We stood there on opposite sides of the garage staring each other down. Letting the question hang there. Knowing the next few words from his mouth could–no, would–change everything.
In that moment, I doubted why I had asked. He hadn’t given me reason to question him. Yet after conversations with two friends struggling through their own answers to this question, I felt like I had to ask.
I had fasted, and I had prayed.
I thought I was ready for whatever his answer would be.
After all, I loved and respected this man. For better or for worse, I had promised to love this man.
As the words came, I crumbled. I was a mess of a woman on that cold concrete floor. I wasn’t ready for this.
“I mean, if I can’t handle it, I’ll tell you,” he said. Then I knew–he hadn’t been faithful to me.
Some will say, “It’s just with his eyes.” To me it was everything. No one had ever hurt me so deeply. No one had ever betrayed me to that level. I had never let anyone in that close before him. It was out of nowhere. I was lost and broken, gasping for air.
He knew how much I hated pornography. My heart ached for sex-trafficked victims, and he knew that. He knew the broken woman I once was and how close I had been to becoming one of those women myself.
He had hurt me, yes, but he also made me sick.
This man was the father to my children. This man who had studied the Bible with me, who had prayed with me, who had loved me was, all the while, sinning against me and our vows. He had lusted after other women. He had done this in our home, on his phone, and on our television.
I hated him.
Now, I hated all of those things. Looking at them reminded me of his betrayal. He came to me, crumpled on the garage floor.
I cringed at his touch.
We sat there for what felt like forever.
Finally I asked, “Where do we go from here?”
Equipped through God’s Grace
That night, neither of us had any idea what the next two years would look like. By his grace, God equipped me to love my husband through this dark time in our marriage. God’s grace has given him strength to fight the desire of his flesh, seek accountability, and submit himself to boundaries that are at times frustrating.
We have both learned a lot in the past two years. I’ve learned a lot about grace, God, and walking in this gift of marriage.
Here are a few of my take-aways from this dark and painful time. I hope these lessons I’ve learned will bless any other woman walking through a similar battlefield.
1) Be in the Word.
When all this happened, I was just finishing Beth Moore’s study on James. I know without a doubt that had I not been deep in the Word of God for weeks leading up to this, my faith would have faltered even more.
I had memorized more scripture than I ever had before. Without it I was lost.
I’m not saying I never doubted God’s plan. I’m not saying I never questioned the purpose of this life we are living together. I am saying knowing and relying on scripture is one of the few things that helped me get out of bed every morning.
These verses in particular, which I had memorized weeks before, anchored my storm-tossed mind and soul.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Most days I did not find this trial to be pure joy, but God’s Word encouraged me to see the joy in the situation.
Another verse, which I often pray I will be able to say before the Lord one day, came back to me over and over.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.
2) God is faithful.
I doubted He was there with me. I doubted where He had been as my husband walked down this road to destruction.
But He was there.
He was there, grieving with us. He was there, prompting my husband to walk away from the computer. On the days, weeks, and months that my husband did not betray me, God was there, giving him strength.
Again, the words of James were aptly timed for just this moment in my life. These words helped me to reconcile our sinful temptations with the Lord who walks with us by His Holy Spirit.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, not does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.
3) This wasn’t about me.
Let me say it again: this isn’t about me!
It hurt me, it broke me, it made me grow. It made me stronger, but in the end, it was about my husband, his experiences, and his personal struggle with sin.
This was the most difficult lesson. One I still have to be reminded of regularly. This was my opportunity to be gracious, to be an example of mercy to my husband.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.
Mercy triumphs over judgement! That brings me to my next lesson.
4) I can’t do this alone.
Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth and disciple one man. He discipled many, and established a church. We need the church in our brokenness. I’m not saying go out and shout your husband’s sin from the pulpit. I am saying wisely and prayerfully seek out one or two women to encourage you during this season. You will be amazed at the women God brings to you. These women will love you when you hurt and encourage you to be Christ-like when you don’t want to be Christ-like anymore. Women who will pray with you, cry with you, check in on you, and just be with you.
Is any of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise…and the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
5) Lastly, and most importantly, Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, not my husband.
I had him on a pedestal. His desire, love, and admiration fueled me. After almost ten years of marriage, I had forgotten that my value and purpose is from the Lord. None of us are perfect–not my husband, and definitely not me.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking it all.
My husband can’t save me and I can’t save him. Jesus Christ took care of that almost 2,000 years ago.
There are still days I fight to control the images and thoughts in my mind. There are days I just want to cry in my best friend’s arms, and I hate that the one who comforts me is also the one who hurt me.
Satan Seeks to Destroy Marriages
Sin is gross. It hurts. Sin is dark.
Sexual sin destroys trust beyond comprehension.
Satan is prowling like a lion seeking to devour each and every one of our marriages. He is seeking to destroy the most intimate and grace-filled institution that represents Christ’s love for us.
Be on guard. Stay in the Word. Devote yourself to prayer. And…
…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13 (emphasis added)