Today I’m delighted to share a guest post from Elisabeth Klein Corcoran. Elisabeth shares an excerpt from her new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, released on Valentine’s Day. Now here’s Elisabeth.
Different Kinds of Lonely
Question: I’m tired of being married and so alone. Tired of making tough decisions by myself, going to bed by myself, talking to myself. What’s helped you with the loneliness?
I remember a conversation I had about five years into my marriage. I was having a debate with a single friend. We were comparing lonelinesses. I said, “There’s nothing lonelier than married-lonely.” I believe I won the argument. There came a point in my marriage when I made most of my own decisions, even regarding the kids. When I went to bed alone more nights than not. When I was my own closest companion.
Before I tell you what I did to attempt to stave off the loneliness, let me say this. It didn’t always work. And I even have the benefit of being an introvert who thrives on solitude and alone time. There were moments that I just felt lonely no matter what I did. There still are, plenty of them. But I’ve been learning to be okay with that. To not feel the need to run from or cover up every emotion that is unsettling. Another notion from Lauren Winner that I have let sink in is this: “Maybe I should try to stay in the loneliness, just for five minutes, just for ten minutes. Maybe the loneliness has something for me. Maybe I should see what that something is. Sit with the loneliness and ask what the loneliness has for you.” I’m not backing away. I’m not reaching for something else. At least, not always. It’s okay to be lonely. It’s okay to be sad. It’s alright to sit with some tea and just look out the window sometimes. It’s alright to lie on your bed and just cry for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the feelings you have. Lonely won’t kill us, girls.
I joined a group. I became a part of a twelve-step recovery group specifically designed for the major issue in my marriage. Being with people who understood me was a turning point for me emotionally. Being with people who didn’t think I was crazy changed how I thought about myself and my life. That weekly connection helped fill something inside of me that had been missing.
I made Plan B’s. If we had plans to do something, either as a couple or a family, and I was canceled on for whatever reason, I would have it in my head to go do something else, or to take my kids anyway. This came later on, after years of blaming someone else for my circumstances. I realized that I could still go and do even if my partner didn’t want to or wasn’t able to.
I was purposeful about getting together with my friends, one on one, and in small groups. I tried to do a girls’ night out once a month. I met another friend for dinner monthly. I made sure that I wasn’t sitting alone in my house all day every day, all evening every evening. I took the initiative to keep in close contact with my dearest friends, through time together, calling, emailing and texting.
I did things on my own that I liked to do, even trying new things. During our separation, my then-husband would spend Sunday afternoon back in our home with our kids and had asked me not to be there. So I would have six hours to fill. I would sometimes get together with a friend, or use that time to write, but other times I’d go to a movie by myself, go out to eat by myself, take the train and go explore the next town by myself. This was good for me. Scary, but good.
But mostly, I told God when I was lonely. I would read sad Psalms. I would just tell him outloud what I was feeling and that I didn’t like it and that it wasn’t fair. I would cry myself to sleep sometimes. It wasn’t pretty, it didn’t always garner an immediate result of vanishing loneliness, but it was honest and real and true. Bottomline, loneliness is part of the package in a difficult marriage. Sometimes you can do something about it, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you just need to sit with it and trust that it will pass. It will probably come back around again, but if you ask God to teach you, to enter in, you might gain something from it…a strength, a quiet confidence, even a peace.
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Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in joining.
Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.
Ladies, Don’t miss out!
Ladies, invite your friends and come to Making a Difference in Your Corner of the World Conference February 28-March 1, 2014.
Register under “Lighthouse” and save.
Put “Lighthouse” under the group name, and the conference will refund $5 to each one who registers with this group code—after fifteen have signed up. We need fifteen to count as a group, so invite your friends to join you and the Lighthouse group. I’ll be doing two workshops and would love to see you!
Click here to here Jen Barrick’s inspiring story. She’s the daughter of the mother-daughter keynote team.