Every now and then I get the blessing of hearing how our experiences have helped another couple to walk through their own. And a few are even ok with me sharing their story here on the blog. Today you’re going to hear from “Jenny” (not her real name) about the walk through adultery that she took with her husband “Jim” (also not his real name). They are eager to share their story with others who may benefit from it, but not quite ready to open their lives to the world yet. I understand this position completely. It’s possible that there are family members who haven’t fully accepted Jim & Jenny’s decisions yet. Perhaps there are children involved who are not yet ready to be exposed to such heavy and emotional subject matter. Whatever their reasons, I can respect the decision to remain anonymous until they’re ready. So grab a cup of coffee, and prepare to be encouraged and uplifted by the testimony of “Jim & Jenny” as told from Jenny’s perspective!
Adultery has been prevalent in my family for generations. My father was a habitual cheater his whole life, and my mother was one of his victims. She was only 19 when she met him. He was 43, and a seasoned manipulator and womanizer. When my mother eventually moved us out of state, we would visit my father a few times a year. He would drive my brother and I around meeting all of his girlfriends, and we would have to go back to the house and lie to his wife. I believe this really messed with our psyches in regards to love and relationships later in life. My childhood was insecure and unstable, I was sexually offended by most of the men in my life, and betrayed by close friends, including some family members.
Because of my grandmother’s influence, I always thought myself to be a Christian, and would go to church with her growing up. But it wasn’t until I was 16, and I moved 2 hours away from home that I found relationship with Jesus. It was a profound experience and one that kept me anchored to the truth no matter how far I drifted later.
When I started dating, I handled relationships the same way that was modeled for me. I was noncommittal and unfaithful. Just very unsettled and callous. I didn’t really care who I hurt, and I hurt a few people good. I had no idea what real love looked like between a man and woman.
I became pregnant at 18 years old and married the same man at 22. We were not in-love, but rather trying to do the right thing by getting married. From the time I had my first daughter, I vowed to be the best mother I could be, and gave 100% of myself to that mission. I read countless parenting books, and felt great pride for the mother I was. Being a mother was the first thing I was ever truly passionate about. Looking back now, I realize this was the first time I ever felt true unconditional love. The marriage was a mutual on and off relationship the entire time. The patterns and brokenness continued in that relationship as well. We had two children.
I later had a miscarriage at 25 and decided to end the marriage. I knew (in my worldly wisdom) I did not want to spend my life with him, and he never really expressed that strong desire to me either, and he seemed rather fine with the idea. I met my current husband shortly after. (As the Christian I am today, I know our relationship was not a God thing, it was a ME thing. It did not have God at the center…and that had consequences.)
Our relationship was everything I ever wanted. We were passionately in love with one-another. It was the type of love you read about and see in the movies. I never doubted my love, commitment or loyalty to him, and as far as any worldly relationship it was the best! We had an amazing life. A lot of fun times, exotic and romantic vacations, family trips and traditions. Due to our financial situation, I was eventually able to stay home and invest 100% in the family. We traveled the country doing elite sports with the kids, there were music lessons, after school activities, dinner every night, house immaculate…everything I NEVER had – and always wanted. I felt very self-actualized helping to create these opportunities for everyone. We were “living the dream,” and this was our motto. I would often tell my husband he was “the man of my life.” Finally, he had arrived.
Around 31 years old, I was feeling that void in my life. The emptiness of not being in relationship with Jesus – a space only He can fill and designed just for Him. I was feeling the conviction of my sins and previous life choices. I heard the Lord calling me back into relationship with Him, and one day I decided to go to the local church. I cried like a baby in repentance and utter sorrow…begging for forgiveness. I chose to lay it all down and start following him, doing life His way (up to then I had just been loving Him, not following Him). Things began to change inside of me. I was yearning for more of the Lord… listening daily and reading nightly. I went to church every week with the kids, but my husband did not want to go. He would say he wasn’t ready. Spirituality prior to this was practically never discussed in our relationship.
As I drew closer to the lord I grew more distant in my heart from my husband. I was being pulled in two directions. Not able to grow too far in my spirituality, because I was being brought down to the worldly mentality of the marriage. Things that were important to him were no longer important to me…money, material items, and status. Over the years, I watched my husband grow more callous and prideful as his success and money grew. His conscience, intentions and lack of moral compass became troublesome to me. He could not be approached about this, or questioned about anything for that matter, without becoming extremely angry and defensive. Due to the chaotic environment I grew up in, I didn’t ever push the matter too far. I wanted to keep the peace, so I took more of a passive approach. I was unaware of a lot of the things that were going on with him, but I knew he had become the opposite of who I had aspired to be in Christ. The Devil had his claws in him deep, and I knew from scripture to pray for him. So, I did. I prayed for years. I would lay my hands on him while he was sleeping and pray for him. “Take him down Lord. Bring him to his knees, and do what you have to do.” I didn’t know what that was going to be, but I knew it was going to have to be huge.
This spiritual unevenness continued. Even so, we were still deeply in love, and enjoyed our life together on that level. Two days before Christmas I received a card in the mail that ruthlessly spelled out in one sentence that my husband had been having an affair for 3 years while traveling for business. I was completely shocked! I couldn’t believe it. On a romantic level, all the boxes were checked. We were “King and Queen,” there was baby talk, innuendos, incredible and constant affection…all of it. This doesn’t happen to couples like us I thought. There must be some mistake. I confronted him, and he lied about it. Due to other circumstances that were going on with an ex-business partner at the time, I believed him and rationalized the incident. Still, I prayed for God to reveal the affair if it were true, and gave it over to Him. About 6 weeks later I was still disturbed with it all. I did some further digging and tracked this person down. I got her on the phone, and this is when I learned of the truth, and all the sickening details – which she was happy to tell. For she knew she was on the losing end and never “getting the man.” In fact, he had been trying to get out of it for a very long time, and she wasn’t going to let him go without destroying his life first. Nonetheless, I gave her complete grace over the phone. I told her I was a Christian and even wished her healing.
My whole world collapsed in that moment. Everything we built, everything I loved and cherished was destroyed. I was completely blindsided! I never saw this coming. Foolishly, I thought I was protected. I thought I was an exception to his devious ways. He was very attentive, took amazing care of the family and me…always doting on me, planning our future, dreaming of years to come together, etc. It was a true unexpected and tragic death! The worst betrayal imaginable by the person I loved and trusted the most in this world to protect me. To protect our life…our marriage.
Before my husband came home I cried out to Lord, vocally, “Lord, please send your angels to fight off the demons that are going to be in this house tonight. Please give me guidance and wisdom on what to do. I know I don’t want to do it my way anymore. My way doesn’t work, Lord. Whatever you want me to do, Father, is what I want to do! Your will be done.” When he came home, I was angry and disgusted, but you know what I also felt? Love.
I was losing the love of my life. I didn’t choose this, and I didn’t want this. He walked in and I saw him, and I just thought how sad it was to no longer have him anymore. To no longer love him and see his face and share our life. I sat on the counter, like I usually did for a good long hug when he came home, and I hugged him. I just wanted to hug him one last time. I wanted to say goodbye. I whispered in his ear how much I had loved him. He pulled away, panicky. I pulled him back in, and told him one more time how much I had loved him. I told him I knew everything. He begged me to forgive him. That he loved me and couldn’t live without me. He never wanted me to find out, and knew she would tell me. He said it was his biggest regret, and it became a horrible experience. He said, “Please forgive me! Please, I don’t want to live without you.” I said, “Forgive you? For this? Impossible. I’ll never forgive you!” Immediately the Lord spoke to my heart, “I forgave you for your sins. How do you know this isn’t what you’ve been praying for…an answer to your prayers?” I dismissed that thought. I said, “I don’t want to be with a man like you ever again! I want to be with a Christian man.” His pleas continued, “Please I’ll do anything! I’ll change…I’ll change!” The Lord continued to speak to my heart, “Watch what I do with this. I will take him down! I will destroy everything the Devil had his hand in, and I will build him back from the ashes. From the ground up – My way. But I’m going to do it through you.” Still I couldn’t conceive it. How could I forgive something like this, Lord? How is that even possible? How could our relationship ever be great again?
As I laid in bed that night the Lord continued to speak to me about the plans and promises He had for our life. He gave me vision of our restoration and our purpose. The next day, my husband made an appointment with a marriage counselor, and in the catatonic state I was in, I agreed to go. She gave us statistics of recovery and spoke hope into us. I decided afterwards that I was not going to make any decision without first hearing from God about it. I was going to wait on the Lord. There was no way I was going to do anything without His direction again! His way is the best way, it leads to life – and I was already dead. There was one thing I did know from my life story… Infidelity is rarely about the betrayed or the other person. It is about the brokenness of the individual who commits the act. The emptiness they’re trying to fill. The lack of wholeness and love in them. I watched it in my father’s life and knew it from my own experience. I understood the root of it.
This process was the most physically and emotionally painful thing I ever went through. I had daily severe pain in my chest and stomach. I lost 20 lbs. from my lack of appetite and high anxiety. I developed PTSD from the trauma. Daily chills and hyper-vigilance. I had to go through the actual clinical grieving process which the experts say takes 2 years. My marriage died that day. I felt I died that day.
The other person did not go away quietly. She reached out to friends, and even posted pictures of my husband and used his full name on her social media a year later. She is truly emotionally and mentally unwell…as you could imagine one would have to be to continue in such brokenness and selfishness for so long. There is no doubt in my mind she is still discussing it publicly today, but we decided from the beginning of this process that she had no relevance in our life, and we refused to give her the negative attention she craves.
I never learned how to cope in a healthy way growing up, so I had to develop the tools through daily prayer, reading, sermons and countless books from sun up to sundown. Just leaning on the Lord all day, every day. That first Sunday we started church together and have been ever since. Every day from day one I would ask, “Lord if this isn’t what you want please close the door, please show me what to do.” I truly had complete trust in Him and released any personal agenda. But instead of closing doors, He kept opening them. Validating me. In the middle of all this pain the most non-sensical emotion would come over me and overwhelm me – utter joy and peace – and the knowing of the promise He placed in my heart. I had to have faith and trust the work He was doing. I stopped listening to all non-Christian music. I followed social media pages that gave encouragement for broken marriages and told stories of their own personal stories of restoration from infidelity. One of the Twitter accounts that I followed was SongSix3. Jason and Tiffani’s stories of their personal experiences in this area encouraged me greatly. The personal accounts of victory and their daily inspirational quotes helped give me hope. I only watched positive Christian or family shows. My husband did the same. He made 100% effort every day to change, to do the work he needed to do, and become the man he needed to become. It was very apparent, and I never doubted his intentions to save our marriage and do everything and anything. It wasn’t a smooth process. Three steps forward – two steps back in my healing. There were disappointments in his response to my pain, due to his lack of empathy which he never learned growing up. A deficit he continued to acknowledge and work diligently on. Today, he has made enormous progress in his vulnerability, empathy and transparency.
I would get confirmation from strangers. One time I was sitting in the park talking to my daughter about the story of Peter’s lack of faith in the boat going through the storm. A woman from out of nowhere came up to me and said,” God wants you to know he is in the boat with you, he is going to get you through this and he knows what’s going on. You may not have the answers today or tomorrow, but you will get through this storm. Let go and let God…He will give you peace.” I wrote this down immediately. I knew it was a direct message from God himself.
When this came out my husband’s company was going public, but at the last minute it fell through due to unforeseen circumstances out of our control. For me, I knew this was the beginning of the Lord’s promise… “I told you I was taking it all down.” Six months later we were closing the business and had an opportunity to move of state. I prayed about this and felt tremendous peace. We found a house and rented our house within 10 minutes. It was the easiest real estate transaction I ever made. We moved on July 4th and fireworks were exploding the whole drive. This was another message that we were headed in the right direction. God was making all things new. It was a celebration of the victory to come.
Since we moved, God has continued to grow us and heal us. We have become members at an amazing church. We started another company, this time doing it together, and God has blessed it. My husband was baptized last November. He was the only one person that night to get baptized, and the song was, “Lay it All Down,” by Linda Conant. It was a powerful moment, and I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. When he came out of the water I heard in my spirit, “It is finished.” I know the Lord will complete the good work He started in him. My husband and I are involved in the church, and we are making wonderful friends. Unlike any friends we ever had before! God has placed so many remarkable people in our life. We recently became involved in our Church’s married life, and we have been recommended to be marriage leaders. We know we have been called to share our story and help hurting couples.
I have had to separate the old marriage, and the truth is, it pales in comparison to the marriage I have today. I wouldn’t trade the pain and heartbreak for the old marriage. I see my husband as a new man now. This is intentional, for the word says, “We are to regard no one from a worldly point of view as we once did Christ… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” Although this experience was the worst thing I ever endured, I wouldn’t change it. I’ve learned to trust the Lord, surrender my will and my life, pick up my cross, and live in joy, faith and hope no matter how dire and impossible the circumstances appear. Today, I have the marriage I always prayed for. I am evenly yoked with my partner and together, hand in hand, we are growing in the Lord and making a difference in people’s lives. I’ve learned, if your marriage is not built on the rock, it won’t stand long.
Don’t try to do this on your own. Only Jesus can heal your heart and bind up your wounds. He is the only source – the way, the truth, and the life. The true resurrection. I had to be patient and trust Him, but I am more in love with my husband than ever before, and my heart is whole. I am full of joy, love, grace and peace. The work we have done has propelled us decades! Only when you go through something so tragic do you work on your marriage all day, every day. The trust in our marriage is there as much as you could hope for it to be, but more importantly, I trust the Lord. He told me, “I am the man of your life…I will never leave you, or forsake you. You are my precious and holy daughter and I will always take care of you.” So no matter what happens in my marriage, any fears that could possibly arise, I know the Lord has me covered. Today, I completely forgive my husband, and I have forgiven the other woman as well. I learned forgiveness early on in life, and I refuse to carry any baggage that will hinder my walk with the Lord and harden my heart. Life is too short.
I see our story as not only a testimony of restoration, but of true forgiveness and grace. Not just for one another, but the forgiveness and grace God has given each of us as well.
Now that you’ve read their story, “Jim and Jenny” will be reading and responding to the comments and questions you post. So if their story has given you hope, please let them know. I KNOW they will be happy to hear it!