I used to hate something about girls’ night out. Don’t get me wrong: I love my friends. But eventually the conversation would turn to our marriages and things like, “Can you believe I still have to pick up his socks?” or “If he comes home late for dinner one more time…” would inevitably come up. And I would sit there, trying to think of “regular” things to complain about.

Because I had only dreamed that those would be the concerns I’d get to rattle off. I had bigger fish to fry. And I knew deep down that my friends’ marriages were normal and quirky and sometimes boring but overall solid, and that my marriage was none of the above.

My almost-nineteen-year marriage was filled with addiction issues and raging, abuse and codependency, lies and pleas for help. I was not living in happily ever after. I was living in a suburban, Christian nightmare.

And to top it all off, I felt utterly alone and just knew, instinctively knew, that no one would believe me, understand me, or truly know how to help me. I was convinced I was the only Christian woman in a bad Christian marriage.

But I no longer believe that. As my separation and divorce have unfolded over the past three years, I have met in person and online close to five hundred women who are either living in difficult Christian marriages or who are no longer in difficult Christian marriages. It is an epidemic. It is its own little sub-culture in Christianity.

I have made it through to the other side. Pretty banged up, for sure, but on the road to healing. And I stand here calling your name.

You, sweet woman, in a marriage that you know deep down in your gut is harder than the average hard. You, sweet woman, who cries yourself to sleep at night. You, sweet woman, who has asked for help and has perhaps been told to submit more or pray more. You, sweet woman, who has asked God to help you, to heal you, to fix you. You, sweet woman, who had dreamed of so much more for your life.

There is help. There is healing. There is hope. There is a community. If you are ready, the next step is waiting. Reach out. I will take your hand and we will walk this through. And to clarify, I don’t mean allow me to help you leave your marriage. Not at all. I mean, doing the same thing you’ve always been doing will not change your marriage. It’s time to try some new things, in the absolute hope that a new marriage can come up out of the ground where your current marriage now lies.

It will be scary. It will be hard. But, trust me, it’s no scarier and no harder than the thought of continuing to live in the circumstances you are living in. 

You are not alone. I will scream that from the mountaintops if I have to: you are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone.

Elisabeth Klein is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaks several times a month to women's groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers' Guild. She focuses her attention on women who are in hurting marriages or find themselves divorcing. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at www.elisabethklein.com or on facebook.

Publication date: March 28, 2014