When You Feel All Alone

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on January 29, 2013

Do you girls have any idea how much you inspire me with your love for your husbands and commitment to your marriages? One of the blessings of my having chosen to write almost exclusively about marriage for the moment is that my inbox is flooded with beautiful, heart-rending emails from women who are fighting day after day (and often against all odds) to create loving, life-giving unions.

Some of those emails share sweet stories or funny anecdotes but by far the majority of them all tell a similar tale:

I feel so alone.

These women share with me how much it hurts to read and hear about happy, thriving marriages when their own partnership is suffering, their marital boat is taking on water and threatening to go under, and their husbands seem far away and distant.

These emails touch my heart not just because I feel for you, but because I feel you.

Despite my tales of smashing champagne glasses and such, it sounds like this surprises many of you. A close friend of mine was having a conversation about the difficulties of marriage with a friend of hers and my name came up. This friend of mine shared that Dan and I had been through our fair share of really, really hard seasons and her friend expressed shock. She had the impression that my union was all sunshine and roses.

Sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s not.

But I get how some people might be surprised by that because most of us (myself included) make at least some effort not to trash our significant others if we can help it.

As much as we’d love to share the latest offensive thing our husbands have done (and husbands – believe you me, I know this goes both ways) with anyone and everyone who will listen, we try to stop ourselves. We may not always succeed, but we try because we know that there are two sides to every story, that insulting our husbands ultimately tears apart our marriages, and that when push comes to shove we’re a team and you don’t throw your teammate overboard (I mean, not unless he really, really deserves it – wink, wink).

Keeping personal marital rifts largely to ourselves* is right and good. But it’s a cross (often a huge, heavy, painful cross) because when we do this well we can end up feeling alone and isolated. When all we see are spotlights being shone upon the heights of marital ecstasy, the shadows can feel incredibly cold.

I don’t have any solutions for you. I don’t know how to fix it. In fact, I think this is precisely why they say that marriage is sanctifying – because there isn’t always a way to make it better. Sometimes is just really hurts and all you can do in those moments is grit your teeth, bury your head into the chest of your loving Savior, and let him hold you.

Today I simply wanted you to know that I know.

Our crosses are all going to look a little bit different but we all have them. Every single last one of us.

So, when you see a sweet sister today and a little voice tells you that despite all outward appearances she might be struggling, give her a hug and send up a little prayer because goodness knows, even if you’re wrong and she’s doing okay at the moment, who couldn’t use a little extra love and spiritual support?

And if you’re the one who’s suffering today, please believe that you are not alone. Truly, we are all in this together though the darkness can feel cold and lonely and our seasons may not always be in sync.

You, sweet friends, are incredibly strong and brave and I love you. I just really, really love you.

 

Keep on fighting the good fight, loves!

 

 

Edited to add: I say “largely to ourselves” because I do think that there are certain people in whom we can (and often should) confide. Sadly, based on my inbox, it seems that not everyone has someone like this in their life. And for others, it’s just very hard for them to share painful details about their marital difficulties. I’m all for availing ourselves of trusted support when and if we can, though!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda January 29, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Without going into any detail, this was really good to read on this particular day. Thank you.

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Anon4Today January 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Commenting anonymously this time to say that this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I’ve been struggling so much in this area, and had begun to feel like I was all alone. THANK YOU!

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Gretchen P January 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. This is exactly what I need this week. I don’t know who to talk to or if I would just let go if things would be okay. God bless you.

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Denise January 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm

You have no idea how timely this is. And from previous comments, I am not the only one who needed this. Today I simply prayed for a miracle. Because all I want to do… well, I won’t let myself type it out. Bad enough I thought it. Thank you for this post.

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Bonnie January 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Hallie, I am so glad you and Dan have shared this message. Thank you for respecting your marriage enough to not air dirty laundry but still being a witness. Our Church needs such couples.
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Kelly @ In the Sheepfold January 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Everyone needs to hear that simple message of empathy: You are not alone. Gory details present but not detailed.
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Jodi January 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm

As much as it is a good to not “air our dirty laundry”, it is good for us to get help when the burden is too heavy to carry alone. There should be a good friend or two that can be trusted in sharing these things with, that will work to build up your marriage iwth their encouragement and advice. Someone who understands your heart and your husband’s. These friends are a treasure and such a help in the harder times in marriage.

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bearing January 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

What do you suppose is the fine line between

(1) not trashing your husband to others, and
(2a) reaching out for support when you need it or (2b) letting other women know they are not alone?

Obviously, anonymity or asking your husband’s permission to tell a story (hm, now that I think about it, that could be an interesting way to start an intramarital discussion!) are two ways of dealing with this dilemma, but I’m interested in hearing more ideas about this.
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Molly M. January 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Thank you. I really needed this today.

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Jenna@CallHerHappy January 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Wonderful! You’re so right: we don’t want to trash our husbands; we are supposed to lift them up. The only solace I find in times like these is to focus all my energy into making him as happy and well-accommodated as possible. More often than not, he feels it and starts to follow suit.

It doesn’t work for every situation, but it helps a lot of the time for us :)J

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Hannah January 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

I struggle with the “to whom do I express these things.” As in extremely struggle. My best girl friend is never-been married, rarely dated…so her advice is usually, just come over and stay the night. I want to have the person who says, “Yep, they can be frustrating and when the small things, the inability to put the phone back on the charger base or put socks in the hamper, I find that doing X, really helps me refocus and re appreciate.” I don’t think any of the social media forms are the appropriate place to air grievances although I did follow a co-workers: We are starting IVF to My husband is a lazy drunk to My husband is fantastic postings…over a single week and it really reaffirmed that social media isn’t the place to air your personal laundry.
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Nikita January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I just went through a briefing with the Navy for helping me go through the transition from civilian life to navy life. This blog entry will be kept as a reference to help me when I need that little piece of advice. I am just starting my marriage, but both my husband and I know that it will be rough, especially being a military family.

God bless and thank you
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Natalie January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

What a beautiful gift you have given each one of us when you say, “I don’t have any solutions for you.” Thank you.
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Kerry Wolf January 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Hallie, thank you for this. I love your blog, but as I recently discovered my husband, whom I love so very much, is terminally ill with cancer, and preparing to leave our 13 years old son and I alone, my heart breaks now when I read articles about marriage and happy families–not because I don’t want that for everyone, but because I am losing my love. Thank you for recognizing those in pain–and those alone, except for He who never leaves us.
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Elizabeth January 30, 2013 at 7:55 am

Thank you for this. My husband and I have had our ups and downs like anyone, but a dear friend has been in a 10 year downward spiral in her marriage, and I have no idea how to help. I hope you will do a follow up post about what *is* appropriate to share with another struggling couple.

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Natalie January 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Elizabeth, of course I don’t know your friend’s situation, but I was once a woman in a very awful situation and my marriage ended. I was so thankful to have friends that wanted to support me, but sometimes I know it was hard for them to know what to do or say. One of the best things you can do for your friend is to be honest with her; tell you don’t know what to say and you don’t know how to help, but you want to be available to her in whatever way she needs.
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Mrs. K January 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

This is such a beautiful post. Our priest recently joined our Homeplace Wisdom group and answered a question on keeping our marriages strong. The answer was simple and perfect: Stay close to the sacraments. Isn’t that so perfect. Go to Mass. Go to Confession often. Pray for your spouse. Forgive instantly as you hope he will, and forget. Never share anything with friends that you wouldn’t say to your spouse. This blog article arrived yesterday (respecting your spouse must be the theme of the week – or the theme of our vocation!). http://www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/2013/01/to-protect-your-reputation.html?m=1

Ps – Hallie, you are adorable.

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Christie @ Garden of Holiness January 30, 2013 at 8:20 am

Oh my goodness, yes. Sometime the loneliest place in the world is right beside your spouse. The good news is that this dark time is a season and not a destination. The even better news is that every marriage hits these low points, even the ones that look so perfect from the outside. As each person must go through a “Dark Night of the Soul” so much each marriage. God is doing his best work in your marriage during these dry times, during these tearful times. He’s pruning you both. It hurts like you never thought was possible when you stood at the altar and said, “I do.”

But it gets better. Better than you ever had before. I didn’t think it possible to heal all we’d been through, but part of the pain we suffered through was part of the healing process. We came to the altar already wounded. Some of those scars and dead branches have to be cleaned out of us still, so we know there is likely another dark season coming one day. The good news is, we know we can weather it. We have experience now.
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laura January 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

I came across this in a book:
Prayer in an Unhappy Marriage
O God, Lord and Director of my life, Thou hast placed me in the state of marriage. In it I hoped for joy and happiness, but alas! I experience only tribulation upon tribulation. But this is Thy will. O Heavenly Father, may Thy will be done! Thou dost place before my eyes Thy only, They well-beloved Son, whose whole life here below was the hard way of the cross. Thou dost call upon me to follow Him. I will do, O Lord, what Thou demandest of me. I thank Thee from my heart for Thy love in treating me as Thou didst treat Thy well-beloved Son, eternal with Thyself, and equal to Thee in essence. But behold my weakness! Have pity on my cowardice! I know that, without Thy special grace, I shall be unable to bear my cross as I should. Giveme what Thou demandest of me, and then ask what Thou wilt. Give me Thy most amiable Son, as Thou didst give Him to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, that He may be alwways with me, to counsel and assist me, to perserve and daily confirm me in Thy love. Place me in the open wound of His Heart. Fill me with His meekness and humility. Grant me a share in His fortitude, and I shall be able to endure all things. Lord, send me sufferings, trials, and tribulations as numerous and as heavy as seems good to Thee; but, at the same time, increase my patience and resignation. Teach me, after the example of my sweet Savior, to repay evil with good, angry words with silence or gentle replies; to merit Thy favor by a strict fulfillment of duty, and, by ready obedience and constant, faithful love, gain my husband’s heart to Thee. Perserve us, Almighty God, from the deceits of the evil spirits and from the malicious, or perhaps well-meant, though foolish language and counsels of silly people. Grant us peace and harmony, true affetion and forbearance, devout sentiments and holy fear, that we may cheerfully labor, pray, and suffer with and for each other. May we tread together the way of Thy holy Commandments and together reap the reward of our good works for an endless eternity! Grant us this, Heavenly Father, for the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as also of all the saints who, in the married state, sanctified themselves and attained eternal life. Amen.

Forgive the typos. There is a baby screaming at my feet.

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Estelle January 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

Dear Hallie, dear married women,

If you just knew how much I would like to have to struggle for a marriage!!!
I’m a single mom of 49 and my precious daughter’s father left us when she was 20 months old…She’s 18 by now and we are still alone, she never had a Daddy, I never had a Hubby…
I don’t only FEEL lonely, I AM alone, definitely…
So please, appreciate e

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Natalie January 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Estelle, I am so sorry for your pain. I know what it is like to be abandoned by a spouse. Loneliness is some of the worst kind of pain.
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anon2day also January 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thanks, Hallie, for this post. I’ve been married 31 years, and it’s true that marriages have their seasons. We are, all of us, flawed, so it’s also true that relationships with other humans is never perfect. We do our best, we call on Divine help, we get professional help when needed, and we hope to have a trusted friend or two in whom we can confide. Obviously an abusive situation calls for much different guidelines. But gratuitous griping isn’t useful, especially on social media (how many of our “friends” are close enough friends to receive this information?) My husband is actually the one who modeled loyalty to me – that we are a team and we don’t trash our mate. I have to say that the one time he didn’t follow this, and complained about me to his co-worker (and was repeated to me by the co-worker’s wife), I was really hurt. In her comment, above, Bearing raises good questions about the fine lines of when and how we confide in others, but we do our marriages a favor if we at least follow the broad lines of loyalty and discretion.

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Agnes January 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I’ve been feeling awfully lonely during the past month as well. I am not married yet. We are engaged. But I can definitely feel the weight of the cross at certain times more than others. And oh how I needed to hear that sometimes all we can do is bury ourselves in the embrace of our God. That’s where we find OUR COMFORT.

Thanks

Agnes
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a wife January 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for this! Hidden Crosses can be the hardest!

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bobbi @ revolution of love January 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm

What a great post. We all suffer marital crosses of some sort but for those who are especially burdened, it is good for them to know that they are not alone and that they have sisters in Christ praying for them,.
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Kelly M. January 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Great post Hallie. Lots of insightful comments here as well.
I grew up listening to the women in my family constantly cut down and belittle their spouses; everything from making them the butt of every joke, to having my father insulted in front of me and my sister as children. All this did was to create anger towards one another: I was upset at the family members who mocked my dad. My grandmother would be angry at my father for whatever my mother accused him of. My aunts opinions of my father were also negatively affected.
So while we all need a chance to vent, we have to be careful of how we are portraying our spouse, because that is the impression we will leave with the listener. And heaven forbid if our children overhear our complaints; who knows what they’ll take away.
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Monica February 1, 2013 at 10:19 am

Congratulations on winning one of the Sheenazing awards!

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Kris February 1, 2013 at 10:30 am

This is lovely. I wanted to add on to your last comment about finding someone who has your best interests at heart. I’m on the flip-side of this, with my best friend having some significant struggles in her marriage right now. If you the the FRIEND, please listen with an open heart and be there for your friend. But also be mindful that you CANNOT judge the spouse. Because if things go the way we pray they go, these people will stay together and repair their marriage. You almost have ot be like the priest in the confessional – listen, advise when appropriate, support, and then forget. Often, they just need an ear to say things out loud that are roaming around in their head. And when you have the opportunity to gently prod them to look at where they can improve, do so. And even if you are not close to the spouse, be a friend to BOTH. Show the spouse that you care and do not, under any cirmcumstances, treat them any differently no matter what your friend tells you in confidence.

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Leila February 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

I’m glad you said this. It’s important for women to share their experiences, but even more important not to air out all the grievances on the internet! Over the years I’ve noticed that the airers are all getting divorced!!
How will that help anyone?
You conveyed that you understand but also the value of reticence. You even explained that you can vent to that one trusted person. But the internet? No. Good work!

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James H, London February 6, 2013 at 5:57 am

Some years ago now, going through a rough patch with no relief in sight, I was on a railway platform, simply chanting, over and over again, ‘I believe You, God; I believe in You,’ each phrase in a breath. I had discovered the power of giving thanks and praise in the teeth of horror and self-contempt (even if only to spite Ol’ Nick).

It worked. That was the beginning of the turnaround. That gave us the grace to start praying the rosary together, which in turn (30 days after starting) gave me my first chance at a proper job in years. That was 6 years ago, and we’ve left that road long behind, thank God.

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