“It’s a continuation, not an ending,” my husband said.
Last week, I unpublished my books and courses (meaning they are not available for sale on the various platforms) and over two hundred blog posts (moved to “trash” pending edits or permanent deletion.)
I have been writing about marriage since I was a newlywed myself.
While I have updated my content to reflect my growth over the years, I now believe my resources need more attention to fully reflect my current beliefs around marriage and what it means to be a Christ-follower.
Someone asked me whether deleting the resources wasn’t a tad dramatic. I am not sure it wasn’t. But what I know is that I am at peace. I’m doing my best.
And my best involves unpublishing content, combing through it, removing unhelpful stuff, and updating everything.
I started Intentional Today (this website) ten years ago because my husband and I struggled at the beginning of our marriage. It took a couple of years for our relationship to get to a healthy place.
I felt called to walk with newlywed women struggling to wrap their minds around marriage. Intentionality and grace have been our rallying call.
It was a great run. Until recently (well, until three years ago), when I started to get a glimpse of possible problem areas.
Back when my marriage was a bustling construction zone, I learned to focus on the one person I could control. Myself. My husband needed to grow too but I discovered I couldn’t force him to. So I learned to hold my space and keep my spouse accountable.
And because accountability, boundaries, and personal growth worked for our relationship, my approach was to help wives in those areas too.
What I didn’t realize was that women married to chronically problematic men would read my words and double down, working on themselves as if they were the problem.
My posts had caveats, I still wrote about unhealthy dynamics and how to address them.
But when you’re writing from your now-healthy-marriage silo, your words can still be exhausting, tone-deaf, and entirely unhelpful for spouses in toxic or abusive marriages.
I have grown – and still growing – and I don’t want to be nauseating anymore. I want my books, courses, and blog to radiate sensitivity and nuance.
I am pro-HEALTHY-marriage, not just pro-marriage. I don’t want to people to read my words and walk away thinking they have to stay married, no matter what. I don’t want them to think they are the problem when they are not.
I want people to have a clearer image of what a healthy marriage looks like. I hope people read my words and gain hope and confidence for their individual next step. Not shame, confusion or false guilt.
God doesn’t want His sons and daughters to stay married no matter the cost. Marriage is not a prison.
So I want to “switch on the light” on unhealthy marriages too so God’s daughters and sons don’t conflate common marriage problems with chronic and unrepentant individual issues.
So I am really sorry.
If you’re in a chronically problematic marriage, I’m sorry for being insensitive to your lived experience.
I was really protective of marriage in general, believing that many spouses don’t take their vows seriously.
Now I know that most people of faith will fight for their marriages long after they should have stopped fighting. Frivolous divorces exist, but there isn’t an epidemic of frivolousness.
The actual epidemic seems to be the church’s silence about abuse and consequences of unrepentant sin in relationships. A big problem is God’s people propping up erroneous teachings of marriage first, instead of individual welfare first.
I’m sorry for making discernment harder by not being explicit in every article I wrote.
I made assumptions that everyone who reads my words understands the context in which I write them. I issued caveats but it’s hard to listen to simple caveats when you’re desperate and an article reads like it can be applied to your situation.
I grew up in patriarchy, hyper-spirituality, purity culture, and prosperity-gospel-in-marriage messages.
I’m not making an excuse, rather explaining where I am coming from. I, too, have walked after the ways of man while believing I was following Jesus.
Some of these cultural beliefs and individual preferences passed through me to you. I am truly sorry.
The Process That Is Changing My Mind
My husband and I are having unending conversations around what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus.
We grew up with many erroneous beliefs, and we’re both untangling our faith and finding so much peace and freedom in Christ.
“It’s a continuation, not an ending.”
My husband is right. However, bringing down your moneymaking resources has a way of whacking your soul. Unpublishing so much of my content and closing my coaching practice still felt like I had wasted ten years of my life.
But yes, he’s right. I am simply continuing, making adjustments based on what I know now. The journey has not been a waste.
Also. Writing this blog post was really scary. It’s hard to be open about your messes. Transparency and truth-sharing will always feel risky.
But I am at peace now. Well, I am actively finding peace every day.
And one way or another, I was going to need a more in-depth explanation as to why my books and courses are no longer available for sale and why I’ve taken a break from coaching.
Do You Have a Timeline For Your Revised Resources?
I have NO IDEA when I will finish editing my books and course.
For those who do not know, I’m from Kenya. My husband and I moved to the US ten years ago. English is my third language.
Now we speak English in Kenya as our official language. But most people speak it as a second or third language. All that to say, my writing and editing are not as fast as I’d like because of third language processing. (And a chronic condition.*)
I’m currently re-writing the first book, Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years, and it should be out again in the next couple of months.
Is this Goodbye?
I have wrestled with whether to hang up the writing and coaching gloves altogether.
Writing and coaching come at such a physical and mental cost. I suffer from chronic pain (which I continue to believe for complete healing), and any sitting or standing comes with varying degrees of misery.
Due to prolonged inflammation, I also struggle with brain fog which affects my thinking and processing.
For now, I don’t feel called away from this space. So I’m here. And I’ll continue writing about healthy marriages and calling out unhealthy dynamics.
Here Is the Real Lesson
Author and speaker Sheila Gregoire says (paraphrased), “Christian marriage books don’t have to cause harm to some people.”
I believe her words echo Paul’s teaching to the church in Rome.
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. Romans 14:19-22 NIV
In this text, Paul warns the church in Rome against judging and despising one another based on food choices.
He asks one group not to stumble others with their meat and wine freedoms. (Earlier in the text, he also urged the non-meat-eaters and non-wine-drinkers not to despise the others because of their liberty.)
While addressing a different subject, these verses re-tell the greatest commandment: love for God and love for one another.
We are all members of one body, and we must make adjustments based on what the rest of the body needs. It’s not healthy for the body of Christ to dwell in silos.
As a marriage writer, I need to be inclusive, writing in a way that doesn’t cause “my brothers and sisters to fall.” I need to be trauma-aware to the best of my ability.
As the Holy Spirit guides me, I need to reach deep and make changes within my belief system. I must be open and pliable so that my lived experience of a healthy marriage doesn’t become a stumbling block for others with a different reality.
Certainly, discernment is still in the hands of others. We’re all responsible for what we consume. I am not a licensed therapist, and I do not provide diagnosis, counseling, treatment, or mental care services. I know my limits (I’m a writer, author, and coach).
But I desire to be a good steward of what I know. And I think everyone should aspire to the same. So here’s to grand continuations, following Christ as He leads.
Are we friends on Facebook (@intentionaltoday) and Instagram (@nginaotiende)? Let’s connect! I share more regularly, offering tips and thoughts on unhealthy marriage dynamics and how to get healthier if you’re in a healthy marriage.
Helpful Websites and Pages For Toxic, Abusive or Difficult Marriages
- Hope For Hurting Wives
- Flying Free with Natalie Hoffman
- Life Saving Divorce with Gretchen Baskerville
- To Love Honor and Vacuum with Sheila Gregoire
- Leslie Vernick
- Patrick Weaver Ministries
- Elisabeth Klein
- Sarah McDugal
- Call emergency hotline in your country. For stateside help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or browse their website for free help.