My dream was to marry an attractive, up-and-coming Christian man. When I met my husband he met all the criteria. From the beginning our lives revolved around being successful and getting there quickly.
In 1985 we began investing in real estate. My husband would design and build the homes and I would decorate them. When completed we would move in and put them up for sale. They would normally sell within six months to a year. From the profit we would build a bigger and better home each time.
At first this was very exciting. But after five homes in three years I soon became tired of the unsettling lifestyle. The unsettling found its way into our marriage as well. It seemed nothing I did was pleasing to my husband: I was too quiet when I spoke, I didn’t walk right (my feet went out like a “duck”) and the house was never clean enough (even the spoons weren’t in proper order!). His verbal jabs were a daily occurrence and my self-esteem plummeted. I found my husband to be a perfectionist and a controller. My tendency to be an enabler didn’t help. Our marriage was in a downward spiral.
In 1987 our first child was born. After six months it was discovered that our beautiful baby boy had cerebral palsy. It was hard for my husband being a former valedictorian and star athlete to have an “imperfect” child. This was a great blow to his ego. Our marriage suffered as a result and I began to feel he was blaming me for our child’s disability.
As the years went by I noticed the flirtatious manner my husband had with women. It bothered me and I became angry and jealous. He had no respect for how I felt or thought. In public he was charming and people would say, “Your husband is so sweet, you are a lucky woman!” At times like that I would bite my tongue.
On the outside he was self-confident but on the inside he had a profound need to be accepted. I found I could not fill his emptiness. Nor could the cars, houses and toys.
I was pretty empty myself. I considered divorce but with two children and the financial security I had it seemed out of the question. I also knew that divorce wasn’t pleasing to God. I became more and more depressed till I met a man who seemed to fill the void in my life. We began an affair that gave me temporary happiness. The grass was greener for awhile but it soon became brown. I was an emotional wreck.
A woman was living with us at this time that my husband and I were trying to help. I felt comfortable enough to confide my affair to her. Without knowing it she was telling my husband everything I said. He confronted me about the affair and made my life a living hell for months. Even this didn’t cause me to end the affair but eventually it did stop.
About this time we received a notice from the IRS. One thing led to another and we ended up paying $80,000 in back taxes. In order to do this we had to sell our dream house. Not long after this my husband lost his job. We had moved 15 times, lost our home, lost our income and were rapidly losing our marriage. I still remember the times I spent crying out to the Lord, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this pain?” I believed that God was punishing me because I hadn’t lived a Godly life. I figured it couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong.
I remember the day I walked through the door and was greeted by a pale and nervous husband. He confessed that he had had an affair four years earlier with the woman who had lived in our home. The woman I had confided the secrets of my life to! The only reason he was telling me was that it had become public knowledge and he wanted to intercept me before the gossip mill made its rounds. I decided to stay with him since I was guilty of the same sin and figured that we were even now and could start over.
The friends I looked to for support suddenly deserted me. They just couldn’t handle my husband’s sin and treated us as if we had a disease. I was even told by one friend to get a divorce because “the Bible says so”. My husband got some counseling and began to shape up considerably (even helping with the laundry!). He started his own business and we began digging ourselves out of the hole. We were doing well but then I noticed he really liked flirting with my best friend and she liked flirting back. I didn’t worry about it since she had been there for me when everyone else had left. She said after seeing what my husband and I went through she would never dream of having an affair herself.
In August of 1997 my husband came home early from a weekend alone. After being in bed for a few hours the phone rang. I could tell by the sound of the conversation that he was talking with my best friend’s husband. As the conversation progressed I realized that he was confronting my husband about being with his wife that weekend. My world came crashing down around me. I called my husband words I never used and told him to get out of the house. I had already lost my two best friends due to his previous affair and now my new best friend was out of the picture too. We were at our lowest point and I didn’t know what to do. But I did know that a separation was in order.
My pastor suggested that my husband might be a sexual addict and recommended one year with New Creation Ministries. The counsel we received at NCM (unlike all the other counseling we had received) was the first to really make sense. They taught him how to place God and His truth first and helped him see why he was so unfulfilled over the years. He would come home from the meetings excited about what he was learning.
The Spirit of God led me through the daunting task of forgiveness: first for my husband, then for the women he had been involved with and, lastly, for the friends who had not supported me through my darkest time. Circumstances didn’t permit me to go to each person and extend my forgiveness but I was able to go to the last “other woman”. When we met at her front door we looked at each other and embraced. She couldn’t believe I was releasing her with my forgiveness and she broke down in my arms. God has healed this relationship and we remain friends to this day.
During the time my husband and I were separated I got to know God more intimately. I learned simply how to enjoy God’s company and I realized that He had to be the one I trusted in, not my husband. My husband saw the difference in my countenance and began to desire what I had. After two months of separation the Lord gave me peace about letting him come back home.
We have grown so much in our relationship with the Lord. We attend a new church and have made many new friends. The prayer I prayed 15 years ago to have a Godly marriage has finally been answered. Our focus is no longer on money, homes, car and “things”. Our focus is on advancing the kingdom of Christ. The Lord has shown my husband how to love his wife and children well. Our son is the apple of his daddy’s eye and our daughter is an outspoken witness for Jesus. They bring great joy to our lives. Almost two years after our lives fell apart I’m seeing that it’s really true – God is good.