My heart started beating faster as a flood of questions and a boatload of uneasiness filled my heart. Why was he flying home from a weeklong sales meeting on Tuesday? He had only left the day before. His boss was supportive, so Dave hadn’t lost his job. I should be relieved. I wasn’t. I knew this news was not going to be good. Would two o’clock ever come?
Walking in, my husband’s face and body language screamed of the torment that was his and soon would be mine.
“There is something I have to tell you. To be honest I fully expect that our marriage may not survive what I have done.”
My heart stopped at that point and all I could do was listen as the life I had known for almost twenty years, shattered before me. Dave came home to disclose where his 30 years of sexual addiction took him.
I felt nothing, except my body as it shook. I had no words. I listened as he laid out the trail of incredible pain and destruction. The path began long before I ever met him and continued to run parallel to us unbeknownst to me. As the two paths collided that afternoon the pain was so great I went numb.
I canceled my commitments for the week except for one appointment. The following day, I was meeting with a good friend who wanted to mentor me. (Little did she know what our first get together would entail.) I’m so thankful I had a safe person right where I needed her most. In fact, she spent the day with me, she listened and we cried. She began the healing process. She never once condemned my husband, and this gave me a first glimmer of hope.
My husband and I had been active in the church since our daughter was two and he expressed his desire to follow Jesus Christ. We taught Sunday school, helped with the youth, and looked like the “perfect family.” It was all a lie.
Dave and I spent most of the next day crying, talking and crying some more. In my quiet times with God, I cried out to Him “why, why?” Hadn’t I signed up for the Happily Ever After plan? Hadn’t I been faithful to Him?”
Dave was listening to God and ready to be obedient. As my husband disclosed further I felt as though my hand was being held. At one point the Holy Spirit whispered, “There’s more.” I looked at my husband and said, “I think there is still more.” He thought for a moment and then realized that he had forgotten an incident.
It the darkest moments, God gave me a vision. I was standing in the palm of His giant hand held close to God’s chest. My husband was standing in the other hand, held out and below me. I knew we were both in God’s hands, but I was being comforted and protected. Then I heard Him say, as I watched my husband weeping. “If you don’t extend my grace to him now, he may never know it.” I had the answer to my “whys?”
With a strength that was not my own, and not because of any desire from me, I hugged my husband. He exploded in tears and thanks to God. He knew he had just been given an amazing gift—Grace. It was the beginning of forgiveness and I knew my marriage was not a mistake if God was in it.
The next day one of the verses in my devotional was Isaiah 41:10. The last part is about God holding us in His righteous right hand. I realized that in my vision, I was in that right hand even though I am left-handed. Our marriage had not gone according to God’s plan but God had been faithful to me.
I see now, the greatest spiritual growth comes from great pain (as much as I wanted to avoid that lesson). From a selfish perspective the cost of going deeper with God seemed extremely high. How many women in their right mind would sign up for the unfaithful husband plan? But I can say now it was worth it. Without dipping into God’s power I would be imprisoned by self-righteousness and the inability to forgive. Reaching for God’s truth meant laying down my wants and understanding.
As I laid down my understanding, God became real. His Spirit helped me to set boundaries. Thankfully, my daughters didn’t have to endure the emotional trauma of our separation. Separation did occur however, behind our bedroom door. We lived as roommates for months. I needed to heal from the emotional blow and Dave needed to commit to his own healing process. We both sought counseling and were in support groups. We read everything written on sexual addiction. We both found the God of our faith to be real and relevant to where we were as we spent time in His word.
Dave submitted to accountability and put together a plan for when he traveled. He still uses it today after seven years of freedom. His commitment to healing helped me deal with my own fears and doubts.
It has been almost eight years since that first day. The fading scars remain but the beauty of God’s personal involvement in both of our healing processes is immeasurable gold (gold which has come out of this refining process). I realize now that although I am in no way responsible for my husband’s poor choices, I am accountable for my response.
I could not have demonstrated unconditional love on my own. I had to lay down the response I felt was justified and let God love my husband through me. In that moment, Christ was able to minister in a miraculous way. Not all of my responses in this process have been as godly. I can see, however, the fruit is much better when I am obedient to Him.
Each day brings a growing confidence in God. The worst is over because no matter what life brings, I know my God is infinitely bigger. At the worst moment, I could not have endured alone, God was my strength. My peace and healing was found in Him alone and that is where I will stay.
. . . .
This is a guest post by Meg Wilson, author of Hope after Betrayal. Five years ago Meg founded Healing Hearts Ministry, offering help and hope to women whose husbands are caught in the web of sexual addiction. To help her fulfill her dreams to be an author, Meg completed Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild two-year apprentice program. Meg and her husband Dave have been married twenty-four years and have two daughters.