You’re NOT Stuck in this Marriage

Embracing Alternatives and Choices

Stuck in this marriageOne of the most common sentiments I hear from married people is, “I feel stuck in this marriage.” Yes, you’re miserable. You’re needs aren’t getting met. There’s little or no intimacy or sex. Your spouse doesn’t get you.

But I’m here to tell you, you’re NOT stuck in this marriage!

Perhaps if you’re reading this from some middle-eastern country that might be true – sort of. But even there we regularly hear stories of women who refuse to be stuck. Some may be whipped, imprisoned, or killed for trying to leave – and that’s NEVER NEVER ACCEPTABLE! But the point is you always have options regardless of your gender.

That also illustrates that your choices have consequences. In most of the world you have the choice to get a divorce, to leave the marriage. That choice may involve financial difficulties, trauma to your children, emotional and spiritual baggage, and a change in the way others see and treat you socially. But that is a choice you can make.

So get it out of your head and your vocabulary that you’re stuck. Remember the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? It’s time to do something different if you want a different outcome. Now that we’ve illustrated what may be the extremes, let’s consider some of the various choices you have if your marriage is not the way you’d like it.

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A Widow’s First Year Alone

Four Big Ideas and Advice

First Year AloneNo, I’m not really alone. I never have been, and I never will be.

But grief is hard. My husband died exactly one year ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything so exhausting – not OB-Gyn residency where I’d spend long nights in the hospital with little or no sleep, not the weeks caring for my husband as he became increasingly unable to completely care for himself. They say losing a loved spouse is like losing an arm or a leg. I think it’s more like losing most of who you are.

Grief hurts. In some very real ways I’ve come to terms with the pain, and most of the time I focus more on the future than on the past. But there’s a treasure in grief that you can’t purchase any other way. Words don’t do it justice, and you’d never choose the pain you have to endure in order to get it. But for those of you who are walking a similar journey, perhaps these ideas will help you find your own treasure.

This is in response to some of you who have asked me to share more about my journey as a widow. I’ll try here to share some thoughts about what helped, and God’s place in the journey of grief.

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When You or Your Spouse is Angry

4 Skills that transform Anger into Intimacy

Your Spouse is AngryYou do not want to be married to someone who never becomes angry. There is no more boring or superficial relationship than when anger is eliminated at all costs. Please save me from an anger-less marriage!

Do I have your attention?

Anger scares many of us, for good reason. Many have been harmed by someone in authority or by a spouse during a period of rage, and have determined never to go there again. And the enemy has used anger to bring destruction in many ways.

But you wouldn’t want a God who cannot become angry, and you don’t want a spouse who cannot become angry either.

Anger is evidence that one cares about someone or something. I would go so far as to say that nothing wrong has ever been made right in the world without someone becoming angry – angry enough to fight against evil, persevere in spite of enormous opposition, and break down barriers. If you shut down all anger you eliminate passion, intimacy, and love.

Here’s a news flash; anger is not abuse! If you or your spouse physically harms or attempts to harm people or things when angry, that’s abuse. If you or your spouse verbally attack each other with untrue or demeaning words meant only to cause pain, that’s abuse. But the emotion of anger is, in itself, normal, healthy, human, and can even be godly. Like with sexual desire, grief, or excitement, it’s what one does with that emotion that makes it good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

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Lonely and Disappointed on Valentine’s Day

2 responses to the unfulfilled need for love

Valentine's DayDo you feel like a member of the Lonely Hearts Club? Were you disappointed on Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone.

So, no secret admirer surprised you with a card or box of chocolates yesterday. Your spouse didn’t overwhelm you with flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries for a romantic evening. Perhaps you’re buried up to your eyeballs in bills, diapers, and dirty dishes and that kind of love seems a distant memory. Or you’ve avoided retail establishments and worked extra-long hours this week just to forget that you don’t have a Valentine this year.

I know what it’s like to be lonely. In medical school a group of us single girls gathered one February 14 at the first and only formal meeting of the LLU chapter of the Lonely Hearts Club. I lived single until I was 48 years old, and I’m single again now that my husband is with Jesus. And pink doesn’t look good on me anyway!

But just because you have a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t mean romance and love are guaranteed. Some of the loneliest people I talk with are married. It’s not your Relationship Status on Facebook that’s at issue; it’s the status of your heart.

The State of Your Heart

We as human beings were made for connection. Deep, secure, long-lasting, intimate connection. We long to be known, to be affirmed, to be cherished, to be desired, to be sought after, to be loved. We want to be Number One to someone, and we often struggle to survive – let alone thrive – when we’re not.

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How to Show Love on Valentine’s Day

With love, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

Valentine's DayTomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It’s not a national holiday, though for retailers selling flowers, cards, and candy it might as well be. I’m not a “pink” kind of person, and I truly get tired of pink by February 15. But love is always a good idea. And what could be a better plan than to show love on Valentine’s Day?!

I remember so well the years I spent as a single woman desperately wanting someone to show me that they cared, that I was Number One to them. Eventually I learned two things:

  • I’ve always been Number One to God. Jesus can become my Enough if I let Him.
  • Giving love to others fills my heart more reliably than always looking to receive it.

Regardless of your Relationship Status, let’s use this day to focus on giving love. And I promise your heart will be fuller than you ever thought it could be. (And don’t worry; I’m not denying loneliness and disappointment. Watch for a follow-up on that later this week.)

Hopefully you will put a little more thought into showing love than just picking up a cheap box of chocolates on your way home. Now stop moping around, get over yourself already, and prepare to show a little love! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

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