Are unresolved issues destroying your marriage?

In the beginning it’s white lace and promises and hopes for happily ever after. Wedding photos show the happy couple taking their vows, feeding each other cake, dancing the night away. But the honeymoon comes to a hard stop when unresolved issues unpack their bags, turning your fairytale romance into a marriage nightmare.

Words and gestures of love that came easily while dating are replaced with loveless accusations, screaming pride, and maybe even fits of rage. It’s been like this for a while and now you want to call it quits. And it’s not just a thousand little things that you hate, but it’s big things like adultery, lying, addictions, anger, pride, selfishness, and pain from the past. You don’t see anyway you can go on in your marriage.

{And there are valid reasons for divorce as I well know so my words are not in judgement or condemnation of anyone. And certainly if you are being abused in your marriage, please get out now before it’s too late.}

But as Michael and I look back over our past failures, we understand the utter devastation of divorce — emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. And when there are children, the shock waves reverberate for decades to come. So before you call the attorney, please take a moment to settle your soul and sometimes in a deeply troubled marriage a separation is necessary.

Though one spouse’s negative contribution to the marriage may be bigger, both husband and wife add their share to the mutual mess. Unfortunately, like attracts like on some level and hurt people hurt people. You may think, I’m okay, he or she’s not, but if you take a peek at the person in the mirror you may see your own flaws, too. We all are sinners.

And since neither you nor I can change another human being, the place to start is yourself.  For even if your marriage ends, without personal healing, change and growth, you may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, continuing a downward dysfunctional trend.

Because when a couple marries four people show up at the altar. The lovely picture-perfect adults plus the unseen messy little boy and girl. These individuals — products of their families of origin yet never beyond breaking free of the past — bring to the marriage whatever was learned and lived during childhood in addition to their adult choices and experiences.

Maybe you had an alcoholic parent? Or maybe your parent struggled with mental illness? Perhaps both your folks drank? Were you abused in some way? Or maybe your mom and dad fought all the time until they finally got divorced? All these early traumas hurt tiny hearts that harden as a means of self-preservation, surviving the family of origin using coping mechanisms like perfectionism, control, anger, codependency. Later, using sex for love and attention, or repeating the mistakes of the previous generation and abusing or using in a vain attempt to make the pain go away.

And while these four are busy battling each other, the next generation of tiny hearts are getting hurt and learning love and life all wrong. And so it goes, generation after generation.

But God!

You’ve tried everything to eradicate your pain but despite the counseling or meds or running away, the screaming, cursing, crying tantrums remain. And in all this drama you keep running from God because maybe you don’t really believe or maybe you perceive God as a punisher. Maybe you fear working on yourself. But God is for you, your spouse, your marriage and family.

Trusting in God and purposing to live a Jesus lifestyle is the only way you can escape your pain. The ugliness won’t magically stop should you say I Do in future because you will still be there. But there’s hope! It will take time and surrendering pride, but if both you and your spouse are willing to work hard you can do it! IF you CHOOSE to CHANGE.

If you choose God.

And now I ask you what is it you really want? Do you want to end this marriage, hurt your children, keep doing life your way?

Or do you want to reach out and ask for help? Let go of the past and be free? Learn how to love and live like Jesus and reap the rewards and blessings?

It is your choice to keep or end your marriage; God will love you no matter what you decide, but please think of the potential ramifications down the road.

**Divorce hurts children making them more susceptible to future acting-out behaviors, drug abuse, promiscuity and problems in school.

**Wrecks bank accounts — attorneys fees can range in the tens of thousands.

**Forces single mothers to work long hours away from their kids just to put food on the table.

**Increases stress on multiple levels.

**Causes you to run from God in shame and guilt.

**Exposes you to sexually transmitted diseases.

**Yields abysmal loneliness.

**Renders emotional pain now and decades later when an innocent remark by an adult child makes you wonder, What if we had tried harder to heal our marriage?

Consider this true story… Years ago a thirty-something wife whose marriage was seriously bad from the start filed for divorce having grounds three times over. But the husband’s brother was a Christian who deeply believed God could change and renew their marriage. He flew in from out-of-state to share that God was the key to healing their hearts, freeing the husband of his addictions, the wife of her issues, and restoring their marriage. This brother even suffered a minor accident en route to the couple’s apartment. Undeterred he shared what God had done for him and his marriage. But neither husband nor wife would listen for they had allowed their hearts to give up and shut tight. They divorced. Their relational futures remained dismal through the ensuing years. Their little children who had witnessed awful things, grew up broken and as adults lived what they had learned from their parents — anger, fear, addictions and divorces. And I can’t help wondering what would have become of that family through the generations if that young husband and wife had decided to believe God, humble their hearts, and worked on building a new marriage and life together…

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When your marriage ends, motherhood doesn’t…Tips for single moms

MotherhoodThere were times when he worked late. And back then I wasn’t very understanding so I complained that I felt like a single mom doing all the work myself.

A few years and more than a few fights later I found myself left alone with a baby and his two little brothers.

My former spouse had had enough of my brokenness expressed as anger and selfishness and he filed for divorce.

And now I was a single mom for real.

I lived to eat my earlier words, nearly choking at times from holding back the tears as exhaustion, fear, regret and more fear enveloped me.

Divorce left me devastated.

For two days after he left all I could do was lie on the sofa, nuke mac and cheese, change diapers and pop in a new video as soon as one ended.

And I felt like my life had ended.

Then on the third day I realized my role of mom was far from over…

For the rest of the story, please click and join me at

Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood 

where I am guest posting today 

and sharing tips I learned in the trenches to

help you cope as a single mom.

Sheila Signature Reduced

When a husband heaves a heavy sigh…and how wives can stop being so angry and abusive

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He’s dragging up the stairs at the end of a long day.

He can’t imagine that anyone is listening to him.

To those hurts in his heart.

To the fears.

And the frustrations.

And a sigh escapes his soul that break’s his Father’s heart.

For the Bible says that marriage is supposed to be a blessing and the man that finds a wife finds a good thing,

And he loves you, he truly does. He’s standing on the vows he made to you. And everyday he’s hoping that things will change.

Because he’s really tired.

And wives are to be their husband’s helper. Making a man’s life better, sweeter, gentler.

But you, dear wounded wife, are not helping your man.

For day in and day out, from sun up to sun down — no matter how kind, giving, patient he is with you, your tongue hammers away at your husband’s heart with words that tear his soul apart.

With tones and expressions that reveal your disrespect. Maybe even your utter contempt.

You may have once been abused, wife, but now you are the abuser. And it may not get as much media attention, but wives abuse their husbands every day in countless subtle or overtly sinful ways.

Yet your husband keeps on keeping on. Loving you, exhorting you to relax, to let go.

But you can’t hear him because you refuse to listen to reason.

You reject any message of truth that might help you heal.

And you keep listening to the old tapes that wind incessant in the battlefield of your mind, tormented since childhood.

It’s the voice of your enemy in the form of a critical inner parent. The voice you internalized after listening to your mom scold you unrelentingly all the years of your growing up. Or the voice of your dad screaming, scathing or sarcastic. Or worse.

They say children — and that means all of us — learn what they live. And you, precious wounded wife, learned life and marriage and most likely parenting and other forms of relating all wrong.

All wrong.

And when your husband — who bears his own scars from his growing up years yet valiantly tries to uphold his spousal role day after tedious day — gently suggests that life can be different for the two of you and your kids…

That you don’t have to keep believing the lies your mom told you about yourself…

That you no longer have to follow the abusive rules your dad set forth…

That you don’t have to try and control every little thing…

You lash back in your angry, aggressive way — which is nothing more than a hard shield of sin covering a very tender, deeply hurting heart — like an injured animal baring its fangs afraid it will be hurt again.

And you give voice to a lie that is as old as time.

The lie that you just can’t change.

Not after 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years of doing life the dysfunctional way you have always done it.

And continuing to believe and live that lie — with all its nasty ramifications that manifest in your marriage — can drain every drop of desire and devotion from the best of men. And maybe he will stick by you year in and year out.

Or maybe he won’t.

Maybe one day he will just say he’s had enough. And Lord knows he probably has.

Or maybe one day he’ll meet a sweet lady at the office.

And everything will come tumbling down and you may begin to see how very wrong and very wounded you are.

But the devastation to you and your babies will be like a tsunami that sucks away your last gulping breath.

And the outcome will depend — again — on your choice. To become better. Or stay just as you are and grow into a bitter, ugly old woman. Alone. Hurting. Hard. Never giving in. And your children growing into adults who limp badly.

But wife, here is an amazing truth that may sound too good to be real.

God loves you. No. Matter. What.

No matter what you’ve been through.

No matter what you have put your husband or others through.

No matter even if you don’t believe in God.

God loves you so much He sent Jesus to die for you. And He wants you to die to your self and your sin and your fears and your hurts so that He can make all things new.

He is your Savior, dear sweet wife. He is the only One who can save you from the mess that is your marriage, the mess that is your life.

He can heal your heart, mend your memories and make you whole. His words of love can finally silence those screaming lies that hold you captive.

BEST IS YET TO BE

You CAN change your life in a heartbeat by making a choice to change.

Anyone can change IF they are willing to surrender to God, admit they are powerless, forgive others through the grace of God and then decide to live a new way. One day at a time.

Just. That. Simple.

Just. That. Hard.

But God and His amazing grace that really, truly is sufficient. And when you are weak, He will be all the stronger. I know. For I was once where you are now. I didn’t heed the warnings that were sent my way over the early years. Wouldn’t hear the still small voice calling me until my former spouse and father of my sons left.

And I was left behind with a million broken pieces scattered everywhere.

So very much was lost that can never be regained.

But you, TODAY, can make a better choice than I did all those years ago.

You can save yourself great heartache.

You can provide for your children a better growing up environment with a mom and a dad together under one roof.

You can choose to honor God with your every word, thought or action.

Dear wife, whose heart is crying to be heard, yearning to be loved:

You are.

God hears your every whimper. God seals each tear as a prayer in His bottle.

You can be set free if you so choose.

So why not? Why not choose God’s way? Why not right now?

Why forfeit your life, your marriage and your children’s futures for the sake of a lie?

God is calling to your heart to come to Him.

To let go of trying to control everything in your anger.

To let Him hold you and comfort you in ways your mom or dad never did.

I remember what it felt like back then and even what it feels like 20 years later and that is why I write.

So please don’t let your fear, your pride or your unbelief hold you back a moment longer.

Decide to change by letting God in and the bad out.

Now…

~sheila

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Trying to raise godly children when mom is all broken…

SIngle mom and sons

I did so much wrong that sometimes I have a hard time accepting I did a lot right.

Yet my sons now grown gracious and forgiving readily tell me what a great mom I have always been.

But when they were tiny treasures in earthen vessels entrusted to my care they got broken because I was broken. And God had to raise the hurting little girl in me as I was single-mom-raising three little boys.

He had the harder job!

Before my former spouse left — helped out the door by my disrespectful, loveless, hot tempered and controlling ways – we looked like a picture perfect Sunday morning church family, masks worn well, filing in and out, knowing all the right things to say or not say while in the company of the body.

What I didn’t rightly know then was how deep and wide and high is the love of Christ for me. Or how my life is to be a living example of God’s love for others.

Without knowing this perfect love by heart, fear and trembling took control, guided by perfectionism and her cousin legalism.

And raising godly children revolved more around rules than teaching them how to deepen a relationship with the One who loves them best…

Please click over to Womanhood with Purpose
where I am a contributing writer for the rest of this post.
And it would be a blessing if you left a comment
or shared the post. Thanks.

~sheila

 

Putting the past behind us … And a free online journaling workshop beginning January 31

SAILBOAT SORROW

Sometimes we can’t seem to let go of the past.

It haunts us and hurts us and holds us back from fully living the life God has created us to live.

And living a half-life, with much of our heart in darkness, causes those around us to suffer for the Light inside won’t shine as bright.

This is when we must turn to God and think His thoughts towards us. We must choose to stop focusing only inward and look up and He will create in us a new heart.

A heart that is free to live forward, both hands open, receiving all that God wants to give and then freely sharing that gift with the world.

Are you ready to take the next step?

SEAGULL SORROW ALONE

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love…
    and renew a right spirit within me.
From Psalm 51

When our sin is breathing down our back and heavy upon our shoulders it can seem like we are doomed to be forever dirty.

At least that’s how we feel.

Especially if we have a relationship with Jesus and we know what scripture says about what’s right and what’s wrong.

We may be thinking we’ve blown it one too many times. Like there is no hope for us anymore. We’ve lost our joy and it feels as if God is shaking His head.

But He isn’t.

So we cry out to Him for forgiveness and mercy. Because He loves us so much He diligently forgives and forgets, showering us with cleansing.

He wipes our slate clean. He drops our sins into the bottom of a bottomless ocean where He remembers them no more.

Allowing us to put the past behind us and start living for Him for real this time. No more shortcuts. No more pleasing self above God.

For when we sin we sin foremost against our Father.

And He will in grace and tenderness towards us create in us a clean heart.

A heart that will grow soft again as it understands how deeply it is loved.

A heart that can lift its head for its shame is taken away.

As we surrender our will to Him, and keep surrendering over time, we will again feel His presence ever close — even though He was always close by — and our joy in the Lord will return.

But it may take some time.

Especially if we’ve been dallying in sin for a season.

Or believing satan’s lies for too long. 

And how our enemy works overtime to convince us we are worthless, unloved and unlovable.

And the lies stick when we are not giving our brains a good washing each day with the water of the word.

Being in God’s word, tucking it deep within our hearts, helps us avoid repeating our mistakes from the past. And helps transform our thinking about the present.

While it’s so much better to just say no to sin in the first place, we can join hearts and do life God’s way at any time. With no regrets, no fears, no shame about our past.

It is finished, Jesus said.

There will still be surrender and sacrifice and our self may balk, but at the end of a day lived for Him and through Him we will be able to exhale, close our eyes and sleep in peace knowing that we have pleased the Father.

Trusting and resting in His love, knowing He is watching over us.

And in this we will rejoice with a deep holy contentment unlike anything we have known before…

***Today’s post is adapted from Day 21 in my new book Heart Cry: 40 Reflections for a Woman’s Soul.

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Heart Cry was written to help your heart as God has helped mine to heal and continue healing. And the reflections in Heart Cry are based upon what I received spending time in the Word from the One who journals all our life stories.

And to further help you, Longings End will launch Heart Cry Healing.

This free, private Facebook group for women opens January 31.

Structured as a journal writing workshop, the online group will continue at least through the end of February.

By invitation only, this confidential community will include:

>>instructions for journaling

>>questions to get you started

>>prompts from Heart Cry, scripture, poetry, photos and song

>>encouragement to continue writing your heart out offline in the privacy of your own time

>>a place to share your comments as you are inclined and comfortable sharing

>>a haven of mutual support in a respectful environment where words of edification are exchanged in love, free from condemnation

>>prayer requests

>>and always the truth that God’s love for you is your greatest healing tonic

Whatever has caused your heart to hurt, whatever pain you are struggling with, you will find a warm welcome at Heart Cry Healing.

While I will administrate this page, offering direction, encouragement and prayer, the intention of Heart Cry Healing is to point you towards the Wonderful Counselor, our Everlasting Father, from whom true healing flows.

And journaling helps.

For many years I have used journaling with prayer as a method of healing, receiving countless benefits. There is great therapy in letting our pain spill from our hearts and via our pens onto the page.

Journaling helps us process loss and sorrow, understand our sinfulness, and can in time help reveal nuggets of gold — God’s will for our lives.

Whether you grab a notebook, a beautiful leather-bound journal or create a private online file, get ready to write. Rest assured you don’t have to be a writer to keep a journal. And no one will be looking over your shoulder grading your efforts!

SURF SORROW

But healing, like writing, takes time and can be lonely when done alone.

So will you join me on this journey by becoming part of the community at Heart Cry Healing? 

I hope so! Please email me at Sheila@LongingsEnd.com for further information and let me know you would like an invitation to the page. Please put HEART CRY HEALING in the subject line. Thanks.

And then we can all meet together at Heart Cry Healing on January 31.

SUNRISE

Here’s to hearts being made new and free, intentionally set upon healing through the power and love of Christ, and the power of the pen.

God bless you and keep you, my sister friend…

~sheila

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Heart Cry by Sheila Kimball