Category Archives: marriage

In Sickness and in Health? (When Marriage Vows Are Challenged)

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photo credit below

There are factors that put a strain on marriage. Some are internal ones like pride, selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., while others are external ones like finances, (un)employment, sickness, etc. (Both internal and external ones can or do occur mutually!)

Many have used the traditional vow in their marriage ceremony:

“I, (________), take you (__________), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The negative part of each of those vows (worse, poorer, sickness) is hardly considered at the altar, for typically a couple’s dreams are floating on their present state of mind and emotion.

But what happens when that couple finds themselves in an unplanned storm of worse, poorer, or sickness? Suddenly the vows take on new weight. And for some, it is overwhelming.

Each one of those factors deserve attention, and can be addressed extensively, but my focus today is on the “in sickness and in health” part of the vow.

The marriage commitment is put to the test when a spouse becomes seriously ill, diagnosed with a disease, or develops an incurable condition. Many pass the test and their love and commitment grow stronger, while for others it seems to be the beginning of the end of their marriage. (We have walked through this with my husband’s diagnosis of epilepsy nine years ago.  That valley (everything that occurred as a result  from his first tonic-clonic seizure in another country) shook us, but our commitment to each other and especially MY commitment to him, emerged fortified.)

Worse for a marriage than a spouse becoming ill is when a child is struck with a life-threatening illness or is born with a serious medical condition. From what I have read and been told, it seems that most of those marriages fall under a stress that eventually fractures the union entirely. (If you know of any studies in this area, please leave a comment. I’d be curious to see factual statistics.)

This is heartbreaking on so many levels.

I said most, not all. In the book Between Heaven and Healing, author and pastor’s wife Melanie Boulis shares the story of their daughter’s diagnosis and battle with cancer, and how it affected their marriage:

“Kevin and I were starting to fight a lot over Danielle’s care. The stress was building and we were taking it out on each other. The tension was awful. Caring for Danielle became a 24-hour a day job.”

Even spiritual leaders are not exempt from the stress and strain of this type of battle. The good news is that the Boulis’ passed through that storm, and are still together. The sad news is that their daughter passed away.

A friend who is walking through a difficult time with her sick child wrote me, upon my request, with the top ten ways to pray for parents of seriously ill children. The first request on the list was for the marriage:

“Most couples I know from the hospital are divorcing or their marriage is shaking badly. I would ask for prayer for the marriage, and time for couples to continue showing their love. Before the child, you are a couple; but when you have a sick child you forget that… and if the child dies there’s not much to rescue if the couple didn’t have time for each other.”

I think it’s both brave and wise of her to share that, and to make it the top prayer request. If you know of a family in this situation, would you pause momentarily and pray for their marriage? Also feel free to leave a comment below with the names and current situation of a family with an ill child, so that we can pray for them as well.

 

Photo credit:
http://thereallifeadvice.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/strained-1.png

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Elisabeth Corcoran, author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage

Like most people, I hate divorce; I hate what it does to every individual directly involved in it and to everyone else indirectly touched by it. Yet that hasn’t changed the fact that people in my life – relatives, friends, even fellow ministers and missionaries – have experienced the painful, unexpected, sometimes unwanted but always ugly, process of divorce.

It is especially difficult when divorce occurs within the Christian faith context that teaches that marriage is to be “as long as they both shall live.”  (This is the Biblical position I believe and advocate.) The hurdle for me and other women who share this same conviction is learning  how to respond and minister to our broken and hurting sisters in Christ whose marriages have been torn apart or are currently unraveling – especially when abuse is a factor.

To help us jump that hurdle, I’ve invited author Elisabeth Corcoran for a Q&A based on her latest title releasing today:  Unraveling: Hanging on to Faith Through the End of A Christian Marriage.

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IKH: What counsel would you give women living in an abusive or addiction-filled marriage?

EC: I would tell her that she’s not alone.  Because being a Christian woman in this kind of marriage can be very isolating.  I would advise her to do one if not all of the following:

  • If she or her children are physically or sexually unsafe, to leave and find a safe place to stay.
  • Find a Christian counselor.
  • If not attending a Bible-believing church, find one.
  • If not in a small group Bible study, get in one.
  • Try AlAnon or Celebrate Recovery.
  • Pray for a mentor.
  • If there is someone on your church leadership team that you trust and that you believe understands the dynamics of your kind of difficult marriage, prayerfully share your story and ask for help.
  • Be willing to do what they ask you to do.  But also, test their counsel against Scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit.  Getting varied wise counsel is a hugely smart thing to do, especially when you’re in the vulnerable place of being in a hard marriage,  but remember that you have been given a spirit of a sound mind and you are allowed to make decisions for yourself.
  • Make no decisions quickly or out of fear or anger.
  • Stay close to God.  Ask him to walk you through this.  Ask him to bring people, groups and resources into your life that can help you.  Ask him to give you a teachable spirit and a brave heart.

IKH: How can churches become a safer place for troubled marriages/divorcees?

EC: This is such an important issue to me.  I believe there are two ideas that the Church must understand and embrace.  One, that domestic abuse is not just a black eye, but that it includes emotional abuse, manipulation, control, etc.  Abuse is not just physical.  And secondly, that there is a huge difference between a regular kind of blah marriage or a normal marriage with everyday problems and a marriage that is abusive or fraught with addiction; and these kinds of marriages should not be treated with the same advice across the board.

Also, women need to be believed.  For the most part, I believe that by the time a woman has come to her church for help, she’s tried everything else to fix her marriage, and that usually, it’s not that she’s exaggerating…she might not even be telling you the full picture because she’s afraid of what you’ll think of her or her husband.  So if she tells you she thinks she’s being mistreated or her husband might have an addiction, take her seriously.

IKH: What is your view of marriage, and has it changed because of your experience?

EC: Ironically, I think my view of marriage has gotten stronger and sharper.  I’m not just a proponent of Christian marriages staying together forever no matter what.  I’m an advocate for Christian marriages to thrive and be beautiful because they are supposed to be examples of the relationship between Christ and the Church. I think we’re selling Christian marriage short, and we shouldn’t be settling for just slogging through it until we die.

IKH: What is the purpose of the book (why did you write it)?

EC: I wrote this book for every woman who finds herself going through a divorce, either one she initiated or one that has taken her completely by surprise.  I want these women to know that they’re not alone, that there is grace, that they will make it to the other side, that beauty will come from their pain, and that God’s love for them hasn’t stopped.

IKH: How is God restoring you?

EC: There have been sort of two ways that I’ve seen God restore me.  I think he has restored my heart in the ways that you would expect: time alone to cry or watch movies or reading the Bible or journaling or when friends would send me notes or bring me chocolate or whatever.

And I think that God has been restoring my life though by allowing me the seriously great privilege of reaching out to other women who are hurting.  I led a small group of separated and divorced women in my home this summer, going through a book together.  I meet with women one-on-one when they ask me to.  I write on my blog.  I moderate two private Facebook groups for women who are in difficult Christian marriages and who are separated or divorced.  I just went with a friend today who got divorced…prayed with her before, sat with her during, cried with her and hugged her after.  I still can’t believe that he lets me do these things…that he allows me the honor of coming alongside women who have been where I was (where I sometimes still totally am) and says, “Okay, I comforted you…now go pass some of that along…”  It’s been a really beautiful season of my life, in the midst of the hard.  Which is pretty much how God works, when we let him.

………………………………………………………

1370436_10201930041914958_927578410_nElisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books, who speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild.

During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women’s ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois.

Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.

She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced.

Email her at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com if interested in joining.

Unraveling can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/po3ek2w.

Ask Frank (Peretti) Blog Tour

Today I have the privilege of kicking off a nine-day Ask Frank Blog Tour and you have the chance to win his newest release Illusion. (Details below.)

What I asked and what Frank answered:

ih: What is the main idea you want people to take home after they read Illusion

FP: I guess you’re asking me, what is the story’s central theme? I would call this story a celebration, a depiction of love, marriage, honor, and commitment such as God purposed them to be, and on a deeper level, a parable about Christ’s love for his bride and how his bride longs to be with Him in intimate relationship.

And guys, this is not a “chick” book.  It’s a story for everybody.  We could use a few more Mandys with tenacious devotion to their man and a few more Danes who give themselves for their woman as Christ gave Himself for His church.

ih:  What compels you to write about the supernatural, the mystical?

FP: I suppose because it makes for such great story material. A good story always takes the hero from an ordinary world into an extraordinary world, and the supernatural and mystical present an endless source of ideas.

You can go anywhere, create anything. There are no limits.  Plus, the supernatural and mystical always have one element that is highly effective in fiction, and that is the unknown. If it’s supernatural or mystical you can always hide it and make it mysterious. Bingo, you have a story.

ih: Of all the books you’ve written, which one would you consider your greatest work, and why?

FP: Well, that’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is.

All my books are different, and each has its strengths and its weaknesses. Each book appeals to different sensitivities among my readers in its own unique way.

This Present Darkness could be considered my greatest work because it has touched the most readers and has endured the longest; Tilly, on the other hand, has always been a very quiet, slow burner, a little unsung book working in the background. The Visitation is perhaps the first book in which I depict through my lead character my personal struggles in my faith; Illusion is my expression of awe and wonder at the love God has granted me.

Novels are like any other art.  You pour your soul into them and they go where they go and do what they do.  The outcome is from the Lord.

ih: What interests do you have outside of writing?

FP: Music. I have played the 5 string banjo for over 20 years and now I’m seriously studying the guitar. I lead worship at my local church which means I lead a worship band including musicians and singers. That’s a lot of fun, and always a creative challenge. It’s also a marvelous environment for learning how to work with people.

I love flying and still have a current pilot’s license, but alas, flying is getting too expensive and I don’t do much of it anymore.

I also love motion pictures and I’ve done some video production, but I guess that’s going to remain at the level of a hobby. Well, okay.

ih: What advice would you give to upcoming writers?

FP: Know what you’re doing. It’s not enough to want to write a book. You have to devote yourself to learning the writing craft, knowing all the nuts and bolts, rules and fundamentals of good fiction writing. I’ve often heard would-be writers advised to “never give up,” but that’s the worst thing you can tell somebody who has no skill, no knowledge of how it’s to be done. That person can never give up, and consequently waste his/her whole life producing unmarketable material. Know what you’re doing.

~~~

Thanks, Frank, for the interesting and informative answers!

One reader (today only) will win Peretti’s newest release Illusion.  Here’s how: either (1) leave a comment below telling us which Peretti book is your favorite and why OR (2) leave a comment on something that caught your attention reading today’s interview.

Winner will be chosen at random by the most amazing, intelligent, and handsome man alive: my husband!

(Book shipped within 2 weeks, continental U.S. address only).

.

Our Anniversary (and the Day of the Dead)

November 1, 1987

When we planned our wedding day for November 1st twenty-four years ago, never would we have imagined that we would be in Mexico, where Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a much celebrated holiday during this same time.

Now, here we are.  Communities are abuzz with people preparing special meals and buying flowers to build altars in their homes and to decorate graves of loved ones. They will then go to that grave and share a light meal with the deceased before heading home where they wait for the departed to come and enjoy their favorite foods with them.

My husband also buys flowers– and places them in my hands to remind me of the love and promises made at a different altar. Then we’ll go out tonight and enjoy a special meal, as we reminisce about the years and talk about the covenant we made to each other.

A covenant that is anything but dead.

To have and to hold, from this day forth, …

We still have each other to hold.

for richer or for poorer…


We’ve known God’s blessings of provision and we’ve learned to pray through scarce financial seasons.

for better or for worse…

We’ve had joyful times and we’ve suffered significant loss;

we’ve loved and we’ve fought.

in sickness and in health…

We’ve known health and have endured through life-altering sicknesses.

till death do us part.

But we’re still committed.

And we’re still in love.

A Few Choice Words for Hubby

My guapo turns 50 today.

And since one of his love languages is words of affirmation, here are fifty (go ahead, count them!) adjectives to describe what I think of him:

Able, affectionate, amazing, astute, attentive, benevolent, bona-fide, caring, clever, compassionate, decent, discerning, doting, encouraging, estimable, friendly, funny, gifted, Godly, good-natured, handsome, helpful, honorable, intelligent, introspective, judicious, kind, laudable, meritorious, neat, neighborly, observant, passionate, perceptive, perspicacious, philosophical, sagacious, selfless, sensational, sensitive, sharp, striking, sublime, sympathetic, terrific, thoughtful, understanding, upright, wise, and wonderful!

Happy Birthday, Amor!

What Did I Get Myself Into?

Hungarian Telephone Factory - 1937. Budapest
Image via Wikipedia

Those were my exact words, accompanied by an exasperated moan, as I hung up the phone…twenty-five years ago yesterday.

Ignorance certainly was bliss, for had I known some of the answers to that question, I most likely would have turned in fear and run the other way. Ignorance is often God’s way of gracing our lives.

 

What I got myself into was…

Maybe I should tell you about that phone call before I enumerate.

It was a pastor calling.

A single pastor.

One with gorgeous and kind blue eyes, thick dark hair, and an engaging smile. He called to ask me out for the following evening, September 25th.

Except I wasn’t interested.

It had nothing to do with him (shoot, there were enough single girls after him to make any girl happy to be asked) but everything to do with me.

Barely two weeks prior to that call, I had made a serious commitment to God with my life. Yes, I was already a Christian, but decided to give myself completely to His service.

At twenty-one years old, I had told God I was tired of immature young men and would therefore be hanging up the wishy-washy dating game – at least for a few years –  and instead would give Him my undivided attention.

Then the interruption of that call. Did God not hear me? Was my mother praying for me, again!?

I answered, “yes,” to that single pastor for two reasons: the first because I didn’t know how to turn down a man of God (would I get struck by lightning?) and the second was the fact he had two tickets to Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland for Singing in the Rain.

There was no way I was going to pass on the opportunity to see the live production of one of my favorite musicals for f-r-e-e! (Little did I know it would cost me my life as I knew it).

So after that momentary thrill of knowing I’d see the play, I hung up and lamented, “What did I get myself into!?”

Thirteen months later, a fairy tale wedding and wonderful in-laws…

That’s what I got myself into.

Sixteen moves and counting; six pregnancies and four kids…

That’s what I got myself into.

The best husband a girl can hope for; an amazing love affair…

That’s what I got myself into.

Two roles that I didn’t think fit me and two countries I never thought I’d live in…

That’s what I got myself into.

Living with a man of character, growing a Christian family…

That’s what I got myself into.

Laughter, trials, multiple blessings, near complete loss…

That’s what I got myself into.

Health and sickness, becoming who I am…

That’s what I got myself into.

But especially and most unexpectedly…

God’s mysterious and unique plan for my life.

That’s really what I got myself into!

.

.

Committed in Love

Twenty-three years ago today I walked with nervous anticipation down the aisle to where my prince stood waiting.  So handsome, he looked at me with his kind and adoring blue eyes; it wasn’t hard to commit myself to him.

So commit I did.

Wedding Day Nov 1, 1987

To have and to hold, from this day forth, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,  till death do us part.

We still have each other to hold.

We’ve known blessing and we’ve learned to pray through scarce financial seasons.

We’ve had good times and we’ve suffered loss.

We’ve enjoyed health and have endured through sicknesses.

But we’re still committed.

And we’re still in love.

Reading, Writing, and Sudoku

You’ll never guess what I got for Valentine’s Day.  Even I couldn’t.

But I am using it even as I type. Nope, not a computer, nor any new books.  Not even a new fountain pen (which I love and buy for myself).

My handsome boyfriend of 23 years (and hubby for 22) gave me a two-day personal retreat.  So here I am somewhere in the heart of Oaxaca City reading, writing, and doing Sudoku puzzles.

I packed all kinds of books with the intention of getting much writing done: catching up on my overdue lessons with the Christian Writer’s Guild, polishing articles, writing query letters to magazines, and getting more blogs posted on one of the four sites I manage.

My ambitions forgot to consider how slow of a writer I am. Really! Since yesterday I haven’t yet finished my next lesson, nor sent out a query, and am only now getting to another blog post (even if it is simply journaling to tell you about my gift).

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=fountain+pen&iid=5266949″ src=”2/7/3/5/Closeup_of_the_c599.jpg?&imageId=5266949″ width=”197″ height=”158″ /]I did, however, begin reading a historical fiction by Ann Rinaldi, worked three Sudoku puzzles, cleaned up my inbox, began research for my next lesson, and even wrote with my fountain pen in my spiral bound notebook.

In other words, I’m having a great time!

It may seem like an ironic Valentine’s gift, but this truly is a self-less love gift from my hubby. He knew I wanted this, needed this. Amazing, isn’t he?

Now back I go to writing. Maybe even an article on how men can love their wives, since I’ve got a great model to work with.

Missionary Dating

We’re missionaries and we go on dates.  Gotta keep the romance alive! 

We went to an Argentine restaurant here in Oaxaca.  I had a delicious arrachera steak for about $9, while hubby opted for grilled fish…since he knew he’d be finishing my steak!

Then we had some fun with the camera:

me gusta! web ready  smooooch_web ready

It’s important for every couple to set aside time for each other.  Many times missionaries don’t do this; sometimes due to ministry overload, other times due to finances, and even at times for difficulty in finding trustworthy child care (boy do I have stories of that!) 

We’ve learned (now that we’re older and a bit wiser) that it is essential to make time and save up for such occasions.  After all, if the marriage ends up failing, what good has the ministry done?  All is lost.

As Christ’s ambassadors, we must first represent in our own marriage the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.

And woo-hoo! what fun that can be!

Our Anniversary and Day of the Dead

When we planned our wedding day for November 1st twenty one years ago, never would we have imagined that we would be in Mexico, where Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a much celebrated holiday on the same day.

Well, here we are.  Everyone has been buying flowers the past few days to build altars in their homes for their departed loved ones.  Everyone, that is, except us and the rest of the Christian community.  My husband did buy flowers- to remind me of a covenant made at an altar.  That covenant is anything but dead.

Many people are traveling to homes of loved ones; Mexican highways are busy this weekend.  My hubby as well is traveling this weekend.  Today, our anniversary, he spent sitting behind a wheel driving from Oaxaca to San Luis Potosi while I stayed home and did laundry and read in the sun.  Never fear, we did spend a wonderful afternoon together yesterday.  We had a nice lunch together and even ended up with some fine chocolate I carried home in one hand while the roses were in the other.

A romantic dinner is planned for later this month in the zocalo, downtown Oaxaca, which has a charm all it’s own and is the perfect place to celebrate such an important day.