I found myself married to a man I loved, but whom I was not in love with.
I tried to believe that love would conquer all, but it didn’t.
Growing up in a small town and attending a small Baptist church, I was the epitome of “the good girl.” I never got in trouble and rarely disappointed anyone. My life was not perfect, but I was living what (from the outside looking in) was a great life. I could actually feel God’s presence with me and felt his protection daily. I regularly experienced a physical gut punch—what I called the “uh-oh” feeling—when God was guiding me because I was open to letting him lead me.
But then I grew up, and my marriage wasn’t what I expected it to be. We were both “good” people, but we were not what’s called “equally yoked,” meaning we didn’t have many of the same values. Particularly, we weren’t pursuing God in the same ways. We didn’t talk a lot about our differences, and instead, I tried to just believe that love would somehow conquer all. I learned the hard way, that’s not how it works. Slowly, and without even noticing it was happening, I began to pull away from my relationship with God. Then I pulled away emotionally from my husband.
I had taken the first step away, and that crack was the beginning of the end of my marriage. As much as I believe in God, I believe he has an enemy who’s after us—who loves to ruin us in every way he can. That crack was all the enemy needed. I had stepped through the crack, and before long, the door was flung wide open.
About a year into my marriage, I was on a business trip for a day or so, when a handsome man approached me and began to “quietly” flirt with me.
I’ve got this, I thought. Nothing wrong with a little flirting; it’s just innocent and fun. Since I was not feeling in a great place about my marriage, this little bit of attention was just what I needed to make me feel better. I went to bed actually feeling a little giddy at the excitement of someone new paying attention to me. The next night, he asked me to go for a stroll on the beach, “since it was such a lovely night,” he said.
That night, I betrayed my husband, his wife, my integrity, and entered into an affair that lasted five years.
In hindsight, I know God was with me and waiting for me to cry out for help, but instead, I just kept taking steps further and further away.
During those five years, I continued to justify what I was doing, all the while ignoring my marriage and the very unhealthy place it was in. Trying to keep up the double life was exhausting, and it eventually robbed me of any joy I had in either relationship. By the end of my affair, I had become so emotionally detached from my husband that I asked for a divorce.
It was such a painful time for both of us. I believed God wants us to fight for our marriages, even when they are damaged. But I had drifted so far. I craved that “in love” feeling so much that I prioritized it over my beliefs, over our covenant. Our foundation was weak without God, so I decided we had nothing to stand on. I had turned away from both God and my husband for so long, I had no interest in even trying to go back. It felt easier to just walk away than believe that God could restore us.
So I went through with the divorce. We split in a way we were never meant to be divided. The Bible says, “What God joined together, let no man separate,” but I just couldn’t believe it could be saved.
The pain led me to my lowest place. I was in a deep pit, which led me to finally cry out to God and repent (a Bible word that just means “change directions”). It’s in that kind of pain when other “Bible words” take on a much deeper meaning. I felt what I can only describe as pure mercy that God allowed me to not only repent but also be forgiven—fully.
I found out that God had not given up on me, even when I had given up on myself. Nothing I had done could separate me from a relationship with Him once I had repented and confessed. I am so grateful that I can genuinely feel totally forgiven and don’t have to walk daily in the shadow of those mistakes.
Now in my mid 50s, I’m happily married to my current husband of almost 24 years. I can look back and see that when I didn’t allow Jesus to be the ultimate authority in my life, it opened a door for me to justify every misstep. Authority is scary unless we’re following someone who is truly good. The further and further I got into choosing my own way, the easier it was for me to ignore promptings from God that were meant to protect me.
I believe my current marriage is healthy and happy because of God and intentionally choosing him first. I’ve learned to be very open and honest with my husband when I feel like things are not as they should be. Marriage is hard work, and we’ve had quite a few doozie fights, but in the end, I believe that because we are pursuing God as a couple, he is in the midst of our marriage.
We still get on each other’s nerves, say hurtful things, and have days when we are just angry at each other, but with God, all things really are possible—including having a happy and healthy marriage in the midst of an imperfect world.
If you are struggling in your marriage or any part of your life, look first at yourself. Ultimately, we are responsible for our choices and actions. Whether you believe in Him or not, how we nurture or neglect our relationship with God will impact us and those around us. How we walk away from Him or let him in can change everything.
My prayer for each of you is to allow God to be the ultimate authority in your life—that even if you’ve never prayed before, you could pray right now for your life to align with his design. Surround yourself with people who model a better way and hold you accountable when you struggle. If you’ve already walked away, you can repent as I did. Remember, it just means “change directions” and truly turn from whatever is bringing you pain.
Stay the path and push through the hard times. Talk with someone who cares about you, and be honest. Eventually, everything kept in the dark gets exposed, so don’t wait for your life to crumble around you. Be brave, strong, and trust in the God who can save, heal, and restore all things.
Pretty words won’t change your life. This might:
Where do you feel disappointed in your marriage? If you’re processing alone, write down as many areas down as you can think of, as if you’re talking to God. If you’re with a group, be as honest as possible. Sharing out loud is powerful (and you often find out you’re not alone).
Consider how you’ve taken a step away from your marriage—relationally, emotionally, practically, or spiritually. Reflect on whether there are any ways you’ve begun to give up or avoid an issue that could become a crack in your foundation.
Think of one way this week you can move closer to your spouse. Maybe it’s a way to serve him/her. Maybe it’s confessing something that’s happened or you’ve been feeling. Maybe it’s being vulnerable in a new way or experimenting with something that would honor him/her. Tell a friend what you plan to do, and give that friend permission to ask you how it went in a week.