If you missed Part 1 of my friend’s story, here you go. And here’s my friend with Part 2:
October of 2009. After family dinner, my husband heads to the basement to play video games. I play with the kids and put them in bed. I walk down the stairs.
“Why are you ignoring us? What’s wrong?” I ask.
His hands never leave the controller. His eyes never leave the screen.
“There’s someone else. I met her through work. I want a divorce. I plan to be with her.”
This time, I didn’t see it coming. I fell into a nearby chair and sobbed. He never looked my way. I asked about the children, their future, and why. I asked him about God. He said he didn’t care about God. He wanted to be happy. I thought we were happy, but he’s decided he wants more. Our life is mundane. We go to work and church and raise the kids. That’s not enough. It’s boring.
I call our pastor. He comes and sits with us in my basement. My husband doesn’t change his mind. My pastor recommends divorce. There have been two affairs. I need to turn him loose.
The next morning it’s pouring down rain. I call in sick and send my children to school. He says he has an appointment. I know he’s going to see her. I’d later discover they’ve been meeting at a hotel about 40 minutes away. I tried to follow him, but lost him in the rain.
I go home and begin cleaning. As I sift through the TV stand I find the movie Fireproof. I barely remember borrowing it from a friend. When my husband comes home, I say to him, “You can move out today or watch this movie with me.”
These words were straight from God. We watched the movie. He said he needed time to think. Sadly, in the confrontation that followed my husband said words no wife should ever hear. I followed with words no wife should ever say to her husband.
He criticized my weight, my housekeeping, and my cooking. He gave me credit for being a good mom. I pulled out the previous affair. I’ll never forget standing in the doorway between our kitchen and living room. His look icy cold as he rejected me and made me doubt all I’d ever known about myself and my God.
I was witnessing a hardened heart. His rejection of God in preference to sin. And God spoke to my heart…you can’t save him. You can’t change him. You can only love him. Don’t let him go. Love him.
No. No way. It’s not fair. I don’t want to hurt anymore. I will never live up to his expectations. He’s miserable. He makes me and our children responsible for his happiness. I can’t live up to that. No matter how much I do for him or what I give him, it’s never enough. He expects perfection from the kids too. I don’t want that for them.
I am tired.
I begin preparing for divorce. I ask him to move out. He won’t. Two days pass. He says he wants to stay, repent, and seek counseling again…all the while, God whispers, love him.
Counseling resumes and ground rules are laid. We’re staying together. This time I can’t find any love for him in my heart. I stay for my children. I stay out of obedience to God, for I know He’s told me to.
I decide each day to love him. He changes little by little. I see God at work in both of us. All the safeguards we’d put in place are working. Trust is growing.
I know God has a plan. So, I keep loving and serving him – one day at a time. Most days I don’t “feel” in love, but all days I “choose” to love.
I also choose silence. Everyone agrees…adultery is a personal, “in our bedroom” kind of issue. No one else needs to know.
We’re driving home from the Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in January 2012. We’ve chaperoned an awesome group of college students. I feel so close to God and spend time reflecting in my journal about all God’s done to redeem my husband and me.
I know we’re still in progress. I feel frustrated with our busyness, but we’ve taken intentional steps to fix that. We have two amazing children despite our mistakes. The Passion theme was “White Flag”…we raise our white flag, we surrender all to you, all for you.
I know God is calling me to surrender more fully to Him. I am a planner and organizer. I like to be in control. I can’t stand any chaos or disorder. I make a conscious choice to lean into Him more fully. I promise God I will rely on Him and relinquish control regardless of the circumstances.
Come what may, I was sold out to Him. I felt strong…surrendered. No weapon formed against me would prosper. Nothing could get in the way of this new found “passion” I had for Him. My heart had been transformed.
A few weeks later I am chaperoning a retreat for teens. Still on my spiritual high. As I drift off to sleep I see my husband with my good friend. I fight to wake up, but can’t. It’s so real. When I finally come to, I know what this is – Satan. He’s attacking. He’s trying to break my trust in God and my husband.
I spend the next 24 hours replaying the dream, worrying. My children are with my mom, so my husband and I go on a date. It’s wonderful, so I can’t ask him about the dream. It’s plaguing me, but we’ve worked so hard. I can’t let him think I don’t trust him. I can’t break all we’ve built.
The next morning he gets in the shower for work. I have quit my job to care for my family, so I prepare to clean. I can’t let the dream go, so while he showers, I check his phone – which I do regularly. No suspect texts or emails.
Whew. I am relieved. I am about to lay his phone back down when I see a message scroll at the top of the screen. He’s an avid Words with Friends player. Someone he’s playing has sent him a message. As I once again begin to lay the phone down, I feel a pressure from within – a pulling.
Check the message.
It feels wrong to cliff-hang this story, like we’re sensationalizing something that involves real people with real feelings. But my friend’s story is a long one (3000 words altogether), too long for one post. We’ll wrap things up tomorrow with Part 3.
And again, if you’re going through something similar and you’d like me to put you in touch with my friend, let me know. She wants to pray for you. She wants to help.
(And if you’re looking for some helpful marriage resources, this is available through the end of the week.)