If I pick up my husband’s phone and do a sly “quick check” of his email and texts, I am immediately triggered to that night. When the bottom fell out of my world. My heart starts racing out of control and I feel mildly ill. Just writing about it now makes me feel anxious.

Something was off that day — maybe even the whole week really when I look back on things. He was a little too snappy with the kids, and some minor thing set off an argument between the two of us. On top of all of this, we had family in town for my son’s birthday and were planning for a party that night. So the stress level was running a little high anyway. After what felt like a day and night of cold-shoulderness from him, I turned in early for the night after the party in my own huff. Enough of him.

When he came to bed, I pretended to be mostly asleep but whispered “I love you,” back to him when he said it to me. It was his signal that he was sorry for the night. I was wide awake. And secretly fuming. I immediately felt the need to look at his phone. I remember thinking I would find the reason for why he was acting the way he was, which makes no sense at all because I didn’t know what I was looking for. Was the Lord prompting me to look? I would say now a resounding “yes.”

He had things to show both of us and the history of a search engine was just the beginning. Here’s what I have learned (and am still learning):

Your spouse will not complete you.
How many of you remember the “Jerry Maguire” movie? It’s a rather morally bankrupt movie in many ways, but it has some humorous parts and catchy lines. To recap, Maguire is a sports agent who gets fired, but tries to take others with him in a rather showy “who’s with me” company-wide stand off. One young and rather brave secretary, Dorothy Boyd, stands up and leaves with him.  The movie revolves around Maguire’s change of heart for his business model and Jerry and Dorothy’s evolving relationship. After a short separation from Dorothy, Jerry dramatically comes back, declaring in one of the movie’s most famous lines, “I love you …You complete me.” I’m sure there was a collective sigh from female audiences across the country on this one. So much of our culture puts pressure on finding the perfect someone — a soul mate to complete you in the ultimate Dorothy meets Jerry Maguire fashion. And that’s a pretty lie — packaged neatly in diamond solitaires, tulle and buttercream frosting. When we look to our marriage partner for our ultimate security and sense of completeness, things get …. messy. We were made for one Beloved. Slowly over the years, I had allowed myself to put my husband and my marriage before God. This was modern-day idol worship, only my idol wasn’t made of stone or wood. In one night’s drama, I fully understood where I had been putting my security and it wasn’t based on God or who I was in Him. According to Revelation 2:4, I had actually abandoned my first love for someone else. This was my first mistake.

I went to his search history on Safari. I remember feeling like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. He had googled a woman’s name and the people search brought up a woman that lived in an area near a business trip he had been on recently. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to punch him in the face. I immediately took his phone and woke him up, and demanded who she was. I think I used a few choice swear words. Actually, I know I did. My life as I knew it was blowing up in my face. And it stung. It hurts a little when idols come crashing down on you.

Your spouse is human.
And so are you. My husband and I met with a lot of liquid courage running through our veins — we were completely intoxicated. In my defense, I wasn’t a believer yet. What I did believe was that this was a great way to meet a guy. We dated exclusively from that point on, and I felt a security with him that I had never known before. Through a series of well-timed events that God completely ordained, we both fell in love with Jesus and we were baptized together. And then, we were engaged. Two baby believers were married. My heart was still set on my husband meeting my dreams and all of my expectations for marriage. But the heart can be deceitful if it isn’t set fully on the Lord. What I hadn’t fully realized yet was that only God would never fail me. He is my true Promise-keeper. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” (Deuteronomy 7:9). My spouse and I are frail humans. I remember being utterly shocked by my husband’s sin but a kindly person at Soul Care reminded me that we are sinners. We will fail each other in big and small ways. This doesn’t mean that we get a free pass to be lazy in our marital commitments but it does mean we get the opportunity to give grace and show the love of Christ to our spouse not if but when the need arises. In comparison to my husband, my marital résumé may not have an adulterous indiscretion on it, but I am not perfect in the way I treat or love him. I need grace, too.

When he finally confessed that he spent most of that night flirting and dancing with a girl at a bar that he and his coworkers visited, I felt completely betrayed. Rightfully so. He even had intentions of her coming back to their rented house but she said no. We had pledged before God to “forsake all others.” I was devastated. I felt like I didn’t know him anymore. I felt utterly forsaken.

I remember driving home from work one day completely sobbing in my car. I didn’t know what to do. I was pregnant at the time and my emotions were all over the place. I didn’t trust anything he said … he said nothing physical happened with this girl, but how could I believe him? I wasn’t sleeping at night and I couldn’t think clearly. I wanted to desperately leave him but I also felt trapped. How would I — pregnant — do all of that by myself? I distinctly heard the Lord softly but firmly tell me at this time: “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Stay in your marriage and trust me. See what I am doing…”

Your marriage is a covenant not a contract.
God designed marriage to be a covenant between three: you, your spouse and God. What I believed up until my husband’s indiscretions were revealed was that if he defaulted on one of the big oaths we pledged, I had every right to break that contract. That was part of my sin problem — in some ways I looked at our marriage as a contract and not the lifelong commitment or covenant that God desired. In my thinking, if you stray, you don’t get to stay. God revealed to me that I was twisting the words of the Bible to satisfy my own sinful thoughts and attitudes — I was looking for an easy way out of my pain. My husband was brokenhearted by his sin, remorseful and completely repentant yet I was the one looking for a way out. He sinned and fell short; but so had I. He was showing genuine heart change and was displaying ways he was committed to protecting our marriage going forward, but my heart was the one that was hard with bitterness. I was so willing to walk away from a commitment I had made to him and God.

The months that followed after the revelation were hard. Actually make that a full year or two. I was a hot mess. I sometimes dreamed about moving away with my kids so I didn’t have to worry about working on my marriage. Other times, I told myself I’d live as roommates until the kids got into college, and then, I’d get a divorce. Thankfully, God had other plans for me. He brought alongside me a few wonderful friends who were really good at listening and pointing me back to Him and His word as I struggled to regain my marriage. God even brought some of these good girlfriends to reveal their own marriage struggles to me in a way that showed me I was not alone and showed me how others chose to stay and fight for their marriage. It was a sense of community that I knew only He could bring about. It gave me hope.

You are so beautiful just how He created you.
I have included this point for anyone who has their world rocked by adultery, because the one cheated on will have their self esteem shaken to the core. I saw pictures of the woman who my husband flirted and danced with on Facebook and I started to doubt my own special beauty. All I could think was maybe my hair needs to be longer or blonder, or I should get Botox done to take care of some wrinkles. Maybe I needed to look more like her. I believed that the problem was me — that I was not enough and that’s why my husband looked to another. I knew rationally it was my husband’s problem and not mine but I couldn’t help listening to the lies that the enemy loves to whisper. I believed these lies for two years until one day I was done. I remember being in God’s Word and really soaking in the familiar verses “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13–14). To want to look like someone else was mocking God’s handiwork. He made me to be me. And I could feel His pleasure in that.

Bind your heart to Him
Through a lot of counseling, prayer, regular time in God’s Word and re|engage, we started working on the wounds that were caused. It took both of us putting in the work on our own relationship with God. We were both guilty over the years of neglecting our quiet time and Bible study for child rearing, work and house stuff. That one bad night was a culmination of many things, but was a huge wake-up call to us both. God has helped us individually work through unhealthy patterns to bring us to a new chapter in our marriage. We have also experienced a new intimacy and level of transparency that we had not encountered until these past few years. Even though my husband’s choice caused me deep levels of grief and pain and I still am struggling with trust at times, I can honestly say I would not want to go back to our marriage before that “bad night.” When I look at at one of the verses of the hymn we chose for our wedding over 16 years ago, I am struck by God’s great grace to us both. Although we are frail and prone to wander, chasing after other idols and trappings of this world, His great love faithfully rescues and draws us back, time and time again.

Come, Thou Font
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

 

 

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