I’m so sorry to hear of your husband’s unfaithfulness to you. From my experience there is nothing more deflating, demoralizing and hurtful more than this type of rejection. I could say, “I know how you feel,” but the circumstances and situation from affair to affair are all different. So I can’t say with all confidence that I know exactly how you feel. The truth is, only God knows this type of rejection.
I remember when my former husband (X-husband is too difficult to say to this day — it sounds like it was a lie from day one), had his first affair. I insisted that we go to his parents to disclose the reason for our divorce—yes, I wanted to be out and away from this man whom I didn’t seem to know at all. My mother-in-law told me, in a whisper, “Men will be men.” I immediately surmised that she had some experience with this immorality too and that this infidelity might be a cyclical family problem.
I recall a conversation on the phone with my mom who lived 8 hours north of me at the time, to tell her of the affair and to seek something though I don’t really know what I wanted or needed. Her response was vague and said that she was sorry that it didn’t work out. Didn’t she know I was a wreck? Didn’t she know that I had two small children to be strong and responsible for? Didn’t she want to offer some help? Didn’t she remember when my dad left her for another woman when she was my age?
The two women who meant the most to me; whom I thought would be the strongest supports for me in times of trouble gave me no security or hope. I can’t tell you how desperate and lonely I felt. I wanted to love my husband, but how could I? Obviously, he didn’t love me if he had to go find a younger virgin to hop in bed with. I don’t mean to sound crude, but it was true! All I could think of was that my two children needed a mom AND dad and I felt like I would be the one tearing the family apart if I asked for a divorce.
My former husband and I were not believers in Jesus Christ. We lived life according to us. When I began toying with the idea of getting a divorce, Kyle took the initiative and called a preacher down the street. The pastor agreed to come to our house to meet with us. It may sound crazy but I was almost sick from the betrayal provoked by only person on earth that I thought really loved me. I was a mess. I couldn’t leave the house. If I saw anyone, I just knew that they would know that I wasn’t good enough to keep my husband satisfied.
The pastor came to our house, complete strangers! We explained our situation. In his dry, non-emotional way, he asked me, “Do you love your husband?” I didn’t even take time to think, I said, “Yes.” I don’t really know if I did love him at the time. But I knew that I wanted to keep the marriage together for the sake of the kids. My children weren’t going to go through the pain that I went through having no dad; then a step-dad; then a different last name than my mom…. the Pastor stated sternly, but with great care, “If you want to keep your marriage, then you must have God in the center of it.”
You know me, I tend to be a black and white thinker, but I did take some time to think about whether it was worth trying to save a marriage that I wasn’t sure would last. Would he do it again? How would I ever trust him? He had been with his mistress for months before I ever had a clue. The thoughts of regaining any type of intimacy with him felt like a huge mountain to cross. Would he think of his mistress if we were ever intimate again? I wondered if she was thinner than me. Did she have bigger breasts? Blonde hair? I drove myself crazy with all these questions. What was wrong with me?
The very next Sunday, our little family showed up at the local Baptist church for the first time in our 5 years of marriage. I loved church. For some reason I didn’t feel like I had to be strong and hold it all together. Our “couples” Sunday school teacher, Susan, was teaching about Saul the Pharisee, turned Paul the apostle. Since I didn’t have a Bible, I don’t recall the scripture. I just knew that this seemed like a safe place. Over the next few months, we became “church goers.” Things at home were cold and sterile, but at church, I felt safe and nurtured.
One Saturday morning, I accompanied Susan to her friend and mentor’s house. She asked me to read Isa 53. After reading it, she rehearsed, “WE ALL like sheep have gone astray. “ I said that I had not gone astray; my husband is the one who went astray. Nora said that all folks have gone astray (Ro 3:23); that God took his own son’s life to cover all of us who have gone astray. When she read John 3:16 to me with my name in all the places that said “the world” I knew that there was one person on this earth that loved me. I didn’t feel it; I just knew it and chose to believe it. I think I cried harder that day in January than I did in September when I found out about the affair. I surrendered my tightly held reins. “He loves me with an ever-lasting love and draws me with loving kindness.
I know you’re wondering about my husband. He walked the aisle at church about 2 weeks after I did. We entered Christian marriage counseling. After our second session, Dr. C asked my husband to leave the room, told me that my husband was not repentant and that he would probably repeat the behavior. I was taken back that a Christian counselor would quickly come to such a strong conclusion. I thought, “With God, all things are possible.” I knew deep down that Kyle wasn’t repentant but I thought that God would change his heart.
Nine years after the first affair, I received a sticky note in the mail that said, “Your husband is cheating on you.” When I showed the note to Kyle he showed no emotion. He denied another affair. After many pleas for the truth, he finally admitted to the affair. I was angry at Kyle and at God that He could have allowed this to happen to a marriage that I wanted so much to save.
I filed for divorce. I felt ashamed, guilty, dirty, and hopeless and above all like a huge failure to my children, my church and to God. I spent the next month’s attending a new church, going to a divorce recovery group, working full time and attending to all the children’s needs. I felt very unlovable and felt that God was finished with me. How could I do the very thing that God “hates?”
After a year of wearing the scarlet D and wallowing in my shame, I decided to go with a girlfriend to a singles retreat. I don’t recall any teaching at the retreat; I just recall many stories of God’s faithfulness to undeserving sinners.
My bunk mate at the retreat went back home and called her former church intern and told him about me. He was hundreds of miles away, but we spoke often on the phone. Since he was a pastor I thought he was being pastoral as he talked about Matthew 5, how God allowed divorce when there was a broken covenant of the marriage bed. I knew this Scripture, but I didn’t think it applied to me. Never could I have thought that this pastor might be interested in me, a divorcee. After many phone conversations and eventually meeting face to face we fell in love and married 7 months later. I am grateful that God’s promises are true for ALL and that he is the God of second chances.
I’m sharing this with you to let you know that others have suffered the bitter pain of betrayal that you are now experiencing, and to let you know that I am praying for you.
I pray that you would have the “strength to comprehend” the deep, deep love that Jesus has for you (Eph. 3:18). There is ONE who has loved you with an everlasting love and who draws (keeps drawing) you with loving kindness (Jer. 31:3). Jesus knows all about your story. Don’t forget, He knows your frame; nothing surprises Him (Ps 103:14). Don’t forget in the darkness what you have learned in the light.