My husband had an affair. No beating around the bush about it. It is what it is. We were married for 24 years, and life as I knew it came to a crashing halt.
Our marriage was far from perfect, but I believed he was my one and only. We had two beautiful kids, a lovely home, and incredible family and friends. We would worship together, and we thought our goals were aligned. But none of that stopped our marriage from imploding.
My life as a Christian wife
During the latter years of my marriage, I was involved in our church through women’s groups and Bible studies. But one book study greatly impacted my thinking as a Christian wife. It wasn’t necessarily the book we were studying but the conversations from the study.
The study was among some of my closest friends from our church, and our Pastor’s wife was leading. A trained counselor in her profession and serving as a pastor’s wife for many years garnered tremendous insight into the dynamics of Christian marriage.
From the onset, our little group was galvanized by the harsh realities of life when one of the women who started the class with us committed suicide less than a month into our studies. From the outside, she seemed to have everything we all were looking for, a good husband, a career, and two beautiful daughters, but there was something we didn’t see looking in from the outside.
Most of us had been married for several years, and outwardly, we didn’t see any problems on the horizon. I was President of our Women’s group and felt I should take part to let others know we all need some guidance from time to time. But honestly felt like my marriage was strong.
I was kidding myself about my marriage.
It was years later when the affair happened. But to be honest with myself, I knew some cracks had let in water occasionally over the years. A couple of times, even just for a moment, I thought, “maybe we should divorce.” I never thought about it for more than a day or two.
I would remind myself of what I learned in that class. First and foremost, your vows as a couple getting married are not to each other but to God. We vow to hold each other up and to love one another through sickness and in health with God as our witness. We pledge to each other but, more importantly, to Him that we will honor this person as long as we both shall live.
Our Pastor’s wife shared a story with us during the class that tremendously impacted my marriage. The story was about a woman who was married to an alcoholic husband for their entire marriage. He was neglectful and passed out drunk most of the time, leaving her to live a life devoid of affection from him. Yet when people asked her why she stayed, she said she made a vow in front of God, which meant more to her than what her life had become.
This story spoke volumes to me as a wife. I looked up to her for her devotion to her husband and God. The faith it took for her to live that life is something few of us can understand.
My vow before God
Therefore I stayed and put any idea of leaving behind me and worked to make my marriage successful. Some days I succeeded. Others, I failed. But I kept trying.
Throughout the years, things would come up that would make me question my stance, and I kept returning to the lessons I had been taught. And I stayed.
I didn’t believe in divorce.
When my husband wanted a divorce, I fought him for over a year. But in the end, the divorce happened. Nothing I did during that time changed anything except me. In my heart, I believed that,
I failed my husband
I failed my children
I failed God.
This is what I felt for much of this time. Although I kept trying to bring my husband back, he got further away. I read every marriage expert, tried every trick I could find, and prayed.
I prayed hard for my marriage and could not understand why God allowed this to happen. I was willing to change, forgive, and do whatever it would take to make us whole again.
But God had other plans.
Whenever I thought I was making progress, something would happen or put us further apart.
I lived in this merry-go-round of life. Constantly going up and down, yet always in the same circle.
One night, I was getting ready to sleep and said my prayers. I prayed like I hadn’t prayed in a long time. Instead of asking to repair my marriage, I asked God to show me the path he had designed for me. I gave up all hopes and dreams of reuniting with my husband and surrendered myself to God’s will.
A little backstory, I was currently living in our family home with our kids but knew it was more than I could handle. A fixer-upper requiring more time, energy, and skill than I had, was becoming a burden. I knew we needed a new place, but money was tight. I was stressed about how to provide for my kids and where we, along with our menagerie of family pets would live.
I had never prayed before for Him to show me the way until this night.
Stepping out on faith
The next day, I was at work when I told a friend I needed to look for a new place to live. She smiled and said, “I have just the place.”
And she did! It was a fantastic home that met our needs and then some. the homeowner was a woman from our church, and she was just the angel I needed. She and many others helped us out in many ways. To this day, I feel indebted to so many people.
But I realized that day that God was showing me the path. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I knew divorce was the right decision. It wasn’t easy, and I still shed quite a few tears. But now, almost a decade later, I can’t imagine my life any other way.
The truth comes to light
My husband was not the man I imagined him to be. Our marriage was not solid. Too often, I would ignore the signs. There were so many times when I should have left. I believe all our lives would have been easier if we had dared to divorce years prior.
But I let religion guide my decisions when I should have been relying on my faith. I can’t speak for him, but I feel he was doing the same thing.
God opened the door numerous times over the years, and I kept closing it. I listened to myself instead of to Him.
A friend once said, “When we fail to listen to God in our lives, sometimes He has to hit us over the head with a two-by-four to get us to listen, and that is precisely how it felt when I finally faced the truth.
I was trying to live as the perfect Christian wife. I listened to sermons, books, and church leaders when the one I should have been listening to was God. He told me all along, but I didn’t have the faith to listen.
To this day, I still struggle with praying for what I want instead of praying for what He wants. But when I get it right, it is evident that there is a higher power at work.
Whether you call it the universe, God, Allah, or any name for divine power, the truth lives out in my life. Things are not perfect because I am not perfect.
But when I live in a harmonious way to God’s plan for me, I experience a sense of peace in my soul. The restlessness disappears, the doubts go away, and I can live without knowing how things will turn out. I live on faith.
Previously Published on Medium