In Surviving Separation, Shauna Stebler opens the door to her heart and pours out candid godly advice and encouragement for Christians facing marital separation.
In 2009, Stebler’s spouse dropped the bomb: he no longer desired to be married. Confronting her raw emotions head on and exposing the stages of grief she has experienced, Stebler gives specific, do-able tips for focusing more on God than the problems with your spouse.
At the time of her writing, Stebler was still separated from her husband (they were eventually divorced, according to the book jacket). Her words are comforting and empathetic as she talks openly about her failures, self-discovery, and God-ordained victories. Her message is like a big hug from a best friend who knows what you’re going through and whispers in your ear, “You’re not alone. I’m here to help!” (With Stebler’s wounds still fresh, she humbly apologizes “if some of [her] story and emotions sound a little bitter.” Granted, at times it feels like we are privy to Stebler’s therapeutic journaling as she tries to dignify her trial.)
There are some problems with the narrative, however. In Chapter 2, Stebler gives a too-brief overview of her story. As the book progresses, the order of events gets confusing, and we discover important details, such as the fact that she’s disabled, that should have been mentioned earlier. There are punctuation problems with the quoted material throughout, and her handling of an article by Kathryn Vercillo becomes sticky when she neglects to separate her thoughts from Vercillo’s.
Additionally, Stebler teaches solely from her own experiences and dedicates little to abusive relationships and infidelity. While she undoubtedly will minister to women in her shoes, her situation may not relate quite as well to those in more destructive relationships.
Regardless, Stebler’s words are uplifting and her ideas are motivating. This book may be just what the doctor ordered for anyone stuck in the emotionally tortuous pit of separation.