Forgiveness And Restoration After Adultery

ron & nancy 9-4.0The following is a true testimony written by Nancy Anderson edited from the excellent book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome. Nancy tells what happened to her marriage with her husband Ron after it was discovered that she was having an affair with another man she had worked with. After a long series of circumstances including leaving her husband for a period of time, she eventually came to the realization she wanted to work to put their marriage back together again. Despite all she had done, her husband graciously agreed to do so. When she called her parents and gave them a tearful confession of what had happened, her parents affirmed their love for both of them and expressed interest in helping them rebuild their marital relationship. After traveling a long distance to their home this is what Nancy wrote:

We arrived at my parents’ home late in the evening. After a lot of hugs and a few tears, we went into their family room. After the usual small talk, my Dad spoke the unspoken. “What’s your plan?”

My husband, Ron, leaned forward and said, “Plan? Plan for what?”

“You two are going to have to figure out why your marriage fell apart, how to fix it, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ron replied, “Well, I don’t know if we need to do all that. I don’t even want to talk about what she did. It’s too painful. Nancy’s back home now — we’ll just move on from here.”

Dad continued, “It doesn’t work that way. If you rebuild a house on a cracked foundation, it might be all right for a while; might even feel solid and stable. But when the storms come, the crack will split the house. And the Bible tells us that a house divided won’t stand. If you don’t repair the foundation of your marriage, it won’t survive. The memory of Nancy’s betrayal and the guilt you’ll force her to carry will be unbearable—for both of you. I don’t think you’ll be able to move on until you, Ron, make one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.”

“What decision is that?”

“Has Nancy told you she’s sorry for what she’s done?”

“Yes, she has apologized to me several times.”

“Did she ask you to forgive her?”

“No, not in those exact words.”

Dad turned to me and continued, “When you tell someone you’re sorry, it’s very different from asking for their forgiveness. Your ‘sorry-ness’ is your decision. But when you ask someone to forgive you, that’s their decision. It’s difficult because it gives all the power to the other person.”

“That’s a scary thought,” I said, without meaning to say it aloud.

Then he spoke to Ron, who looked confused and apprehensive. “When you forgive someone, you make a choice to banish the offense from your mind and your heart. Jesus said that after He forgives us, our sins are as far away as the East is from the West. In other words, they are pardoned. Not because we’re not guilty, but because we are. Our pardon is undeserved — it’s a gift to us from God.”

He continued, “If you decide to forgive Nancy, you can never use her sin against her. God will give you the strength to start a new life together. If you choose not to forgive, if you want to hold on to the pain, or punish her, and keep her wound open, that will be your choice. But if you choose that, I don’t think you’ll stay married. You have biblical grounds to divorce her, but you don’t have to. It is your decision. I want you both to pray about what I’ve said, and make your decision. We will continue this conversation in the morning.”

After a long and restless night, we met again. The three of them were sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for me. I felt like the adulterous woman wearing the Scarlet Letter on the way to her hanging. If Ron would not forgive me, the noose would tighten around my neck and the floor would seem to drop away. I was completely at his mercy.

I avoided eye contact and sat directly across from Ron. I asked my dad, “How do we do this? I want to ask Ron to forgive me, but what do I say?”

“If you’ve decided to ask Ron’s forgiveness, tell him what you want to be forgiven for, and then simply ask him the question. Ron will decide whether to forgive you or not. You ask; he answers. It’s the simplest thing you two will ever do — and the hardest.”

Ron had his head down so I couldn’t read his eyes. I thought, “What if I ask Ron for mercy and he denies me? What am I going to do if he starts to lecture me or list off all my sins?”

I looked over at my sweet, wounded husband and saw the wide-eyed face of a frightened twelve-year-old boy. I spoke quickly so that I wouldn’t lose the safety of the moment. “Ron, I’ve betrayed you mentally, spiritually, and physically. I’ve lied to you and deceived you. I have no defense, no excuses. I’ve sinned against God and against you. Can you — will you please forgive me?”

He leaned forward, never letting go of my eyes. The little boy was gone as my strong and confidant husband took my hands in his and said, “Nancy, we’ve both done and said terrible things to each other. Our marriage was a mess — and a lot of it was my fault. But I take a stand today to change all that. You have betrayed me, but I choose to forgive you.”

We both began to cry and our tears mixed with divine love that flowed through the room. Our hearts were knit together—as one. We began again with a new, solid marriage foundation.

After we made the decision to reconcile and reform our marriage, we immediately sought advice from many different sources. We went to a Christian marriage counselor, who helped us learn to communicate more effectively. We also read several books about “starting over” and attended some marriage retreats and workshops.

One of the most important things we did was join a wonderful church and faithfully attend worship services and adult Sunday school classes. We received solid biblical teaching from a godly pastor, and we acted on his instruction.

The transformation was a slow process. We’d developed many destructive habits, and some of them took years to die. We decided to stay together and act lovingly toward each other, and eventually our feelings caught up with our actions. We learned that married love is not a feeling. It is a decision — and we decided to love each other.

Since our reconciliation in 1980, we’ve completely rebuilt our marriage. We had to destroy the old foundation—selfishness—and rebuild upon the rock—Jesus. We used a perfect blueprint—the Bible—and now our home stands firm.

We also created a new landscape for our marriage, planting hedges around it for protection. What are hedges? Hedges are boundaries. In Mark 12:1 Jesus said, “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it.” First, the man planted a vineyard. Think of your marriage as a vineyard. You “planted” it the day you said, I do.

Next, the man in the parable placed a hedge around his vineyard. Why? Several reasons: to protect it from intrusion by animals and thieves; to keep his vines inside his vineyard; and to separate his territory from his neighbor’s.

A hedge makes the statement, “Private Property, No Trespassing.” The symbolic hedges around our marriages serve the same purposes. As married couples, our goal, as co-owners of our vineyard, is to keep the good things in —and the bad things out.

I also refuse to entertain the stray thoughts anymore. Instead, I replaced them with images of the new life that Ron and I were building. I also discovered that encouraging others with our story of restoration gave a purpose to our pain. This summer, we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary and I’m thrilled to tell you that our marriage is strong, loving, and healed.

Adapted from the book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, published by Kregel Publications. As some reviewers have said —which we agree, “This is wisdom born of tragic but genuine experience. Because Nancy Anderson nearly ruined her marriage due to infidelity, she truly knows the misery that an affair can cause. Her honesty, vulnerability, and repentance provide marital lessons guaranteed to revitalize and strengthen couples who are susceptible to the lure of an affair. She does a terrific job telling her compelling U-turn story of rebellion, repentance, and restoration. In the second part of the book, she gives helpful suggestions and funny examples that demonstrate how to create a healthy and satisfying marriage. She has a delightful way of teaching without preaching.” This really is a very good book for every Christian couple to read! We highly recommend it.

Author Nancy Anderson and her husband, Ron, conduct couples’ retreats and marriage seminars to help others to predict, prevent or pardon infidelity. You can read more from Nancy at NancyCAnderson.com.

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Comments

137 responses to “Forgiveness And Restoration After Adultery

  1. Hello and thanks for sharing your story. My story is kinda like yours except the fact that I had two affairs in my marriage and the last one I became pregnant. Regardless of my reasons my actions and decision to betray my husband, my marriage and God are inexcusable. I have learned a lot and have repented and asked for forgiveness from him and God. I hurt the man I love so badly and he can’t bring himself to forgive me, nor work with me to try and save our marriage. I need help, advice etc. Your story gives me such hope. However, I hear my husband tell me he can’t do this anymore one month, then the next month he believes anything is possible.

    1. Trinitte, I wish I could give you a magic formula, and when you take it, your marriage would be restored. But sadly, there isn’t that type of solution available. All I can say is to pray, pray, and pray some more. And as you’re praying, looking to God to guide and help you, read what we have posted on this web site on the subject of adultery and infidelity. Also, read anything that might help you with some of the marriage problems you had before the affairs. You may pick up some pointers that will help you to repair that, which is now broken. Perhaps doing your part in working on your marriage and doing what you can in trying to help your husband with the hurt he has concerning these affairs, might help in some way.

      You can’t force reconciliation; all you can do is your part in working on the marriage and yourself, trusting God that He will help you in the ways that are most needed. Your husband is the one who will make the final decision on all of this. God has given him that freedom. HE’S the one who feels betrayed. You can only pick up the pieces, hoping and praying that this will be enough to start rebuilding a better marriage in the future, if given the opportunity. I hope you are given that chance and that you honor that as a true gift, not to be taken for granted again.

  2. Ok…here it goes. My wife cheated on me twice. I never knew the first, prior to knowing of the second offense. The realization of it broke me. It destroyed my trust on her faithfulness that I hold in high regards.

    Anger coursed through every vein in my body, a deep seething hatred for everything that I’ve done for her sake. If not for my daughter and my desire to give her a life in a non-broken-family environment, I gave my wife a second chance. I did this based on my own accord, not with this “religious” stuff, not with this “Jesus” stuff, not with this “christian way” things but because of my own judgment. But the hatred and the anger still lingers within.

    1. I’m sorry you feel the way you do about this “Jesus” stuff. I know it is the only way you will have true love and forgiveness for your wife. You say you stayed so your children not to have a broken home. Without Jesus your home will remain broken. For someone who is experiencing such hatred and pain, I strongly advise you to hand all of it to Jesus so He can begin healing your heart. This will fix your already broken home and your children can experience being raised with God’s love and protection.

  3. My family just learned about my son-in-law’s infidelity. I believe the sin was revealed due to my daughter’s prayer and fasting for his soul. They are both Christians and were joined as one three years ago. He started by texting and facebooking girls until he ultimately committed the outwardly sin. She prayed and eventually began to fast that she would learn the reason he left her. The truth came out, and she confronted him.

    At first there were many lies and excuses. Eventually, he confessed his sin. Of course, she was hysterically devastated. They have decided to go forward in their marriage. The most important thing I learned through this story is how important it is for the adulterer to ask for her forgiveness. Your prayers are needed to help build a strong foundation for this young struggling couple.

  4. I am a Christian and last night I admitted to my wife that I had an affair with a woman at work. God has been convicting me and working on me to tell her and I did. I cried genuine tears of remorse and told her I was sorry and asked for her forgiveness. I took full responsibility for my actions and said none of it was her fault. I told her I loved her and the children and didn’t want to leave her. I told her I didn’t want her to kick me out. I wanted to work on our marriage.

    We (I) prayed together and I asked God to give us strength and help us to reconcile. I also prayed for His protection upon my wife as the devil will surely try to attack her. I am meeting with a Pastor tomorrow and have reached out to a counselor that he referred me to. I ask for prayer that my wife will forgive me and our marriage will be reconciled and that through this we both will grow closer to the Lord and to each other.

  5. Me and my wife are separated for 8 months now, we having children. I don’t know where the crack came in our marriage, but it is there. Please pray for me and my wife, for reconciliation, please.

  6. I am 24, been married for 4 years and built on a rocky foundation. We have two children, not biologically mine (but they are). I brought pornography and lying into our marriage of 4 years. I hurt my wife and devastated her by doing these things, lying and sometimes confessing. God showed me that it is the flesh that brings death in to everything.

    We have separated now for 3 months. My wife has been having an affair for the last 5 months. Our marriage is broken because of selfishness come from the flesh. Her affair and my porn. Total selfishness! I see now that God wants to kill the flesh (the human nature that is us that lives in abnormality apart from the living God) that his spirit may live. They cannot coincide!! Hope in his life brings life, not hope in what he can give us eg: (a restored marriage) only God can create a foundation of rock. I am seeking him. Though the pain is to deep to utter, there is hope in his life alone.

    I don’t know what the future will bring, and if we will ever reconcile… But whatever the case the Lord is good, he is compassion, mercy, grace, love, rightness. He brings us (in a strangely unexplainable, miraculous way) to live his way or no way, embrace his disciple as I am trying to. Through it I pray for his fruit and life to flow through me for his sake. No matter how horrible life gets in any circumstance, there is always hope in the Lord’s unshakable life.

    I have so many unanswered questions. I’m confused, in the dark, directionless, broken. But God seems to cause me to draw closer to himself. Praise the Lord of heaven!!! It’s not about happiness or fluffy feelings (which I feel none of) it’s about his life, not ours. If we have suffered the death (of our human nature of who we are outside of Christ) with Christ, we will surly be given life as Christ was resurrected. Such a loving promise from our precious father.

    O Father teach me your ways, show me my path in you. Please love my wife as she is broken also and a sinner like me. Please don’t hide yourself from us, please lead us to our death, so that we might live in you alone. Amen.

    Suicide is there in my mind everyday, if you can relate, never give in!!! That is the devil whispering in you ear!! Take courage and hang in there as I will also. It’s God we need to give in to, not the devil of death! Hang in there for dear life! Pray! And hope in his life alone! He will deliver us. Thank you Jesus.

  7. I am Agnes and I have been married for the last 15 years, and blessed with 2 children. I have enjoyed my marriage until a few months ago, when I started noticing unfamiliar behaviors with my husband. Over the years, we have loved each other very much and have always called each other frequently just to know how each is fairing after parting ways in the morning for work. It started that during one of these calls, after arriving home and time moving to late hours without a word from my husband of any intention to get home late (as it was the culture), I was worried and decided to call him. To my surprise, he picked the call and said ‘I will call you back’ and disconnected. This left me devastated and my mind juggled a lot as to what could be happening to him. I waited for almost an hour without any communication. I called again, but this time, he was almost getting home and in few minutes he was in the house. I decided not to ask him where he was, but obviously expected him to do it. He never explained anything, took supper and slept.

    This was just a beginning. After this, every time I initiated communication, he would interject because he is either watching something in TV or busy chatting on his phone. Our communication that used to be very healthy started to die slowly. I tried to arrange for meetings outside home as it was our norm previously, but was met with a lot of opposition. So I decided to give it some time, hoping things would turn to better. Our sexual life as well was started getting dull by day, he was never interested in sex, and any time I advanced, he would always give excuses like I’m so tired, I’m stressed etc. It started taking months before we’d get intimate; this really bothered me, and sent some bad signals. I approached him to know if there is any medical problem, so that we can get it checked and go through it together, but he said he is okay.

    All this time, I had not suspected infidelity, because of the trust I had in my husband, and due to this trust, none of us ever bothered with each other’s phone, and no one felt insecure when calls are made. One time, our son took the father’s phone to play some games. He played games as his father slept on the sofa. I was busy in the bedroom. My son came and continued with his games while lying on my bed, until he slept. I took him to his bed, and continued with my work. Soon after, a whatsup message came through my hubby’s phone, and for the first time, I decided to check on it. I wish I never did, because what I saw made me have a sleepless night until morning. A stream of chats from a lady, some of which were very obscene. I realised that most of these chats go on when my hubby is in the house, a reason why he was always on phone.

    When my husband woke from sleep and realised his phone was not there, he came running to the bedroom asking where his phone was. He took it hurriedly and went back to the living room. I stopped what I was doing and slept. I never mentioned anything to him, but the following day, I asked him why he is behaving strangely, but he said he is stressed since his business is not going on well. From that time, he insured his phone is always in the pocket and when asleep; it is always under the pillow.

    A few months after, last week, on Thursday after having our supper, and getting our children to sleep, we had a discussion over an asset we wanted to dispose to sort some financial crisis we’re in. We finished our discussion, and I went to the kitchen to make some tea. We took tea, and I went to the kitchen to clean the dishes. By the time I was back, he had slept leaving his phone unlocked. I took the phone and went straight to chats. My goodness, chats on coffee dates, love messages etc etc filled his phone, and apparently it was from different ladies, and the conversation was live from both ends. What shocked me most is that to one lady the conversation was all about sex, and the description of performance of their sexual organs. The language was obscene; some of the things you would only expect to hear from prostitutes. I could not believe my eyes especially from what had come from my husband. I took my phone and did a screen shot of the chats, and saved in my phone.

    I want to approach my hubby, but I dont know where to start or how to go about it. This dillemna is in two dimensions; 1 My husband is born again and 2. He is an ordained deacon, and is about to be given more responsibilities in the church. How do I approach this matter to save my marriage and 2, for his spiritual wellbeing? Please assist.

    1. Agnes, I’ve been praying for you, asking the Lord what to say to you, and asking whether or not I should even respond (we can’t possibly answer, nor should we, every comment that is posted on this web site). The Lord has made it clear that I do need to write to you. I have to say that my heart is crying for you and mad at the same time. This just shouldn’t be. …But it is, and sticking our heads in the sand (so to speak), ignoring it, won’t make things better… it will just lead to things growing worse and worse (even though it doesn’t seem like it could). I also have to say that it didn’t take long, as I was reading your comment, to know that your husband is cheating. I’ve seen this pattern repeatedly. He has allowed himself to take a big bite out of the rotten fruit of temptation –something that looks so good, but is just the opposite in reality. Unfortunately, it is innocent people, such as yourself that pay the biggest price, although he won’t get away with this without eventually paying BIG time!

      Your husband may be “born again” and be an ordained deacon, but that doesn’t dismiss him from being accountable for his sins, actually more so. King David is one example of many who sinned in this way and paid a big price. As a deacon your husband is held to a higher standard as far as his conduct. He needs to stop, or be stopped because the longer he goes on like this the deeper he will go into this darkness and the more damage will be done.

      Agnes dear, quit retreating from confronting your husband. You sound like a sweet gal, but your husband needs a reality check dumped in his lap and strict accountability for what he is doing. He needs to be confronted with the truth in a meek way. Meekness is defined as “strength under control.” Approach him in the way God shows you. But first you need to prepare yourself. I call it the “Queen Esther Approach.” If you recall, in the Bible, Queen Esther had a HUGE problem, which she needed to discuss with her husband. But she also knew that there was a right way, and a wrong way to approach him so the situation could be brought out into the light and taken care of. What you need are the right RESULTS –not to BE right.

      Queen Esther fasted and prepared her heart with God in prayer, and adjusted her countenance according to what God showed her so she could approach her husband the best way possible. You HAD to know she was scared, and yet she didn’t let that stop her. God led her to be very respectful, cool and calm as she spoke. I truly believe, because she was bathed in prayer, He honored her by paving the way both before she approached her husband and then afterward as He spoke to her husband’s sense of reasoning. But you need to realize that even if you use this approach, you may STILL not get the results you want –just as Queen Esther knew she was taking this risk (for her, she even risked death for her and for thousands more). However, she knew and you need to know that it would be better to do this God’s way than yours or mine. You have much more of a chance that you’ll get a better result.

      Another important point to consider as you approach your husband is to make sure that you don’t do it during a time when you should H.A.L.T. — which would be a time when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. There’s more vulnerability to be less tolerant during those times. As author and counselor Scott Stanley says about approaching during a vulnerable time, “A number of studies demonstrate that we tend to give people more benefit of the doubt [and grace] when we’re in a good mood and less benefit of the doubt when in a bad mood [or one of the above factors is in play]. If you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to perceive whatever your partner says or does more negatively, no matter how positive he or she is trying to be.”

      So, the point is, to ask God to help you to discern when would be the best time to talk with your husband. You may still get a negative reaction from him, but there’s less of a chance of it if you pick a better time to make your approach. 

      You have a lot of “truth” that God has allowed you to come across and a lot of truth that will bite you worse, if you don’t say something… such as him contracting a disease and bringing it home to you. Also, the message it will say to others in the church as to how much you should drag out lies and deception without confession, repentance, and humility. You have to know that it WILL be revealed eventually. As the Bible says, “sin will find you out.” Plus, the message this is sending to your children. They won’t be naive forever and it can push them onto a very bad path. These and more reasonings are why you need to do this, as God leads.

      Don’t let your husband try to fool you that he hasn’t “done anything –that these women are just lying or that they’re talking that way but aren’t really following it up with actually doing it” because I know and so do you (as God has been revealing it) that he is doing more than any married man should EVER do with any woman, other than his wife. And what he is doing is dangerous on many levels –especially spiritually.

      This needs to be confronted… soon, but prayerfully. I’m not sure how (it is different with everyone), but God does. He will give you the words as you lean upon Him. Even in your trembling, be wise and do what must be done to stop this sooner, rather than later. It has gone on way too long and is getting nastier and more deadly as time passes. I pray for you Agnes. I pray for your husband and your children, and your church and the community around you. Those who know Christ and those who don’t will be affected… but the effects will be lessened if you don’t delay, except to be bathed in prayer first. “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) Please know that “the LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)