When I was six months pregnant with our first child, my husband had an emotional affair.
The people who needed to know at the time knew, and I was quiet not because of shame...but more out of desperation. I knew I needed to expend my energy seeking help from the only true source of comfort. This problem was so far outside of what I was equipped to deal with. I couldn’t fix him or me or us. I could not cultivate repentance in Nick. I could not be gentle or gracious or forgiving without supernatural help. I could not do those vital things, and I knew that no other person could help in the way we needed it. We did seek counsel from our pastor and his wife and close family because what stays hidden doesn’t heal. We saw a Christian counselor. We needed prayer warriors and accountability. But more than anything, I sought the Lord. I ran to His Word for solace.
Of course, He answered.
I have never felt called to share this story even with close friends because my focus was not looking for help outside of our marriage. That seemed to be where things went terribly wrong in the first place. Nick and I had to focus within and fight for what was right in front of us. And at the time, I felt reassured that we didn’t need unsolicited opinions (even from those who I knew would be well-intentioned). All of that was true at the time. When the wounds were fresh...when I would wake 17 times in the night to check if he was next to me...when my mind would get stuck in a loop of how and why and resentment would build. Jesus was the only answer.
But now, gosh, I don’t know. I still don’t want to be writing about this, and after so many years, I don’t think my motives are quite as pure.
Part of my reluctance now is pride. Admitting something like this even after, or maybe because of, so much healing is hard. Why tear the scab off? Why revisit something that is so far in our past? To put it out there feels like admitting to failure unnecessarily. Another factor is that Nick has been forgiven. By God. By me. Love does not keep a record of wrong, and Jesus’s blood has paid it all. My intention is not to put him on blast or air dirty laundry. Marriage is a sacrament. Something I believe in protecting. No one is entitled to this information. Lately, though, I have felt that gentle nudging towards sharing. Because although our marriage is so important, God’s glory is more. The Bible showcases all kinds of brokenness because it points to His redemptive nature. The God who forgives His faithless bride. The God who makes dry bones dance. The Father that welcomes home the prodigal. The God who defeated death and sin and rose again to reign. I realized that when a friend is hurting or needs advice about something like this I need to be able to stand as a witness...to testify to what God has done in me and my marriage. I cannot pretend like I don’t know what they’re going through because it was 7+ years ago or because I am prideful or because of XYZ. The Bible says that faith comes from hearing, and I know that I have been encouraged the most when I heard someone speak about overcoming a struggle that I am battling myself. It’s proof and hope and a guidepost in an otherwise confusing time. It’s the knowing that you aren’t alone that sometimes makes all the difference. Because there are people in the thick of it who need to know that there is hope. That God is close to the brokenhearted. That He is a Savior who experienced betrayal. That whatever happens--bad or ugly--God can and does bring good. Life might look different than you ever thought it would, but it can still be beautiful and new and full. He is a God that never stops loving. Never forsakes or betrays or wanders. He equals faithfulness. Single, married, separated, or divorced--He is constant, and it is unwise to give all of your heart and hope to anyone else. No person alive can fulfill apart from Jesus Christ, so there is no reason to expect that from your spouse or look for it outside of your marriage. It is a fruitless and painful endeavor. If this is part of your story, I am so sorry. I would not wish it on anyone. And I am doubly sorry if your story didn’t or won’t have reconciliation at the end if that is what you desired, but I want you to know that God’s redemption is not limited to reunification. He brings healing in so many different ways and loves you regardless of what you/your spouse decide. Nick and I are still imperfect people, and marriage is still hard. We still have to fight for each other so intentionally, but we are still madly in love with each other. We are good. So good. Because God is good. He restored as only He can. He makes things news. And while I am so grateful for that, I believe 100% that God’s plan for me would still have been good even if the outcome would have been different.
So take heart, friends. Be brave and say the hard, scary things because life is tough, and you never know how God may use your story to bring comfort and encouragement to someone who desperately needs it.