Marriage on the Mend, Healing Your Marriage after Crisis, Separation or Divorce – Interview with Co-author Penny Bragg

Marriage on the MendI am so very pleased to introduce Penny Bragg, co-author of Marriage on the Mend, Healing Your Marriage after Crisis, Separation or Divorce. Authors Penny and Clint Bragg are dear friends who have served alongside us in marriage ministry for a number of years. Every year, when we lead our Marriage 911 class, we invite Clint and Penny to share their amazing story of reconciliation with class participants, and every year their story provides new hope for couples who thought their marriages might be over.

Marriage on the Mend is a book that is long overdue to be published. While my book, Broken Heart on Hold, and others provide hope for reconciliation and strength to make it through the journey of crisis, Marriage on the Mend gives couples the tools to actually put their marriages back together, brick by brick, after they make the decision to reconcile. So I am thrilled to be able to interview Penny today.

Linda: Penny, you have an extraordinary testimony of reconciliation. After your divorce, did you ever think it would be possible to remarry each other?

Penny: Neither of us ever imagined God would reconcile our marriage. We had been divorced for over a decade and had absolutely NO contact with each other during those years. And when we say, “no contact,” we mean it. We had not spoken since the day our divorce papers were notarized citing, “Irreconcilable differences have caused the permanent breakdown of our marriage.” Once that happened, we each went our separate ways.

Early Married Life and How it All Unraveled

Linda: Were you Christians when you were married back in 1989?

Penny: Yes, we were Christians. We were married in the church and had a beautiful ceremony. However, we had no clue how to be married. We thought if we loved God and each other, that was enough. We were not mature enough in our faith to realize that we were going to have to work hard to have a good marriage. We also didn’t want to tell anyone we were struggling because we were in leadership positions in the church.

Linda: Yes, I’m afraid that can easily happen to people in leadership. Tell me though, were there specific issues that led up to your separation and divorce?

Penny: Yes, we can look back at it all now and see it so clearly. We both had a ton of baggage from our childhoods and secrets we never shared with one another. Those things seemed to subtly crawl out from under the carpet and creep in between us. We had gone on a mission trip together after our first year of marriage and when we came back, that’s when the division started. We couldn’t really put our finger on what was wrong. Clint could feel me pulling away, but we didn’t have good communication skills to work through things. He started getting worried because I was spending a lot of time away from our house and away from him. He confronted me about an affair, but I denied it.

Linda: Did you attempt to reconcile after you were separated?

Penny: I was the one who walked out. I wasn’t being honest with Clint. I was being unfaithful to him and to God. Clint tried to do all the right things to reconcile, but I would have NONE of it. The more he pursued me, the more I ran away. When he showed up unexpectedly at my workplace, I threw my wedding ring across the room at him. It was ugly. I was ugly. I closed my Bible and I closed my heart. I understand now that I had never really let Jesus heal all the wounds from my childhood and that I took out all that pain on Clint. He now understands that he was doing the same thing to me.

Reconciliation and Remarriage

Linda: I’ve heard you share your amazing story of how God started the ball of reconciliation rolling. Would you share with our readers what happened?

Penny: Unbeknownst to either of us at the time, God had paralleled our lives during our eleven years apart. But, He never allowed us to intersect. What we didn’t know was that we had both recommitted our lives to Christ after wandering our own paths away from Him. We finally let Him reach down and touch all the wounds in our hearts. I was working with a Christian counselor, trying to heal and bring closure to things in my life that I had broken through sin. The LAST thing on my list was contacting Clint, even though he should have been at the top. I was too scared after all I had done to him. I had NO intention to try and reconcile, just to heal and confess the truth to him. I also wanted to ask his forgiveness and apologize for what I had done.

Linda: The rest of the details of your incredible reconciliation are in your new book, Marriage on the Mend, right? Tell me more about your remarriage and your new book.

Penny: Yes, Marriage on the Mend—Healing Your Relationship After Crisis, Separation, or Divorce, (Kregel, 2015) contains our story. But it also covers the first five years of our remarriage to each other. Once we remarried in 2002, we had a mountain of consequences to overcome. People tend to think that you just reconcile and then cross it off your list. WRONG. Reconciliation is something we work on every day. We’ve now been remarried for almost 13 years. We’ve learned over and over again that reconciliation is not about following a recipe, it’s about following Jesus Christ. God did not allow us to have contact with each other until we had both reconciled our relationships with Him.

Tools for Reconciling

Linda: What great insight! So often, couples want to just repair the marriage itself, but until their hearts are right with God, it’s hard for them to get their hearts right with each other. What would you say are the main tools that have helped you build a strong marriage the second time around?

Penny: There are many tools that have helped us along the way. During our first remarriage conflict, God really got our attention. We didn’t want to fail at our marriage again. We were desperate for Him. We also didn’t have any counselor or books that seemed to meet our needs. But, we had both established a strong relationship with God which included meeting with Him alone daily. That is the most important thing in our remarriage that has made all the difference. In addition, we never leave the house without praying together in the morning first. We also meet together once-a-week to read the Word and pray together. Having prayer/accountability partners is another must in our marriage. Those people have permission to call us on the carpet when needed. They are our marriage advocates. We also get away with God each quarter to really talk about the deeper issues in our marriage, to seek Him together, set goals, and assess our progress. All of these tools have drastically cut down the conflict in our marriage.

Linda: What are some of the hardest issues you think couples must deal with after they reconcile?

Penny: Unforgiveness and bitterness over past mistakes seems to plague most couples who reconcile. The key is learning to accept forgiveness and reconciliation as a PROCESS…an ongoing process that takes time and effort. In addition, couples must learn a way out of the cycle or revolving door that gets them stuck in the same offense or argument over and over again. We have several tools in our book to address these issues.

Linda: Tell me about the QR codes in the book and why you wanted to integrate video into the reading experience.

Penny: As former educators in the public school system, we know how important it is to model the things that are taught. People need to see tools and concepts in action to understand how to apply them. We were thrilled when our publisher, Kregel, suggested we take all the video podcasts we had made and link them right into the book using QR codes. That way, as you read you can scan the QR code with your Smartphone or tablet and see a visual demonstration of each tool. There are 40 podcasts connected and threaded into the book. We also posted all those videos on the Internet so people can access them for free, even if they haven’t read the book. They can also be accessed through our website http://www.InverseMinistriesPodcast.org or on our Marriage on the Mend YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/MarriageontheMend

Advice for the Separated or Divorced

Linda: A number of the people reading this may be separated or divorced. What advice would you give?

Penny: Focus on strengthening your individual relationship with God daily. We designed some free resources to help you do that, including our “Give God 40 Days” devotional. We also have a resource entitled, “Do the Desert Well,” which encourages you with specific ways to allow God to change and heal your heart. Just e-mail us at reconcile@inverseministries.org and we are more than happy to send these to you. We also have a set of 40 scripture/prayer cards to deepen your prayer life. We know how painful the journey is for those who feel like their spouse or ex-spouse is showing NO signs of reconciliation. That’s why we created so many resources to walk alongside those who feel like there is no hope. If God can reconcile our marriage, He can reconcile ANY marriage!

Linda: Where can people find out more about your book?

Penny: Our website has all the information about our book including what others are saying and an informational video. http://www.InverseMinistries.org.

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Comments

  1. Mrs. Rooks,

    When one clicks on the link to their YouTube channel it states “channel does not exist” …neither can you access it from their website.

    Also I requested two of their free materials over 3 months ago & never received either of the materials. You might want to alert them to this problem.

    Thank you.

    • Linda Rooks says:

      I’m sorry you’re having this problem. I’m sure it’s an oversight. I know many others have received the free materials. I’ll let them know. Thanks for letting us know. Blessings to you.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I (Penny) recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by author and ministry partner, Linda Rooks of Broken Heart on Hold. Linda and I discussed our new book, Marriage on the Mend, and much more. You can read the interview here. […]

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