When a Post-Crisis Marriage is Full of Imperfections

beachcrescent

Whenever someone asks me to write my bio, I have a few that I have written already. Do you want a long version or a little snippet of my life? I ask. I’ll take one I already have and then add or subtract, change the ages of my kids if they’ve passed a birthday and go on from there.

But it’s hard. How do you sum up a life in under 100 words? Or under 400 even?

My “bio” usually has words in it that sound like

Sarah lives a fully redeemed life in a restored marriage yada yada yada. She believes in grace and second chances etcetera etcetera.

And there’s nothing wrong with this because if I have to quantify the past decade in a few words, it’s the best way to do it. It is true.

However, one line of that has bothered me lately. It’s the part about the fully redeemed marriage.

We do live in a post-crisis marriage that somehow, by God’s grace, has been redeemed. And we are still married. And we still manage to sleep in the same bed and not kill one another.

But I never want any bio or blog post or talk I give to ever make it sound like this post-crisis marriage is easy. In fact it’s really, really hard.

I’m not sure a lot of post-crisis married couples (at least the ones that have been public about their crises) are very transparent with this. When’s the last time you heard a Christian speaker or public person who is known for their crisis or marriage redemption story be open with the struggles they face now? When’s the last time we heard a “recovered” sex or drug addict talk publicly about the current mistakes he or she makes in recovery or the last time we read about the used-to-be-sinful talk about their current journey through struggle.

I know I haven’t been all that transparent about the current state of my marriage.

It’s embarrassing, for one thing. We should have it all together, right? There shouldn’t be anger or dissent or intense disagreement when it comes to parenting and money. There should not be fights that rise to a near scream and a squaring of shoulders and of verbal boundaries crossed you never thought you’d cross. There should not be words wielded like swords and there should not be arrows flung that pierce the heart. And this should not happen every day.

And it’s scary to be publicly transparent. The Internet is a rough and tumble place. Because, what would we do to them (what would you do to me?) if they were honest, really honest, about what goes on at home? How would we crucify them? The web is a horrifying place to be honest.

My marriage is full of imperfections. We are selfish and we are prideful people who are overly offended and prone to anger. That’s me. That’s my husband.

But I can’t say that. Because nine years ago my marriage was fixed and somehow I feel the pressure to maintain a sense of homeostasis in the public eye because of that.

But the truth is, all marriages, whether post-crisis or not, go through seasons. And the other truth is some people fight more than others. We’ve always argued, from the time we were dating until yesterday we have been fighters. We are first-born, selfish, stubborn people who have experiential data to back up our points of view. But it’s hard for me to be open with that because of the backlash that might will occur.

So when you read my bios, when you pop over from twitter and read a post I write and somehow find my one hundred or four hundred word about-me that talks about my redeemed marriage, please know that it’s not perfect. It’s far from that. In fact, it’s a struggle each day to love well and like wading through mud to suppress our own selfish inclinations. Each step toward Jesus and toward grace is harder than the last and we fall in to bed at the end of each day with a sigh, that yes-we-made-it-through-another-day-barely-intact.

This is honesty. In fact it’s more than honesty, it’s transparency. (Because they are not the same thing)

And I write to process my life. The sheer fact that I have felt I cannot write about this is why I’ve been stunted in my creativity the past few years. This is why I’ve been encumbered by a thick wall of attic-insulation in my mind. It’s almost like I haven’t been able to hear myself think.

But no more.

I’m creaking the door open. 

Comments

  1. Nadine says

    Thank you, Sarah. I was praying for you earlier and to read the product of your heart is absolutely amazing. Keep doing what your doing. This is good stuff! Thank you for your vulnerability it’s beautiful, just like you.

  2. Lindsay says

    Thank you Sarah. As someone who is only in the beginning months of a “redeemed” marriage, this is encouraging. I struggle still with letting go of the person I let into my life that I shouldn’t have. Its so easy to think everyone else has figured it out… and isn’t struggling at all… that one day God just flipped a switch for them. I thought about you today actually and wondered if it was hard for you like it is for me. I am thankful for your transparency today and look forward to reading more of it. I’m not in a place where I can be publicly transparent about my marriage, but maybe someday. Anyway, thank you.

  3. Nicki says

    Sarah, you are one of the few bloggers I still follow, because you ARE real. Thank you for your words, and sharing your battle. Continued prayers for you and your family.

  4. Alex says

    Your honesty is refreshing. Im sitting in the broken marriage right now and trying to deal with the hurt and often wonder what went wrong. We dont talk about it in the “Christian circles”. I’ve walked away from my church community because of my marriage ending. Reading your blog has helped me not feel so alone in this desperately lonely time. Please know that your honesty is touching the hearts of so many.

  5. Xochitl says

    Sarah, honesty, as believers in Christ is all we can offer. You are a new creation in Christ and yes you will fail and so will I but what keeps us going is that we serve an Amazing God and His mercy and grace is new everyday. Bless you for your transparency, I am walking with you.

  6. says

    Sarah I love your transparency. It is what drew me to your blog and it is what keeps me reading. Your honesty is beautiful to me. I am sure I could not be as honest/transparent as your beautiful words are.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Thank you for sharing all of it. Thank you for being brave enough to crack open the attic door.

  7. says

    Sarah, I love your transparency. It is what drew me to your blog and it is what keeps me reading. Your transparency is beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing your story, all of it.
    Thank for being brave enough to crack open the attic door.

  8. Amy says

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Sometimes when marriages are still struggling, it is easy to get discourged thinking others have it all together. Personally, it helps me to know that other people do not have perfect marriages either. Thank you for being open

  9. Cheryl Dillard says

    Sarah, this is my marriage too. I often think God put me here to help heal the marriages of others. Then my husband and I fight, again. Then I think how can I help others when I my husband and I fight all the time. Like you we are fighters. I like to believe we are fighters because we have so much passion. Thank you for sharing your story and letting my know I am not alone. You are helping my marriage.

  10. Irish Triplets says

    Marriage is WORK. None of us realize that when we’re up on the alter professing our love. If both husband and wife are not willing to work at the marriage, EVERY SINGLE DAY, it will fail.
    Thank you for being so vulnerable and providing us with a sense of “I’m not alone”!
    http://irishtripletsrecovery.blogspot.com/

  11. Kelli says

    You could’ve easily left this post stored up in a journal or the corners of your heart, but you didn’t …and this will and has helped so many. I am one of those people. My marriage is in a good season right now & for that I’m grateful . But I’ve realized the tide changes often & so often we see people with gifts like yours & we think “they’ve figured it all out.” It is encouraging that you’re willing to “figure it all out” by sharing with us.
    I pray heaps of blessing, peace & joy over your marriage on the good days, bad days & in between. You are a blessing. Thank you.

  12. Angie says

    My marriage has been like that – full of ups and downs and this stark contrast between what life was like before Jesus and what life was like after. We have been married for nearly 13 years (I am only 31) and have made it through everything, including my own sexual addiction. It’s not easy to talk about this subject matter, but I know that the Lord finds the honesty refreshing, that marriage is at the heart of his redemptive plan and your sisters in Christ need to hear about your struggles so that they, too, can be honest with their struggles and shine the light on what the enemy is doing to marriage in our world. Thank you for your honesty, I so appreciate it. God Bless.

  13. Angie says

    Sarah, I started writing you a thank you and it actually turned into a blog of my own…lol
    Thank you for your transparency and for your bravery to be! You have encouraged me so much today!

  14. says

    marriage is hard yo <<<said in a jovial tone b/c to be serious about this topic is dangerous.

    i never had a picture in my head of the "perfect" couple when thinking about marriage. even (apparently) holding back, i felt as if you were honest and realistic. that's what i like most about your writing.

    how do i go from wondering if divorce is in my future, to experiencing my husband's love for me in a matter of weeks? am i bipolar? am i demanding control freak? or ALL people struggle with ups and downs? this is why i read your blogs. because you make me feel normal, yet at the same time give me hope that working on things changes things. never have you given the impression though, that the work stops at some magical point when the book ends. but i thank you for the hope that the struggle is worth it.

  15. Teresa says

    Thank you, thank you, Sarah. My husband decided after 30 years that he did not want to be married and does not have a desire to work on it. Wish so much we were in the “working it out stage”. I made a commitment 30 years ago and always planned to honor that commitment. Marriage is work and goes through seasons and you never give up on it. Chad’s and your determination and commitment are inspiring.

  16. says

    Lord, this must have been hard to write. To be honest about. My marriage is imperfect too. Just yesterday I was convicted of some ways I treat my husband with (gulp) contempt. May God blow through this open window and cause your heart to overflow with joy because of it. May your voice be unshackled because of your honesty.

  17. says

    Sarah, I’ve been wrestling with some “attic insulation” of my own, not always sure where to draw the line between writing to process and blogging to process, and as a result not saying anything at all. There’s something magically freeing about speaking out, though. Even if the web is an uncontrollable, scary place. Your courage encourages me. Thank you. <3

  18. says

    I never equate redeemed with perfect or trouble free. Coul be because I’m redeemed too. I often feel a hesitancy to write about personal things involving my spouse or children but only because I’m not comfortable, as this point, with that. But I try to be as honest about my struggles and failures. And I applaud you for your sensitivity to something many would find trivial. Press on!

  19. Diane Taylor says

    Hi Sarah – yes, marriage is like running a marathon. You give and give and then suddently you hit a wall. And getting up the hill in front of you seems impossible. Today is the one year anniversary of my son’s death. I am amzed that I even got to this day standing up. And sadly my marriage is not handling this post crisis as well as I’d hoped. We are really struggling to come to terms with all this. My husband keeps saying that I am “fine” (he is Jonathan’s stepdad and only knew him from the age of 13 until his passing at age 24). He isn’t seeing me – because if he really saw me, he would know that I am NOT FINE. We’ve been thru so much this last 12 months: death of a child, theft of personal property, two major surgeries…..and I feel like it is ok to be not fine. He is in another world, pretending all is well. But I am not giving up. It’s too important. God knows our struggles nad he is there even when I am on my knees, like today.

    This is such a brave post, I wanted to thank you for being so open andhonest with us.

    Much love to you,

    Diane T :)

  20. says

    Oh Sara, I cannot imagine anyone looking at you differently because of this post and because of what you go through in your marriage. If we are all honest, we all know it is exactly how you describe. I wish we’d all be open so we don’t have to feel alone or strange. This, THIS, is life and I am glad you are opening up this door. How wonderful for you to continue being vulnerable. It is reality, for all of us. Years ago a documentary was made about my life because I have been through a lot and some one felt it should be shared and hopefully encourage others. I made it a point not to end the documentary with the fact I was doing well, I was doing better. No, I wanted to be ‘one of them’, I wanted hurting people to be able to identify with me and I didn’t want to be another person with a success story who was already on the other side. And frankly… I am still a person who wrestles through life. Aren’t we all?

  21. Mark Allman says

    Sarah,
    I listen closer to those that struggle; that will admit it and who do not try to have the answers to it all. I have a tough time trusting time for their lives do not seem real to me or they are on the verge of falling into the abyss but will not admit it. I believe all struggle and I appreciate how you share yours. To know one who struggles and struggles to work through it all in the best way possible is encouraging. I see the light coming from that cracked door.

  22. says

    Love your willingness to put this out there. Marriage is hard, post crisis or not and we need more transparency in this. For us, I guess the thing is our marriage wasn’t “fixed” when it was redeemed it was just set on a new and better path. But that still involves real life difficult choices and situations that we have to navigate together every day.

  23. Rebecca says

    Thank you Sarah ! Today I needed to read this as I wonder how it all went wrong again
    , one year after our first crisis.

  24. Jessica says

    Hey Sarah! I just stumbled upon your blog and learned a bit about you. I find your post of today REFRESHING. I have been married 20 years to the same man, no ‘major’ events in my marriage have rocked it like it happened to yours, just the normal wear and tear, but by God’s grace, we have grown together and overcome those. I often read about redeemed marriages and people make it sound like it is basically BETTER than a wholesome marriage from the start, which always leaves me to wonder: no scar tissue that pulls on certain days, that won’t bend and stretch at other times as we are trying to make the marriage grow? No issues, no difficulties? It’s THAT easy? Like sin had no effect? THANK you for writing honestly. God CAN and DOES redeem marriages and people, but there are consequences, there are difficulties, there are fears, worries, whatever that a ‘regular’ marriage is spared, certainly to a certain degree even if in a fallen world nothing is really spared! THANK you for sharing that it is OK to live with the consequences of one’s sin, even if the marriage has been redeemed and it continues to be redeemed daily, it’s normal to struggle and have difficulties even if the marriage has been redeemed. Marriage is made of two sinners, so any type of marriage will always have a degree of struggle and difficulty, or seasons through it. Thank you for reminding people that perfection in marriage CANNOT be attained this side of heaven. Not an excuse NOT to work on our marriages, but a freeing truth in that everybody does experience difficulties, it’s to be expected, and it’s to be worked through by being on the same page and going in the same direction as a couple, to loosely paraphrase you ; ) Grace and peace.

  25. says

    Sarah,
    Thank you so much for this.
    We are in a “redeemed” marriage
    However, it’s so not perfect!! Reeks of imperfection and is a struggle every single day!
    Thank you so much again!

  26. Debbie Nance says

    I am late to the discussion but wanted to share.. I have been married for 23 years. I did not marry until I was 30 so I should have had more wisdom going into marriage but shoulds don’t count – I am still riding the roller coaster of emotions and battles, though the dips are not as stomach wrenching as they were 10 years ago, they still happen. My husband and I are both smart, determined, and competent people. We fight over money, frequency of sex, cleanliness, and disciplining of children, which I am learning is pretty much what a lot of couples fight over. We have also fought over really stupid stuff like how much laundry soap is needed, his tailgating, my pantry storage style, and whether to call when being late. I love this man so much it hurts but there have been times I have wished him dead (and that I could be the one killing him) wished he would leave, and wished I had never married. I have left once – for a few hours and realized I didn’t want to leave – I was also 7 months pregnant and unsure of everything. I came back and was glad to see him – I adore this precious man who can make me laugh, who “gets” my sense of humor and weird view on life, and who holds my hand (and heart) with a death grip.

    I have always thought that any married couple that did not fight had issues- one was either so overbearing the other was afraid to speak or they were both in denial about how little they cared about themeselves or the relationship. That may also be because I came from parents who loved each other passionately and fought passionataely. It seems normal to me. :)

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Thank you for being willing to be basically naked in front of all of us to show us that we are not alone. Thank you for your writer’s heart that feels so much and is able to put into words what our hearts are only wordlessly screaming. I adore you and pray for you. You can do this. I know it. And the next time someone is rude to you online – know that I am in your corner ready to fight for you and cheering you on. You are not alone either.

    • Stephanie Rourke says

      Wow Debbie Nance get out of my brain!!! Your words articulate almost to a T how I feel. Although I have never left my husband physically I have” left” him emotionally many times over or 20 year marriage. I was in a marriage that you described, the one with no fighting. And yes, apparently, we had “issues”.
      Thank you for your transparent comment. It’s so comforting knowing that we are not alone.

  27. Suzanne says

    Hey, you know what? My husband and I rarely fight. We pray together. Yet in the last 18 months we have fought more times than I can remember. Our raised voices have scared my daughter. At times we look at each other with big, bulging eyes and silently say, “Did we just DO that? Meaning fight like that? What happened?” We cry, we hug, we whisper love into each other’s ear. Then within two or three days we are fighting again. Right now there is a circumstance in our marriage that is not going to go away quickly, and there are problems we are having a hard time solving right now. Do we love Jesus? Yes. Should that question even need to be brought up and answered affirmatively? No. Why do I feel like I hope our windows are shut, that no neighbors can hear us when we fight? Because I feel ashamed that’s why. Am I supposed to walk out into my neighborhood the next day all smiles or can I look honest and a bit on the teary side? It’s my choice. I hope God helps me do the latter.

  28. Melanie says

    Wow. It sure was refreshing to read this blog post today. I’m glad a friend forwarded it to me and that I saved that email and actually took the time to read it! You got me thinking… I suppose I find myself in a “post-crisis marriage” (new term for me!) though some aspects of it are still too fresh and present to say that we’re “post” anything, and some moments I wonder if we’ll even make it, but those moments are few and shorter-lived as I snap my mind out of the tailspin it can take (We’ve come SO FAR! A testament to God’s amazing hand at work in our hearts to be sure. God’s not going to drop us now!!). We are living under one roof again (that’s a huge step 7 months in the making), yet still wading through the post-crap messes needing clean up at every turn which can be overwhelming. But at least the main crisis closed a major door 8 months ago, and we’re facing the messy aftermath together, and that is a good start. Moving in the same direction is definitely HUGE. Good to think ahead of what is to come when we really feel like we’re far enough from this to feel like its “post-crisis” and recognizing that there will always be seasons of ups and downs and we don’t have to feel the pressure to be “perfect” to prove to everyone that marriages can overcome a crisis. Transparency breathes hope. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Stephanie Rourke says

    We will always be living with some level of imperfection when the model is Jesus. Therefore our marriages will never reach the same perfection.
    But in a post-crises marriage the focus shifts from the crises that brought you there to the character change that allows you to live in the freedom of redemption. Restoration of something broken will never be perfect but it can be fixed. The pieces are put back together but you can still see the cracks. Kinda like “past wrongs” you don’t need to bring them up its apparent that they are visible but the repair has been done and the thing still works.

  30. Katie says

    Thank you for this honest, courageous post. I am also in a difficult marriage. As a Christian, I feel committed to this marriage, but I have to wonder why God allows this situation where I feel lonely, insecure and a failure. My husband has some terrible anger issues, which leave me feeling mystified as to what to say or do. My only hope is in God. I meditate on his word to get through my days. Bless you.

    • Diane says

      Katie, praying for you to know your true value in Christ, who loves you deeply. Please read Jesus Calling, which points to scripture, for some real peace and comfort. God will make good come out of your trials, if you let Him. You are never alone.

  31. says

    “The sheer fact that I have felt I cannot write about this is why I’ve been stunted in my creativity the past few years.”

    A tremendously valuable insight!
    I enjoyed both your post and the comments of your readers, a rich discussion.

  32. Pat says

    I have been married for nearly 34 years. In 1991 our marriage was at a crossroads. I still wonder sometimes if I would have been happier calling it quits, but I know the real answer is “no”. I still struggle with the hurts and we still have different ideas of communication. He says things that are hurtful and has no clue. I get angry and bite back. We are struggling, but for the most part we are trying. It is our humanness (is that a word?). I just keep praying.

  33. says

    Marriage is hard at times. It just is. So grateful that you share how yours is going. Ours is good right now. Rocky awhile ago, now better, always growing, always dealing with conflict. Thanks to God and His grace, acceptance is more mature now than ever for the two of us.

    Jessie

  34. Tina P says

    Beautifully written! I appreciate yo open, clear & frank communication. Truth is…. having a great marriage does not mean everything is perfect. Thanks for sharing & encouraging.

  35. says

    Thank you Sarah. God’s timing of me reading this is spot-on…I go on a retreat this weekend and wonder if the “truth” will be revealed in small group conversations. My husband & I shared our story of restoration three years ago before we moved away and yet we had a set-back that only a few know about. We moved back and sometimes it’s difficult to explain why without divulging too much. I often wonder what people would think if they knew…We’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary this summer. I’ll pray for you and would appreciate prayers for me to know if and when to share and be honest and when to keep quiet and just talk with God.

  36. kerry Brasher says

    Thank you for your transparency _it is so encouraging to have someone be real and not try to “camoflouge” in with the politically correct Chrisitianese we have come to live by. My own marriage has been full of ups and downs and lots of storms to weather -it is all so unpredictable too. So thank you for this -and the reminder that it is both of us -selfish, easily offended -and prime targets for the enemy to hone in on. But praise God he doesn’t leave us un-rescued….He comes again and always.

  37. says

    Can I just say what a relief to come across somebody who in fact knows what theyre talking about online. You certainly know how you can bring an problem to light and make it crucial. A lot more many people must read this and realize this side of the story. I cant think youre not far more well-known for the reason that you absolutely have the gift.

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