/or me having lots of pain with intimacy. It made us both insecure, fearful, angry, anxious….I could go on and on. The first 6 doctors couldn’t help. Three years later God graced us with a wonderful ob-gyn who helped right away. Now, 3 more years later, we are almost to a place where there isn’t pain and we can begin to try again. We’ve learned to truly love each other and count the blessings every day. It’s been hard because most people don’t understand and we long to start a family. God has been so faithful and kind to us though. We are learning to trust Him and praise Him at all times. Any prayers are appreciated!!

    • 2

      Angie, oh, sister… I *so* understand… I know, friend, oh yes.
      May I just whisper too — a chronically ill wife can make a chronically patient husband.

      Thank you for counting us part of your community, koinonia — a safe place to be real and share and reach out, Angie…

      I promise to pray… Jeremiah 31:13-14, from my morning prayer time (did He mean this for you?)

      “13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
      young men and old as well.
      I will turn their mourning into gladness;
      I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
      14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
      and my people will be filled with my bounty,”
      declares the LORD.

      We’re with you before our Lord, sister…

      • 3

        Can I just say a hearty “amen” to Ann’s statement that “a chronically ill wife can make a chronically patient husband.”

        I live that.

        Praying for strength and patience and love to be consummated over and over, Angie.

    • 4

      Hi Angie,
      Thanks for sharing. We are going through the same intimacy problem. May I ask you for the name of your ob-gyn? I would then be able to call and see if this doctor could recommend someone in my area.

      • 5

        Oh Angie I am so glad you shared this…3 years of marriage and I am in despair because of the same issue and it seems like no one else suffers from this. I am tired of praying about it. I get depressed when someone else I know has a baby because I cannot. I am filled with bitterness. But just hearing that I’m not the only one is so encouraging.

      • 6

        You might explore vaginismus.com … not sure exactly what the issues are that y’all are describing, but it sounds similar to some of the things I dealt with. They have a $100 kit that I did on my own (with my husband, but without doctor intervention) this past summer after a marriage that was unconsummated for our first two years… by God’s grace, within a few months was “cured” and within two months after that was pregnant with our little one – due in a few months. :) It’s not a Christian group but everything I found in the kit and on their web site did not contradict my beliefs in any way, and many of the women on their forum are Christian.

        • 7

          I just wanted to say I completely concur! I had vaginismus for four l-o-n-g years after we got married. No doctor seemed to understand the problem – each tried to oversimplify it… I ended up feeling frustrated and stupid! Not long after truly surrendering the problem to God, we discovered this kit. (Thank you Lord!) God has blessed my husband and I with two beautiful girls – a miracle when not so long ago it seemed like an impossible dream. The journey taught us many needed lessons in those difficult early years of marriage. Seek medical help, order the kit…. but most importantly, surrender it to God! I hope all who are struggling will soon find victory in Him!

      • 8

        Have any of you ladies considered using botox for this? It is supposed to have an extremely high efficacy rate to paralyze the muscles that tighten and cause the pain, and supposedly by the time it wears of in 6 months, the problems that cause it will have been resolved. It’s worth researching at the least! I cannot imagine what that would be like, but wow, it sounds heartbreakingly difficult.

    • 9
      Patricia Prenosil says:

      We too have struggled with this. Off and on. Even though we have three kids, it is still hit or miss with intimacy. My dh has been patient and loving, but I feel like I am being unloving or inattentive to his needs when I don’t want to–and then if we try and it is painful then the next time is worse. Ugh. The lack of libido from nursing doesn’t help either. I sometimes have prayed for God to up my passion just so I can respond to him. We have been married 9 years now and are still working it out. But in some ways it has improved. We all need to pray for each other for this “silent” issue. Thank you for sharing–it always helps to know you are not alone!

      • 10
        Elizabeth says:

        Alright ladies, it is clear that many of us deal with this issue. I would agree with Patricia that the worst aspect of it is any possible (however unintentional) denial of our husbands and their needs.
        I would love to keep this conversation going, perhaps in a different forum/setting. Any ideas? I’m glad to connect via e-mail…
        Thank you all for being open about this, believing that our God can do this miracle in your marriage, and praying for one another!

        • 11

          I would love to discuss this on another forum, or via email. I can’t believe how many people have what I have. I read Ann’s post and was not going to read the comments, then I scrolled to the first one and read my story! Down to also being married 6 years! I’ve had painful intercourse practically the whole time. The only time it is bearable is when I’m ovulating and then I get pregnant! We have three kids – 5,3&1. So now I’m tired on top of everything else. Yes, we are angry, fearful, insecure – as Angie mentioned. And I’m mad at God…furious. How could he let this happen? I’ve talked to three doctors and they all just say to use lubrecant. Really? You think we haven’t tried that? I am encouraged by the vaginismus kit K mentioned. I’d glady spend $100. I feel terrible for my husband. I just hate this whole thing. I told him he should just go find a mistress…works in most of the world. (Can you sense my anger?)

    • 12
      Rebecca says:

      Oh wow, me too! I have been married 11 years and no-one else seems to have the problem I have (after orgasm intense pain) no Ob-gyn has been able to help. It got better after having our second child-the pain is now only on one side. But still there. I have researched and there seems to be nothing written on this subject doctors are unable to help.

      • 13
        Melissa says:

        I’m so thankful you’ve come forward to share your struggles with intimacy. This is such a difficult and important issue in a marriage! Unfortunately, it is an issue that many doctors are not educated to treat properly. There are a number of causes – medical (hormones with breastfeeding or around menopause), psychological, but many cases can be treated with physical therapy by a therapist who specializes in pelvic floor/pelvic pain dysfunctions. I pray that God will lead you all to a knowledgeable and compassionate provider and that your marriage bed will be restored and renewed! There is definitely hope!

        • 14

          I had pain during marital sharing after the birth of our son. It took 3 dr. to finally find an answer. She told me to take a bath in 1 box (16oz of baking soda) and to eat alot of plain yogurt for 1 to 2 weeks. It worked. No more pain. She also warned me that breastfeeding produces some of the same chemicals as interest in marital sharing and interfere in the interest in marital sharing. She explained we would have find our own answers as each female is different. Anyway the was my experience and it was 21 yrs ago so perhaps there is newer research. Good luck to all.

          • 15

            It is rather awkward and embarrassing to share this — all you brave women! — but oh, we are all so not alone. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread? But maybe this will help someone? This book very much helped me in finding a diagnosis (multi-diagnoses)

            http://www.thevbook.com/

            With you, sisters, and praying…
            All’s grace,
            Ann

  2. 16

    “Listen to the cries of fear behind the fighting.” This is so good. And so hard. Hard to be the one who looks past the anger/argument to hear the fear. And then walk out of the conversation to heal.

    Thank you, Ann.
    a

    • 17

      It is hard, yes, Amanda? That:

      “Listen to the cries of fear behind the fighting.”

      Sometimes — I think of our little ones — how behind their cries, we can hear their fears. When I remember — sometimes this helps me to hear the fears behind the cries of the ones in bigger bodies too. Yes — to hear the fear.

      And Perfect Love casts out all fears.

      Please help us, Lord…

      • 18

        what great way to look at it. It’s so easy with our children, we want to nurture and protect them. If we can apply that to our spouses, oh how that could change things.

        • 19

          We need to find a way to nurture our spouses in the same way we do our children. With spouses it’s harder because they’ve already been raised and we have to learn our way around the emotional responses…

  3. 20

    Listen. yes. this is critical.

    Seeing myself as not better than he. That changed everything.

    And, seeing that my groom is loved just the way he is, and we’re together (as imperfect people) for purpose. That helps me to choose the peace He’s given me.

    Trusting He uses marriage to refine us in all our imperfectness…it’s a hard choosing of course to trust. But it’s beautiful worship when we do!

    • 21

      That’s so good and true, Amy — “Seeing myself as not better than he.”

      When I studied Gottman at university, he had this rule: “Each partner must assume similarity. If I question my husband’s motives, I have to question mine. If I think I’m being noble, I have to consider that he is noble, too.”

      So God calls: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

      Is that the ways of our God: that He makes us perfect for each other in all our imperfections?

    • 22

      Ooooh, Amy, that is a big one for me. For a long time, I truly bought into the joke (and lie, really) that my husband married up. I mean, honestly! Who did I think I was? But I thought it. And I lived it. And it’s only now that I’ve begun confessing my own junk and imperfections that I can see how perfect we are together. (Not a perfect couple, but that God matched us well.)

      • 23

        I’ve been married two years, and I feel this way now. How do you stop? My husband follows the Lord, but I rarely see him in the Word and we only pray together when I prompt it. This makes me feel like I have married the wrong person. I know that it is not good or helpful to think this, but I haven’t figured out how to overcome it. I’ve tried to love him and to be an example to him, but then I just get frustrated and self-righteous when I don’t see any change in him. I need some advice and some prayer. I want our marriage to be a reflection of God’s love, but I don’t want it to be one sided.

        • 24

          Caren — I have walked this road myself! May just suggest that you trust that God is big enough to take care of your husband’s spiritual condition? God does not need you to fix “tha”t for your husband. Your responsibility is to YOUR relationship with Christ….keeping your own eyes fixed on HIM and not on what you think your husband should or should not be doing.

          When I finally got out of the way, God did a work in my man. It took time….a journey. I will tell you that it was not at all like my journey…which also took time. My husband is a godly man but how we ‘go about’ our personal relationships with Christ is not the same.

          Be your husband’s biggest cheerleader. Encourage him. Point out the things you love. Tell him how big his muscles are! :-) Really…..

          Praying for you as you journey.

          • 25

            I wholeheartedly agree with Karen, to trust that God is big enough to take care of your husband’s spiritual condition. Caren, my heart goes out to you… I know the deep ache of wanting to share faith and prayer with the man you love… Mine is a 22 year story, starting with marriage to a man I am certain God ordained to be my husband… at the time we married, he was strong in faith, committed to following Christ, seeking God. Over the course of the next ten to twelve years, through some very difficult circumstances, he “lost” his faith. This is a situation I never imagined myself to be in — married to someone who professed not to believe what is the most foundational bedrock in my life. YET God has been faithful (not that I have been able to clearly see that every day… much walking by faith… much pouring out my heart to Him and a dear sister). There has been temptation to try to “fix” this — to challenge him, to push — yet I keep coming back to I Peter 3:1: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won WITHOUT A WORD by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior…..” This doesn’t always seem logical to me — humanly speaking — but my Father who loves me and knows me better than any human being has ways far beyond our ways. The other thing that it seems the Lord has impressed on my heart is “Respect him… Love him… Love him like I do… Love him like I love you (not only when you are faithful, good, obedient)… Through your love I will show him Mine…” Slowly, slowly, I am seeing little glimpses of the work God is doing. I am confident that God still treasures him as His beloved child and has not let him go… And while there is no outward sign of a change in his beliefs, there is a growing intimacy between us (which is miraculous) and our relationship is better now than it has ever been. There certainly have been times in the last 22 years when I wondered “What am I doing here? Why do I stay when it seems there is little in common?” But I have to say I am unspeakably thankful to be here now, and anticipate continuing to see God’s loving Father hand work in the heart of the man I love.
            Hope in the unmatched love and grace of your Father who loves and knows you (and your husband), Caren… He is enough.

          • 26

            Ohhhh Karen and Mary, thank you for your wise words. It is so hard wanting to share faith and prayer with my husband, and yet our faiths/walks look soooo different. I am striving to focus on my relationship with Christ (and I have been really growing a lot lately). Ohhhhhh that is so convicting that “they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives”, as I keep struggling with my temper and frustration with my children, and I know being mad at my boys isn’t very godly. Thank you for your wise words.

          • 27
            Lenore Justman says:

            When my husband and I married, we married in my Presbyterian church, not the Catholic church of his upbringing and it was his choice. I told him I could raise the children as Catholics, but only if he was practicing. I told him I would never bug him, but I would pray for him. 16 years and two kids later he got dressed one Sunday morning and came to church with us. As he grew in the Spirit he became more and more active, acting as an Adult Sunday School teacher, an Elder and as a lay preacher when our Pastor was away. 24 years later he was the Moderator of the Synod of the Pacific, enjoying serving God and his people. He was half-way through his year when he became seriously ill and died all within 6 weeks. His happiness during that last year was apparent to all, as if he was getting ready. It has consoled me too, as I mourn the loss of my best friend and lover, my husband. So pray for him, but don’t push. It doesn’t work.

        • 28

          I just read and found encouragement in the biography of Susanna Wesley by Sandy Dengler as I struggled with thoughts like these. Another book encouraging my heart right now is The Power of A Praying Wife by Stormie OMartin. You are not alone and God can work amazing miracles in the lives of our husbands, we might just have to let go and let Him! :)

        • 29

          Caren–
          I am on the other side of your story. My husband was raised in a Christian home, I was not. He has struggled with issues, but is further on his journey with Christ than I am. For a long time, I felt inadequate and guilty that I didn’t read my Bible as much as he did, that my prayers faltered and were not as eloquent as his. I felt so immature comparatively. He never pushed me to share, his patience and love for me were a model of Christ’s love. That, and finding good women’s Bible studies helped my growth immensely. I am now more mature, and our spiritual discussions are not one-sided. Keep praying for him and inviting him to share, but try not to be discouraged. Your love, prayers, and honesty are making a difference, you just can’t see it.

  4. 30

    we’re a short time married, just days past six months, but we’ve done surgey and joblessness in these six months. and what have i learned, that his not being angry doesn’t mean he isn’t concerned. and my being angry didn’t make the anxiety go away. and that i can always count on him to connect. and that unsaid expectations are unmet expectations.

    thank you for this wisdom.

    • 31

      May I whisper — in these past six months, He’s been carving you into the gloriously beautiful image of His Son. Your wisdom here mentors. *Thank you* Brie…

    • 32

      You are wise for a new bride. It has taken me many years to *start to* learn what a joy killer unspoken expectations are.

    • 33

      well, just scrolling through here, Brie, i feel i can kind of relate to what you wrote. we have been married almost 8 months now, i moved from the US to South Africa, started a new job, started driving on the other side of the road, became a house-wife (we have a big house!) when i was used to apartments…we have also been through a lot this past few months-including a miscarriage…and being that i felt that i was going through the most change (he is South African), i have blamed him for things that were not his fault…held him accountable for my own frustrations…….through it all, i have seen God’s love shine through my amazing husband’s steadiness, constant affirmation, willingness to forgive me and start fresh. this blog post really encouraged me, as a new bride. thanks to all for sharing your stories~

  5. 34
    Ukiemom says:

    Ann-funny that you mentioned attachment disorder. We have four children. Oldest and youngest are bio and two in the middle adopted from Ukraine. They both have attachment disorder and one of the things we deal with is their constant effort to triangulate us. So as I read this, this morning, angry at my man for not jumping in to a conflict I realized in reading your words that it is the question I ask. Are you here for me. Can I depend on you to defend me and protect me.? It has been the hardest thing on our marriage, yet the best, because He is a conflict avoider and I am the proverbial bull in the china shop. We have been learning to do it, and what has torn many marriages apart in has been used to make us stronger as a couple. We still fall down. Like this morning. I still need to ask the question that is under my anger. Pray for me!

    • 35

      Yes, that is so it: to tenderly look behind the mask of the anger to the anxiety — and be vulnerable enough to whisper what the real fear and need is…

      May I quietly pray with you? Lord, as this beautiful Mama loves with Gospel love and graft these precious Made-In-Your-Image children into her family and heart, thank you for strengthening her marriage through vulnerability… We pray with the Psalmist this morning, Lord:
      “1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
      for in you my soul takes refuge;
      in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
      till the storms of destruction pass by.”
      Make us that, Lord, like You are, Lord — a roof, a wing, a shelter in storm.

      In the name of Christ who offered Himself for us all…
      Amen.

      We pray with you this morning, sweet friend…

      • 36
        Ukiemom says:

        thank you Ann.. full of Grace… btw. reading the book for the 5th time right now. Led a study through it last summer and plan to again this summer. It has been used of the Lord to change me. I was under the weight of suffering and fear due to the issues w/ the attachment disorder of my two precious ones. He has lifted me out of the miry pit of fear by the practice of gratitude. I am forever indebted to Him and thankful for your gift.

        • 37

          Ukiemom,
          I would love to know how you formatted your study. I would love to share this book with the group of ladies I meet with. I say, “Why reinvent the wheel?” Would you be able to share? My email is ericdylan2-travel@yahoo.com.
          Thanks!

  6. 38

    Wow, Anne you know how to get to the heart of it all.
    I am struggling with so much fear in my marriage that I just keep inside. I don’t know how to communicate it when I feel so disconnected from him. And the anger and pain rareup their ugly heads in words flung out at unsuspecting and undeserving preschoolers who don’t do exactly as I think they should. Then the regret and condemnation fall hard on me. It seems the weight of it all, the unknown burdens I carry, just keep getting heavier.
    How do I move past this? How do I change it? After years of it I just feel defeated and afraid. The fears grip me and chain me so tight. I just feel trapped in my own pain and confusion. The self doubt is growing and I just wonder if there even is a way out of it and back to each other.

    • 39

      do you talk with your husband? I find it is so important that you both understand each others burdens, expectations and struggles, so you can work towards achieving them together.
      Things moved forwards for me when I started losing my selfish heart…mine still has a ways to go…I understand your struggles. Keep laying it before the Lord. Make sure you are seeking Him and His kingdom first, “and all these things shall be added unto you”. Praying for you. Hugs.

      • 40

        If I COULD talk to him, then I would. There is so much I would say. It isn’t my being selfish or not thinking about his needs. I do, all the time. I worry about the fact that I can’t seem to meet them, I can’t seem to connect to him. We have two small children and one on the way, and I fear so much. The power of fear is just overwhelming at times.

    • 41

      Ah, Karen — I so. hear. your heart.

      I remember that too — keeping so much fear inside. There was a period in our marriage where I just couldn’t talk at all. I didn’t know how to communicate — not really knowing how to trust the connection — which affected the communication. And when I tried to open up? It came out all ugly and made it worse.

      What helped?

      For a season, we wrote letters back and forth to each other. With a very deliberate format:

      I feel angry when… (write a paragraph)
      I feel hurt when…. (write a paragraph)
      I feel scared that… (write a paragraph)
      I love when you… (write a paragraph)
      I love you because… (write a paragraph)
      I’d like to reach out to you with… (write a paragraph)

      True, it felt mechanical ~smile~… but it helped us work towards love and honesty and trust and connection. And for us, God used that, to help us peel back to the wounds and start to tenderly minister to one another.

      I so understand the fear and the despair, beautiful Karen… May I whisper what I’m slowly learning: Despair only grows out of the opinion that our God cannot yield good out from everything, any thing, all things — even the worst things.

      Believing in Him with you.

      Thank you for stepping so beautifully into this safe community, Karen….
      You are being prayed for right now — by so many of your sisters.

      • 42
        Jennifer says:

        Karen, you mentioned that you have two preschoolers and another baby on the way. Remember that pregnancy hormones can make our feelings super charged and can make things seem worse than they are. I have 4 kids and about the time I got over crazy hormones with one kid, I was pregnant again….lol. Children are a blessing! Don’t be too hard on yourself though but do work on things when you are level-headed.

    • 43
      Jennifer says:

      Karen, you mentioned that you have two preschoolers and another baby on the way. Remember that pregnancy hormones can make our feelings super charged and can make things seem worse than they are. I have 4 kids and about the time I got over crazy hormones with one kid, I was pregnant again….lol. Children are a blessing! Don’t be too hard on yourself though but do work on things when you are level-headed.

    • 44
      Barbara says:

      Karen, I would encourage you to take a look at the blogs on Celebratecalm.com or CalmChristianparenting.com These links take you to posts re: marriage; read the comments, too. http://www.calmchristianparenting.com/marriage-rescue/ http://celebratecalm.com/calm-couples/ Kirk Martin has really opened my eyes to new (and better!) ways of seeing things.

  7. 45

    Ann, I love this. I am getting married 4 months from today and I have been praying everyday for our future marriage. Thank you for your godly wisdom and advice. You’ve helped me more than you know. As I was reading your responses to the comments above, I absolutely love where you said that we must assume similarity. Sometimes, even though I’m not married, I have these thoughts (it’s anxiety, mostly) and reading that quote from your professor puts a whole new perspective in my mind. Thank you, thank you!

    • 46

      Julia, congratulations on your upcoming marriage! What a wonderful way to begin – covered in prayer. I love what Ann said, too, about assuming similarity. I’ve recently been reading Love & Respect, which counsels couples to assume good intentions. That’s one I have neglected and am working on!

  8. 47

    This all struck a cord with me. We have been through highs and lows…more of the former than the latter, but the lows can be so low. For me, the bearing is to do with understanding that men and women are so very different. ad, why should MY needs be more important than his. I like to hear a “well done…I see you have done such and such and that’s great”….he doesn’t think about saying when something IS done, but when something is undone. I needed to learn perspective…to be glad he couldn’t see more of the undone, and just try and do what’s not been done – because that’s what HE needs. My hubby is a Pastor, and has been preaching on I Corinthians 13 over the last few Sundays. Keeping no record of wrongs…forgetting what has past, and pressing on to do better….to love better. Unconditionally. Not being easily offended. It’s HARD to love, the way that we should…but aren’t hard things worth it?
    Thank you for your continued care for others, that you want to share the truth of God’s Word.
    Oh, and the one thing we try and do, is not leave a problem festering. Being able to say sorry quickly, and move on. It was one of the best pieces of advice my MIL gave me…not silent treatment. Loving each other so much, that we can’t help but throw ourselves upon each other in embrace, and say sorry…feel that closeness again, that gets lost in selfish dispute.

  9. 49

    Beautiful, you, always. I love you, sister. I wish I knew how to be more dramatic to express it through the screen.

    We tell our newlywed friends: NEVER LIE – even when it hurts. And we also tell them that there is no greater love made than the love on the other side of forgiveness.

    Also, it’s okay to grieve what you thought it would be and then what it isn’t. Hollywood is a big fat liar. Grieve it, then move forward. I believe that God’s design of choosing love is far beyond what we can imagine.

    • 50

      WORD.

      Just this — exactly.

      {And, Amber? I wish I could make the screen reach out and nod and brim and say it all blurry: You’ll never know how you being His Light on a hill has warmed me into courage. You are loved beyond words — by Father and this messy daughter.}

      • 51

        Ann just said “WORD” – that may have made my night :)

        • 52

          LOL I was thinking something very similar.

          • 53

            LOL! I had to read it twice, even …”did she just say “WORD?” Love it! Love her!

          • 54

            ~blush!~ Well. I always thought “WORD” meant — Truth. As in — the person just spoke truth in accordance to His Word. But I just looked it up at urban dictionary? And I am blushing awkward. Well, now :) A hick using street slang for “truth.”

            Thanks for taking me anyways, friends :)

        • 55

          It did mine, too. :) *grins*

          I just wanna add that I’m always so overwhelmed with love, joy, HIM, through these posts!! And I know many of you here at {in}courage have said it–we’re not alone. Hearing the testimonies of so many women having gone through the hard stuff and how they overcome–well, this helps us all to overcome. So THANK YOU!!!

          {P.S. Please whisper a prayer for me. I’ve been determined to not allow life to squeeze the very LIFE out of me, to determine that contentment is mine, to find thanks and grace out life’s circumstances. Yet, lately, I seem to be losing the battle. Ann, you’ve said it before–”I just disappoint.” And YES, I remember what followed that statement. But I’m struggling. Overwhelmed.}

          • 56

            Sweet Rena, I’m lifting you up in prayer. Be comforted, be at peace, and know you are held so tenderly in our Father’s arms. Keep fighting to find joy. I know this struggle well, as it’s one I’m facing, too.

    • 57

      Well, I can’t beat Ann’s “WORD,” but I love what you’re saying here about grieving your expectations and Hollywood dreams. And then – most importantly (for me) – MOVE ON. Love this, Amber.

    • 58
      Alexandra says:

      “It’s okay to grieve what you thought it would be and then what it isn’t. Hollywood is a big fat liar. Grieve it, then move forward.”

      YES!!! I have found that this is SOOO important! I had so many expectations and ideas of what marriage should be like (some from Hollywood, some from my own head) and swung between guilt and blaming my husband when it wasn’t like that! It took a long time (like 11 years) for me to begin to realize this, surrender my expectations, and get to work on building a good, strong, REAL marriage. I did grieve, and praise God, for the past 4 years we have definitely been moving forward.

  10. 59

    The timing of this post is perfect… two nights ago I said something similar to my husband. It was a time of healing for both of us.

  11. 60

    Thank you for ministering to countless marriages through your words. My prayer is for the woman who is desperate today to find this and for the truth presented here to transform her marriage into something reflective of Gods intent…Bride & Bridegroom. Christ & the church. Thank you Ann for using your life & gifts to minister. To bring Him glory.

  12. 61
    Christine says:

    Love the ambulance theory. We’ll be married 17 years in 4 weeks, and that so reminded me of our first 5 years. Hang on, hold tight but stay with it, its worth the fight. Many blessings and thank you!

  13. 62

    Starting dating at 16. Married at 22. Separated at 23…for a year.
    I thought I too had married the wrong man. His silence made me distrust him and rely on myself, angry with him for not being dependable when really I was just terrified that it was all up to me and I was alone.
    Tried desperately to divorce him, but God would not allow it though I begged for a year for the peace to leave.
    It’s 19 years this year and 4 precious children later. He is the exact person I needed to rub up against in order to be refined. I read your post and felt I’ve stood in that skin, in that conversation. We are not those 22 year old people and I am so grateful that God knows what we need and doesn’t listen to what we want. I am happily and contentedly connected with my husband and while there are still days of that rubbing and that refining, we are both more aware of the process and willing to keep walking to keep growing closer. Even though 18 years ago I begged , cried, wailed, screamed and whimpered to God to release me from it, I love being married. I love being married to him.

    • 63

      Laryn… what a wonderful and beautiful journey of listening to what God had planned for you. HE knows. 19 years and 4 children… what a precious story that is!

    • 64

      Laryn, a friend of mine is going through this right now. The scenario is almost identical and she seems to despise her husband’s very existence. As friends, we have all been supporting her in prayer and love, but she does not want to accept it and has pushed us further and further over the past 2 years. How did you manage to get past that desperation for independance, and build a healthy relationship with your husband? And as a friend, what can I do despite being pushed away every time I reach out? It’s becoming very tiring.

  14. 65

    What if you don’t fight, but you don’t connect either? It seems almost worse in a way. Two people just coexisting, with job demands always choking out time to just be.
    Living on the surface is such a lonely life.

    • 66

      Dear Kim! This is breaking my heart! I have lived part of our marriage this way…in silence, yet needing desperately to bring my hurt to my man…knowing his passive nature…resenting that I had to be the one to initiate communication and connection…for awhile, too long awhile, the distractions of life were my refuge…even while I ranted at God for not making my man different in that one way which I supposed would satisfy me…forgetting all the myriad ways God had blessed me through this man for whom verbal “connection” has been his weakness…yet him so strong in thousands of other wondrous ways… I sought counseling; I took my longings to the prayer bench…I learned that I was the one running away–afraid to be the communicator, the one who could share kindly without threatening him or disrespecting him or harming him…If I wanted connection so badly, and he ungifted in the art, what was stopping me from being the one to pray for the moment and the words to express to him my heart? FEAR?…of what, exactly?…that he would, in the end, not be equipped to satisfy my longing?… that I would not be able to forgive his limitations?… Oh, Kim! Precious wife, make today a beginning in your heart to find God’s path of connection with your man at the heart, even the painful connections which wrestle and work out the tangles of unspoken emotions to get at the heart of the love that hurts enough to long for connection.., Decide that his friendship is worth it all… Show him in your everyday life that his friendship is worth working through the painful places… that even his heart is safe in your hands… If you need to talk to someone else–a counselor, a trusted friend–find that help to begin working through the tangles and fears which are stealing the spirit of intimacy from your marriage home… Wives have a very high calling… It amazes me how much grace!

      Will be praying for you both!
      Patricia

      • 67
        Rebekah says:

        …..”I learned that I was the one running away–afraid to be the communicator, the one who could share kindly without threatening him or disrespecting him or harming him…”……..
        Oh, my goodness, I am working through this issue of non-communication RIGHT NOW in my marriage, and am currently in counseling myself. I am learning exactly the same thing – I am running, I am afraid, I’m SO fearful that even IF we start communicating better, that it still won’t be my perfectionistic idea of what it ‘should be’… ugh!!! Like a commenter said above, the Hollywood portrayal of marriage is one big fat lie – grieve it and move on. I am so thankful to be doing that, and to start embracing what GOD has for us in our marriage!!! My sweet husband is an incredible gift, and I thank God for him! There is hope now for lasting change in our marriage – praise God!!!

        • 68

          Dear Rebekah! Praising God with you in this process of forging through into love in your precious relationship with your husband…I will be praying with you and for you both as God’s love for you becomes more evident to your heart through counseling…I will be praying with you and for you both as God’s love prompts and permeates all your daily conversations with your husband…

      • 69

        Patricia,
        Thank you so much. I am touched that you would take the time to minister to me, a complete stranger. Your words brought tears, and yes, it is fear that keeps me from reaching out. Fear that he will not reach back – words not returned, a hug only held long enough to complete an obligation. The pain of this is unbearable to me, so I retreat and pour myself into children and work. I know that only the Lord can satisfy my deepest needs to be loved, yet I long to be more connected to this man who has been at my side for 23 years. He is a very good man, and I love him deeply, but don’t know how to begin. Counseling is probably a good idea. Thank you for your prayers and for breathing hope into me. Your words have been a blessing!

    • 70

      Precious Kim,
      I so understand this one…living side by side, not face to face; so lonely and disconnected yet how to start? Where to begin? My prayers will be with you sweet sister. After 36 years…(yes, 36!) of Christian co-existence, his response being frustration and mine withdrawal and shutting down, we are building a new marriage. My biggest mistake was in expecting God to do it all…I prayed, forgave, honored, went through the motions of all the “good Christian wife” expectations, and nothing changing. I was mad at God, mad at myself for marrying him, etc. Read John Bevere’s book “The Bait of Satan” about offense. We all know “blessed are the peacemakers…” but there is a difference between being a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. He said peacemakers confront and bring out what needs to be addressed in order to bring genuine healing into the relationship, while a peacekeeper says nothing, living in a false peace that is based on fear. Wow. I had allowed fear…fear of everything to keep me from lovingly but strongly confronting what needed to be dealt with in our marriage. Those days are over and it’s so much better! Even with the uncharted waters, it’s out in the open, no more facade and Christ is present with us both. Our husbands cannot deal with what they don’t know anymore than we can! A tremendous resource for us has been doing an 11 wk study on marriage through Mars Hill Church out of Seattle, Washington. We happen to have one in our town and the messages are broadcast via webcast. Not our home church, but pumping life into our marriage in an incredible way for this season in our lives. The book Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll and Mark’s messages following by a Q and A time with his wife Grace have been so helpful. He shows how the #1 need of both men and women in marriage is friendship…We need to be friends first, in Christ, face to face not shoulder to shoulder. He totally connects to men, speaking their language on what we as women need and to the women, what biblical respect looks like… (Grace wrote this chapter). http://marshill.com/real-marriage if you’re interested. He says the Bible gives principles not methods, and that’s where we ask our spouses what respect looks like for him; what love looks like for her…not cookie cutter but unique to each of us. This is what the Lord is using in our marriage and it may not be what He has for you, Kim. But I wanted to mention it since it’s all online. Praying for peace and gentle direction from our Lord who loves you so much!

  15. 71
    Melissa says:

    What a fantastic post.
    My question would be how do you heal and get past the hard and sometime ugly stuff that happens in a marriage?
    “Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls — it’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate. When we’re well attached, we communicate well and when we aren’t fully communicating it’s because we don’t feel connected.” This speaks volumes to me. Almost two years ago my husband had an affair. At the time we had a toddler and a newborn. After much heartache, paitence, and discussion we figured out he didn’t understand how overwhelmed I was and that I had post partum depression (I didn’t know that at the time either but looking back it’s EASY to see). He didn’t feel connected to me, I didn’t feel connected to anything, I was just trying to survive every day! We are working very hard on our marriage now and I sometimes have to remember to put him first (which is nearly impossible with a toddler hanging on my leg needing something). I can say the good that has come out of this situation is that it has brought me much closer to God. It’s still hard though, I still have nightmares and there are days that I am just so sad that that trust I had in him isn’t there, and that he broke the most important promise he ever made to me (love, honor, cherish, and forsaking all others…). We will get through it though.
    One thing I would tell newlyweds (or any couple really) is to make sure your spouse is your priority.
    You can pray for me by praying for complete healing, for my insecurities and trust issues to be removed. To heal my husband from the guilt he feels for his bad decisions. For him to walk the paths that God has made straight.

    • 72

      Melissa, praying for you tonight. That trust can be rebuilt, but it does take such time, doesn’t it? God can work in your heart and his, to repair was was torn and ripped and reknit everything so much stronger. The beauty on the other side of this trial will be breathtaking. Sending love. xoxo

    • 73

      Melissa, Arianne is so right about the beauty on the other side. I experienced the same thing six years ago and never imagined that my future would be this beautiful. God’s grace and time will continue to heal your heart.

      • 74

        Thank you Katie. My tears are streaming down my face at this possible future beauty you speak of. I am just 4 days into knowing of my husband’s betrayal. He didn’t have an affair, but it was sexual sin nonetheless. I am just in blackness right now, but I have a sliver of hope for something beautiful out of this too.

  16. 75
    Jennifer says:

    Ann, thanks for this. Oh how you are blessing me today.
    Married 27 years….some days lately I have felt doubt about
    making it to 28 as we walk through a tough season.
    When anger welled up in me last Thurs. I bit my tongue on
    harsh retorts, but stopped my husband from continuing his words.
    He frustrated….me upset. The end. I prayed to God for wisdom for the root of my anger.
    And he whispered to my heart…fear. The fear that surged in me for my youngest
    was driving my anger.
    And …yes….this… will you take care of us and be there for us?
    I am listening this week to His love , poured out for me.
    So I can be this kind of love….to those I love.
    with oh so much gratitude.
    Jen

    • 76

      What strength you had to stop in that moment of anger and pray to God for the root of the anger. And He answers. He always answers. Thank you for sharing that with us Jen!

  17. 77

    Yesterday, he came up with a new idea, shared it, kissed me and went out the door to work. Unknowingly, he threw my sense of security off and fear started to ring in my head. My bible time was spent in much distraction as I allowed all kinds of wild threats to run through my head, ways I wanted to force him to my preferred action, fears that what I wanted would fall through again. A small voice told me I was crazy, how good he was and how could something this “benign” really be such an issue.
    Praise God for His word, forcing me to rethink and calm. I was in a better state of mind when he got home. We haven’t discussed the issue – ironically, I’m afraid to bring it up, to be the wet blanket or the never satisfied. But all a long car ride together it was there, making silence because I couldn’t think of anything else to say – allowing him to happily talk about his day. Maybe it’s good to be quiet sometimes and hear him.
    I’m going to send him the ambulance quote by email today. I think it will make for a good place to start discussing my fears and how it’s not really him but that I need him. Thanks for a non-threatening opener.

    • 78

      Putting light on that dark fear and letting the air in and connecting with your husband about this is so hard, so brave and so necessary. I love that ambulance analogy too!

  18. 79

    So well written. We are close to thirty years into our life together and the first ten were indeed the most challenging. We were so young and needed to grow up together and without nearby family it was just us and God to work things out. That was a very good thing. My youngest has officially been granted the blessing to “pursue with purpose” his first young love and I have always made it a point to let them know the best relationship is the one where you can fight and disagree and still feel safe. I would have through the hardest time we went through was my husband’s emergency open-heart surgery with three little ones and an exchange student living with us. No, we got through that. Perhaps the fire, the car accident or my son’s electrocution? There is so much more. Maybe as my young men began to leave the nest? Still getting through that, perhaps the two years of only seeing my hubby on weekends while he works away and we wait for our home to sell? Some days it is unbearable but we are getting through that too. You get through it all, one day, one prayer at a time-together.

  19. 81

    Ann, wonder filled words today. Thank you.

  20. 82

    This summer, while the sun burned outside, my heart, mind, and soul were flaming hot inside! I would wake up in the middle of the night, if I had went to sleep at all, and cry and hold tight the legs while rocking back and forth. My husband had become a bit distant – God was growing us the hard way (likely we were the ones making it hard). Satan had taken a great fear of mine, and He was playing his fiddle hard on it. I was consumed by distrust and, yes, fear. I was suspicious of his every text and phone call and time away from home. I had day thoughts that turned into nightmares that turned me into this shell of a woman.
    It was nothing he did wrong – ever! It was old fears, childhood experiences and adult observations of a world thriving in its sin. It was me not believing or trusting God either.
    Finally, after living off of His Word daily; using the sword of the Spirit until I thought my “arm” might fall off, I woke up to a cool relief. He had finally heard what I had been saying all summer long, and I could finally say it knowing Whose I was – that is, Who I believed in and trusted whether things stayed sweet or went sour. The enemy has tried to take me back to that pit many times, but praise God he has not succeeded! It really came down to how I trusted my “Bridegroom” – only then could I find the love to trust my husband.

    • 83

      This:

      “It really came down to how I trusted my “Bridegroom” – only then could I find the love to trust my husband.”

      A thousand, thousand yeses….

  21. 84

    Two things I’ve learned in my 43 years of marriage:

    Make God your rock, not your husband.

    And to be selfless.

    • 85

      Jen, I’m reading Beth Moore’s “So Long, Insecurity” right now — and you encapsulate the essence here so beautifully: Our security is found in Him — and not in our husband. — God as our rock, none other.

      • 86
        Robin in New Jersey says:

        I hear so many young girls say they are looking for that one person who is going to make them happy. I tell them that man will always let them down, Jesus never will. HE needs to be the focal point, always.

      • 87
        Tomesia says:

        Ann, “So Long, Insecurity” is a great book! God is our constant. There is no shadow of turning with Him. I don’t have to rise and fall with the affection or lack of from my husband, because God is my rock.

  22. 88
    Alexandra Kuykendall says:

    Ann, You hit it again, the details t hat capture the emotions. The crying over the sink. The words that come out in anger when all you want is to be held. We are always the child. Thank you again for saying what I feel better than I do.

  23. 89

    We were married 20 years last August. We did nothing to celebrate the milestone. In fact, a week prior, at a friend’s wedding, I slept on the floor of the hotel as he took the bed. This was supposed to be our weekend of celebration. 20 years should be good … wonderful. But we were in the midst of “Rock Bottom”, as I’ve named this time.

    You see, my husband is an alcoholic. And after several months of things getting progressively worse, he was just beginning to realize that he needed to seek more help than I could give or he could give himself. Two weeks later, he took a leave of absence from his job and “voluntarily” checked himself into rehab. I still don’t know if it was his decision or mine or a combination, but he did it. And life has been better since.

    Better, but not at all where it should be. I think I’m still holding on to a lot of anger, a lot of pain, a lot of distrust. I’m afraid. Maybe terrified. Of opening my heart and tearing down my walls and getting hurt all over again. I want so much more in our marriage. And, God help me, I just want to be held.

    He’s doing so much positive work on himself. To my knowledge, he hasn’t had a drink since the beginning of September. This is good. This is a huge blessing. And I know this. I’m trying to be patient. Trying to be supportive. I just pray that someday he’ll want to work on our marriage again as well. Until then, I pray for the strength and desire to be the one to make the changes that need to be made in me.

    Thank you, Ann, for your words, your honesty, your love.

    • 90

      God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
      Alcoholism is a disease that touches many lives . . there is a reason someone chooses to drink and a reason some chooses to be with someone that drinks . .
      I have recently discovered Al-Anon for myself. I did not grow up with parents that drank excessively, nor am I in a relationship with an alcoholic, but I have discovered that most people I’ve dated have been addicts in one way or another . . even in friendships . . I have my own “addictions” and have dealt with Co-dependency . . There is love and acceptance and God in Al-Anon. And it’s all for me.

    • 92
      Melissa says:

      I have also been married to an alcoholic. We met in 8th grade and were married in 2002. It was hard for 8 years…well, *hard* doesn’t really describe it, does it?

      In 2010, my husband was led to AA by an inner voice. He now knows that it was God. I am grateful each day for his sobriety, and for the God that led him there.

      However, things did not get better for me. I was still marred by insecurity, fear, depression, humiliation…etc. I was led last March by my inner voice to find an Al-Anon meeting. I now claim my “sobriety” due to my God working in my life. Al-Anon is a great place to find comfort and serenity. As I work the steps of my program, I grow closer to Him each day.

      My marriage has been through some really tough times. I am so grateful to God that my husband and I are willing to work on our marriage now like never before. It is because God is now the center of our lives, not each other or anything else. God is our focus, and that leads us to serve one another without barriers, hesitation, or selfishness.

      One of the most important things of my program is that it teaches me that I can only control my actions and reactions. I cannot control how he thinks, feels, acts, etc. I used to be responsible for it all. In being responsible only for me (and even that power is limited because ultimately GOD has it all under control), I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, teacher, and friend.

      I will pray for you, Erika.

      Thank you for your words today, Ann. Every day I strive to reach out to my husband in ways that will increase our connectedness and intimacy. Thank you for your constant encouragement. I thank God that I stumbled upon your blog, have read your book, and have begun my list this year…I wrote down # 369 this morning about my babies.
      #370…reading Ann’s blog, and writing an email to my husband with words of love

      Melissa

      • 93

        Dearest Erika…

        “And, God help me, I just want to be held.”

        Tears streaming down my cheeks.

        Lord Jesus, thank you for taking those nail scarred hands of Yours and cupping the face of Erika… of Nancy, of Melissa… and whispering it right into their hurting, aching hearts: “You are loved with an everlasting love and I promise you, daughter, cross my heart and *die* — I will never, ever, ever let you go.”

        Quietly sitting with each of you, looking onto Jesus, our security, our hope, our identity — and our forever Love.

        Thank you for ministering to us, sisters, with your wisdom…
        More love than thin letters can hold,
        Ann

        • 94

          Thank you, Ann.

        • 95

          …Amen! Praying with Ann for you all.
          I’m standing by a recovering sex addict. Standing back and waiting, watching how God works his miracles in the one I love is excruciating and confusing…but He is ever faithful and the tapestry He weaves I could’ve never fathomed. Lean in and hang on! Love never fails!

      • 96

        Beautiful brave women – we would hug you through this screen if we could. Thank you for showing us how to keep walking the married road with brave hearts.

      • 97

        Such amazing courage to share like this. Helping more than you know. Praying for each of you.

        • 98

          Crying as I read this. Praying for each of you. Praying for sobriety, healing, peace and joy unlike anything you’ve ever known

      • 99

        Thank you, Melissa.

  24. 100

    What a blessing it has been for me to find your writings. You have an uncanny way of cutting right to the heart of the matter. Today was no different, as I found the tears rolling down as I read.
    We have definitely never had what one would call an easy marriage (is there such a thing?) and it’s easy to blame my dear husband for his lack of communication. To say he is the strong, silent type would be an understatement and there are days when I barely get a word out of him. To say he spoke two words to me on any given day probably means he spoke literally two words. As a girl with a strong bent toward words of affirmation as my love language, I’ve many times felt so incredibly alone and scared. But it doesn’t end there.
    My husband may not talk much but when he does I know there is heavy meaning there. He is my rock. He has never flinched when faced with my health problems, including years of excruciating pain from endometriosis and my ongoing emotional issues (bipolar II). Could a bit more affirmation or communication help my emotional problems? Sure. But feeling his strong arms around me, his hand stroking my hair, speaks words through the silence.
    Yes, he is my rock. Rocks are strong and steady and unmoving. We cannot expect them to be warm and fuzzy. That is a big thing I’ve learned through my marriage. I’ve also learned that when I think I can’t do this anymore, I can. No one can make my marriage end in divorce but me and him, and that’s not gonna happen. It may be messy at times, but we’ve fought hard for this shared history and shared future and I love him more today than I did before I knew where this was headed.
    Thank you for sharing the struggles you faced early in your marriage. At 15 years we may not be early in our own marriage anymore, but it is always an encouragement to catch a glimpse of what fruit can come from the labor of love we invest in each other.

    • 101

      Tonya, thank you so much for sharing here. I love this: “No on can make my marriage end in divorce but me and him, and that’s not gonna happen.” Amen! It takes strength and HARD work to hold onto a marriage and build it up instead of letting it tear us down at times, doesn’t it? I’m not early in a marriage either and a words of affirmation person married to someone who is not. So I am taking your rock analogy to hear tonight.

  25. 102

    Thank you for this Ann. I so love Jesus and my husband, but lately as I blog and read the blogs of others, I wonder: is there someone who doesn’t have listed under “About Me”: “married to my best friend,” “my high school sweetheart”? What if I madly love Jesus but feel about my marriage so much of what you have written here? After 11 years, 4 kids, homeschooling, I think my prayer request is that we can hear what God wants for our marriage and family and reflect that love to each other and our children. Thank you!

    • 103

      Mandy, bless you for asking/saying this. I think that ALL. THE. TIME. Am I the only one who really can’t say that my husband is my best friend? I love my husband. I really do. But I just really can’t say that.

      It makes me sad to see those phrases again and again because it breeds discontentment. Makes me angry that we’re not “like that”. Isn’t that pathetic? Then I wonder if people write that because they feel like they should. That seems even more pathetic!

      • 104

        Amy and Mandy, I love your honest questions. I strive to be real and transparent online (as well as in person), but I have to admit that my “about me” mentions my husband being my high school sweetheart. That bio, however, leaves out the fights and hurts and frustrations and tears and silence that have lived in our house, in our lives, many times. Not to say that we don’t have good times or a strong marriage – but you’re right. Life isn’t all roses and pony rides. At least not all the time. :) I’m thankful you all are brave enough to say so today. Thank you for sharing your hearts here.

      • 105

        I have 11 years, 4 kids, homeschooling and a disconnected recovering sex addict in my life too and it’s hard. Our marriage is healing but oh so slowly. More and more though, I find so much joy in knowing that my Maker is my husband, that He is all sufficient, that He has poured grace upon grace into my life. Also, I’ve been listening to this sermon series- http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-series/marriage-christ-and-covenant-one-flesh-for-the-glory-of-god and it has blessed me and encouraged me so much. I love that marriage is just a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church (that’s me- I am part of this church) and that I can show Jesus how much I love Him by the way I am daily laying down my life for my husband. Also, I’m learning over and over that the blood that bought my forgiveness of sins bought my husband’s too. He stands clean before God. I pray for God’s love for him. That I will see him with the eyes of Jesus…

  26. 106
    Bethany F says:

    Ann, thanks for offering hope. Sometimes when you’re deeply in pain it feels impossible to imagine love again, to imagine anything good beyond the terror, anger, or numbness you feel. We have been married three years and are very happy, though I can remember when that felt like an impossibility. I didn’t know if my heart had the capacity to feel love from a man or love him in return.

    You can pray with me that our love could grow stronger through whatever seasons come and that we could walk with others who hurt and hurt each other and offer grace and hope.

    If I could tell someone just one thing right now, it is that you need other people. It’s okay to need help. If you have anyone you trust that you can open your heart to, please do it. A marriage isn’t meant to be all we need, we need marriage in community.

  27. 107
    Heather says:

    You have put into words all the feelings I have been wrestling with. My heart couldn’t tell my mind how to tell him what’s going inside. We’ve just been married for a little over two months. Dated for about two years before that. I know I am struggling with my own stuff…depression, anxiety, stress and somehow it all comes out in the worst ways towards him. I’m a social worker who deals with people every day, usually very hurting people. On top of that I am a full-time student. He works at a barn dealing with horses every day. For some reason I have been thinking these horses are our problem because they take so much of his time, our time when I so desperately need him. We are struggling to find the balance, to find Him. My heart so aches to find Him in him again. Your words are such a comfort. We’ve both been wondering if maybe we didn’t make a mistake in saying yes. Afraid to say it that way, but I know that’s been the thought. I feel like I can breathe again after reading your post. Thank you, and how I wish I could squeeze your hand and hug you tight like I do my mom and my sister.

    • 108

      Oh Heather, understanding your words. The beginning can be so hard. So many changes and so much to learn. Praying you can feel His love and guidance through this time. He has brought you together… He will walk you through.

  28. 110

    After 23 years and countless useless arguments, I can say that I’m thankful for God’s grace. Without that, my marriage would be in the tank!
    I grew up with “conditional” love. If I did what was expected, everything was great. If I messed up or fell short, it was misery!
    That environment set me up for crazy expectations in my marriage. It wasn’t healthy!
    My hubby grew up with acceptance NO MATTER WHAT HE DID WRONG! It may sound like a good thing…but the results for him was a careless attitude.
    Both of us are first born children with very strong personalities. We’re excellent at being right or “knowing it all”. We’ve had to die on our own swords many times.

    Marriage is tough. Then, throw in some crying babies — a job loss — financial struggles and satan will have a field day. It’s crucial that in spite of being mad or upset with your spouse that you spend time talking to God. Somehow, the Holy Spirit has a way of softening our hearts and putting us back on the path of love & forgiveness.

    I’m so thankful that in all my years of marriage, my husband and I have never been out of love at the same time. God in His mighty way made sure that one of us was holding on when the other wanted to let go.

  29. 111

    In this generation of sleep-first-ask-questions-later, I don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like . . . I am not married, never have been; but have felt the pain of failed relationships. Of looking for love, assurance, fulfillment, in places where it cannot be found. I had a daughter young . . her Father is not in the picture. She is so angry; trying to desperately make sense of why he would not want her. I want so desperately to let her know that she is whole and beautiful and loved just the way she is; but my actions fall short and my words feel hollow, when I don’t know how to grasp this belief for me. How do we teach what we want them to know, to believe when we do not know this truth deep in our own souls . . when we live out the I’m-not-good-enough . . .

    • 112

      Nancy – how hard. How you must hurt for her. I know you love her, I can hear it. Can I pray for you?
      Oh Lord God You have created us. You are sovereign and You know Nancy’s story inside and out, and her daughter’s too. She is hurting for her daughter, You know that better than I do. Help this dear girl to feel her mother’s love but more than that to turn to You, to know that You can handle her anger and her heartache and her cares, that You have promised to carry them for her if she turns to You for help. Be close to both of them and show them that You are perfect satisfaction, You are the Father to the fatherless and Husband to the husbandless and You wrote the book on Love so who else can we turn to but You? And when it is hard to turn to You, draw them, hedge them in until they can’t go anywhere else. Lay Your hand on them and give them the grace to surrender.
      Amen

    • 113
      Alexandrakuhl says:

      (((Nancy)))…

  30. 114

    “There is no greater love than on the other side of forgiveness “….yes!!!!

    I wont share our private struggles of the past here. I reserve that for private one on one mentoring because love keeps no record of wrong BUT ER….emotional response really hit the spot. And love is refined by fire and make the bond immeasurably greater. Marraige is to make us holy but too often we find that we have misplaced our spouse, either elevating them to the position of God (which is a long hard fall when pride is discovered) or we place ourselves high and look down on him from our perch. God refines us and uses marriage to make us holy.

    Shalom to all sweet sisters

  31. 115

    I couldn’t hold back the tears especially when you wrote about not being connected. I have never ever felt connected to my husband of 17 years. Please pray.. Ann, I cant thank you enough for your raw honesty. Yesterday as the tears were flowing so freely and there was so much hurt Jesus just whispered, “I know.” sometimes that’s all we need, isn’t it? Yet I know I will forget again.

    • 116

      So grateful to hear you say that you hear HIM whisper to you. He is there, He does know. That is some comfort, isn’t it? You are in my prayers Tina!

  32. 117

    When all is said and done, our husbands are longing for respect. We’ve just got to learn to speak what’s true about us and acknowledge our true feelings to him … but do it in a way that is “helpful for those who listen” {Ephesians 4:29}.

    I guess the idea is to do it along the way, as part of an ongoing conversation … and not wait til there’s so much boiling underneath and the lid flies off the pot.

    I’ve learned this in my work as a pastoral counselor … and also slowly, but surely, in 35 years of marrage. Here’s the story of one counseling session where the light began to dawn:
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2011/11/his-desperate-need-respect-her-greatest.html

  33. 118

    Ann,
    I have been struggling with a friendship my husband has with another woman at work. This woman emails him about personal issues with her kids, prayer requests for herself and kids. The texting has pretty much stopped because I said something about it. There was texting even at night about “prayer requests” on occasion. This woman seems very godly and is one of the leaders in our church. Her husband travels alot…she always tells me how wonderful my husband is and how much he has helped her. But it just seems inappropriate to me. I do not text other men about whatever and ask even for a prayer from them. Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I anxious and angry about nothing? Is it just jealousy? My husbands work is at our church…I am looking to the Lord to help me know what is right. I know that He is not anxious about it…He can help my focus to be where it needs to be. Seeking God…

    • 119

      Dana, your feelings are completely understandable. YES, it’s inappropriate for another woman to be texting and emailing your husband about personal matters–even under the guise of sharing “prayer requests.” Even if your husband were her pastor this would be inappropriate–texts at night? Waaaaay over the line, in my opinion. Have you tried a direct conversation with your husband about this? Have you shared how it makes you feel?

      • 120

        Elizabeth,
        Thank you, yes, I did talk to him about it and shared my feelings. I saw a quiet, shocked look and maybe a little embarrassment but also a bit of ego too. He really had no idea I was thinking anything about it all…now he does. I just kept thinking I was making it a bigger deal than it was and I did not want to be getting in the way of true spiritual growth in her life…but…it just did not seem right. I was getting angrier and angrier. God is working, I know!
        Thank you for your encouragement,
        Dana

    • 121

      Dana, I am sure both your husband and this woman are godly people. Godly people can make mistakes. Godly people can be subject to errors in judgment, even when their only desire is to help someone who is in pain. Elizabeth is right. If this woman is struggling with personal issues, she needs to find other godly women with whom she can share and ask for prayer–it is inappropriate for her to expect that from your husband. She may not have the strength (or wisdom) right now to do that on her own. Your husband can–and should–gently encourage her to make this transition by recommending others for her to confide in and taking himself out of the picture. (He will have to deal with his own pride and/or ego issues in order to do this.) I am sure you already are, but keep praying about this and place a spiritual hedge of protection around you and your husband and your marriage. (Please also pray for this woman because she is in a LOT of pain.) You do have a right to create boundaries. (Two terrific books that might help: “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian.)

      Affairs generally aren’t planned–often they just happen. Vigilance is necessary, and it is NOT paranoia or “just jealousy.” The two of you might also talk to a trusted pastor about the best way to handle this situation…and it is a situation you should handle together, if possible. God may even choose to move your husband so he is separated from her; but the emotional separation should make a physical separation unnecessary. Praying for you, my dear sister!

      • 122

        Lisa,
        Thank you so much for your wisdom and prayers! Yes, I totally agree that the transition to women is needed in this situation and good for her to do anyway. Thank you for the book information. Soaking it all in.
        Dana

    • 123
      Melissa says:

      I am praying for you Dana. You are not wrong to feel the way you do! As Lisa said below “Affairs generally aren’t planned–often they just happen.” I don’t bring that up again to scare you, but that is what happend to me. My husband had an affiar after being just a friend/helping someone out. I do think it says ALOT about your husband though because you say the texting has pretty much stopped because you said something about it. I hope you can continue to keep an open dialogue with your husband about how you feel. I will be praying for you!

      • 124

        Melissa,
        Thank you for sharing with me and for your prayers. I can’t tell you how much this means.
        Dana

  34. 125

    The hardest things faced… healing from our own hurts. Taking the past hurts and growing into something new together. Recognizing that, the past pain can be healed and new growth can come shooting out of that scarred healed place. That this growth is SO strong when you stand as a cord of three… you, your spouse and God.

    Recognizing that those past hurts grew out of a sinful world. That you can’t control what has happened to you, but now God has given you each other to face the storms together.

    Advice that has been invaluable:
    Don’t let the sun go down on your anger…
    I didn’t understand why I was given this advice as a newlywed. I now understand, anger festers over night. It isn’t something that goes away on it’s own, you can’t sweep it under the rug. Like you said Ann, there are underlying cries to be dealt with.

    The D word should not be a part of your vocabulary.
    I didn’t understand this at first. But, after almost 12 years I realize… if you use the D word it means it is a impassibility. Not using it means you must foster an area of growth together instead of looking for a way out.

    The things I didn’t know…
    How radically marriage would change my life. How difficult the journey would be. How incredibly worth it… and beautiful it is. God made this sacred for a reason. He is a Beautiful and Amazing God, to create such an amazing (though difficult) journey for us to become more like Him… together.

    Thank you for creating this space here… this safe space of community.

  35. 128
    Brandi says:

    Thank you, Ann. I feel that you wrote that just for me when I read it this morning. After a night of anger infused poor communication, I see that it all came from anxiety and fear. That is so good to realize, thank you sweet Father! I have been praying for wisdom regarding my anger, so God used you to help answer that prayer. Thank you, Ann, for your faithfulness to the word…for your perseverance and encouragement to others. You are a blessing!

  36. 129

    I believe you speak the heart of each woman. Every day I need His grace to get me through the conflicts and release my insecurities about the future.
    Thank you, Ann. You’re a blessing.

  37. 130

    “I’d discuss and he’d distance. I’d rage and he’d disengage. I’d escalate and he’d escape.”
    I know this dance all too well.
    we’ve been married 7 years. We have a 2 year old.
    My heart longs to stay home with my boy.
    The career woman I thought I wanted to be is no more.
    Fear.
    I now want to be the stay at home mom
    Gripping Anxiety ensues.
    I want to be the thing that I tried to avoid most of all.
    Then I look at that little boy’s face.
    And I don’t want him to have a childhood like mine: wake up with no one home, parents have already left for work, fend for myself, hungry, try to get to the bus on time, get home, still no one home, hungry, sad, lonely.
    My most important goal right now is that he have a truly amazing childhood.
    My man and I.. we’re so different. He’s changed so much over the past couple years because of my feverish daily prayers for him. My heart doesn’t see the change. My heart still is held captive by the person he used to be: selfish, alcoholic, addict, jokester.

    Reading Captivating. Will read it again.. study it hard and break free from that past.

    Love you Ann.

  38. 131

    Dear Ann and all dear ones on this site, Thank you for the transparency in your walk as married wives… I read a quote yesterday. It was in a “link” column on one of the sites I was browsing…cannot recall which site just now. It was brief, but really quite touching: “You didn’t marry a woman…” It made me laugh, because I think I have always had expectations that I could somehow draw my man’s sensitivity out into more open, spontaneous expression–more like women do when they enjoy one another’s company. After 42 years of a relationship with my man–a relationship I would not trade for all the girlfriends in the world–I have finally become comfortable in the way that it is “able-to-be-comforted” by his quietness, and by what God does not grant to my ravenous and demanding appetite for expression from him. Aging is taking away more of his ability for what expression he once mustered, but my man has always been kind, if at times passive–even when I have not been kind in my desperation and longing… Miraculously, God brought us two unique people together; God brought us each from darkness into the Light of the Lord Jesus in His deeply Personal way during our married life; God is forging us two into one flesh in Christ–transforming us each uniquely, while simultaneously as a couple, into the image of His Dear Son–FORGING us in the fires both of ecstatic joy and shared sufferings–Christ always having the pre-eminence in all things… As I age and entrust my weaknesses to God for care and provision, I am learning to let God have His way with my man…even if I don’t get to have him take care of me as he has always and faithfully done for so many years… Even, if in the greatest weakness of my life, God calls me to return the blessing upon my man in his walk from glory to glory… receiving what God gives to fill this hungry heart, respecting, walking with my man, him whom my soul loves…

    Your question: “What’s the hardest thing you’ve worked through in your marriage?” Discovering my anxiety disorder and how it has stolen things from our lives together–ways it has contributed to the very things I have wanted not to be dysfunctional between us… Praise God! We continue in love working through it! Together. “Love endures all things…”

    Your question: “What’s one thing you’d tell newlyweds now that you’ve learned the hard way?” Expect changes and give thanks to God everyday for the mercies new every morning; dare to live fully right where you are!

    Your question: “How are you forging through to love right now? How can we pray for you today in your marriage?” I would so desire your prayers for mercies for my husband. He endures roaring tinnitus every waking moment; he endures patiently with ever constant pain from double scoliosis and spinal stenosis; yet his temperament is always kind–if very quiet… As he is ever constant in patience and courage in his pain, pray for me that I will be equally patient, courageous and constant in gentleness, respect and kindness to him whom my soul loves…

    Blessings abundantly upon you and all dear ones in this precious community!
    Patricia

    • 132

      Patricia,

      Does your husband have mercury amalgam in his dental work? If so, you might want to read this:
      http://www.alternativesmagazine.com/39/duffy.html

      RC

    • 133

      Dear Patricia,

      Thank you for your kind and gentle words! I am praying for mercies for your beloved husband. I’ve been married for seven years, and your words encourage me to be gentle, patient, and loving with my husband and our two boys. I’ve been a bit bent out of shape and frustrated lately. Thank you for helping to put things into a better perspective.

      Blessings,
      Sarah-Anne

  39. 134

    the hardest part? 20+ year marriage and going strong, yet realizing (as Tim Keller states) that marriage is a long series of “exhausting victories” (his new book). i can so relate to that and sometimes just get plain worn out. Attempting to be ‘first generation’ Christians on both sides, attempting to really and FULLY live authentically in front of our brood of 6 kids, and having them see and realize as teens (mostly) now, that we are SO NOT God, that we are SO faulty, that we mess up SO MUCH, i could go on and on. But seeing the look in their becoming of age eyes of ‘wow, you all are more screwed up than i realized,’ though it’s none of the ‘biggey’ sins in Christian life (adultery, etc….but arent they ALL big?) It’s my impatience….my fear of not being safe….my fear that in illness he will grow weary (and has at times…..) and having no roots, no extended family to fall back on for any support at all. Trying to make them (kids) realize that conflict IS life and not working out conflict is NOT an option if you want Love to win, but how AWFUL MESSY that looks sometimes. and i cry. or they cry. and i still fall asleep with the same man night after night and he loves me. Dear Lord, you’d think it could be easier? {smile}

  40. 135
    Stephanie Dillon says:

    By far and wide, my most difficult marital struggle is feeling like I function on a different plane (spiritually) than my husband. My heart aches for him when I see him struggle & buckle under his self-sufficiency. I continue to pray that he will be overcome with surrender to the Holy Spirit. Until then, what has helped me the most is noticing the God-glimmer-gifts of change. And also the realization that our Lord loves him just as much as he loves me. This also extends my ability to love him where he is.

    • 136
      Sharon says:

      steph…. for years i experienced this too. GOD SHOWED UP. KEEP PRAYING. i will pray too. it is SO HARD for a man to feel like they “don’t have what it takes” in and of themselves alone”….life has thought them this too well. For YEARS i prayed and continue to pray that God will show him, my husband, HIS Father Heart…. so many of our men were not pulled up to authentic masculinity/ husbanding by those that walked before. They have to let themselves be found by God.
      One last thing. the day he broke…..as in a crack….. and God could “get” to him in the way i prayed and desired — he read The Shack. (my husband, the NOT-reader…out of curiosity) AND GOD GOT TO HIM. HE will do what it takes. We have to learn to be their complimentary parts while they are in process….. i think that’s their “man” thing. Like most “woman’s need” is affirmation/assurance of love that STAYS. We are ALL a mess. Praise Him He creates beauty out of our messes.

  41. 138

    Beautiful. Poignant. And familiar. . . Our greatest lesson these 19 years? Express your expectations. Thank you for opening your heart and life that others may also experience Christ through their marriages.

  42. 139

    Wow…what profound and honest thoughts that most people do not share about their own marriages…Thank you for putting this out here.

  43. 140

    What about when the hearts can’t connect, when the wound can’t heal, when the other could fix it but doesn’t want to? How when what I want is at the very core of who I am and what he wants is exactly opposite? How then do you connect? How then do the 2 who want very different things connect become one again? How do I move from grief and anger? I feel lost.

    • 141
      Alexandrakuhl says:

      (((melinda)))..

      • 142

        Melinda, i thought i’d written this for just a moment. When you find your answer, tell me. I understand you completely and am lost in the land of disconnect along with you.

        • 143

          Dearest Brenda and Melinda…

          I nod hard. Look you into your beautiful eyes and nod, nod, nod. I am sorry for all the pain, all the wounds, all the anger and the grief and the abandonment — I just. ache.

          Tomorrow on my blog, I’ll share some marriage books that may help?

          Might you, even just you alone, reach out to a wise pastor or counselor? Who can come alongside and do life with you and your husbands?

          I am earnestly praying with you right now — Two beautiful, brave, vulnerable real women…. Praying it with you:

          “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25).

          • 144

            Ann, thank you, thank you for the sweet, encouraging words. Thank you for sharing your words, your blog your book…your words have given me a perspective that has changed my life.

            Brenda, that’s just it isn’t it? It’s perspective (first the eyes). The day of this post my eyes were cast down, my cup was empty, my gifts went uncounted. But other days I am hopeful, joyful and grateful. The latter takes a conscious choice though and sometimes that choice is the hardest thing. What I tell myself and pray aloud on those better days is “What He has given is Good enough. His plan for me is enough for me. I will trust my God for today.”

            I have tried (in vain) with my own strength. I have ignored my own pain. I have self medicated (with distracting my heart) to make it all easier to forget. But more recently I have been real and open even if it’s ugly. I have leaned in hard to God and yelled at Him and cried and come away stripped and thankful for my breath and the souls I live with. I have learned He wants it ALL. He wants to be my rock and wants me to show grace to my husband because he is struggling to live this life too.

            So that’s where I am. Good days and bad. In all of this I know this marriage is more about honoring God than making me “happy”. And like Ann says….Joy can be found right here, in every moment. It just depends on the gaze of the heart.

      • 145

        Alexandra, thanks for the hugs . They made me smile. :)

        • 146

          Oh dear. If I can see through these tears, I’ll begin to respond to all of this… I’ve never written to comment in a “blog” before and I suppose I was simply thinking out-loud when I responded to you Melinda. I never thought anyone would even really read it, let alone respond to it. Today, after a few days of feeling that loneliness of disconnect so strongly, crying out to Him, laying all of me on the altar, and then snatching bits of me back off of it again~~I found myself wandering over to Ann’s blog. That led me to wonder if anyone else had added to the postings on this page and I came upon your responses. It’s these moments that my heart just smiles and even giggles at the sweetness of God. It’s as if He was taking my hand with impatient glee and dragging me over here to say, “Look! See! Here I am in the words and understanding and love of these ladies! I haven’t forgotten you! You’re not alone!” Thank you, thank you, thank you.
          Ann, I’m afraid we’ve gone the marriage counseling route (3 times), I’ve read every conceivable book, and prayed every possible which-way for unity and peace and real love in our marriage. Our dear pastor-friend knows and sees us completely, and has said he thinks it’s amazing we haven’t quit by now~~we are just so, very, very different in the way we see and live life. He has and is helping just by “being there” though. Your book came at the perfect time for me this past year, and has grown me to dig deep and find the grace in it all.
          Melinda, I am printing out your response and pasting it in my journal. For the past 4 years God has shown me through all of this that… “What He has given is Good enough. His plan for me is enough for me. I will trust my God for today.” Because I am (somewhat) anonymous in this posting it’s easier to say this…I don’t love my husband. But I want, with ALL my heart, to love him. If the Lord brings me to your mind, I would really love for you two to pray that for me. God is so good and I am so blessed. The rooms in my “house” (my children, ministries, friendships,life) are all lit with cheer and love and beauty. It’s this one room ~~my marriage~~ that’s dark and cold most of the time. I don’t understand, I’ve cried out for God to change me~change my heart/mind/actions. I believe He is~~it’s just so slow for a stubborn, impatient girl like me. And through it, He has shown me more of His goodness and grace than I may have been able to find in a “happy” marriage where we “get” each other. Thank you again for your understanding and concern and love. You have both blessed me today. :)

          • 147

            Brenda,
            Been there, crying out to God to PLEASE, cause me to desire this man, to love him the way YOU love me. And then the months and months and years of waiting. Then one day waking up to realize that HE had answered my prayers. I still don’t understand why he (or HE for that matter) loves me, I am such a wretch, but I only rarely have to pray that prayer again (usually when I’m mad at my dear husband) to have a desire for him. And wow! Such a change in my man. He knows when I comply or when I desire. Bless him for the years he only received my tolerance to his attempts to show love to me. On our wedding day I made him promise me 75 years – yikes! I only have 58 left!

          • 148

            Brenda.

            I truly feel your aching and pain. I really do.

            Recently watching a video sermon, he said something that has struck me, stayed with me, and keeps hitting me. “God doesn\’t want you happy, He wants you holy. ” http://videoteaching.com/message/54/as-long-as-you-re-happy#

            Such a hard saying. Makes complete sense – if something or someone on this earth can fill our needs, can make us “happy” then what do we have for God? On the surface it seems logical.

            And yet, when you’re living right in the middle of it, the muck and muss, that’s not a very easy statement to accept. I have just been wrestling with this for several weeks now, dealing with my own circumstances and it STINKS. I am fighting it and trying so hard to accept it. I have no comfort for you other than this statement, because I’m still myself trying to get to the other side. But I pray that this helps.

          • 149

            Sorry, I quoted that video wrong,

            “God doesn’t want you happy, he wants you blessed.”

  44. 150
    kim spring says:

    Wow, i so needed this today and every day. I follow your blog daily, sometimes i read it as if it were a book. and its written just for me. it helps so much, i can look up any issue i am having and you have had it also. Lately our issue has been money. its so hard when pantries are empty and so are we emotionally. sometimes im all used up by my children and i have nothing saved for him. we too have intimacy issues. we have made it through forclosure on a home, my addiction he stayed by my side, he is not going anywhere and he is safe, I allow him to hurt my feelings and i am sensitive. I want to be sensitive to him as this is probably hardest on him. he feels responsible. he hasnt been the spiritual leader, he is jacob wrestling with God. but at least he is wrestling. I want to do something for Jesus, Im saying yes. pray for what he wants of me.

  45. 151

    So many things I want to say.. So many things I want to ask.. But I must say Ann of all your posts it’s the ones about you and your love that touch me the deepest.. That set my heart to longing.. I have been married going on 18 years and have seen the normal ups and downs.. My prayer request for my marriage.. That he will totally turn to Jesus for everything not just the wanting of things..

  46. 152

    So much fear behind the fighting … but …

    “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” He’s the one we ultimately look to.

    Thanks for sharing, Ann. I feel blessed as always. :)

  47. 154

    This was so beautifully written and it spoke to the deepest cry of my heart. You have no idea. My husband and I have been married almost 23 years and we have danced this dance a lot in our time together. I can honestly say we’ve come a long way in being more effective communicators, listeners and apologizers. Often, it’s all about being able to say a heart-felt ‘I’m sorry’ and acknowledge being wrong. That can break down most walls put up in anger. Raising a child with special needs who we adopted after struggling with infertility has taught us a lot and THAT is how this post jumped off the page to me. The concept of anxiety and anger coming from the same root and how we need to be a strong shelter for one another is the theme in our home. Our son battles with emotional outbursts that make one think he’s angry but he’s actually afraid. He pushes us to want to walk away when really he’s screaming for connection. In turn, my husband and I are learning about this in our own relationship. Thank you for wrapping it up so beautifully. I’ll be sending your words onto him. God’s very best to you, Ann.

  48. 155
    caroline says:

    Thank you, Ann, for this beautiful place. You lead us. To Him.
    What a blessed gift! A blessed, gentle, nourishing gift.
    Especially in this season of my marriage. I am so grateful for the mentoring.
    Thank you!

  49. 156

    This is so good! Oh, how often I’ve hurt my husband by not fully trusting him because I didn’t fully trust God first! As I’m finally – fiiinnaallllly – finding my way to security in Christ, it’s becoming easier to trust my husband and to give myself more fully to him.

    I’m going to try to hang on to those two letters, “ER,” and marinate in those. I pray they will sink way down in and become part of my DNA. It would fit in any relationship, really, wouldn’t it?

    You’ve given me lots to think over, sister.

    Waving and smiling,

    Rhonda

  50. 157
    Anonymous says:

    I did bring up the D word. Tired of failing him. Tired of being a bad mom. Tired of everything being okay when his “desires” need to be met. No, I don’t want the D word. I just want to be enough for this his, mine, and ours family.

    • 158

      You NEVER will be enough. The best part is that we’re not supposed to be! But HIS grace is sufficient for you. HIS power is made perfect in your weakness. Be encouraged, that HE is always enough, and we can be too if we lean into Him, and let Him work on us and through us.

      • 159
        Sharon says:

        yes, yes, i relate. Women struggle so badly with feeling defective in many different areas of life. I think it’s because it works….satan sees our weak chink in the armor and we don’t refute all his lies with Truth.
        LET HIM BE YOUR ‘ENOUGH’. His Hands are More Than Enough. He is our Rock– and in truth, some of us arrive to That Rock by splatting on it HARD. maybe others, by sitting down on it. Regardless…..just hit It. And realize HE CLINGS to you.

    • 160

      Ah, sweet one — I have wept hard over just. this. that I will never be enough. That I’m a mess and a failure.

      Can I just give you a long hug? And say: HE is enough. We are messes. And our Messiah uses us anyways. Loves us wildly. Won’t ever leave us. Has a Plan for us — to give us a future and a hope. Hang on, sister. Hang on!

      Praying it with you, dear one:
      Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31)

      You are loved, sister — so, so loved….

  51. 161

    Ann your words are so deep and so true.
    It will be nineteen years for us this mid May. We have been through it all together, loss of our first born taken off life support after only three short days on earth, and loss of my mother a month before that. Moves across country, job downsizing more times than will fit on one hand and moving across the country more. In the past year moving my father from one state all the way across the country to live here in ours at a home so that I could be closer to him.
    It will be nineteen years for us this mid may…nineteen years he threw away last August when he put the adds out looking for someone to be there for him. Nineteen years he threw away one night when he said he was yet again working late…but instead met with her. I want to scream at him, who has been there for you? I don’t scream this at him…I ask him in counseling. . He nicely has told our counselor I have been there, I am a good wife it is him…he just doesn’t love me anymore. He loves our children, but he is not sure he has ever loved me. At this time not only have I lost the man I loved, we have two hurt children and our friends have turned their backs on us. How dare “I” forgive my husband for such a thing, how dare I attempt to piece our marriage back together.
    I long for him to hear me, I quit a long time ago with yelling at him when he didn’t… If I’d reach out he walk away, so I just went silent and stopped worrying about him hearing me, I focused on me hearing him. It was yet, not enough. I cry out to God nightly, and I look across my desk at my sons as they do their work and pray God shows them how to be strong young men and good fathers some day. Tears flow in the bathroom as I sit and pray quietly out of the site of my children as to not upset them more. Tears for the father they should have, the husband I should have…its been a LONG nineteen years and I am ever so weary.

    • 162
      Mary Shaver says:

      Oh Dear! As I read your words my heart weeps. I am so sorry! I will pray for you – and I know that sounds so trite sometimes – but I’m learning that sincere prayer is so powerful.

      Cyber Hug!

      Mary

      • 163
        Sharon says:

        Dearest Lord don’t tarry.
        Be there NOW with Kelley and boys. Jesus heal. YOU are Husband Enough for her. YOU ARE Father Enough for them…… this is so not like it was meant to be.
        Please sustain this Sister.
        Amen.

    • 164

      Kelley,
      A portion of my story is told below should you wish to read it. Suffice to say here that in the hard, sad, lonely place, God hears you. His Word is full of tender responses of encouragement. Make it your daily portion. Sorrow will still be sorrow, loss will be loss but through it all you will be comforted by the God of hope – blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
      For today: From Psalm 11…”you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits [her]self to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” (verse 14) and “You hear, O Lord the desire of the afflicted; you encourage [her], and you listen to [her] cry…” (verse 17). He loves you.

    • 165
      anonymous says:

      Cling to the Lord. I have been there and that is the best I can tell you to do. Yes–forgive, because you are forgiven. I pray for your children. My own have suffered so much as a result of their father\’s choices and his refusal to work at mending our marriage. Let the Lord comfort you. I pray He sends all you need. Know He is there and will use all for His good, for His glory, even when your heart is breaking and you can”t understand any of it. I pray you feel His presence and mercies daily.

    • 166

      We women of God stand with you in prayer.

    • 167

      Oh Kelley, I am so sorry. Lean hard into Him. He will carry. I am adding my prayers for you and your children.

      “Father, hold these hearts and stitch these wounds. Hold them so they can feel You there. I pray for the husband who is lost and this wife who is so weary and children with broken hearts. Restore them in the way only You can. Bring them Your peace and comfort.”

      Standing with these other women, praying for you.

  52. 168

    Ann – Your words are so helpful. So healing – in that they direct us to His Word. Thank you for sharing your aches so that we can know that we are not alone in ours. We have struggled with this so much, so often. My husband teaching me about thached roofs and me emotionally seeking him out wanting him to just hold me. We are asking the same questions of each other -“Can I really count on you? Are we connected? Do I matter to you? Will you love me? “ – and pushing each others buttons in the asking. It’s a painful process that we are both exhausted from. Yet the cycle continues after 7 long years of fighting. Surrender is the only solution. A loving surrender to each other, to the vows we made, to the love we share and to our Jesus.

  53. 171

    This was so beautifully written and really spoke to my currently single and vulnerable self.
    Bless you.

  54. 172
    Heather P says:

    OK, I was tearing up and had to take off the reading glasses to finish reading the post. Things between my husband and I have been rough for over a year, almost two years. I have pulled back and started working on my relationship with God and could see myself in your post. I am learning to see my husband from a different viewpoint. We could use all the prayers we can get as we are also raising a daughter with Down Syndrome. Thank you!!

  55. 173

    Our pastor’s wife gave me the best piece of advice when we were doing pre-marital counseling: “Be quick to forgive”. It works in marriage; leaves no room for cracks for things to get “wedged” in. It works with friends; it works with step-kids. None of us is flawless, and if we can let go of the ideal of a “perfect” mate, friend, child it takes some of the pressure off. I am certainly glad my husband doesn’t hold me to the “perfect” standard. I can’t hold him to one either.

  56. 174

    Thank you for sharing a part of you, and through doing so, teaching, encouraging, and inspiring us to keep growing, keep engaging, and keep pursuing. I am so thankful for my marriage, and to God for His faithfulness to me! You bless me so!

  57. 175
    Grandma says:

    The hardest thing in 35 years was not a miscarriage followed by breast cancer; it was not the drama that comes with church planting and a small budget; it was 18 years–that’s right–more than half our total–of caring for our elderly family members (mothers, dad, aunts, uncle…) in various stages of need while we continued raising our own daughters–seemed there was never enough of us to go around! It was a fight to share couple time. But His grace is sufficient. Now we are the elders; and God has given us time. I never knew these days were coming, but I am counting my gifts and thanking Him for the opportunity to have served them/Him in the past. Thank you, Ann, for your insightful writing on marriage. I could have benefited so much from it long ago, and it is still oh so helpful.

  58. 179
    Mary Shaver says:

    The hardest thing we’ve ever worked through in our marriage is now – twenty-three years into it. We’ve survived infertility and disconnect – but now it feels like we’re living in Tsunami’s and they keep coming.

    My once so strong and able husband is no longer able to work, or do anything really. I think I live in shock just with the thought of it. I must work to make up the huge short-fall, remember all the things he forgets, and keep things moving in our lives.

    Outside of our marriage, there is trying to manage my Mother’s life – she has alzheimers disease, and watching our step-son live in a state of mental illness that has destroyed his marriage, abandoned his two children and left us not knowing where in the world he is.

    A few years ago, we went to a Christian marriage conference where I learned a few valuable things:

    1. My husband is not the enemy. He is the kindest, gentlest, man I know.

    2. The saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” is not true. The grass is greener where I water it.

    3. I must keep my heart, mind, and strength looking toward the Author and Perfecter of my faith. I will not survive this without Christ.

    4. The times when I feel I just want to run away – I can – run to the Living Water for strength and refreshment.

    5.That this is a time of great learning . . . and just as the Gospel is full of paradoxes . . . so is life . . . and at this time if such incredible sorrow and shock, I think I feel God closer at times than I ever have before. And in and through all of it, He is changing me.

    6. That I don’t have it all figured out, and I don’t have to. That some days I just cry, and that’s alright. That I have one thing to do in each day – seek Jesus . . . and breathe!

    7. That Joy and Sorrow are closer than I ever would have imagined.

    8. That God is Good.

    Mary

    • 180

      Thanks for sharing! They are valuable words to here,indeed.

    • 181

      The saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” is not true. The grass is greener where I water it, by Mary Shaver, now one of my favorite new quotes to remember!

      • 182
        Sharon says:

        yeah. and remember that greener grass is probably FAKE (astro turf) or well-fertilized– as in pooped on. you venture there, even a bit, and you are gonna SMELL like it. My girlfriends and i had a cleansing laugh the other day regarding this lie :)

        and MARY—
        THANK YOU.

    • 183

      Mary your reply is exactly what I needed to hear. You are a courageous wise hearted woman and through God teaching you I am learning. Thank you.

  59. 184
    Anonymous says:

    Ann, I remember the day I stood outside the house my carpenter husband was working on with the papers in my hand. I had been carrying them around for weeks and he wouldn’t sign them. Going there I somehow thought I could trap (or shame?) him into giving me what I thought I wanted.
    He wouldn’t sign.
    That was the first seperation. There was another one six years later. He fought demons and I chose the wrong path.
    It’s been 24 years since I vowed to forever love this man. First his fear and later mine for what was beyond our walls kept us together.
    I did say hate and I did throw off my circle of love and I did take my children away. But he loved me anyway. And he fought hard. And worked hard to become what we both needed.
    But then it was my turn. Funny how it can all turn path?
    God’s grace and mercy made a way.
    My marriage is beautiful now and we reach out and try to help young married couples. There isn’t anything I’m ashamed to say. Isn’t that how God makes a way through us?
    Thank you, Ann
    Rie

    • 185

      Rie–I’m sharing your comment with a friend…there is SO much hope in reading how God has worked in your marriage and now how you are reaching out to younger married couples….

    • 186

      God’s grace and mercy made a way. Oh what a beautiful truth that is Rie! What a journey you have been on and what a blessing you are now to others to share so opening. Thank you.

  60. 187

    I’m not anonymous above – I’m just too quick on the submit button. Slowing my mind down – now that’s a post I’d like to read!
    Rie

  61. 188

    Ann ~ the way you encourage us through your don’t-have-it-all-together moments? You show us how to lean into them so we learn from them. Because hello? None of us have it all together, married or not.

    The times I’ve torn that thatched roof down and left him standing in the rain…I’m not proud of it. But God’s grace comes in and whispers a better way, just like your words do here. I love you so much, friend. Thank *you* ~ you BLESS.

  62. 189

    Ann–your posts this month–are so timely. And have been so helpful (for us and for others we love). That piece–the fear behind the anger–it’s so true, I just didn’t realize “back then” how to communicate what I really needed him to hear. I still sometimes revert to these patterns…

    My question would be–? What are some other “awkwardly-mechanical” ways (like the writing prompt above :) that you built communication and connection? I’ve really appreciated the examples you’ve shared so far(here and on your blog)…and totally get/have experienced how it’s worth it to push through the initial feelings of this-feels-a-bit-forced…for the solace of that deep connection.

    Hardest thing we’ve worked through–? We too dealt with initimacy struggles early on in our marriage and I think in a way, I felt angry with God because we so desired to honor Him with our marriage and I couldn’t understand why He would let that area be such a struggle. And no one in Christian circles talked about that, so it felt very lonely. Thankfully–we found resources over the years and that aspect of our marriage has grown into something much stronger and beautiful. Also when our daughter died…ended up bringing us closer than ever before…but it was also a struggle to understand as we dealt with the pain in such different ways.

    Tell a newly wed–? With God, there is so much hope. We’ve been married 15 years and in our own marriage (as well as others) I’ve seen Him bring so much healing and such a deep connection…(when things felt and seemed IMPOSSIBLE to heal). Don’t trust your emotions or let you husband be “the enemy”…just even this week, when I was feeling pretty down “about us” we pushed through and had a good conversation and ended up even more connected than before because we worked through a small-issue-that-felt-BIG. So much HOPE when God’s hand is cupping your marriage.

    Now–? Working on deepening the friendship side of our relationship. We’ve always been a solid side-by-side team…in parenting, ministry, goals, mentoing, life etc…but in the past few years we’ve let the immidiate needs of little kiddos and work and church and ministry crowd out our efforts to carve out time to keep a strong friendship/connection between the two of of…

    “This is my beloved and this is my friend.” Song of Sol. 5:16

  63. 190

    Finances were one if the biggest struggles in our marriage. He could never understand why there wasn’t more. And God has always been a huge barrier; because he doesn’t believe. I have been praying for him daily for most of our marriage. I see that he is so supportive now of my relationship with God. I see glimmers of change in his heart as The Holy Spirit works on him and I hope that this will be the day that he finally sees the light. Each Sunday morning I mourn silently on the way to church as I know that there will be an empty spot beside me in the pews.

    • 191
      Sharon says:

      HEATHER, ME TOO!
      God convicted me about 6 months ago (deeply) that i needed to (always) quit being so solemn and PLAY hard with him. with them. Even though that doesn’t look like “ministry” from the outside :) We only get a few years. and these men, these kids…… are greatest gracious gifts from God….despite imperfections.
      Men LOVE women who are their interested FRIENDS! Joni and Friends had a SUPER short video the other day by husband, Ken…. it leveled me….

    • 193

      Heather – don’t give up. God honors your patience and your non patience all wrapped in one. He loves you, knows what you long for. Those small changes will add up to big ones – praying for you! <3

  64. 195

    Dana….you’re worried about your husbands friendship with a woman he works with.
    I’d just like to say that I’ve been in the same place that Melissa (whose husband cheated on her) has been. My husband and I both had emotional affairs with others.
    It began with a friendship…ended up with sharing personal things about marriage/family life…next was being caught up in a sinful relationship with this person. (feeling closer to this person than my own husband) Dana…in the book “Unfaithful” Gary and Mona speak about how careful they are in any sort of relationship with people of the opposite sex…it may be worth it for you to read.
    A book I would recommend very highly to anyone recovering from an affair (whether you are the one that had the affair or the partner) is “Unfaithful” by Gary and Mona Shriver and “Torn Asunder” by Dave Carder. Incredible books for me to read.
    Today, our marriage is stronger/happier/healthier than ever before.
    I love the saying “Make God your Rock, not your husband” I spent the 1st years of our marriage expecting my husband to fill my every need/want and was bitterly disappointed. It doesn’t help that I spent too much time reading romance novels and had a completely unrealistic expection of love/marriage. I was incredibly selfish.
    After, being saved my life changed so much…God became number 1 in my life and I became more unselfish and more forgiving.

  65. 196

    I think for us right now we are in a really bad spot. I am sure with time we will get past it but I am really struggling. Our biggest problem is respect. That is what I would tell newly weds. Respect your partner. You don’t always have to like what they say or do but respect them as people with rights to their opinions and feelings.

    We dont have that right now. He doesnt repect me as a wife, mother and woman. I am having a hard time giving him my respect because he does not provide for us and refuses to be the spiritual leader of our family. I work all day while he stays home and does very little. Some days more than others. The problem is that in not respecting him I feel I am failing at my role as a wife and mother. It has become a vicious cycle and I am not able to share this with him because it always ends badly with him calling names or cussing me.

    Sorry to get long winded. This really touched a raw nerve. Thanks for reading and thank you for your words of wisdom. I have just discovered your blog last week and have read it constantly. Its amazing how calm it makes me feel. Again, thank you.

    • 197

      Karen, I have struggled with respect, too. I never realized how vital that is to a marriage, to a man’s heart, until just recently. God had been showing me how disrespectful I’d been to my husband and how damaging that has been to our relationship in the past (even when I wanted to scream, “But he doesn’t DESERVE my respect!! – and, okay, I may HAVE screamed that). Then I picked up a book about how much a man craves and needs respect from his wife. I still have a LONG way to go on this thing, but I’m working on it.

      I will say that it’s not okay for your husband to call you names or swear at you. I’m not a professional or in any way qualified to give advice, but I know that’s not okay. I hope you don’t mind if I pray for you right here…

      Lord, I pray for Karen tonight. I thank you for bringing her to this blog and this post and for speaking to her heart with Ann’s words. I ask that you would work in the hearts of Karen and her husband and help them learn to love and respect each other. Please protect their minds from ugly thoughts and keep them from exchanging ugly words. Lord, please heal this marriage and these hearts. Thank you for loving us so much. Thank you for the work that you’re going to do in Karen’s life. Amen.

      • 198

        Thank you Mary! Kindest thing anyone has done for me in awhile. I really appreciate it. God bless you.

  66. 199

    I’m a bit agnostic when it comes to God in my relationships: he/she is always there but I really do think that people make relationships in all of their matted, fluffy wonder-ness. That said, these words today are beautiful balm on my soul, as are all of your words, Ann. You speak from the heart and from experience. And, on this day when I want to fly my own coop and hit my husband on the head with my favorite skillet, I need to, as he said on his way out the door, “you need to grow up.” Yes, indeed. We’ve come far in sixteen years (well, really almost 40 years since we first met!) but we could come a lot further along together.

    E.M. Forster wrote in his novel, Howard’s End: “Only connect.” It is, indeed, the human condition and we are either fighting it or running towards it with all of our might.

  67. 201

    Thank you, Ann. This was beautiful. My husband had an affair several years ago, and we’ve been re-learning how to love, to forgive, to trust. Some days there is so much anger inside me, anger that I’ve never really known before. Reading your post made me realize that anger is really fear. Did you write this just for me?
    I know we are to get what we need from God, our unfailing love, our confidence, all of those things; but I love my husband so much; and I am afraid. He is so wonderful now, and our relationship is so much deeper than ever before. God has blessed us beyond measure in our healing process, but yet the fear sometimes assaults.
    Thank you for helping me to see.

    • 202

      Penny darling, thank you for sharing here! Your testimony of beauty built from the rubble? What HOPE you give through your honesty. Praising God for *you* and for His redeeming work in your marriage.

      Hugs and prayers for you, Penny, as you continue to heal and battle the fears. He has not given you a spirit of fear… {2 Timothy 1:7). We love you, sister!

      xoxo

  68. 203

    Ann, this was the perfect post for a critical and dark time in our almost 22 years of marriage. I resonated so much with the root question, “Are you there for me?” and I realized that I really want to be there for my husband and I really want him to know it in ways he can understand. I’ll need to ask for God’s wisdom for that. Thanks again for this post, Jennifer

  69. 206

    Ann–I thank you for showing the dark side of marriage within the Christian sphere. For saying yes to Jesus as you say yes to this marriage covenant. For saying yes to Jesus as you encourage women to keep fighting for what is good & lovely. I remember thinking as I sat in our pre-engagement class on the talk of covenant, “how can I make this work when everything handed to me as a model was a poster of failure?” Oh Jesus’ grace.

    I wanted to invite you to read tomorrow at Sisters in Bloom (www.sistersinbloom), where I felt compelled to speak on marriage & relationships, and the myth of finding “the one.” It makes me think of you saying in your first year of marriage, “maybe I married the wrong man.” Again, I appreciate your vulnerability.

  70. 207

    Oh, Ann, thank you so much for this post. As a newlywed, what is of our dating and engagement and what we want to be of our marriage are colliding at times and the hardness of it all can be so overwhelming. My insecurities roar, and he doesn’t get it, because I seem relatively confident on the outside. My words can attack, and even in just 7 months, I have already hurt him and wounded him and I wish I could get it back. The first three months were so hard, learning life amidst busyness, the chaos that is necessary right now to deliver us to where God is calling us to in a few years. But we are learning to cherish, and I try to communicate in softer words, the needs I have for him to hear me, to listen to my heart. And sometimes I feel so selfish, like I am wanting so much for me, but what am I doing for him? How do I say encouraging things, when I’m embarrassed, or how do I tell him the things I love about him when he’s in the midst of frustrating me? We are learning, and we are uniting, but there are times when the words and emotions run out of control and after it’s over I wish I had stopped it, but I never can seem to when it begins…
    Thank you for your encouragement. For being where we are and sharing about it. You have no idea how much it uplifts and beholds, and you strengthen my faith in him, because you have lived it too.

  71. 208

    Ann, just beautiful! I posted this on Facebook hoping my friend will read this and it might give her some hope for her marriage.

  72. 209

    Ann, thank you so much for sharing that with us. My husband and I had a very heated argument the other day. He was down on himself, and taking it out on me. As I was talking to him I was praying at the same time. We will be married 9 yrs come this July. We have been through a lot recently. I was very lost in 2010,and went against God and my husband and had an affair. Shortly after that, I left him and our 2 daughters for about 3 months. I was spirituality dead, and letting Satan control me. One night, God got a hold to me and showed me what I had done. I finally called my husband and begged for his forgiveness. Shortly after that I got saved. I moved back home, and John took me back with open arms. We have worked very hard on our marriage. We have come a long way from a year ago. John still struggles from time to time with what happened. Instead of him comforting me,I’m comforting him. God has given us such a beautiful gift. Our marriage is stronger than ever. Thanks again for your openness and honesty. I love you sister, and can’t wait to meet you next month in South Carolina.

  73. 211

    in the trenches of life, fighting for our marriages.. this post was like you lifting your head from your own trench and shouting a loud encouraging, “remember you’re not alone!” and above the arsenal of the enemy, the attack we all daily face, i hear it. and my heart feels a renewed hope to keep on.

    *thank you, ann*

  74. 212
    Bonnie Jean says:

    Two things I would recommend to newly engaged couples is to be sure you are not unequally yoked. Be brutally honest. When in doubt, don’t… as the saying goes. Also, be on the same page financially. Create a budget before you are married and no secrets about spending. Please pray for me as I did not do either of those. Last year we had to go bankrupt and are losing our home to foreclosure. All of this has to do with different priorities and how we make decisions and conduct our lives… what our priorities our. How do I ever trust or love him again ? Really ? And this is not the first betrayal in my life.

    • 213

      Oh sweet Bonnie Jean, I’m praying for comfort for you. Turn every single detail over to Christ, pray and pray and pray, and then listen and be still and wait. Cling to Jesus, who is your Rock.

  75. 214

    What a beautiful post. It’s so rare – and refreshing- to see the hard side of marriage exposed. I’m married to a great guy but we’ve had our fair share of mean, hateful words that we’ve thrown at each other, and that’s one thing piece of advice I would give to newlyweds: watch your words. Remember that your husband needs your respect more than any other person’s. It’s easier said than done at times.

  76. 215
    Laura Freidner says:

    Thank you Ann. I’m not new to your words but I’ve been hanging out in the shadows just taking it all in since the first day I began reading 1000 gifts last spring. There aren’t enough words or the language to describe what I’ve received from your writings, your spirit, your heart. My spirit just knows, understands and receives! I had a recent secret issue come to my awareness about my husband that has wounded our marriage and me. But also explains a lot of confusion over the last 4 years for me too. Anger has come and gone and I’m prepared for it to come again but now in healing instead of in hiding. Thank you for your transparency that has given me the spark of freedom I’ve sensed from the Lord all my life and have hidden from in subtle ways. We each have fears and sirens and ways of hiding or moving away from the ambulance! But we each need ER too! Thank you… I receive!

  77. 216

    4U: If you could ask anything at all about how to make a marriage work — what would you ask? ….After 31 years of marriage that was (mostly) great and awesome and beautiful but (sometimes) had so much pain and grief to live with and work through due to dissapointments and addictions/abuse of behavior in our families, I have learned to not judge an incident or a day with more importance than it deserves. My Oma once gave me a beautiful book of short stories when I was little and one of the stories ended with the words: This too shall pass away. I think of that and through to what it is that I believe and what I want for myself and my family… don’t allow yourself to get stuck!

    What’s the hardest thing you’ve worked through in your marriage? …A horrible separation followed by getting back together only to be faced with years of (his and his friends and my brothers drinking too much) me being a caregiver to alchoholics during infertility and a miscarriage. It put a huge burden on my ability to trust and feel loved and to see that love could be consistent. It has taken years and years of my husbands consistent faithfulness, kindness and nurturing for me to move past that time and to trust again. (My father was an alchoholic too and he raged at me for hours on end until our relationship ended and I never saw him before he died, for 11 years! Shunned by ones own father and mother for not being good enough (“be nice”, “what have you got to complain about?”) and the men in your life is NOT to be taken as a view of how God is – God is love.
    I believe he desires that women and all people be treated with dignity and care, as we should ourselves towards even those who harm us. But enabling care is not love. Falling apart and being rude in one’s hurt and fear and anger is not love. We can remember: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and of love and of self control”. I have now seen those people moving past their addictions and beginning to be able to be kind and be able to think of people other than themselves and their own addictions, griefs and needs so that I am free to be happy and care for myself and know that we can all learn to be stronger in the seasons of life.

    What’s one thing you’d tell newlyweds now that you’ve learned the hard way? …I would say never shun your faith or lose hope, even if it and your family shun you, cling to it like “a deer pants for water” because it will sustain you and teach you every day about forgiveness and joy. And remember to always make time for fun together.

    How are you forging through to love right now? How can we pray for you today in your marriage? …The flame is alive and needs to be strengthened in faith during all of life’s ups and downs, kids growing up, health challenges, responsibilities… Pray always that love never fails and that lovers stay connected.

    Your article was fantastic but, even more, the amazing women who responded to it! I often read only the article/blog but today the answers to those kinds of feelings and questions caused me to want to read what everyone who will respond will want to share and I will have all these women in my thoughts and prayers today as they struggle with their faith and pray for strength, courage and hope to never fail them and that their prayers will be blessed with what they need. Thank you.

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    Miss Ann,

    This was one of the absolute best, most encouraging of you (wonderful) blogs. It helps me to see you and your husband, who seem so happy and have it together, struggling with real life marital problems going through the tedious work to renovate. In my husband’s and my 21-1/2 years, we’ve started renovation later but are still working on it. One day at a time.
    Thanks for being so real and transparent.
    Anne

  79. 218

    Every sinlge thing you write speaks to my soul. And this advice isn’t just good for marriage, its nuggets of truth in all relationships. I am thinking about communicating with my children too, when tempers flair. So thankful for the way God uses you.

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    Not brave enough to leave my name... says:

    the most difficult thing… my husbands addiction to pornography. ..

    He has gone through aprogram, set up internet filters on our computers. But he speaks not of it… I hate to ask – I want to know.. but I don’t.

    It grows – each year grows – but the hurt still bubbles up sometimes. the fear of what might still be… that I wasn’t enouhg… that maybe I’m still not enough…

    But I must learn to trust God and through Him I trust my husband, entrust him to Him. My DH – good father to our children, and good provider. He is caring and often asks if there is anything I need or want. But I need to learn sometimes to communicate the emotional need – I just mention physical ones. And the fact that he rises at 4;30 to provide for our family -by the time the children are in bed – he’s exhausted. He snores and keeps me awake – so I sleep best after he gets up – so I’m exhausted at 4:30. ;) But I need to trust more – through Him and let go of self more….

    I struggle with anger – but I never thought of it as detachmente issues – I really need to explore that. I felt very unloved by my mother growing up and lived under the critical eyes of both parents. She still will lash out at me when no one is around to witness. Say unkind things or back me in a corner verbally. She told my daughter her bed wetting problem was my fault (even thought both DH & I’s sides of our family have hereditary issues with that), and other things have been said. So, she continues in that battle – I just want acceptance. I struggle to ever feel like I do something right. Sometimes I want my husband to tell me I did something right. But I need to get over it and find my identity not on whether I did something right but on God’s grace and love. That He truly loves me despite all my imprefections – which I could make a list long… that I do have gifts (although if you asked me I could not name a one) and that there is something of value in this heart of mine.

    • 220

      wrapping my arms around you in cyber space and asking Jesus to send you some in real life. Please know you are being prayed for. One of the most helpful books I ever read (I struggle with acceptance also) is called Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning. Also The God of all Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith. So much of your comment resonated with me. Abandoned by my father at 2, a broken relationship with my mother, verbally and sometimes physically abusive grandmother, sexual molestation by grandmother’s neighbor and me being too afraid to tell her because of how she treated me. Oh, just know that I am praying for you, sweet sister. You are not alone.

    • 222
      Anonymous says:

      It’s amazing how much brokenness surrounds us and we take on all fault for it. You cannot think of a single gift you bring the world yet if we knew you I’m sure we could list hundreds! And God sees you as His amazing creation. Just as we view our children, with all of their faults, as amazing!

      So many of us have similar sets of luggage: I grew up fatherless (2 weeks in the summer doesn’t count as fathering I’m thinking), watched my confused mother bounce from relationship to relationship to “solve” her problems (and more than one of those were homosexual), sexual abuse as a preteen, looking for my identity in every boyfriend from age 12, drinking myself into oblivion in college.

      I have been married for 17 years to an amazing man of God who is far from perfect, as am I. We have normal ups and downs (we have 4 children adopted from foster care, 2 with attachment disorder) but there was a time when it felt like a desert. My husband too struggled with pornography and I felt worthless. Our doctor actually gave him playboy when we were going thru infertility treatments so he could get a “sample”. Then when we had to be intimate on a schedule he “needed” something to put him in the mood. It snowballed from there. Pain. Silence. 2 years passed and that pain spilled onto every issue. He meets things head on where I retreat. Finally he asked why I never wanted to be intimate. I threw a magazine at him and said that’s why. After tempers calmed I told him how it made me feel, used, worthless, degraded. He thought it over for some time then decided to get rid of them on his own. As we talked it over through the years, he said looking at them made him begin to judge me and desire me less. He has had to fight hard against those ingrained images but now he won’t even look at an ad that has a woman in scanty clothing. He knows too well how hard it was to fight that.

      I am praying so hard for you to find that you are enough in God’s love and that you are an amazing, beautiful woman. I am also praying for your husband to fight with all he is worth and with God’s strength against his addiction. Lastly I’m praying for the two of you to come together with so much of the joy we have found in our relationship as we aired all the junk and what our often mistaken perceptions were.

    • 223

      Sweet Sister ~

      Let me just shout from the mountaintop that you – beautiful YOU – are enough in every way. Us gals – your fellow struggling, straggling sisters – love you and accept you, warts and all. May you see yourself as your Father does: beautiful and treasured! Because you *are*. So thrilled to have you in this community, brave one. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words here…

    • 224

      You have done something so right by allowing these Godly women to pray for you…each of us have our struggles as you have read…you will prayed for by many women who put fingers to the keyboard to this throught provoking post…

  81. 225

    What a treat it was to read of these posts and replies. As a single woman I am continually seeking how to gain understanding and insight into the likes of marriage before it comes to be so as to be a little more prepared….realizing I will never be even remotely prepared! But to hear many women share how God has been a part of their marriage or how they have worked through the hard times and how it is a daily decision to love the one driving you crazy…some day, if the Lord desires, I look forward to going through the same. :)

    One thing I heard over and over is how the picture of marriage displayed in Hollywood and even in some of our churches is an altruistic view that can never be achieved. Whenever you put two sinful people together who are COMPLETELY different, there is bound to be drama and disagreement. Apparently, God knew what he was thinking when he made man and woman and determined it was not good for them to be alone. At the same time, His Word gives us some really good insight into how to make it work.

    Daily learning. Daily struggling. Daily surrendering.

  82. 227

    Angie, After 32 years of marriage, we are still learning this. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully and truthfully. You were able to paint, in pictures, all of the things I feel when we are at odds with one another. Bless you and your ministry of healing.

  83. 228

    GREAT posts. Thank you, all, wondrous sisters.

    I do love the ambulance analogy. TOO true.

    We keep a large dose of humor in our marriage communication. We married late (45 & 46), so acknowledged early the male-female differences – even celebrated and occasionally laughed at them.

    Husband likes to say that women broadcast on an FM frequency and men only have AM receivers. Another humorous way to clarify how very differently we do communicate and what we feel the need to communicate. We accept that we don’t always understand – but we do still love and we do still try.

    LOVE all the suggestions for staying connected. Heard early in our marriage that 7 non-sexual touches each day keeps our friendship close. Just taking his hand and thanking him for being there helps me remember that I am thankful, even when other disappointments crush in upon us. Ann said something in her early post about that “touching without speaking”. Very powerful.

    thank you all for loving Christ and sharing

  84. 229

    After almost 26 years of marriage, the things I would love to share with newly weds are these:
    1. Don’t expect your spouse to be a mind reader. No, he really doesn’t know what you feel or what you’re thinking unless you tell him (in 200 words or less).
    2. It’s okay for your husband not to be your best friend. It’s okay for different needs to be met by different people. A husband is better than a best friend, he is that special one-of-a-kind person in your life. He is Your Husband.

  85. 230

    Thank you to all you ladies who posted – I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Ann – the post was WELL done and oh…. oh…. so true!

    WS

  86. 231
    Felicia Starr says:

    Dear “Not brave enough…”,
    I will pray for you and I want you to know our Heavenly Father loves you so much! He is very well pleased with you. He accepts you with open arms. Turn to Him and he will lead you!
    In my marriage, I struggle with my husband not believing in God. My 10 yro daughter doesn’t believe either. I pray for them every day. I have been to counseling and women’s ministry gatherings and have learned so much. Most importantly, our Heavenly Father loves me and knows me by name.
    Blessings to all.

    • 232

      Felicia, I, too have an unbelieving husband. We have been married almost 30 years. My three daughters are all adults now, but two have left the church. I know how alone you feel, and I am praying for you.

  87. 233

    You write so beautifully, so truthfully. So many of your wonderful pieces about marriage, I have sent to my husband and said, “this reminds me of you, and I am so grateful”. He likes it. (Understatement!)

    We will have been married 20 years later this year (thank you God thank you God thank you God). Our ‘fighting through’ has always boiled down to one thing: Trust. Can I trust him? Can he trust me? Throughout my life, the overriding goal of everyone around me, for me, was “Take Care of Yourself.” Through that lens, anything could become automatic proof that he was not to be trusted–with money, or time, or attentiveness, or devotion to the marriage, or just me. Then, of course I was justified to “take care of myself” again, keeping a sharp sword dangling over the marriage all the time. In these 20 years, God (who is actually the first person in the marriage–I will explain in a moment) has constantly revealed the flawed lenses through which I look at self, husband, Him, everything. Once He does that, I must choose to change my flawed responses. Change isn’t often easy, but always worth it. (Back to the other point: God is the first person in the marriage, and my husband and I–as one flesh–together constitute the second. That’s how we see it. It’s saved us!)

    In this stage of our marriage, the challenge is to cleave to each other amidst every other “life-happens” that consumes our energies. It is a discipline to devote, on purpose, time and full attention to each other instead of staying lost in all of the everyday urgencies.

    Thank you for yet another most beautiful writing. (After I read “1000 Gifts” in January, I was so longing for another book from you! Thank you for putting words to so many souls’ whispers, cries, and shouts.)

  88. 234

    Perfect alignment with God’s gift yesterday:

    http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID={0E6D3788-7258-4667-B831-09A62E2D6D15

  89. 235

    I just love this post.

  90. 236

    Thank you, Ann. I could see a family member in this whose marriage is struggling. She admits to anger and yelling but I know it’s her asking “If I do this, will you still stay?” I’ve forwarded her this and know it will be a blessing. And of course, I will be forwarding it to my husband. Thank you for seeing these things when others can’t put words to them. And then sharing so we have them too.

  91. 237

    Ouch. This hit a sore spot right now which is probably why God had me come here and read it. Thank you!

  92. 238

    By God’s grace and strength. All of it. Your writing, His Truth, and how any of our marriages last.

    I cannot say it better than this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer where he contrasts love and marriage:

    “Marriage is more than your love for each other.

    It has a higher power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race until the end of time.

    In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.

    In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.

    Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

    …so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

    (Excerpt from a wedding sermon, written May 1943 from prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)

    • 239

      Wow!

    • 240

      i LOVE this, thank you for sharing– i needed to read this today. how fitting that Ann would write this post and all these women would share here what they have today, just as Valentines Day is right around the corner and us women are getting wound tight–i know i always do this time of year.

      thanks for reminding me what’s important as i seek to understand and respect my non-romantic husband ;)

  93. 241
    SarahJane says:

    I am soon to be married – and I already feel the pattern of these arguments and discussions. I don’t tend to lash out in anger, but I do tend to cry and shut down and wallow in anxiety and fear. It truly is coming from a place of fear for me – my fiance had to learn independence and emotional detachment at an early age to survive his home situation, and this plays into our relationship. By God’s grace, he is working on this everyday, and I trust that God will finish the work that has begun – but it isn’t going to be finished tomorrow! Even though this is hard for us – me learning to rest in God and him learning to express love – I think it makes me love him more to see how much he wants to get there. I think that we have believed that if we can just “fix” our communication, everything would be great – but it is just like you said, Ann –

    “Poor communication doesn’t disconnect souls — it’s the disconnected souls who poorly communicate. When we’re well attached, we communicate well and when we aren’t fully communicating it’s because we don’t feel connected.”

    Please pray this for us.

  94. 242

    For our 31 years of marriage, my husband has always said good, respectful communication is the key to a good marriage.
    One day I told him part of communication was to LISTEN and HEAR as well!
    Everyday it’s a workout to honestly communicate and to listen to each other…ourselves and our selfishness can sooo get in the way. Without Christ, it is impossible to do this.
    Only with HIM, are all things possible!

    One day i was in our kitchen and it has its issues after 27 years and three children. My husband didnt seem interested in doing anything with it, he thought it was fine. Well, I thought I’d push the issue a bit and I said loudly, “I HATE my kitchen!”.
    I got his attention.
    He came into the kitchen from the living room, looked me squarely in the eye and said,
    “you may dislike, not care for or be bothered by something, but never say ‘hate’. It makes me think of our friend who screamed to his now ex-wife, “I HATE you and will never, ever come back to you! The word ‘hate’ makes me think of so much disgust, I cannot bear to here it.”
    Yeah, I felt about as big as a speck of dust :(
    Even though he was willing to attack the kitchen, I said no. It’s not really so bad…and now it reminds me of how grateful I should be not just for it and that everything still works, but thankful for a husband as well who loves me and indeed, does listen after all!

  95. 243

    Ann,
    Thank you for sharing your life and intimate details that allow us women to realize Satan’s biggest lie, that we are not alone, we do not have to do this without God or others. Marriage is a gift and our fears and anxieties are not pretty, but they are us and we have to keep taking them to Him.
    My husband and I have been through 2 miscarriages in the last 6 months and God has used our (especially mine) pain to grow us in ways I didn’t really think possible, or even conceive of. Yet, we both long for children. But the dark is very dark and it is so good to have others especially a husband to shine light into it.

    Thank you for the sharing your words and experiences with all of us.

    • 244

      Cara, such pain in such a short amount of time — praying for you as you weather this together, so grateful you and your husband are growing through it. <3

  96. 245
    Anna D. says:

    Where.to start. My marriage is dying. My husband is a believer but has made it clear that he does not want to live for God anymore, not with just words but actions too. We have been married 13 1/2 years. We have two beautiful daughters and a son on his way in July. I in the past have been a very selfish and uncaring wife, mostly due to my own unresolved issues. But in the last year God has really been doing a,work in me and is changing/healing me. Part of my husbands ”seperation” from God he says is due to him praying for me to change all these years and ”it” not happening (when and how he wanted I imagine)….so he blames God, instead of seeing the truth, that I had free will to chose and let God change me. I hurt him a lot and I am relying on God to continue to help me and change me. But the big struggle right now is my husbands heart. He says the change is too late, even though he admits I have changed, he says he cant forgive me(another heart/God issue) and I believe its God that has kept him here so far but he really wants a divorce, yet like I said he hasnt left yet. I feel like I need loads of prayer. I have come and am continuing to come to rely on God for everything (something desperately hard for me with control issues and lets just say daddy issues) and on the other hand he has walked, even ran, farther and farther away from God, and to holding onto anger, bitterness, self gratifying, wasting amazing musical gifts(I’m telling you he could be a Chris Tomlin or Jeremy Camp hes that gifted, I’ve even had literal visions of him leading others like that), and even running to substances to alleviate the unsettling restlessness he feels. I’ve been down that last road and any concern I have for him comes across(to him at least) as me telling him what to do. He says God won’t change him because of free will and Gods Word is just a platitude…doesn’t mean anything to him. Not only do I feel like I’m fighting for my marriage but I feel a huge spiritual battle/attack. I feel discouraged, impatient(like I feel nothing is gonna change), I know I’m not alone in this (but I feel like it), I’m scared not just for us, but for him, for our kids. Seems the more I pray the worse it gets. With a son coming in July I’m even more worried. My emotions are super high.from being pregnant and I’m mostly overwhelmed a lot. I know God wants to heal us and not only restore us, but make us better even. I’m a writer.and I know that one of these days I’ll be able to write about this and perhaps that’s why this is happening but its so hard not to lose hope. The tables have flipped and now I’m praying for God to not only keep changing me but change his heart. I find myself feeling the way he did when praying for me all these years but I don’t want to be where he is now, so I keep praying and hoping. I’ve asked.for so much to be prayed about here, but mostly I’m praying for a changed heart for him because right.now to him there is no hope and so to him giving up is the only option. If he could find Hope again then we could have a united front on fighting for our marriage….until then Satan has divided us and we can’t stand (a house divided cannot stand). I’m so weary but my love, the love God has given me won’t let me give up. Thank you for letting me share.
    Anna

    • 246
      Erin T. says:

      Praying for now you, Anna. Just wanted to let you know. The Lord is faithful.

      • 247
        Anna D. says:

        Thank you Erin. Odd your name is Erin, my husband was almost named that if he had been a girl and has had three very good friends named Aaron and we considered Erin for our second daughter. Thank you again. Yes He is!

        • 248

          Anna, I’m so sorry for the pain and separation you’ve endured. Consider this comment a far reaching hug ~ you have my prayers right this moment. Like Erin said, the Lord is faithful. May you know and feel His very real arms holding you now and always. We love you, Sister…

    • 249

      I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking this must be. I am praying for you – that God will teach you both how to discard the idea of the other changing, and that He will bring healing to your relationship and draw all your longings to find rest in Himself.

    • 250

      Praying for you tonight, Anna. Praying for His love and peace to enfold you as you wait on Him. Isaiah 40:12 comes to mind.
      “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
      You are in the Shepherd’s tender care!

  97. 251

    Thank you for posting this, Ann. After 30 years of marriage this year (and 10 children) my husband and I continue to learn about each other as we go through life together. One of the most important things we have learned is that we have different primary “love languages.” Then we learned how to communicate in the other person’s language! We’ve also learned not to take out our frustrations with life’s challenges on each other. And, most importantly, *I* am learning to be “self-sufficient in God’s sufficiency” (also translated “content” — Philippians 4:11). So, I think I would say to newlyweds, “Be prepared to learn!”

  98. 252

    What’s one thing I’d tell newlyweds?

    Laugh a lot. Have fun together. Forgive quickly. Fighting is healthy.

  99. 253

    Our first five years were strangled with debt and financial uncertainty. It was an oppressive cloud. Although we often give advice to stay out of debt, make financial decisions together, and so on, we learned some valuable gems during those stormy years. We learned to look in the same direction for help (God) instead at each other to point blame, we learned to forgive, to stop confusing disappointment with reality. I learned to stop forming my young husband into the man I wanted him to be and let go my desperate grasping for control. Hard times, yes, but they scrabbled out the foundation stones of our now, twenty-year marriage. God is faithful. Thank you, Ann, these are priceless truths for a generation that needs hope in marriage.

  100. 254
    Jennifer S says:

    An inspired post considering the connection – or lack of it – my husband and I had last night and this morning, I have worked my side of the relationship and I am a different and better person than I was when we got married 16 years ago – but with all the counselors and work we have done, the changes in my husband are negligible. I am worn out from being encouraging when I don’t feel like it, from lifting him up from his own repeated mistakes, from walking through his repeated mistakes over and over and over again. I just dont know how much my human heart can take. I am tired and frustrated and my heart is just weary. He cannot take my hurt heart and anger because he is caught in shame…

    I so much want to be the wife God is calling me to be, to learn the true application of submission, to be the helpmeet and supporter of my husband. But how do I sit here and let him continue to take our family down financially disasterous roads? The insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is proving to be a disaster for my husband. I am not in that same place, but sometimes it feels like it.

    All I have is one day at a time… but I am oh so weary.

    • 255

      Jennifer, may I take your hand and pray for you? Dear Father, we lift up our sweet sister Jennifer to You. She is bone tired, and you know this. You know exactly how she feels, what she’s endured. In the name of Jesus, may you move Jennifer and her husband together, connect their hearts. May good choices be the rule. And thank you for planting Jennifer in this community so we sisters may circle our wagons around her and love on her in koinonia. In the mighty name of your Son, {and all the sister friends said} Amen.

      Love you, Jennifer. Hugs to you…

  101. 256

    The hardest thing we’ve worked through for me is those same long silences when we’re both hurt and don’t know what the other needs and seem past the point of caring to ask. When we were first married my husband would go and sleep on the couch, stay up later, get up earlier. And then one day the tears flowed from me like crazy and he took time to ask why. And I shared with home that when he leaves without saying goodbye, or sleeps on the couch, it makes me feel like we are one step away from a permanent end. Makes me wonder if he cares, if he’s safe, if I matter, it this is forever. We still have fights, but we always end up in the same bed, and I know now he’ll still be there in the morning, I’ll still be there too, and love will grow deeper when we find out way through.

  102. 257

    Oh, Ann, you are so wise and inspired. This was truly beautiful and a great lesson. My best advice would be something my mom always said when I was growing up, “Kill him with kindness”. If someone or your spouse is less than nice, Kill him with kindness. The object of your kindness will eventually soften and treat you the way that you should be treated. Responding with anger only makes things harder to fix and harder to deal with…

  103. 258
    Darlene says:

    My son is in a heartbreaking marriage of 3 years. His wife does not respect him. She says she never has and never will. It’s not really about him – it’s about her thinking he is not the “right-type” of person to respect. My heart is breaking for him. He is just about ready to call it quits. Any advice or wisdom? I have been praying 1 Cor 13 over them.

    • 259

      oh Darlene…

      i hurt for you and your son and daughter in law. i have been this wife, until God got hold of me. most likely, she, like me, was raised with the wrong example, has a hard time understanding God’s ordained place for her and her husband in their marriage. she, like me, probably has a hard time respecting anyone, because she fears–either she was hurt and abused, and so distrusts, or she was taught to distrust by parents who were hurt and abused. these are generational things that have to be broken. my parents made positive changes by leaps and bounds compared to the abuse they grew up in, but they lashed out enough abuse that i grew up too fearful to trust anyone else with the reigns–and so you have a young bride who does not respect her husband and tries to control him for fear of being hurt.

      having been here, the only thing i can quietly suggest is that maybe you encourage your son to stick with her at all costs, and love her, love her into respect, and pray for her? help pull out of her what is behind the anger–the hurt that really lies beneath by smoothing in the healing serum of love and grace. encourage him to seek counseling for he and his wife. also, if she has any confidence with you, maybe you could offer to talk with her in private, and you could slowly, gently pull the hurt out of her, pray with her, mentor her? if she will allow. if you dont have the confidence, try to build it?

      praying with you right now. 1 Cor 13, yes, beautiful chapter.

      • 260

        Oh Darlene, I ache for you, your son and his marriage. I don’t want this to come across as a trite or flippant response… but you asked for any advice? The situation you described reminds me of the movie “Fireproof” from the Kendrick brothers… in it the husband was challenged by his father to try the “Love Dare” to try to win the heart of his wife again. He didn’t really want to try, but he promised his dad that he’d give it 40 days…. It’s an amazing movie. Most of our family has watched it several times.

        After they made the movie, they even wrote up a book called the “Love Dare” so there is something concrete to refer to as a spouse goes about trying to win back the heart of the loved one. It is a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for us “while we were yet sinners” ~ and I’m trying to keep this short, but if they (or at least your son) could watch “Fireproof” it could be a vehicle to guide him as he navigates this path. Praying… (my son left his wife years ago and this came along too late to make a difference)… K

  104. 261

    Ann,
    Sometimes I can’t believe how you seem to write from my heart. How you write exactly what I feel and have felt. We have been married 4 years and have one child. We have fought through alcoholism, depression, anxiety, anger. We are still fighting all but the alcoholism, praise God for that! My husband is an amazing man. My fears have deeply hurt him as they are always angry words spoken… the things you can’t take back. I would tell newlyweds that I never knew how much I needed Jesus until I was married. I never knew how selfish I was or how fearful – until I was married. I long to treat my husband as he deserves to be treated, even though he has so much growing to do. I hate hurting him and it happens so often.

  105. 263

    Ann, for a moment there I thought you were telling my own story. That conversation feels familiar… I’m thankful that after just 4 years of marriage (and 2 children) God has chosen to teach us hard lessons early. Thank you, once again, for your vulnerability.

  106. 264

    Marriage is work, but anything worth having takes work. My husband and I have been married almost 24 years, dating 2 1/2 years before that; the only person I ever dated. Marriage is so much more sweeter as the years go by. Search God’s Word for His will for wives and obey what God says. The abundant blessings will overflow, and if you aren’t blessed with a godly man here, God will reward you even more so one day for being a godly wife. Respect that man of yours and love him with all you have; be an amazing help meet and keep trusting. Blessings to all and thank you Ann!
    Always Experiencing Him,
    Jody

  107. 265

    Ann, your posts the last week have spoken to my heart in a deep way. My husband and I are in a season of rebuilding and reconnecting. The “D” word isn’t in our vocabulary…we tore it out from day one, but ground not tended to becomes hard, and my heart had become just that. All my fears had become a silent and deep-rooted anger that was my normal. But, by the grace of God we WILL have a strong marriage and the deep connection I long for. It’s happening as I speak, and the more I ask God for what I want (James 4) the more He tells my husband what I need. It’s quite amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  108. 266

    Thank you for this. I lost my husband last year after 36 years of a really good marriage, but our first year was hard. We were blessed to figure out very early that virtually all anger was really the anguished cry, “I don’t think you really love me!” It is the #1 insight we gave (and now I give) to young couples starting out. But it is also the cry from the heart of our children when they act out. And isn’t it the cry of our hearts to God when hard things – the terrors and griefs of our pilgrimage through a fallen, broken world? “God, I don’t feel loved by You.” “Father, why have You forsaken me?”

    Thank you, Ann. Your blog has carried me through this year of grieving.
    In the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus…

  109. 268

    Wow–your words have definitely gotten to lots of hearts today. I read this this morning, but it has taken me quite a while to get around to responding.

    Too many times, this has been me. I am ashamed to admit all the times I’ve turned into the screaming ambulance. The thing is, when my husband has pulled off the road to let me pass, I’ve made it a point to run over him.

    God’s timing is pretty amazing. Yesterday He got me thinking about His definition of love, opening my eyes and softening my heart. Today, He spoke (pretty loudly) through your words. Thank you for your honesty and openness. Your story here inspired my own post for today…
    http://lifefaithful.blogspot.com/2012/02/screaming-sirens-or-angry-women.html

    • 269

      “when my husband has pulled off the road to let me pass, i’ve made it a point to run over him.” this made me laugh out loud! most likely because ive been there so many times, but you used the cutest metaphor so cleverly!

      thank you for being transparent so we can all take the load of guilt off and carry it to our Father. softening my heart along with you sister…

  110. 270

    We have found our marriage feeling broken this past week due to pornography. This is not the first time trust has been destroyed by this, but the 3rd. Feeling lost & not sure how to move forward. Believing there is hope with Christ, but it seems hopeless right now.

    • 271

      Jen,
      I’m praying for you at this moment in time. Please get some counseling even if your husband refuses. You need some support ASAP! Pastors are now seeing more and more of this I’m afraid, so there would be a beginning point for you if you feel comfortable. But please get yourself some support. Jesus will give you wisdom as you cry out to HIM. Thank you for sharing and being so vulnerable with us! May God carry you……. and may we all carry Jen in our hearts and prayers!
      Lee

    • 272

      oh…. I’ve been there…. it hurst.. it rips you open like few things can….

      I have been there!!

      I bought him books…. he’d read – but said it didn’t help. I will say the only thing that he said worked to help him was a place called Setting Captives Free – it’s online, and completely Biblically based – and finding a freind with whom he could confide that was ahead of him on the journey to freedom. Also setting up filters on the computer (he actually asked me to ) of which I hold the password. also we have one that sends reports of all web sites visited to to a friend of his that will keep him accountable. We use Safe Eyes – you can set each persons limits up ver specifically. You should be his accountability -he is acccountable to you -but that should be another man. If he will…

      I felt so alone… because you just can’t talk about it with people it’s such an odd topic to bring up you can’t just chat about it as your children play – it’s so deep!!! So deep!!!!

      I’ll pray for you right now!

    • 273

      If he will… look up Setting Captives Free online. It has helped so many with this very issue.

    • 274

      i *really do* understand this struggle. you are not alone. we live in a fallen, broken world, and we are depraved people, every one of us, and our only Hope is Jesus. cling to Him. reach out to your husband in forgiveness and healing. dont allow Satan to rip you apart. i agree with Wendy; try to do whatever you can to help him.

      taking your hand and praying with you right now that you would be strengthened in God to be the loving wife that your husband needs through this hard time, that God would soften your heart with forgiveness toward him, because none can claim righteousness, and that your wounds would be healed in Jesus, that He would take this sin and this offense and turn it into something beautiful, used for his beautiful purpose and glory. i pray also that these chains of sin would be broken off of your husband in Jesus name and that he would find the path back to restored godly intimacy in your marriage!

      hugging you and thanking you for letting me pray through cyberspace,

      Nacole

  111. 275

    Ann,
    What a privilage to be together in this time and in this place as Gods people! My husband and I have been married for 32 years both coming from fractured families. Mine mum passed from breast cancer when I was 10 leaving my dad and brother a family of 3. My husbands a divorce and then a remarriage but so very legalistic upbringing. Our son was a blessing being raised in what we thought was a realistic and spiritual family unit. He found the world to be much better, breaking our hearts, in trouble with the law, homelessness, living on the edge of poverty etc. We gave him all of our money to keep him safe in an apt while he worked so many dead end jobs. Now an adult and no better off financially and us as nearly retired with no savings. Oh how children can be the challenge when it comes to parenting. We fought like crazy over how to handle each crisis our son went through….and there were many. The guilt, the anger, the denial, all and more. Counseling for years made the marriage stronger. We must be teachable even in our late 50′s! Even when we think we can espouse wisdom, we fail miserably. We need each other…. all of us. We were not created to be alone, but in relationship. Thanks BE TO GOD! My husband loves to come home to me every night. It wasn’t like that all the time! May we be people with loving purposes-reaching out-breaking walls,building bridges in a fragmented world!
    Amen! PS I’m on round 2 of reading your book and sharing bits with hubby! Your husband is his inspiration! Our son needs prayer and so do we as we daily still try to make this family unit work for the glory of GOD! Keep up the good work Ann!

    • 276

      Lee,

      my heart breaks for you and your son…what a beautiful story of your marriage and restoration…

      praying with you for your son right now…

  112. 277

    I wish I couldve read this years ago! Im going through my 2nd divorce now! I need prayer for God to heal my broken heart and to mend my wounds and teach me to be a better woman, wife, and mother! To someday Love again and show my children a healthy loving relationship!!!!

  113. 279
    Abigail Stewart says:

    Sometimes I get so weary of forging through to love . . . when my husband pulls away and withdraws affection, the silence is deafening. It’s hard to lift my face to heaven and pour out my heart and soul to the Father who is working His Will in both of us. I know I could do a much better job….but I can’t. Only the Holy Spirit can change my husband’s heart and heal it. Being patient and relinquishing control is very, very difficult for a dominant personality like mine. To pray earnestly for my husband as the Holy Spirit whispers to him is hard because I just want to lash out emotionally and wound. Please pray for me? I feel so tired and vulnerable to the attacks of the Evil One. I need the Lord’s strength to carry me and yet I feel the hurt all over again when I talk to Him about it all. Do I keep praying, even though it hurts? How do I keep loving when I am feeling wounded and alone?

    • 280

      In HIm!!!! Only in HIM!!!! there were years that communication was only what had to be! but pray… and stay….. and God can provide.

    • 281

      Abigail,

      “Sometimes I get so weary of forging through to love”…i hear you, sister, and im there with you. its easier for me when i realize, as Ann said above in a comment, that my husband and i are the same, that im no better than him, we are both sinners in need of a Savior. it helps me to really see my sin for what it is, and oh, then i dont have to carry around that heavy, heavy weight on my back of frustration and anger with him for not being perfect.

      your heart is so broken, your desires so beautiful. as Wendy said, keep doing it, keep praying, keep loving, only in Him. thats the only way! you encourage me to do the same today.

      praying with you, dear Abigail, right now…

  114. 282

    All I can say sister is, keep pouring it out please…this is so good. I chatted with a young married woman last night late, their 10 year marriage is falling apart and I plan linking her up with this post. Young marriages, old marriages need this…thanks for being willing to stand in the gap with honest open communications that strike to the heart of things.

  115. 283

    Ann….your words struck a chord! Look at all these responses. Thank you so much for opening this conversation. My husband and I have been married almost two years, and for much of that time we’ve been dealing with his joblessness. He has a good degree as an attorney and he’s willing to work, but growing more discouraged by the day as nothing pans out. I’m mostly supporting the household for now. It hurts to see him unhappy and unfulfilled, and it seems like he’s drawing further away from God. I would love to know how to better encourage him and how to be more patient with the situation God has us in.

    • 284

      your heart towards your husband is beautiful, Karen, beautiful! i have never been through no job at all, but we have been without for short periods, and have bounced from job to job with no security and this is hard on a couple.

      pray for him, support him, talk with him when he is down and needs someone to talk to, just be his listening ear and comforter. but comfort with wisdom. meaning, comfort with God’s word, strengthening the man of God that he is inside, in his spirit-man. if he is a believer, then the Holy Spirit is still there with him, and he just needs sound, godly encouragement from the word. if you arent sure what to say, get alone with God and pray and read, and then let God guide you as you talk to your husband. the fruits of wisdom and patience that you are able to offer your husband will flow out of your time alone with the Father.

      praying right now for added strength for you as you seek to be a godly wife full of grace…

  116. 285

    This is so absolutely beautiful, Ann! What amazing wisdom and insight! Praying for everyone here today with struggles and blessings in their marriages–many prayers and blessings for everyone!

  117. 286

    Today is my 21st wedding anniversary. I read this as I curl my hair, in preparation of a rare dinner out, just the 2 of us. I married this man at the age of 18, I was so immature and wounded. It took so many years of fighting and many feeling that this would never work, before God dealt with my heart. Though I thought it was only my husbands heart that needed the work…
    Advice: When I begin to “pick” apart all of the issues my husband has, all the things that upset me & I want to change, I am eventually brought to see my own heart. When I stop tearing him a part, even mentally, and let God deal with my heart, my husband and I change, our marriage blossoms.
    2nd piece of advice: When my husband does something that causes anger in me, for example, if he snaps at me for no apparent reason, IF I hold my tongue, and do not respond in anger, but still be who God wants me to be, God will deal with my husbands heart. If I respond back in anger, he is justified, and I prevent God from doing a work.
    3rd piece: Pray…and hang in there.

  118. 287

    The hardest thing that my husband and I have had to work through in our marriage is when I told him that I feel like something is holding him back, and that’s when he told me that 3 years ago he had been involved in pornography. He broke my heart. That was a few weeks ago. Praise God that Jesus is helping my bruises and in my husband’s sorrow he is holding me closer than ever. But for the grace of God, I pray that our story of 10 years of marriage, forgiveness, and true intimacy (of knowing eachother fully now) will bless others. Thank you for the wonderful, vulnerable post! -Many Blessings, Amy from amyswomantics.blogspot.com

  119. 288
    Crystal B says:

    Any wisdom out there on how to handle a husband that treads through this life and this marriage with such an astounding air of entitlement? It seems as though when I try and bless him with gifts of myself, my time, my love etc that there’s no acknowledgement of me giving to him but rather he’s receiving it simply because he’s him and he’s deserving and entitled. He’s the baby of 7 and after all these years of marriage and 6 kids later I’m finding out more and more about how he has been catered to all his life. It’s suffocating and heavy and I’m finding it so hard to stomp out this bitterness that is growing inside me. I’m angry at his arrogance and vanity when I give to him and even more angry at not getting anything back. If I get something it’s because I have gotten to my fed up point and begged, fought, hollered and/or nagged for it (that is not an understatement or me being over-dramatic ) because it certainly doesn’t come by his own accord. I feel like his mom the biggest part of the time and trust me if I were I would have worn his tail out by now ;) Others have told me to stop blessing him with so much of me and teach him how it feels but I’m not that kind of woman. Should I be? Will that teach/help him or will I be sinning as I think I would? Any help or words of wisdom would be appreciated greatly :) Thanks Ann for a great post! Love you and grateful for you answering the Call to this great ministry :)

    • 289

      Have you been able to talk with him, write to him, or somehow share your heart with him? Does he understand how you feel? I know praying and giving EVERY SINGLE detail to God helps. I believe the Spirit will lead you with what to do or what not to do. God knows his heart, and your heart, and He will faithfully lead you with what to do. I wonder if the Five Love Languages might help you two, to better understand what you need or what he actually appreciates? Or Stormie O____’s book about 31 days of praying for your spouse? (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the exact title)

      I’m praying you are nourished, have some peace, and are blessed with being the recipient of love.

  120. 290

    Oh my… Our first two years were about like yours. I recall after being married six weeks, realizing that we really didn’t know each other. I hated him or so I thought but it was really not knowing him. I had these crazy expectations of my knight on a white horse. I had so much growing up to do. So, we started dating. Every other weekend we went out on a date — and talked — . And we still date, 27 years later. Beautiful post!

  121. 291
    Sunmer says:

    So grateful for this. Perfect timing. Thank you so much.

  122. 292
    Sunmer says:

    Perfect timing for my marriage. I am so grateful for this. Thank you!!!

  123. 293

    Yes, this. The biggest hurdle we’ve faced together is for me to lower the walls… and for him to push through when I build them up and push him away. Years of childhood abuse taught me to live behind walls. Taking them down is hard work. Letting God in and letting my husband in… hard work. After 10 years of marriage we seem to be figuring out this dance. Him getting bolder to push in when I retreat. I thank God that he has been there to work through the messy and to keep trying to reach me when I was out of reach in the dark.

  124. 294

    Thank you. I sit here and read this, tears waiting to spill. You could have written of my marriage, my life. Thank you for offering hope, for sharing where you have come from and that it can change.
    I appreciate your honesty

  125. 295
    Selina says:

    My husband and I love each other but we still have problems. I feel like he doesn’t really see me. Like he doesn’t know me deeply, doesn’t truely understand me; and his problem is he says I don’t listen to him, but I think I do listen, it’s just sometimes I disagree.

    • 296

      dear Selina,

      knowing one another deeply will come with time…your husband truly loves you–that is so beautiful.

      continue to forge ahead in patience and love…

      you are lavishly loved by the Father!

  126. 297

    Thank you, Ann! (And thank you, Lysa T. for introducing Ann to me.) My husband and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, and I’m happy to say that it does get easier. But it still is hard. Some of the reasons that it has gotten better for us is that I’ve read and listened to lots of Christian advice (and actually tried to follow it.) I still yearn to be reassured that he will always be there for me, to love me no matter what. Again, thank you Ann for your encouragement.

  127. 298

    Debra,

    My heart aches for you, because I was in your shoes for so many years…

    For 8 years, my husband and I tried for a child. Testing showed my husband was completely sterile, and I was told that even if he was perfectly healthy, I would never be able to naturally conceive a child…

    Oddly enough, in April of 2005 I found myself 4 months pregnant. In shock,
    my husband looked at me slowly…

    “I don’t mean to sound like this-but are you sure it is mine?”

    I told him I wasn’t even sure it was mine! We ended up with our now 6 year old daughter in October 2005, on my grandmother’s 80th birthday. She was joined by her little brother in March 2010. We had no outside fertility treatments or medical interventions, we could not afford it.

    God has a plan, and He hears our prayers. If they are His will, man cannot predict the outcome…

    Good luck in your journey.

  128. 299
    Elizabeth says:

    It’s never easy, and I see after 23 years of marriage that the sounds of anger bursting forth is a cry for attachment; him letting me know that I will be cared for and all will be well. I should know this promise because he has always been the provider. My insecurities lay dormant until the wind stirs them up and brings them forth. Thank you, Ann.

    • 300

      You said that so beautifully, and ohhhh I feel storms raging and stirring up lots of my insecurities, and I am struggling with storms and sounds of anger. We’re at year seven in marriage, with two little ones and my husband is working full-time and in school full-time. Lord temper my speech, soften my words, and hold my tongue (with my husband and our sons)! Thank you for your words, too. As some have said above, I’m seeking to have Christ be my Rock and really grasp and get what it means to be fully satisfied with and by God.

  129. 301
    Eileen says:

    Things God has taught me in 28 1/2 years of marriage that I’d love for others to learn earlier and less painfully…
    1. When I am abiding in Christ, I am more concerned with MY HUSBAND’S rights and MY responsibilities. When I am NOT abiding in Christ, I am more concerned about MY rights and MY HUSBAND’S responsibilities!
    This reminds me of Jeremiah 2:13:
    “for my people have committed two evils:
    they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
    and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
    I pray daily, “I release my husband from the burden of fulfilling me in areas where I should be looking to You.”
    2. I am haunted by the expression “Treat your friends like family and your family like friends.” The first part I think means “Treat your friends with the hospitality and commitment you have for your own family.” The second means “Treat your family with the same courtesy, respect and self-control you show to your friends.” My husband and children are those whom I claim to love the most in the world, but I speak to them in ways I would NEVER speak to my friends (or even my mailman or the telemarketer who interrupts our dinner)! God, have mercy on me.
    3. It’s my job to make my husband happy ( 1 Corinthians 7:34b says “But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband”); it is God’s job to make him holy. And he’s going to more open to God’s making him holy if his wife is making him happy!
    God has worked miracles in our marriage. I never wanted to be a nagging wife. But I was a nagging FIANCEE!!! But about 9 years ago, God began a transformation which has made something beautiful out of something that was very ugly – the pride, self-righteousness, criticism, and all the rest.
    4. Just as you say, Ann, when someone is angry, it is wise to ask, “Where does it hurt? What are you afraid of?”
    Thanks for your honest sharing!

  130. 303

    “Fears dress up as anger ”
    Oh my, that was me this week.
    I needed this.
    Thank you!

  131. 304

    Thanks Ann….once again I think you read over my journal before you posted. This has been my past week. Depression wrapped in anger by my husband. How many times I wanted to yell out “I hate you”…..sad thing….I feel it to, yet at the same time my heart aches for did not the LORD himself say we are one. Today I told my pastor I can’t pray for him, because I am afraid that God would intervene and I would have to love him again….isn’t that sad. I’m hurting. But you are like a friend on the phone who gets it. Thank you again.

  132. 306

    “There’s no easy way to say this- your baby is dead.” These have been the hardest days, learning to grieve- separately, together, with children, with God. My husband has finally learned to hold me with his ear by listening without ‘fixing’; I have finally learned to say “I don’t know. I am afraid. I have no plan. I surrender. I submit.” These are the hardest days, these last 6 months of learning to suffer well, counting His grace through the pain, releasing my hold and yet finding a greater connection when letting go. Letting God.

    • 307

      Jessica, I’m so sorry. Grieving is the hardest work we ever do. Praying for you now, remembering Ps. 34:18- He is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit. May you feel His presence, His everlasting arms around you as you walk through this valley.

    • 308

      Read the Psalms…
      after this happened to us… I felt so…. unable to pray… unable to say anything sometimes I would read the psalms in them they sometimes voiced what I could not voice myself. I felt communion through them… through what reflected my own feelings like nothing else did!

    • 309

      oh, Jessica,

      praying with you right now, dear sister, just praying…your courage is beautiful!

  133. 310

    The hardest thing – when all the loving is up against a spouse’s addiction – that craving, hungry love that supersedes all other loves. It wounds and wounds again. Always, the crying out, “Can I really count on you?” “Do I really matter to you?” ” Do the children?” answered in the affirmative, often with a tenderness that feeds hope, but underneath and behind the spoken word, deceit, spending, gambling. Then, in the midst of his despair – that desperate, suicidal stage when losses mount and our home has to be sold – still seeking to be the thatch roof, the sheltering wing, offering the hope of God’s forgiveness (and mine), reminding him over and over of God’s love (and mine) – and then a surprising financial gift. God’s grace – or an opportunity to spend without constraint? He chooses his greater love and walks away. I loved him, but I could not help him. That was ten years ago. He divorced me. We had been married twenty-three years – teenage sweethearts married at at twenty and twenty one. Still I weep – chest heaving, tears streaming – for the loss, and for the shame divorce brings on the name of Christ.
    So, to you dear women (above) who have spoken of your husband’s addictions, may I offer a little encouragement – keep striving for the marriage you cherish and to the covenant of love you swore, and while you hold your men accountable, speak with grace. These things will be pleasing to the Lord, and may be the means by which your husband will be changed. Should he walk away, it will be a source of comfort to you that before the Lord you have been righteous in this one thing. Most of all cling to the Lord Himself and His Word as your strength. Ann has a word for each year. For me, seasons – sometimes a year or two, sometimes just months – have a verse that have helped shape them. A few – with my prayer they will bless you.
    Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd…He gently leads those that have young.” – my children were just four and eight years old at the time their daddy left and this was what I clung to.
    2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” – on many days I quite literally reminded the Lord that this was His promise!
    James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously.” – daily I begged.
    And in this present season, though God’s kindnesses have been great and many (most of all, that my children are walking with Him), there is weariness in the long, often lonely, journey and I fear creeping lethargy. Psalm 119:83 is my pledge these months, “Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.” An odd sounding choice, but according to my NIV Bible commentary “as a wineskin hanging in the heat and smoke above a fire becomes smudged and shriveled, so the psalmist bears the marks of his affliction.” The marks of affliction on my life are dirty smudges that will not rub off, and often I feel shriveled, but always I have the love and words of God – I do not want to forget.

    • 311

      Judy,

      tears streaming down face over here as well…your story, how sad, how raw. i ache for you.

      this: “So, to you dear women… may I offer a little encouragement – keep striving for the marriage you cherish and to the covenant of love you swore, and while you hold your men accountable, speak with grace.”

      so, so beautiful. all of it. thank you for sharing. its as if you were sitting next to me, sharing of your life, and girding me up in truth, setting my heart back on the right path through your wisdom. thank you.

      • 312

        Thank you, Nacole – for the kindness of ‘weeping with those who weep’ – it is a ministry of love. It means such a lot to have another someone to acknowledge the pain.

        And if my sharing helps to ‘gird you in truth’, that is God’s grace – His keeping His promise to work ALL (even the seemingly terrible) things for good. I am so grateful that even my sorrowful journey can be worked into His redeeming purposes.

        You have blessed me.

        • 313

          *smiles* you have no idea what this means to me, truly. thank you for letting me know. i cried as i read your story again to my husband last night. i am a little shy about all of my words being on-screen in a high-traffic area, but i find God doing such a work in me here, mentoring me and convicting me through all you ladies.

          love and blessings to you, Judy…

  134. 314
    Amy Kimball says:

    Thank you for putting my ever-elusive thoughts/feelings into words.

    This is the very reason I told my husband when we first got married: “A hug will always make it better. I am only ever angry because I’m hurt. Holding me close will always start the healing process.”

    And when he overcomes his fears, and holds me close, it does make things better.

  135. 315

    Your words obviously speak to the hearts of many women, Ann, mine included. As I ponder what to type on the screen, tears well up. My husband, home after two nights gone, heads his way, I stay in my corner, only words of maintenance pass our lips. Without the kids, life looks lonely. But they won’t be here forever, and I want so much more from our marriage. Sometimes, though, it seems I’m the only one feeling a disconnect, the only one trying to grow closer. Maybe I’m not making it safe for him to share his heart. Maybe I’m too critical. I’m trying, but it is so hard! So many wonderful suggestions in your post and in these beautiful ladies comments. A renewal is coming, I can feel it. Through God’s grace and my willingness to serve and agape love my husband, we can have a wonderfully intimate marriage. It is so encouraging to hear from others that walked through the anger, heartache, and loneliness to get there. It inspires hope as you do here. Blessings!

    • 316

      it IS coming! i hear hope and joy even in your words. that only comes from our Father. he’s got you. continue to forge ahead in patience and love.

      learning and forging ahead with you, dear sister…

  136. 317
    Rebecca says:

    Thanks Ann, I cried so much reading this and some of the responses. My Christian husband of 11 years just told me that he doesn’t really love me and has been unhappy for some time. He doesn’t know if he wants to make our marriage work.

    Now 3 1/2 years after I had an almost-emotional affair (I didn’t realise until after I was out of the situation how stupid I was so I confessed and he was fine at the time as he had confessed to a relapse in his addiction to porn, involving him being so anxious that he wound up in hospital on antidepressants, he put our family through hell and even though I was very hurt, I decided to stand by him and paint him a picture of a better future) he is angry with me over the situation. All of a sudden. It’s just strange.

    I would be able to deal with this current situation if I knew he was committed for the long haul. I actually asked those questions you wrote about I told him that we could work through everything if he was committed to the marriage. I asked him to pray for me and tell me that everything would be alright in the end and he wouldn’t. He actually said he didn’t know if he wanted to go to counselling, then waste 6 years whilst I try to change. (I am a leader in the church and in other ministry areas and I have spoken on the dangers of what I did. I HAVE learned from it and do not have male friends now, as I understand just how dangerous it can be, whilst I didn’t think I was anywhere near stepping over the line, I understand that people, especially Christian Leaders, don’t actually set out to have an affair. None the less we are not alike and he would like me to like sport and camping and I would like him to like to read. The Bible at least… I would like to do devotions, he thinks Angry Birds is good to go to sleep with at night. We are different but I think most couples are. You don’t marry yourself.)

    We live in a very small town of 2500 people 3 hours from a city, we moved here in the midst of our troubles 2 1/2 years ago. There is no help here and our church has recently spilt then collapsed. I really don’t know where to go or what to do. My husband is open to counselling but there is literally no-one. The town we live in is horribly spiritually oppressed and as a Christian leader I cop flack but no-one is praying for me. We annoyed the local warlock when his daughter became a Christian.

    I really don’t know what to do without that commitment to make it work. Both of our parents divorced with we were young and we have 3 young boys ages 3, 4 and 6. (Yes they are close, 22months, 16months.) We swore we would never do what they did to us.

    It has been horrible reading all the blogs I usually do when everyone is talking about ideas for valentines.

    On top of all this my husband has been head hunted by another company and taking that would be a demotion but it may mean more money with less responsibility and a move back to where we spent 3 years previously and have many friends. But it is another move and we have moved 5 times in the past 5 years. The interview is on the 13th. We have been praying but with all of this going on, how are we supposed to discern if this is the right choice?

    Thanks for prayers. I think that will be all that saves this. I never thought it would be me. I always thought we would work it out. I also thought he would always pray with me be he won’t. Apparently my touch makes his skin crawl!

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      Dear Rebecca, Your letter breaks my heart! I want you to know that I am praying for you. Do realize that your husband is hurting too. I encourage you, from my own marriage of 18 years and two children, one miscarriage, and my own times of disappointing my husband, through an emotional attachment to another man, and he, me, through his attachment to porn, that, whatever he says and does is a reflection of his pain, his hurt, his anger, and his question, “Do you love me? Are you there for me?” Men need to be held and affirmed and assured too. It is your responsibility, at this point, to come back with, “I love you, honey, and I will be here for you. I am committed to you and to our marriage. ” And then, mean it. Ask him what he wants for supper and cook/bake it. Tell him that you will move if he gets the job and that wherever he goes, you’ll go….it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 times in 5 years. Let him know that he’s the man who counts in your life. Assure him that you’ve learned how important it is to keep him #1. (I wish we could have moved…I’d have crossed the ocean if I could have, but my husband’s job kept him here, and I went through two horrible years of depression.) What I’ve learned from it all is to do everything that I can to connect with my husband. We found some projects that we both enjoy, editing articles which we make into a game of seeing who can find the most mistakes and catch what the other person missed, music is something that we play together, and sing together. We have very different hobbies, his is all on the computer, genealogy and studying, listening to news, and I like sewing, crocheting, knitting, etc. but we both enjoy gardening, so we do it together and separately, but if he pulls weeds, we make it a point to admire the other one’s hard work and thank them for it. And we make decisions together. I know what you mean about no one intending….I also thought that would never be me, but some circumstances and my gift of compassion took me there. Above all, guard your heart and put a lock and key on it! And assure your husband that you have, but understand if you need to spend a few more years proving to him your steadfast love and loyalty to him. Love will win! Prayers for you!!! Recognize that this move may be God’s way of getting you into a new situation where you will have more support, old friends, etc. I know what it’s like to go through a church split, and to have no family near. All are hours and hours away! Most are a two-day drive away from us. 21-24 hrs. driving time, and we’ve lost parents too.

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        Rebecca says:

        Thanks Jane! It is good to see that someone survived this! I did as you said, my first reaction was not to react, then to ask for reassurance. The next day I sat him down and assured him that I am committed to our marriage, that I love him and all the rest of the things you said. (Which must have been God inspiration, as I certainly wasn’t feeling all lovey dovey so I just said it in a matter of fact manner.)

        There is no question that I would not follow him wherever he went, it is just that moving is stressful and although I dislike this town, I love our (company) house and school is just a short walk away. (Silly I know.) The other town, he didn’t like too much because he was always working and the church didn’t have a pastor just some overbearing elders (it does now and is totally different with a big focus on growing men!!!) and his best friends (one of the guys in this story actually *sigh* how cliched is that???) have moved away. He does have one good friend there still. I gave up my career to be at home with our boys because that is what he wanted (and me, although I struggle and have filled the void with “ministry” if one more person says I have wasted my education I will have a very hard time being graceful.) ;) The big question is housing-there is a chronic shortage-(as is NO rentals at ALL) so I am praying that if we are meant to go there God will do the impossible and pull a great house out of nowhere. Which He has done 5 times before. Seriously.

        I am just concerned that he is in no state to interview well at the moment. He’s in the busy season at work and all of this on top is just huge when he has previously suffered depression. God knows all that though.

        I have been trying to connect with my husband for some time but it just doesn’t work. Unless I do things his way he thinks I want it all my way. There is no compromise it seems unless it is me and then that goes unnoticed. We really need time away from the kids but I must have the only mother who doesn’t like her grandkids around. She keeps telling me how full-on they are and how I am a bad parent. She was a preschool teacher and she is only just 60, my step-dad is 50, my sister with Down syndrome is 21 and still at home but in college etc so I can’t understand that. We did have issues with the boys, my oldest was allergic to wheat and had autistic-like symptoms (another awesome story of God’s healing) and my second boy died for 10 minutes when he was born as the birth went horribly wrong (praise God after lots of physio and chiro he shows no sign of his bad start), and my third was diagnosed with cancer when all the other issues came up, but through prayer he now just has a “compromised immune system” which I am pretty confident God has healed too as he has currently had a 6 week stretch of being well-which is our record.

        I guess I would just like to know that everything will be ok. I just wish my husband would see that the grass is NOT greener somewhere without us/me.

        Thanks for your prayers and for listening!

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      Rebecca,

      Jane already gave all the greatest help…just want you to know im praying, right now for you and your husband.

    • 321

      oh, tears streaming now…praying…NONE of this is too big for God, none of it, dear sister.

      • 322
        Rebecca says:

        Thank you all so much! You know I only signed up to get these email updates from Incourage 3 days ago. God knew exactly what I needed just in time! I so very much appreciate your prayers and taking the time to read my essay. Bless you Nacole and Jane.

        • 323

          Rebecca, Just want to say, in response to your wanting assurance that everything will be OK, that none of us can guarantee that the circumstances in your life, with jobs, with your husband, with your children, with your move, with your relationships with your mother and stepfather, or any other relatives, with your friends, with the housing situation, etc. will turn out the way you want them to. We can’t say that everything will be OK if you do any certain thing, say any certain thing, even if you dedicate your life to Jesus/God and promise him everything. What we do know and can promise you, is that Jesus will be with you, no matter what, that nothing that happens to you can separate you from the love of God–not tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword…No…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height , nor depth, nor any other creature (that includes our husbands and our children and our friends and relatives, as well as our enemies) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39) and Jesus himself said that he would never leave us or forsake us and would be with us always, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20) Lean hard, hard, hard into him, dear Rebecca, He will hold you, he will comfort you, he will be your strength when you are weak, he will feed you when you are hungry, he will meet your every need. I also want to say, and I say this from experience, even though this is HARD advice to take: Back off…pay close attention to your own life. No point fussing because he won’t pray with you if you are not spending time in prayer. No point pointing out that he won’t be your spiritual leader unless you are spending time reading and studying God’s word yourself. The Bible says to win them by your life, not your words or complaints. My husband didn’t either. But now, after 18 years of marriage he is often the first one to call us to family devotions. He knows my heart. I’ve told him over and over that I wanted that, and that I wanted him to lead. I have even gone ahead when he hasn’t, because I don’t want my children growing up without it, but be sure that you don’t berate him. Encourage him to lead out. Men are really insecure underneath their “tough” demeanor. They aren’t going to stick their necks out if they are going to be criticized for not doing something right. Believe me, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in this area, and my husband still loves me. Like Ann says, “All is grace,” and my husband has given me plenty of grace. I need lots more than my husband. I need God desperately. Two years of depression, of crying everyday (sometimes all day) taught me that. All that I have now, even when my life is a mess, even when I am a mess, every day that is left of my life, is a gift. I pray to use it wisely. All that will matter in the end is to hear his words: Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” Pray to be faithful!

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            Jane, such encouraging words: thank you! Rebecca, I’m praying for you and your family!

          • 325
            Rebecca says:

            Hi Jane,

            Thank you for your wise words! I heard the exact same verses that you wrote on the car stereo right after I read your response. I was also listening to a sermon on my iPod the next day and the point about there being no assurance that it would work out the way I want it to was one of the points of the sermon. Which I do understand, I was more getting at that I wanted assurance that my husband wanted to work on our marriage.

            I thought I would update you on what has happened since I last wrote because prayer changes things.

            My husband has had a change of heart, :) he is happy to work on our marriage and remain committed. He has spoken to me about the things he was angry about and when I was able to colour in the context for him, he realised that the true situation was not anything like the picture his imagination had painted. So I have been forgiven. We also managed to find a Christian counsellor (they are not common where I live, in fact there seem to be only 8 in our entire state!) and she has met with us over Skype. We will continue with this for as long as it takes.

            My husband and I went on a “date” in our backyard for valentines day, and although I didn’t get a present, he came home with crackers and cheese and other things for a nice evening. He told me that he does still love me and he even prayed with me at night, as was our custom every night before this whole thing came to a head. He told me that he would have bought flowers but we live in a very small town and there were none left and I know it’s true because I was in the shop buying cheese and crackers too… (We now have double cheese and crackers left for another date-funny.)

            The counsellor said we both have trust issues (duh) and that we have had more than our fair share of stressful situations (also duh) but that our marriage has potential as long as we are prepared to but long term work in to deal with family of origin issues as well as our current ones. So that’s positive.

            My husband also went for and got the other job (it was a given really, he was headhunted), we are unsure if we are going to take the position as it means another move and the house they want to give us is too small for a family of 3 active boys! So unless they come up with better than what they have offered (we had good friends who used to live in that house and they moved because it was too small for them and their three children-same ages as our children) we will stay put.

            The best thing about this is that my husband really wants to work on our marriage, so I am very, very pleased about that change of heart!

            Thank you everyone who prayed! I am just so grateful-if not for prayers who knows what could have happened!

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    Just read this to my husband and I sobbed through parts while I read to him….
    That part about the woman shrieking when in pain? and the husband being the ER? Gave my feelings and thoughts *voice*. We talked together how he could see my anger and pain as needing an emotional response.

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    We have been married 29 years. Recently I noticed my husband was angry and grouchy a lot. Each of our daughters thought their Dad was mad at them. That was when I realized what the problem. We have a prodigal daughter who recently left home again after being back with us a year. Her leaving was unexpected and unplanned. We have no way to contact her. She does not want contact with us. She is not working, and is not living the life God has planned for her. She is living with bad, ungodly people, and we fear (and know in our hearts) that she is on drugs. I realized that my husband is hurting over this, too. I have tried so hard to not let my pain affect my family, and I failed to see how this whole situation is affecting my husband. He is lost and hurt and worried and afraid, just like I am. He fears (being a retired cop) that we may not be able to save her this time. This is one of the hardest things we have dealt with in our married life.

    I always try to tell young people getting married that it doesn’t matter how much you spend on the wedding. That will not make your marriage better. And to remember that each day, you can start over. A fresh start.

    I would ask for prayers for my prodigal daughter, and also for my husband, who is not a believer.

    • 328

      oh, yes, i fear this…i have four girls…i pray they will always stay close to home, or at least on a godly path if it is far away from me…

      praying for you and your daughter right now…

    • 329

      Praying right now with you, for your beautiful daughter, for your hurting husband: “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25).

      Praying tonight with you…

    • 330

      I understand the heartbreak and pain of a child who is a prodigal and on drugs. My son was/is a drug addict and has a partner & 2 young children under 2 years old… We have no contact with them. I have only seen my grandson for a few weeks of his life (he’s almost 2) and never met my grand daughter and most likely never will. They have cut themselves off from our entire family.
      I will pray for peace & comfort for you, your husband and family.

  139. 331

    Hi Ann, Hi Ladies,
    I feel like an intruder, a thief entering another’s home in the dead of night, a warrior on an enemy’s turf. But I am unshod; I tread barefoot with tears running down my unshaven cheeks as I witness the hurt and harm we ‘hunters and gatherers’ inflict upon those we are called to love.
    I am blessed with an astonishing woman as partner for life. She has been vigilant in our marriage. She has been very patient – with me! We have eight most wonderful children whom my wife home educates in conjunction with running the family home. We are seventeen (or eighteen?) years married tomorrow. There was a time when my behavior reflected a “if I agreed with you – then we’d both be wrong” attitude – unhelpful in relationship building! Sadly, there was a time when I would rule the home with an iron fist and I would treat my wife with a ruthless disrespect. One day, as a result of pornography, she kicked me out of my own home… Oh, was she angry? And rightfully so! I had let my wife down badly! We were not connecting and it was my fault – I was wrong!
    It was that day I first realized ‘my home’ was not the old weatherboard and tin roof – it was my wife and children. Home was my belonging to another and to those I were responsible to. Thankfully, through her love, my wife heard me and forgave me. Indeed, there is much joy on this other side of forgiveness. And without a doubt, it is the third person in our marriage that has been the super glue in holding our family together – thank you Jesus! I yet lack the perfection I seek!
    My wife sends me your blogs Ann. Oh, how I read every unwritten word. And I often think quietly; “lucky farmer – lucky Ann’ (read ‘blessed’). I am grateful for the wisdom reflected in your words from afar.
    Ladies; recently I read on Ann’s blog: “Love is not Passion. Love is the Pulse of Sacrifice”. WOW! I understood that! Like something ‘unlocked’ in my brain. I learnt something exceedingly profound and yet so bizarre there would never be another day that lacked the effect of its wisdom in my life. I have it written on my desktop. I remind myself daily. (I will put it on the bathroom door tonight – for the children.)
    This realization, is a phenomenal turning point in my life. What turns in my life – turns in my wife’s life (that’s the way we are) and what turns in my wife’s life turns my children; always to a smile, always to forgiveness, always to the other and always to the Lord. Therein lies the quintessence of life: For it is in giving that we shall receive! Amen. What more could there be!

    • 332

      amen!

    • 333

      Wow, Miss Ann, thank you. May God bless this time of sharing and speaking into each others’ lives…

      I hope you don’t mind if I say some things. Please excuse the lenthiness… I hope that you will be blessed by what I have to share. There is so much more I could add, but… this is all I have felt to include. :-) Blessings…

      Dear Ann and sisters in faith… I am brought to tears of joy and sorrow as I have read this post and many of the comments. We are a needy sisterhood, are we not? and yet, even as I remember my own challenges in marriage (oh, my heart, there have been many) I can also rejoice. Not necessarily for the challenges, which at times seemed to very nearly break me, but for a faithful God who brought me through. I waited to be carried and helped, and yes, there were times I lost hope and felt that He was so very far away from me, but I kept clinging anyway because I knew that I could not survive without Jesus. He knew. Through all the misunderstandings and high expectations in our marriage. Through all the words and hurts that we laid on or hurled at each other. Through all the “close calls” and my fears of how our issues would affect our kids… I kept thinking about this.

      A quote that I probably have paraphrased in my memory. “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.”

      I am sorry. So sorry for my sisters going through hard times in their marriages. Sorry for the hurt. Sorry for the wounds and scars. Sorry for the tears and waiting that seem to drag on forever. But… I ask you… KEEP HOLDING ON. Not to just anything, but to Jesus.

      God created each of us, our husbands, our children. Each of us. Even those whom have not chosen to live for him are made in His image. Their souls are crying out, even if they don’t know it yet.

      If you feel you have lost hope, please let me share this with you. I want to let you know of a wonderful miracle in my family!

      My mom accepted Jesus in her heart when she was 17 (early-mid 1970’s), and since then she has been praying for her family members, expecially her father, to be saved. It has been a long and hard sort of battling in prayer through the years, but… 7 days after his 89th birthday in January of 2012, more than 30 years after she began to pray for him, my mom had the opportunity to pray the sinner’s prayer with my grandpop. He has been failing in body but is now refreshed in spirit! We are rejoicing, and I thought you would like to hear such wonderful news.

      Please… Keep praying in hope and with faith. God is bigger than all the wounds of our hearts. Bigger than time! And, He knows how to convince a heart and draw one closer to Him. No matter how long it takes, may He only draw you and your loved ones closer to His throne in the faith and waiting.

      Years ago a friend of mine said this phriase as he was teaching Sunday school, and I have kept it close to my heart ever since. “trust in, cling to, rely on, and believe in Jesus.” And, I would add, “because He cares for you.” He is SUFFICIENT for your EVERY need… Abandonment, betrayal, fear, a broken heart, abuse, misunderstanding, anger, etc … Nothing is bigger than He is!!!

      I can only know what I have felt and experienced in my marriage and relationships. Not easy, but… for all of the pain, grief, tears, etc… Life has been a FULL that includes also joy because of God’s faithfulness. I have fully come to realize, that, though my husband and I are one, we are still individuals. My Best FRIEND is truly Jesus. Anyone around me can let me down and make me feel “less than”, but once we build confidence in our relationship with the Lord, He also helps to take off the pressuer WE put on the relationships around us. We serve a very PERSONAL God, who knows just where you are, and also where your husband is, and what you both need. A friend of mine, a few years back gave me a most wonderful piece of advice that has carried me through some very hard times. She is younger than me, and married for less years, but still had wisdom to impart, and I hope you will also let me share it with you…

      More or less she told me… “Let God be the Mediator between you and your husband. He knows you both, knows your feelings and hurts. He knows what is holding each of you back, and what it will take to be better. He knows how to heal, help, and sustain. Let Him do it as the loving and caring Abba Papa that He is, as the Creator and Lover of our souls that He is. When you have a challenge of misunderstanding, or NO understanding in your marriage, take it to Jesus! He knows both of you, and so He knows just how to work perfectly for and in both of you. ”

      I cannot tell you how often I have referred to that conversation with my friend. How many times my husband and I have had a “discussion”, and we have both had to walk away to calm down, to our separate corners of the “ring”. Sad, but… it happens. And, in many of those recent moments I had to say, “Lord, I am not getting through to him, and most likely, he feels he is not getting through to me either. We are NOT understanding each other. I am hurting, and YOU must talk to him. Make what I am trying to say clear to his heart. And, help me (sometimes said begrudgingly) to understand what he is trying to say, too. Help us!! We need you. Be our Mediator, and bring us back to the middle… in Your Love. Rescue us from our selfishness, pride, defensiveness, and hurt. Please!! Remind me to forgive as You have forgiven me, even if I am having a hard time doing it, Help me to do so to please YOU. Help him, too. Thank You for hearing me, and loving us. Amen. ”

      I have used this sort of prayer in other relationships now besides that of my husband, and… I have seen how the Lord is teaching me ever more about truly “trusting and surrendering”. It is not easy, these relationship challenges. Marriage and childrearing are the hardest sort of “jobs”, “responsibilities”, and life flowers to nurture, grow, and maintain… But… they are worth it. I have asked for the Lord’s wisdom, discernment, and creativity in knowing how to encourage my husband and kids… and, it is amazing how He has answered. “Ask and you shall receive”! Be persistent in asking, pray without ceasing!!

      As I was reading some of the comments, I immediately remembered these verses which have been like a lifeline of faith for me. They have been close to my heart for years now…

      Psalm 27:13-14 “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

      Romans 12:12”… rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…”

      Please, remember that Jesus died for all of our sins. He died also so we could see His power. “The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, lives in us”! He is able to restore, renew, reconstruct, heal, and help. Cry out to Him!! And Wait on Him!!! He is near.

      Also, the challenge to be grateful applies in marriage as well. Daily find things for which to be grateful. It is awfully easy to focus on the things that annoy us, hurt us, that we don’t like, or that frustrate us. “Do all things as unto the Lord”… (Colossians) Ouch, right? And yet… it has done wonders for my soul. Truly.

      1 Corinthians 10:13

      Praying for God’s protection and care over my sisters… That He would fill and restore and minister to adn in all of your missings and voids and broken heartedness…

      Sincerely, and with much sisterly affection,
      Celita

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    Cindy Rogers says:

    I love love your writings, and look for them in my email often, hoping you have posted again. Thank you for helping to shape and change lives.

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    Jennifer says:

    I am blessed to have been married for 33 years. Two things that come to mind tonight:

    One: In that place of resentment, anger, being undone, I have chosen Jesus. Surrendering my feeling to Him, and knowing that it is His will to honor my marriage has given me peace, grace,and love in the hard spots, and great joy overall. He carried me through, and often changed the situation or our hearts. Sometimes it was hard to surrender, but I could bend and do so, knowing what a good God we serve and that I was always safe with Him.

    Two: The greatest stumbling block for me was my own expectations. So often we ladies expect things to go a certain way, and when it doesn’t we feel unloved. Sometimes we need to voice our expectations so our husband even knows about them, and other times we need to let them go. Maturing and knowing that things do not always need to be “our way”.

  142. 337

    The hardest thing we have worked through in our 18 year marriage is that my husband has a personality disorder. This means his perception of things is skewed, but in his mind, what he is thinking is correct. He gets angry if I don’t live in his reality. He is high-functioning, so he can hold a job and such, and most people would not be able to tell…just those of us around him a lot. He has not been physically abusive, but emotionally, yes, with anger due to my finally setting some boundaries. Attending a local Celebrate Recovery group and counseling is helping me stop being co-dependent and to get healthier. Praying about how to be a godly wife to someone who is emotionally immature. So blessed by God, even through this trial.

  143. 338

    This entry made me think of a favorite CS Lewis quote of mine- “I am in Love and out of it I will not go.”
    Agape is our thatched roof- a bit more so than I think it is for others. My husband of almost 11 years is a silent casualty of war, and to a certain degree, even though he’s always come home from the war front to me- I am a war widow. The man I married is very different from the man I vowed my heart to. I’ve been submitted to excessive partying, not totally improbable infidelities, porn addiction, angry outbursts and such. Its definitely not an every day kind of struggle- there are good times, and there are the flare ups. But I can’t fathom choosing to not love him. I can’t fathom seeing the brokeness in him, and not loving him the way that I want him to love me.
    I remember you writing a few weeks ago about how you promised the Farmer that when he told you you are beautiful, that you would believe him. That’s kind of where I live. I choose to believe that what my dear husband gives me is the best that he has, even if it isn’t a shelter I can lean into, a place where I can hide. His hands are gentle when they are steady, but we live broken more often than not. We have danced on financial ruin, he has shown me disdain that is incredibly painful when it flares up- but I know that he is fallen, broken, and in need of our Savior, just like me. I have faith that someday- God is going to make my Love whole. It might not be on this side of Heaven but praise God’s faithfulness- it will one day be a real thing.
    How precious is the Love that God has bestowed on us! I am so thankful that He has called me not just His daughter, but His Bride. I’ve really relied heavily on several passages in the Prophets- Isaiah 54, Hosea 2:14-23, Zephaniah 3:17 to name a few. God is not only the bedrock where we lie prostrate and broken, but He’s the warm blanket that covers us and holds us together. His grace and love sustains me. It keeps me from burning to bits from loving until there’s absolutely nothing left to give.
    May His abundant peace and love make your cup overflow.

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      Dear Anon, gracious and loving one,
      …our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, WILL transform our lowly bodies (yes, the broken ones) so that they WILL be like His glorious body – Philippians 3:20-21.
      Praying for you now, for daily courage and the gift of hope as you seek faithfully to honour the Lord in your marriage, for your husband, that God will be merciful in healing his wounded mind and body, and for both of you, that life’s sorrows will always, only, lead to a longing for the place of glory. (see Romans 8:18)

    • 340

      My living, breathing husband of four years is also a “casualty of war.” I think he has had to detach himself so severely to avoid dealing with the awful events in his past that he will not be able to connect with me until he can connect with himself. I have learned so much, I have leaned into my Father so desperately and He has answered. But so much of this (honestly) has been a living hell. We have lost two surprise babies in miscarriage – he would not even acknowledge that I was pregnant the first time and after I knew the baby was gone, he asked me why I was crying in the car on the way to the doctor’s office. I have never felt more abandoned than at that moment. I just wanted to hold my baby and tell him “I’m so sorry your daddy didn’t know how to love you, but I do.” And now that is the same thing God whispers to me: “I’m so sorry your husband doesn’t know how to love you, but I do.”

      There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears
      And Love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears
      (Mumford and Sons, “After the Storm.”)

      • 341

        Dear Girl!
        I wish I could reach through the screen, give you a hug and your hand a squeeze. I am so sorry for the heartbreak you have endured and continue to endure. I stand with you in prayer!

        It really is hard to balance grieving what is lost with honoring our dear soldiers. The disconnect can be so difficult to wrap around- there are some really hard, bitter things that have happened that my dear husband has no recollection of. But I am totally with you- praise our Father, who cherishes us as His Bride!

        Father God- I am so thankful for my sister in faith, my sister in arms. Help us Father God; direct our words, our feet, and our hands to shower our husbands with love and honor. Thank you for walking this earth, for choosing to experience loss, heartbreak, joy, and love- so that when we cry- you know deeper than our bones exactly how we feel. Thank you for enduring the cross- not only for our salvation- but for the healing of our hearts and our souls. Please change our hearts and the hearts of our husbands so that we might see you more clearly. Give us Your vision. Renew our joy. Thank You for being willing to hold us, and to quiet us with Your song and dance. May we ever find ourselves, laying and gripping fast to You as our bedrock. Heal anything amiss in my dear sister’s body. In Your precious and ever holy name- Amen.

        • 342

          Oh thank you, thank you. I appreciate your prayers – and that last little bit? Healing? I spent the last four days in bed with a miserable fever. Worst physical sickness I can remember. I’m on the mend now and I greatly appreciate your kind words here. Be filled with grace and comfort today, friend. We’re so valuable to our Father. -abby.

      • 343

        Dear Abby,
        This is a day later; I’m not sure you’ll return here but I want to say how moved I am by your faithfulness – to your dear wounded husband and also to the Lord. Your humility before God, accepting what He has mysteriously allowed while accepting His loving comfort, is a remarkable testimony to your faith in His sovereign goodness.
        You are wise to look forward to the ‘time without tears’ (because it is a sure promise), but I am earnestly praying for God’s gracious gift of joy in the here and now, too.
        I am honoured to call you my sister in Christ.
        Judy

        • 344

          Thank you Judy! I am honored to be your sister, too. Joy is such a peculiar gift, isn’t it? How strange that those who know it best are the ones with most reason to deny it. Thankfully that joy is a gift from Him. I do appreciate your prayers. -abby.

  144. 345
    Jessica says:

    My heart is heavy for a husband that is laid low with grief and anger and insecurity and fear. Trying to have patience for God to work it for good in our lives…on His timetable. I want to be his thatched roof. I want to be God’s instrument of comfort and strength. But sometimes it feels like a losing battle and I feel weary.

  145. 346
    Elizabeth says:

    “What’s the hardest thing you have worked through in your marriage?”
    I would like to pose one hard thing that we are currently (and have been since we married almost five years ago) working through, and ask if anyone else has a similar issue.
    Firstly, we do have a very loving, open, committed marriage. (I am unspeakably grateful to God for this!) .
    ——I also recognize that as I lay out our issue, my words might sound disrespectful or demeaning to him, trust that this is not the attitude of my heart or tone of the words in my head, but rather the screen.——
    I know that all men are visual creatures, and the physical appearance of a woman is very influential for them. We struggle because it seems that my husband has (admittedly and unwantedly) very high expectations for me here. His need for me to be gorgeous all the time truly seems like a NEED–and one that he so desperately wants to get rid of. As we see ourselves as on a team fighting this together we plead with God to change his heart and mind, and to give us the perseverance and self-control to affect things how we can (for example, I eat quite healthily and am a dedicated exerciser.) And, while my sexual appetite is MUCH less than his (due to frequent pain), I want to stay away from this issue for now as there is a feed dedicated to this already. This undoubtedly plays in to the issue at hand though.
    I know this seems so little–and as we have SOOOOO MANY things to be grateful for (goodness, I hope that I do not sound ungrateful)–relatively speaking, it is. I just know that it can be emotionally debilitating for us, closes us up, stops communication, brings on bitterness and self-pity, etc. . . none of which God intends for marriage.
    Thank you so much for your time and I welcome any responses!

  146. 347

    I think my anger has been the hardest thing for us to fight through. I am so the ambulance and my husband really does get off the road and then drive to the next state. My anger was absolutely driven by fear – fear that my husband didn’t really love me or need me. I also had fear that because marriage was not what I thought that it would be that meant it wasn’t good. We both suffered terribly for a long time before I figured out about anxiety/fear creating anger. After 16 years we’re getting to a place of deep contentment, though. I think that my advice to newlyweds would be to let go of what you have imagined for marriage and allow God to create the picture. I know that when I let go of how I wanted things to be and embraced the better things God had for me/us our marriage really felt right.

  147. 348
    Can't leave one right now says:

    The hardest thing we are working through is that I caught him having an inappropriate sexual relationship through e-mail and that he has a problem with pornography. I would be honored if you would pray for us. I am struggling with trusting him again. As far as what to tell newlyweds…I’d tell them to ALWAYS be honest with each other, even if it may hurt the other person initially, the truth is always better.
    I am forging through by trusting in God and that Jer 29:11 and Romans 8:28 are true! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jer 29:11 ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 Those are hard truths to remember daily. I ask that if you would be kind enough to pray for us, that you would pray for trust to be restored in our marriage. Thank you and God bless all of our marriages.

    • 349

      I was scanning through the comments on this post, and yours caught my eye and heart. I don’t know if it will help, but I’d like to suggest a ministry that is specifically related to the scourge of pornography and its effects on men, women, and marriages.
      http://www.emergency.bethedomino.org/

      • 350
        Can't leave one right now says:

        Thank you Sam! I am looking through the website you linked now. We are in counseling, and I am trying to let God bring me to a place that I can truly trust and love my husband again. I know it will be through His Holy Spirit that these things can be accomplished. I just need to be able to lay it all at His feet. God doesn’t always call us to high places and without the valleys how are we to appreciate the good times. Anyway, I could ramble on, but the point is I am trying to honor marriage and God and am under attack for doing so. But God wins in the end, no matter what happens to us here in this temporary life. Trying to keep my focus right! Thanks again for your comment and link.

  148. 351

    “Are women really like ambulances?” I love that.
    A little over 4 years we’ve been married, and I wish I could have told my sweet husband that first year how much my anger was a cry of fear and insecurity. The fights led to communication and understanding, and we rarely fight now. When we do, we always seem to walk out with a better understanding of each other.
    I think the hardest thing we ever worked through was simply figuring out how to understand each other – or accept when we couldn’t understand. There have been big life changes and issues to work through, but those are not a problem as long as the connection is there.
    Thanks for this beautiful article.

  149. 352

    My husband of 23 years (we’ve been a couple for 38 years – high school sweethearts) filed for divorce 2 weeks ago. I found out 6 months ago that he has been having an affair. I asked that we attend counseling together and he refused. I told him that we could heal our marriage and our family (we are blessed with 4 children ages 20, 18, 15, 11) he is not willing. He said he has been unhappy for years , he didn’t tell me and i didn’t realize. The divorce process has
    begun. How can this be God’s will? I trust and have faith but the pain is enormous. Please pray for my family and know that I am lifting you all up in prayer as well. Any words of advice would be so welcome. Thank you.

    • 353
      Beth WIlliams says:

      Tracey,

      Praying for you and your 4 young ‘uns. This has to be a very very hard time on all of you.

      Praying for God’s peace, patience, grace & mercy to surround you all during this troubling time!

    • 355

      Tracey,

      I am praying for you today, sweet sister.

      Heidi

    • 356

      I am in a very similar spot, just less time married and farther down the divorce road, with two young toddlers. The hardest part of it all, is that you don’t have any control. I know that’s where God wants us, trusting in him and not controlling our lives, but it’s oh so hard!
      Books I have loved:
      I do, Again, Cheryl Scruggs
      The Power of the Praying Wife
      Sacred Marriage

      These are hard books to read, as they focus on redemption or current marriages, but they are excellent. I have not found a self help divorce book that I love. There are many that I like, but I honestly don’t think a book can tell you how to deal with this situation. Advice ranges from leave the scumbag and start dating… to welcome him back into your home other woman and all, and wait, wait wait.
      Prayers for you, this is by far the most painful thing I have ever experienced!

  150. 357
    Carolyn says:

    We are working to re-build trust in our marriage after an affair. I struggle daily with guilt and shame but I know that by God’s grace I am forgiven and only by God’s grace I am being changed. Years of being away from God allowed the enemy’s lies and feelings of disconnectedness with my husband, low self esteem, the lie that he should just know what I needed and wanted without me communicating it if he were my “soul mate”. All of these lies infiltrated our marriage. There is not a day that I am not humbled to my knees by God’s perfect grace….to know that I am still loved even with all of my brokenness. I and we are in counselling. One of the big things I am working through are attachment issues from childhood….things I brought into our marriage from my family of origin.

    One thing that I’m working through is learning to let go of my fears to be emotionally intimate and vulnerable with my husband….to let him in to see all that is going on with me. Some times the issue is that I have trouble sorting through what it is that I’m feeling/that’s bothering me….sometimes it’s not knowing how or when to share.

    Do any of you have a good recommendations for a book on this? There are lots of secular books out there but I would prefer something written from a Christian perspective.

    Carolyn

    • 358
      Just little ol' me says:

      Carolyn- I have been reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero lately and it has been a tremendous help. As a woman who grew up in an abusive home and was in a severely abusive relationship… my fears and emotions can be extremely up and down at times, and I cannot make sense of them! I am beginning to realize, in order for me to love my husband deeply and truly- I first need to begin to acknowledge (not suppress) emotions before Jesus and give them all to Him in order for the deeply needed healing to begin. This book is practical and extremely helpful in laying out what this looks like. Hope this blesses you sister as it has been such a blessing to me.

  151. 360
    The Pastor's Wife says:

    My husband is a Pastor and over the past year the Lord has called him to plant a church. Our launch date isn’t until this fall and while the entire journey thus far has been one of incredible faith, it has also been the biggest trial in our marriage. Constantly working on church things, our house becoming a church office, our conversations always about church, I feel lonely, disconnected from my husband and unimportant. I can see why so many pastors and their wives lead seperate lives. Sometimes I get angry because I often feel that being his helpmate is like a form of bondage. I’m bound to help him with his goals and dreams, at the expense of my own. I keep hoping and praying that it will get better and that eventually we will find balance, but I am afraid that as the church gets going and the demands are more, that it will only become worse. While my husband repeatedly assures me that our family is his first ministry, his actions say otherwise. Our intimacy is gone. We seem to fake it and just roll through the motions. I wish he had as much passion about me and our marriage, as he has about planting this church.

    • 361

      Dear PW,
      I hear you and my heart goes out!! I will pray for you. There has to be a sabboth even for the Pastor! A sabboth to recharge the heart of the home. Has to be. Church planting is awesome, but your little church, your home and children must be tended by their daddy and lover. He, the young Pastor, has such hope, such vision, such longing! But you are right to be concerned. Let the LORD build the house~~of worship, of family. So much urgency. That heart to please HIM and serve HIM must find HIS peace. There is NO urgency, GOD will have his way! The deadline is DEADLY. Pressure is killing the LIFE. A tip off of flesh vs, SPIRIT empowered work. I hear you. I hear you, dear wife of the Pastor. I will pray for you and him to find that wellspring of love between you.
      Jeremiah 2:13 For MY people have committed two evils: They have forsaken ME the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
      Run, dear wife to the fountain of living water. Its the well that Jesus told the Samaritan woman about. It will satisfy. Drink drink deeply. Then give a cup of cold water to your husband. <3 G

  152. 362

    The hardest thing my husband and I have had to work through is the frustration in feeling that he doesn’t understand me. He’s said it. I’ve felt hopeless and hurt because the one person in this world that I want and need to understand me is my husband; in my heart, that had meant that he will be there for me. We’ve been married 2.5 years, and have an 18 month old little boy (yes, got pregnant only one month into our fledgling marriage). With the birth of our son, the “roles” conversation took on much more importance and had much higher stakes than ever before. I thought I knew who I was and believed that my husband did too and that he loved that me. We had countless discussions about my personality and not fitting into the typical models that he was used to.

    I had a breakthrough over the New Year… I wasn’t really who I thought I was. My identity was mixed up in a rejection of what I thought others wanted to be, plus an unrealistic expectation of being able to live about 5 different lives all at once, not being “one” with my husband. God is gracious! As I tearfully exposed myself and even my fears of doing so, my husband’s eyes filled with tears. He folded me into his heart and promised to protect me as I walk this new path with God, discovering who I really am. He promised to gently hold me as I squirm in the arms of Jesus. That’s what I need. How was I so afraid to let him see me squirm?

    Thank you for the article. Yes, God has placed the lonely (the hurting, the broken) in families. I think so many of us don’t see that God has really placed us in safe arms, so we try to build up armor to feel safe and find ourselves stinking inside that armor.
    Bless you!

  153. 363

    As always another beautiful post from you, Ann. You so eloquently put into words what I know but don’t always know how to express. “So when you’re angry — it’s really this alarm? That you need care?” Ahh, I’m so glad my man has also figured this out. He gets it, now, and knows I just need to feel loved, cared about and safe. Thank you for writing this ~ so beautiful!

  154. 364

    I am dripping tears. I am soothed. Only my story goes on for forty years. Forty frustrated years of being the ambulance and him being the detached. Thankfully we are at one year anniversary of new life for our marriage! How alone I felt, your words show me how not alone I really am. How there is hope. That TRUTH really is and heals!! I am breathing now. I am resting now. I am hoping now. He was honest with me and told me of his anxiety this morning. That gives me hope! Trusting me with what is really inside! I could fall in love all over again! I want the years back, but I instead have today. I HAVE TODAY!!! I will. I will love. I will heal. Thank you.

  155. 365
    Beth WIlliams says:

    The hardest thing to work through in my marriage is dealing with elderly parents. Mom got really ill and dad would call up asking for little things–but they were huge in a sense of needing to drive 10 or so miles to get it and then another 5 to deliver it. Thankfully mom died two years ago and is no longer in pain–my sweet hubby was there for me at the end.

    Another hard thing to work through was understanding my husband and his needs. He had a time understanding me also. But once we worked it we’ve had a good 8 years of marriage.

    One thing I would tell newlyweds is to be ready to compromise. Don’t always expect everything your way. Become the best of friends before marriage. I would also advise that they watch the movie “Fireproof”. It has a great message about marriage.

  156. 366

    I love the notion of figuring out the why behind the fight. I know that in my marriage, the fight is almost never about what we’re fighting about….there’s a deeper question that has much deeper roots.

  157. 367

    If I were to give advice to newly weds or those struggling, it would be what my pastor and his wife faithfully share and model for us. A wife needs to fan, follow, and finish. Be your husband’s biggest fan and encourager. Choose to be a follower rather than a leader and if you need leading in a certain direction, be willing to ask him for direction and then trust God to lead him. And finish him — be there in the areas he needs help with without taking over. These 3 things really build his significance which can only build his love for you and provide your security. While a husband’s role is to love, lead, and learn. When he learns who his wife really is and what her needs and desires are and responds to them by leading and loving accordingly, she feels secure. I think that’s why the Bible tells us to respect our husbands (build their significance) while our husbands are instructed to love us. We’re created differently, so our love needs will naturally be different, too.

  158. 368

    One thing every newlywed should know and learn by revelation is that the three most important words are not, “I love you.” but “I was wrong.” That being teachable and tender are more important than always keeping that “in love” feeling. I learned a couple hard years into marriage that there is LIFE in repentance and that a willing heart is a happy one. And love built on Jesus will not be offended at another’s loving (albeit sometimes ill-timed) correction and guidance.

  159. 369

    Such wonderful advice….but I wonder at what point do you have to separate to maintain your own soul? How much hurt, instability and turmoil should I live with? (I’m pregnant with our first child due in a few months.) My husband and I have recently had different thoughts on some major life decisions. Any questioning from me brings torrents of curses, explosive anger, lots of yelling at how much he hates me, hates his life with me or on the other hand complete silence and complete severing of any communication for a week at a time. I think counseling together is our only hope. He says no, I’m the only problem and if I don’t want to do things his way–increasing debt, increasing isolation, etc, then I should leave.
    I feel that leaving for awhile may be the only hope for eventual growth of our common life.

    • 370

      Dearest Kit,

      I prayed for you tonight, that God will give you wisdom. I don’t agree with Nacole that you have to stay and submit, especially if you’re afraid for your safety and the safety of your little one. I mean, I’m definitely not talking about divorce but sometimes you just need a safe place and this doesn’t mean you’re giving up.

      May Jesus help you so much. You are loved.

    • 371

      Beautiful Kit — Might I quietly ask? Might you seek out the wisdom of a pastor? Who can pray with you and walk this road with you and reach out to your husband? Who can counsel whether a a season of separation while counseling is wise or not…

      Please reach out to your pastor? Or a pastor in your community?

      The book I studied at university that is proven with real research and is founded in Biblical truth is : A Lasting Promise: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley. If you’d like to pick up a book, this is the one I highly recommend, friend…

      I am praying with you right now — you and your little one coming and your dear, dear husband.

      More love than thin letters can hold, Kit.

    • 372

      Such sage advice, Ann. I’m praying for you, too, Kit.

  160. 373
    Rebekah Emerson says:

    The hardest thing we went through in our marriage? Getting to know eachother again after finding out My husband has Asperger’s Syndrome. All we thought we knew about eachother was wrong. Our perspectives were entirely different than we thought. We had to redo everything….
    What a blessing! We hit the “redo” button. We learned about eachother all over again. We are closer now than ever! But it was hard! Hard Eucharisteo!!!

    • 374

      Hard eucharisteo. Oh, sister. Hard eucharisteo —- that brings the softest rain of grace — grows the heights of joy.

      Thank you for radiantly shining Christ-love Rebekah….

    • 375

      Rebekah,

      Might I ask how long you’ve been married and if you have any children? My husband also has AS and I’m curious about your experience.

  161. 376
    Heather says:

    Hi, I am broken right now. I have asked my husband for a divorce. I am saddened to the core about it. For two years I have tried and waited and prayed and went to counseling. My husband has a gambling addiction and an addiction to pornography. I just can’t wait for that to change any more. I can’t really tell anyone around here because I won’t disclose his privacy like that but I feel abandoned. Alone. No one will understand why. From the outside everything looks fine. I can’t trust him and he won’t do the things it would take to rebuild that trust. He says both of those problems- the choices he makes are my fault. I know that’s not true but it still hurts. I hope the best for all the rest of you. I just needed to tell someone how much I hurt. I love reading your blog Ann. Thank you.

    • 377

      Oh Heather,
      “I feel abandoned” – oh that it were not true. So many marriage problems stem from each other’s misplaced perceptions and expectations – but not this one – not addiction. I know. It is a horrible reality that you are indeed abandoned for the other ‘love’ that he has chosen.

      “…and he says [his] problems – the choices he makes are my fault” – that refusal to accept responsibility for his own choices, to project blame, and to make the guilt yours – that is merely the means by which he protects that which he treasures most.

      “I can’t trust him and he won’t do the things it would take to rebuild that trust” – the agony of that hollow shell – a marriage without trust.

      My heart is aching for you. I am weeping here for your loss and the excruciating pain from which you speak. I chose to stay, for that was my promise. Ultimately, my husband left, deceived by the seeming possibility of guilt-free pursuit of his ‘love’ outside marriage.

      There is One shelter who does not fail – hide yourself in Him.

      “Other refuge have I none,
      Hangs my helpless soul on the Thee;
      Leave, ah, leave me not alone
      Still support and comfort me.
      All my trust on Thee is stayed,
      All my help from Thee I bring
      Cover my defenceless head
      With the shadow of Thy wing.”
      – from Charles Wesley’s ‘Jesu, Lover of My Soul.’

    • 378

      Beautiful, beautiful Heather — thank you for sharing so vulnerably, for trusting us. We love you, sister.

      I’m sitting here with wise, loving Judy — tears in eyes — praying with you.

      May we pray?

      Thank you, Lord — for not abandoning your daughter. Thank you for cupping her so close.

      Thank you that Your grace is sufficient for us, right here in our weakness.
      (2 Corinthians 12:8–9).

      Thank you, Lord, God for giving Heather, her sisters in the Lord, the strength to keep praying for hard things: that we can “always…pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

      Thank you, God, for binding up the Heather’s beautiful heart, for touching her wounds with Your own sacrifice — for loving her when she, none of us, loved you — thank you for Your promise that You are the God “who sees in secret {and} will reward ” (Matthew 6:4).

      Thank you for your plans for Heather and her husband — to show them Your relentless love, Your pursuing ways, the Lavish, Extravagant Grace of Jesus.

      Thank you for drawing her close tonight and wrapping her in Your love — and for tenderly drawing her husband to You too — two of Yours You died for and long to make whole in You.

      Thank you for gently being a balm for the pain for Heather — for being her refuge and strength and cleft in the rock.

      We love You, Lord Jesus — thank you for loving us with a never ending love.
      In Jesus’ name,
      Amen…

      Beautiful Heather? Might you share with your pastor where you are at? That he can serve you and your husband?

      I only wish I could reach through the screen and cup your face and whisper: You are so loved and so cherished and so held in Christ.

      I am praying earnestly tonight, Heather, to our God of the glorious impossible.
      (((Heather)))

    • 379
      christina says:

      praying for you too, beautiful Heather….

      i understand the pain you are feeling now just as Our Heavenly Father’s heart is with you too. i went through a very painful divorce – painful because the man who made a vow to love me didn’t seem to understand the promise he made, painful because the man whom i look up to, whom i dearly wanted to love and serve caused me bruises. i said to him “you had literally stabbed my heart with a knife, the emotional pain is far more unbearing than the physical pain you caused me” but the reply? more bruises and “still feel more pain emotionally?”

      i cried for 3 days and nights non-stop, full of sorrows, totally ignoring the needs of my 3 young boys but on the last night i cried for help from Our Lord to stop me from crying as i was turning blind! Praise the Lord, i stopped crying, i can still see today and my 3 boys are with me healing together from the nightmare of yesterday.

      Trust in the Lord, sister Heather. We might not understand why and how things turn out the way it does. What i learnt through it all is not to focus on the problem but on the strength that we gathered through the test that we are put through.

      Remember too that you are not alone because we are all His, in His kingdom. Just a light note to share what 1 of my boys said to me when he was just 5 years old returning from church one day “Mommy, you know we are all brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom? So, can i name you Sissy now?” :-)

      Praying for you and trusting always that Our Father is listening to us, Amen.

  162. 380

    Aaaaah. Deep breath.

    The hardest thing we’ve worked through? Blame. He said it to me once, for the first and last time… and I stood dumbfounded.

    Does there really have to be someone to blame? he’d asked.

    Well, of course! I mean, definitely, right? Ummmm… doesn’t there? He looked at me so hurt and broken, and I realized what a terrible cycle we’d been on. Mistakes, failure, confession… then dissecting the problem, getting to the root… All right, who’s to blame?

    Can’t I just say I’m sorry, and can’t you just forgive me and leave. it. alone?

    There’s a scripture that tells parents not to exasperate their children and I know it well, used it on my own parents, but there should be a whole chapter on wives not exasperating their husbands.

    Ah, yes. I started working then and there at nipping the blame game and hearing him instead, offering forgiveness and asking for it myself.

    Years. It took years.

    Thank you, kind friend, for this story and ways to fight for love. I will never stop needing to hear it, and I will never stop fighting for it… love you.

  163. 382

    Heather…I’m hoping you’ll come back and read responses.
    I am so sorry for your pain. Maybe this will be a wake up call for your husband and he will find the strength to find help and change. I would very highly recommend “Love Must be Tough” by Dr. James Dobson. According to Dr. Dobson there are times when a wife has to do something drastic like a separation for a time to bring about change. I love this book….please if you can, read it.
    As I read some of the posts here, I keep thinking about “Created to Be His Helpmeet” by Debbie Pearl. Okay…I love to read, but these books have really made an amazing difference in my marriage.

  164. 383

    We’ve been married for 15 years. The hardest thing has been the hurt of trying to be “perfect” and to please him and always do what he wants me to do. He is a perfectionist and is extremely critical. I have felt horrible and emotionally abused all these years. We got married young and I realize now that I put him in the place of God and lost my own identity in trying to connect with my husband. We found out a couple of years ago that he has a form of Autism and that the way he thinks and acts is partly (if not mostly) due to this. He has rarely shown me or our four children affection or kindness. In a desperate act to save our marriage and my children’s emotional health and my sanity I took the kids and left him for a few months. He responded to my leaving and finally agreed to go to counseling with me. That is where we are now. Things have gotten much better compared to how it was before, but we have a long road to walk and I have much growing to do personally as well. I am battling depression, but the book 1,000 gifts has helped bring me out of the depths of it. I now need the strength to start writing my list…for some reason I am afraid to do it…perhaps afraid that it will not help me and I will be left without hope on this earth.

    • 384

      Dear Hurt….

      Thank you for being so brave and sharing. Thank you for wrestling through the hard things. Thank you for your hard won Christ testimony. I hear your fears and I nod and understand and reach over and squeeze your hand. When you are ready, we are here to count gifts with you, to give thanks to Him with you. Right now, I am bowing in prayer with you — You are loved, friend. By Father — and this messy daughter. So loved.

  165. 385

    Friends —

    I’ve prayed over your every word…. thank you for letting us be a part of your community. We count it a privilege and no small matter. Thank you for living brave and real and connecting — with us. In your marriages. With our Jesus.

    Tomorrow in my quiet corner, I’ll share some Marriage Books that may encourage? I’ll leave a link here?

    Please know that a whole community of sisters (and brothers) are standing with you in prayer tonight — earnest and fervent and with so much love…

    More love than thin letters can hold — oh my, yes.
    Ann

  166. 386

    Ann,
    This is such a beautiful post that spoke deep within my heart. This is my second marriage. The first was one of severe sexual & emotional abuse for me and physical & emotional abuse for my 4 children by my “Christian” husband… after 14 years I had the courage to leave. Then alone for 12 years to allow us all to heal. I had so much counselling in that time, my children were mostly grown (24, 20, 18 & 17) and I was sure I was ready to remarry, but then when the day came I wondered.

    My new husband had never sought counsel (his ex-wife was the abuser of his 5 girls and he, like me, had sole custody of his children). He truly believed he was fine, unaffected but he wasn’t. He struggled to raise 5 girls on his own (what man wouldn’t!!) but he had indulged them and allowed them to control him – he thought this was love. He was their slave basically, but he saw that as serving. He thought in being passive, he was being loving. This resulted in 5 girls being angry, chaotic and disrespectful. He tried to bring change to his home before we married; to bring order, calm, discipline but there wasn’t time and he really didn’t know how. I felt for him as he begged me to show him how to parent with tough love, how to raise his girls to be responsible & successful… but his oldest 3 (then aged 21, 18 & 16) were resistent to everything and became more angry as he tried to do what God had commanded.

    In this new marriage of 2 years, we both brought our own expectations, fear, anxiety. I wanted a husband who was loving, supportive and willing to lead but he didn’t know how to lead because he was still so broken.
    He wanted a wife who was loving, supportive and one who would be “the mother they never had”. He desperately wanted me to show him how to parent just as I had parented my own children – with tough love (I was blessed to have excellent role models, but he didn’t). This caused so much tension between his children and me – even hatred for one, as I was seen to be the “evil step-mother” who was bringing about unwelcomed change.
    We both fought – always over his children. I fought for his girls to respect & obey him – I hated the way they treated him. He is a good man, a loving man, a gentle man. I hated how they spoke to him and ordered him to do things for them – his problem for allowing it, I know, he knows.
    After almost a year of marriage, our relationship was in tatters and I was feeling fearful, anxious & angry. I cried to God – WHY?? I also live with chronic illness, so this took it’s toll on my health and my emotions. I then decided to leave, but had nowhere to go… so i stayed in what felt like hell.
    He, too, felt like he was living in hell because the woman he loved was ill, hurting, had shut him out and he had no idea how to “fix” it. We separated for 6 months but lived in the same home, I refused to be involved in the care and discipline of the 2 youngest who were still at home (13 & 15). I wanted him to stand up and lead in the home – to lead them. I needed to see him change into the man God intended him to be. He was lost, felt he lost me forever and I was sure it was over forever. I was angry – fearful, anxious… so was he. We were both so broken.
    In that time, I discovered your book… it changed my life. I learned gradually to thank Him in all my mess, in my brokenness, in my chronic illness. It was hard at first but gradually I was able to find something small each day to be grateful for and it changed my perspective on life totally even though most things remained the same. It also changed the way I responded to my husband and the changes in me brought about changes in him.
    In that time my husband discovered “The Love Dare” and then “Courageous”… it has totally changed his life too. He is learning how to be a courageous husband and father – to be the man God wants him to be. It’s like living with a different person – he says the same about me! We communicate, we listen, we walk together, we are growing together.
    Thank you Ann for your book… it changed my life & my marriage. Thank you for your website too. I can’t thank you enough!

  167. 387

    Dear, and timely, Ann…thank you for your post. My husband and I just spent the better part of today on The Crazy Cycle (of Love and Respect fame!). After sorting things out and getting back on track, I “just happened” to read this tonight, and asked him to read this too. It so sums up the heart of what I was trying to get at. Thank you for being so articulate!
    If I could say anything to newlyweds, from learning the hard way, it would be: work on cultivating a heart of respect for your husband. Respect is the air he breathes, the language he speaks, and the currency he trades in, day in and day out.
    The hardest thing I’ve had to work through in my marriage is rebuilding trust in my husband after he had deeply, deeply and almost irrevocably broken it. The waters were high, but they did not overwhelm us (Isaiah 43:2). The enemy meant this for our harm and destruction of our marriage and family, but God used it for His glory and good…and we are the better for it.
    Right now, I am forging ahead to love, and offering up “the hard eucharisteo.” I struggle with seasonal depression and the past while has been a challenge. This time of year, I have to really work at any and every little thing, so as not to feel overwhelmed with it all. This can be difficult for my husband, especially if he is travelling for work and can’t be here to help with things.
    Thank you, Ann, for your lovely words…they are just what I needed tonight!
    Blessings to you.

  168. 388
    muchalone says:

    Thank you for this post…so real…so heart touching…

    I am especially struck by this:

    **I had once choked it out in this wild desperation: “Are women really like ambulances? When we are most in need of tender care, we’re these screaming sirens? And that’s why men pull far away — getting out of the way and off the road?”**

    It is such a powerful picture of need…not just for women, but also for our children, who often ‘siren’ because they are not yet able to articulate their need…and we pull away, thinking that ‘peace’ is successful parenting…when we are most needed to show care in the middle of the mess, muddle and mayhem.

    As for my marriage challenge…after the discovery of shattered vows, I feel emotionally adrift…detached…I don’t know how to tell him anything…I thought I did once…but now I find myself longing for relationship, but met with manipulation…seeking for truth, but met with deception…so I stopped trying.
    I don’t hate him, but I hate what our life has become…what my life has become…an empty wish…too much alone…

    • 389

      Dear one… I am praying with you right now.
      He is with you and our God will never leave you nor forsake you.
      Praying with your heart on mine — earnestly. Please keep reaching out and sharing and reading. We are with you and our God has plans to make us all more like Christ, to give us a future and a hope.

      In the Body — we are one. With you, sister.

      All’s grace,
      Ann

      • 390
        muchalone says:

        Thank you for your encouragement and prayers…I just looked at the date…you were praying just after I had given my copy of your book away (again!) to someone struggling with hard and ‘messy’ family issues (eventually I’ll keep a copy long enough to finish reading it)…and when I was battling a migraine…and upcoming Valentine plans and just not feeling up to it all…and then your reminder that we are one…and THAT is the ‘holy experience’ I most long for!

        Thanks for the gift of words that bless!

  169. 391

    So moving. So powerful. I shared it with my husband, and he loved it too. Thanks for sharing the emotion and insight! Love!

  170. 392

    My biggest struggle now, is that my husband left me. Pregnant and another toddler at hand. And he hasn’t looked back. Now nearly two years later and a divorce nearly final, i’m left no choice but a legacy of divorce for my children much to my dismay and after desperate pleadings with God. I know God can redeem anything and I still pray and hope that he will intervene. Its been the desire of my heart for my story to be a witness to someone else, but I always thought there would be a happy ending.

    • 393

      I wish I could help you…my mother and sister both were divorced last year, but I’m afraid that’s my only life experience.
      There…is always a happy ending, Beth… but that comes from being truly surrendered to God’s happy ending, and not our own.
      I want my dad born again and repentant before God..so many other things…but I’m coming to see that…life with Him is…blind faith, a step in the dark where He is the Only Light and although we cannot see what’s coming, He can and just asks that we trust…

      Sorry, that probably wasn’t too helpful..

    • 394

      Beth, our son is getting a divorce, his choice and my heart is broken since there are two children involved but also he leaves our hurting young daughter in law. There are a couple of thoughts that come to me when I want try to control this situation which is exactly like yours. Our son left his wife when their second was about 2 months old. He is still very involved with his children, still helps her, just says he cannot live with her anymore. This has grown her up a lot which was needed but they are still getting a divorce. Divorce hurts a huge circle of people and we are left too to deal with the hurt. So as a mother, mother in law, child of God I have had to seek ways to handle this in a kind loving way but with truth.
      — On this side of heaven there are many unhappy endings…but that too will pass when we get to heaven.
      — I can’t contol what someone else does…only my response to them…my husband and I chose to love on them both, not take sides for there usually two sides.
      — There is life after divorce because life is in Christ and He never divorces us.

      God will use your story Beth and the unhappy ending does not diminished the truths God has taught you….life is in Christ and a broken live that is being held together by God’s love is a huge witness to all the other unhappy endings out there. Take courage my sister God wants to use your life, with you children, with those you come in contact with and even with that man who has left you. Your story was used in my life as I read it…take courage my sister, take courage.

  171. 395

    I…how…Ann…how did you…cope with your parents’ divorce? I’m nineteen years old, and…a lot of stuff has happened.

  172. 396

    If you are looking for a few book titles? To encourage and edify your marriage?

    I recommend some reads that have profoundly impacted our marriage here:

    http://bit.ly/za2BVL

    Lord God, thank You for Your hand on each of these women, each of these marriages. Please draw us deeper into Your Word, Your presence, Your will. The answers are found in You — please give us clarity and discernment and a heart to commune with You. Thank you, Lord, for giving us a heart of flesh — a tender, gentle, serving heart after Yours.

    In Jesus name…
    Amen.

    Praying sisters…

  173. 397

    Ann,

    This article really spoke to both my husband and I. We have been married for a little over 5 years. We both have children from previous marriages. We do not have any children together. I have 5 of my own (three of them are triplets) and he has 2. So, together, we have 7! That’s a houseful when we are all together. Our biggest struggle is trying to get a balance in raising our children; with discipline, and not showing partiality. It has taken such a toll on our marriage. There have been many arguments…. but none really ever resolved…just sort of ignored by the “silent treatment”,… until it’s been pushed under the rug to go on with everyday responsibilities…. So, little by little, it’s built up much anger and resentment. We’ve reached out for Godly counsel from a loving couple from our church. In fact, my sweet friend from church is the one who emailed me this article to read. We are at a place where we both realize that something has to change, and without God, it’s impossible. We can’t fix it alone… I absolutely love the part of the article that says: You don’t need honed communication skills —As much as the will to connect hearts. This really spoke to me because I’ve argued for so long that we don’t communicate. I’ve felt so hopeless. Please pray for us as we continue to work through this challenge in our marriage.

    • 398

      Robin (and others),
      A wonderful resource I would recommend to you and your husband is Retrouvaille. It is a weekend to work on your marriage that teaches you a practical communication tool. It was developed by the Catholic church, but some cities also have interdenominational Retrouvaille weekends. However, all Retrouvaille weekends are open to people of any denomination or faith. I would highly encourage you to check out their website: http://www.retrouvaille.org to find a weekend date that you and your husband can attend. It really is a lifeline for couples and can turn your marriage around, allowing you to truly re-connect with one another.

  174. 399
    tibisay says:

    Right around this time last year and just my husband left me 9 months pregnant for another woman. I have been waiting for him to come to his senses ( since he was a very honorable God loving man) My Christians friends advised me to keep waiting, my non-very Christians friends have a lawyer ready for me to file. Though, in my heart I considered that I waited enough and that I am ok to to walk away from this marriage since he has been committing adultery for over 3 years with this ” christian” woman. He states he can’t help his feelings for her. But, for the sake of my baby I feel no peace about it. I have been praying for discernment. so, I am just requesting prayers for this decision. I don’t want to give up on my husband, but, I he is just not giving me much of a choice. I do want to get divorced( because maybe the closure will relieve me of this pain) but, I just want to make sure that I keep obedient to God but, realistic at the same time. For the sake of my baby daughter pray for me regarding this decision. Thank you very much.

    • 400

      Tibisay,
      I am praying – for God’s wisdom and the comfort of His peace in the decision you make – and a special prayer that God will guard and keep your little one for Himself.

  175. 401

    My husband had an affair this summer with a young girl from work and announced he was leaving our family for her. He wants to come back now but is still very angry and blaming. The relationships with me and with our four children were shattered, and the future is unclear. Thank you for your prayers.

  176. 402

    Thank you, Ann, for sharing your wrestling with us in your book and in this blog. Your words and your lighting of the way to more of God and more of grace have been an amazing gift. Your pictures are also gifts that I could record on my own list each day. Thank you.

    Linda

  177. 403

    Thank you Ann for your beautiful writing and willingness to delve into the heart matters.
    And these comments are awe inspiring.

    I would like to ask for prayer for my marriage. A year and a half ago my husband’s brother committed suicide and it is so hard to struggle through the despair, loneliness, and anger that grief brings. Most of all I just hurt for my husband and all I want him to do is talk to me, to tell me what he is feeling. And he can’t – its like its just too much for him to face. And then he pushes away God and for me that is so hard to understand. After a year of trying, I finally realized six months ago, that I needed to not push God on him. Buts its hard to accept a man being a man and not talking about their feelings, where as I want to be supportive and there for him and I just want to know what he is feeling.

    Thank you – Jessica

  178. 404

    So after nearly 20yrs of marriage, i feel i have fallen out of love with my husband for probably 10 of those years. Therefore, makes it very hard to be intimate with someone you dont have feelings for any more. I keep praying that God will change the situation and as much as i want to walk out on him sometimes, i am still hanging in there. At least until the kids have left home anyway! i also try to be grateful, as am so much more blessed then a lot of other families.

    • 405

      Dear Leanne,

      I have no idea the struggles that are going on in your home, but will you just know that I am praying Jeremiah 32:17 for you today?

      May God do a mighty work in and through you!

  179. 406

    Ann, this was a very touching post . . . one I really needed. God knew, and he gave you the words. Praise him! After 30 years of marriage with a patient and loving husband, we are faced with some changes in our lives relating to his brother’s medical situation. Youngest of six siblings, my husband is the only one able to travel and we need to make a 4-5 hr. trip one way at least once a month to give our sister-in-law some respite from her caregiver role. With the thought lingering that perhaps we should move (they have no children or family nearby), I’ve begun grieving our place already and no decision’s been made.

    Today husband tells me that lately I’ve been unkind and short . . . oh, God, I didn’t mean to but I know I have because I know what I’ve done the minute it comes from my lips! I wouldn’t hurt this man, but as your five steps so beautifully says anxiety leads to anger and anger is embedded in fears. That’s where am I right now. Could you pray for peace for me so that I may be the good wife through this difficult time.

    Thanks for all you do in sharing your writing with us all.

  180. 407

    I love this one. It is SO true about women flipping out when they need their husbands the most…and men wanting to pull away at the first sign of the emotional outburst. I do have a comment about “1. You don’t need honed communication skills…” My husband and I had a horrible first year of marriage. I was spiraling into clinical depression and he was clueless as to what to do to help me. We fought all the time and it was just bad. Thankfully we had amazing support from our church and small group. One couple in our small group both had counseling degrees from RTS. They asked us if they could meet with us and teach us some communication skills. We went through the book “Couple’s Communication”, which they had been trained how to teach. It took us 6 weeks to do and it has had profound impact on our marriage and all of our relationships. We really did need some help learning how to listen and care for one another during those emotional times. I feel like God used that couple and that book to save us!

  181. 408
    Meghann says:

    I\’m trying to make my way through the comments, because so many of them have been ministering to me, but tears are running down my face right now as I go through all of them. I see such hope and fear co-mingled in all of them, what a picture of our lives here on earth. Trying to hope, trying to have faith, but failing and repenting and longing for a perfect world with our Heavenly Father. This has been the hardest year of my life – a husband who has turned his back on Christ, recanting his faith entirely, an affair, a complicated pregnancy, and the unexpected death of my dad…I am absolutely drowning some days in the situations that have come my way, trying to remember that my hope is not in the people around me but in the One who carries me through the struggles. I don\’t doubt that God CAN work in my husband\’s life, or in my sadness, but I struggle with having faith that He WILL work in my husband\’s life. My husband views commitment and marriage as only possible with faith in Christ, and that without, it can\’t work or it isn\’t wise to promise such. So I sit here, crying out, desperate and scared, messing up daily in how to handle this with him, struggling to let go of control and trust that God is working, even if I can\’t see it. He and I are SO different, and now, approaching life with different worldviews, we wonder how this can ever work. But, I know God honors marriage, so I sit and wait and pray and hope that my husband can see the same one day. But the waiting is hard, oh so hard. I wish I had space to share more – my heart is overflowing with grief.

    • 409

      Meghann –
      How I know the waiting is hard! So hard…. I have been there. The grief can feel too much to bear. All I can say is God is faithful… There have been times when that is all I know is true. I pray that He wraps His strong loving arms around you today, that you feel Him putting His hands on your shoulders, looking you in the eyes with His compassion and strength and telling you how much He loves you, knows you, and has not abandoned you in this trouble…
      “He works for those who wait for Him…” Isaiah 64

  182. 410
    Anonymous says:

    l sit and can barely see through my tears; always when people talk about their marriages, l hurt. l lost mine.
    Fifteen years of fighting and disconnect; all that fear. My husband turned elsewhere and then was finished. Despite all my pleadings for God to redeem our marriage and make us a testimony to His saving grace, l am divorced.
    l trust that the plans my Father has for me are good, because He says that they are. Just as He used the happenings of Joseph’s life for good, His good, He will redeem my life and all that has happened in it as well (Genesis 50:20). lt’s just so very hard to be lonely. l cling to the One who will never let me go.
    Praying that God will give all of you in hurting marriages the grace to live as a channel for His love … pour Him out.

  183. 411

    I’m only a young one… not even a boyfriend or relationship to my name from which to draw something worthwhile to add, but I want to comment because I appreciate you. Yes, you, each on reading this now, each one who commented, each one who lives and breathes and struggles and cries because you are doing what God has given you to do.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for living, breathing, struggling and crying. Thank you for not giving up when hope seemed lost; in doing so you have given me hope. You are my Titus 2 women and I am much the wiser for knowing you. You are blessed for blessing me; I have notes and ammunition stored up in my head; most importantly I have our Saviour as mine, and I know that this is the solid foundation I need to build for a marriage sometime in the near or far-ish future…
    In Christ.

  184. 412

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Felt like I was reading my own experience of marriage and was such a gift to have someone articulate it as clearly as you did. I love the metaphor of the ambulance and am anxious to use that to explain to my husband. It is easy for me to run to the place of “this is the wrong person” but helpful to hear this is a common dance that in our worst we are angry woman(really just a love -needy woman) & stonewalling man. Recognizing this as a common dance helps me to change my story about it being the wrong person and to choose to use my words differently and change the dance.
    Thank you again

  185. 413

    I have spent days reading all the posts. The openness of all the women and their situations have left me astounded…This is real life in this fallen world. There is no other hope, peace, comfort or joy but in Him, our Lord. I know how staggering the pain can be -annihilating and a tidal wave. Rejection, criticism, shattered vows, emotional manipulation, cruelty. In response I would overeat, overspend, drink to not feel. Two separations (he left). We accumulated 29 yrs and raised two sons. Just reconciled (he moved back in) after a year and a half separation. The difference now- Jesus. I gave myself to God during that time and He gave me my life. Literally on my knees, arms outstretched, leaning forward into pain while reading Scripture out loud, Him holding me. No way around it (acting out) but through it. I have known Him many years, but had not really surrendered the deepest, most vulnerable recesses of my heart. There is a sweetness and much grace in that place of need when we abandon ourselves in His arms. Wholeness in Him, joy. He gave me eyesight, discernment and a voice. I knew that I was His Beloved. Our Lord is making me healthy from the inside out. We both brought baggage into our marriage. I just did not know what it was and could not name it-or begin to see how it affected us. And how I would I spill on him. I have stayed out of a desire to surrender to God’s work in us, our commitment, the generations that will follow. Not out of weakness, codependence. To reclaim affection and love that did not grow to fruition. One day at a time here. I ache for all the women and families in the posts- because I know. And I have hope because Christ is my life. Praying for healing for wounded hearts heard here.

  186. 414
    Rebecca S says:

    My husband and I have been married for 3-1/2 years and we have always had a problem with communication. When we disagree, we get angry and shut down and end up in separate rooms. There were times when I wished that God understood a divorce if you got married at 18, but I knew that was silly. We’re 22 now and we still haven’t learned how to communicate effectively. I know most of it comes from my fear that we aren’t even close to getting careers and my husband isn’t even close to deciding what career he wants to pursue. I know I can stress him out over that, but I feel like we haven’t been productive… in 3-1/2 years we haven’t moved forward. They never teach you the hard stuff before you get married.

    • 415

      oh… Lord please be with Rebecca and her dearest. Help them see… help them relate…. love… lay down…..

      I know one thing that helped my husband and I early on when we reached a place where we both felt locked was to come together and kneel and pray – it was terribly difficult – neither of us wanted to… but we knew we had to. As each of us took turns as we held hands in anger and poured out to HIm and implored of Him for help – it’s very difficult to remain angry in that situation! Another that is incredibly diffuclt is Proverbs 15:1 – a gentle answer does often turn away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger..I myself have spoken too many harsh words that in turn stirred up the anger rather than softened it. Also, is thee anything you can apologize for… this has been difficult for me. Unfortunately I tend to think I’m right. So, see what in the situation you may have erred in and apologize -often this softens and turns the situation around. But I do pray, dear Rebecca – that is so hard… and the first years are hard…. When you eat, sleep, brush your teeth int he same place as another – irritations. Better go get my kiddos to start school! I”m so sorry… I can say probably many or most of us here have walked these years that you describe or some form of them….

  187. 416

    OK Ann, I know who you are, well…from my wife Teri. I know the sound of piano from her opening your blog. I know that even as she leads and impacts other people and marriages, you are one of the people she reads for inspiration. She sent me this blog from you today, with an earnest apology to me. An apology that was hard for me to accept amidst the glory she is to me. But an apology nonetheless.

    I write however, to let you know I’m copying this blog URL to 9 guys who will be coming to our home tomorrow for an annual Valentines, couples gathering. This is my charge to them…to ‘connect to their wives hearts’.

  188. 417
    Shari Mullen says:

    I just finished your book and I loved it. I feel like it has changed my life. I don’t know if anyone will answer this question or not. Will Ann Voskamp write a book about her marriage? I would love to read her story of how her and her husband met.

  189. 418

    Thank you for this fabulous post. It has touched my heart and opened my eyes, causing me to see what is truly behind all of the conflict and turmoil.

    “No English teacher ever taught me what nearly 18 years of marriage now gives credence to: Anxiety and anger, they come from the same root word.

    Anxiety, it can drive anger.

    And an angry voice, it can be a cry of fear.

    Fears dress up as anger ”

    Thank you for sharing your heart and life openly. It is such an encouragement.

    Ruth

  190. 419

    Just wanted to testify to the truth of how “eucharisteo proceeds the miracle”. Last year at this time I found myself desperate for a miracle in my troubled 15 year marriage. We seemed to be dead, for ourselves, for each other. Too many layers of hurt, unresolved conflict, misunderstanding. I could not keep my mind from wanted to flee, to escape the pain. A friend gave me a copy of the 1000 gifts. I read it, gave thanks and was patient as God changed my heart and life. Long story short, I co-led a bible study last month and opened our time with my story at how eucharisteo proceeded the miracle of restoration in my life and marriage. I weep as I type and cannot beleive the blessings that have been restored. I am exceedingly thankful for these truths. Thank you ANNE and team, Thank you GOD.

  191. 420

    The authenticity of your post and the outpouring of responses in combination with the post When A Comment Breaks Your Heart prompted me to respond with Heartache Knows No Marital Status.

    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/02/heartache-knows-no-marital-status.html

    I hope it will offer hope that in the end, whether married or single, we are all longing for the same thing …

  192. 421

    Thank you, Ann for sharing your faith struggles and insights so openly in your book and on your blog. I am currently in the midst of your book, and have been recommending it to my closest girlfriends/soul sisters. This post is also wonderful – so thank you, again! And thanks to everyone for their sharing. It is one of the Evil One’s greatest tools that makes us so easily think we are alone in our thoughts, trials and sufferings – and we are not! and yet, we forget again so easily!

    17 years of marriage, and I feel like we’ve so far to go on the topic of this post! Yet, I believe God works for His good…Romans 8:28…

    For those who have good marriages, and want to further explore Ann’s idea of looking beyond the anger/anxiety to the true feeling – I suggest a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend (www.wwme.org to find one in your area, and faith expression – though please don’t let faith expression be a barrier!) The WWME Weekend focuses on delving into and teaching just this sort of technique – risking to look into and understand the feelings of ourselves and our spouses.

    For those with at risk marriages, please look up Retrouvaille as an option to move toward healing your Sacrament. God Bless you all!

  193. 422
    Elizabeth Holmes says:

    We were fortunate enough to live in the country on 100 acres for about six years. We home schooled…our children were young. We have six, two girls and four boys. I did all I knew to do to do it right: Home birth, breast feeding, cloth diapers, reading stories at bedtime, long walks on the “back 40″, etc. It was all incredibly healing. We moved to a city and it hasn’t been the same. All the children are grown now, so it’s just my husband and I. We are finding that we don’t know how to talk to each other…we’ve shared so much together, married for 29 years. And that’s why grace and forgiveness and being thankful come in…You are a good teacher and your daily sharing takes me right back to the farm. A stream was right across from our house, picnics were easy, with a picnic table set up right beside the house, along with a swing set and a sand box. In your recommended books on marriage, which one would you suggest starting with?

  194. 423

    This is so long after the last comment but…..

    What would you ladies say to a single gal who is so afraid?

    I am the product of a mother with an abusive father who took his own life. She has been married 3 times, if you ask me she shouldn’t have married my dad in the first place (2nd marriage)….even so, I know God is sovereign. She is not a Christian, the Lord decided to give me salvation, the only one (besides a sweet 98 yo Gma) out of my family who loves Jesus. I have never really seen how a good marriage functions…bits and pieces…small pictures…but never long exposure.

    Relationships scare me. Any relationship really…but especially marriage…yet I want to be married very much. I have never dated, so I haven’t a clue, haha.

    Just interested to know what some older, wiser women would say to a “trembling 20 something”….
    I know there are so many promises of God I am not believing…but maybe your words will be from the Lord to help me?
    Thank you.

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  198. 427

    My husband abandoned me and the kids for 8 months, and refused to come back because he got hold up by a woman whom he just met, myself and the kids has been suffering and it has been heel of a struggle, but I decide to do all means to make sure that my family come together as one again. I went online there I saw so many good talk about this spell caster whose email is abuyespelltemple@gmail.com so I had to contact him and explain my problem to him and in just 2 days as he has promised, my husband came home and his behavior was back to the man i got married to. I cant thank the spell caster enough for what he did for me, i am so grateful and i will never stop to publish his name on the internet for the good work he has done for me. Dr Oye you are the best of all.

  199. 428

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  200. 429

    My husband and I recently read “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson. Best book on marriage we’ve read hands down (and we’ve read so many contenders). Core, heart stuff, couldn’t dig deeper.

    I am finding that his closed heart to me is a cross for us both to bear. He wants to open it but can’t. I must love by allowing myself to be shut out. My loneliness can be my love to him, if it doesn’t deteriorate into bitter anger. I have to wait alone. The cold conversation, the shoulder turned away, I have to let it wound me, I have to cry my tears, let it pierce me deeply. LET IT. Feel it. That’s all. It feels like drinking poison every day, waiting to love him and to have my love accepted, but I am beginning to see that drinking the poison willingly, and not shrinking away is to love. I can’t believe I have to, I can’t believe this is what is required of me. It wrenches my heart to think of Jesus going to the cross to drink the poison of loneliness and rejection, and he drained the dregs, tipped the cup with his own hand.

    That is all that keeps me, helps me drink in the sorrow and not drown or try to escape. When I think I can’t anymore, I think of Jesus, and I think that he drank it for me. God help us to love each other that way. God help our lonely hearts to wait patiently for love. To “be the child” quietly before God, so others can “be the child” before us.

    Thank you Ann.

Trackbacks

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  4. [...] a recent day off together, I read parts of her 5 Ways to Fight Through to a Loving Marriage post to you. Parts of it, we can’t relate to – such as using the “hate” word [...]

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  6. [...] Edited post from the archives… Related Marriage Posts from the Archives: How Can I be a better Wife 5 Ways to Fight through to a Better Marriage [...]

  7. [...] nice appeasing words to avoid a fight, but the truth in love. Another blogger recently suggested “Five ways to fight your way through to a loving marriage.”  Intriguing idea, but the old adage ‘the truth hurts,’ is… true. In the short [...]

  8. [...] visiting! TweetMay all your wanderings be blessed! :: To Young Moms @ Thinking About Home :: What You’re Trying to Tell Him When You’re Angry {5 Ways to Fight Through to a Loving Ma… @ (in)courage “Pin”spiration (Need an invitation? Leave a comment with your email [...]

  9. [...] more good than tough. Ann Voskamp wrote an insightful post about one root message behind our anger: 5 Ways to Fight Through to a Loving Marriage Share/Bookmark This entry was posted in Everyday Life, life, parenting by smhutchins. Bookmark [...]

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