Marriage Missions International

Forgiveness And Restoration After Adultery

The 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

124 Responses to “Forgiveness And Restoration After Adultery”
  1. Cassie says:

    (USA) Advice please … I am catholic born and raised … I was married to my soulmate in 1999. Unfortunately we both strayed too far from the Lord and ended ip separating in 2004 and divorcing in 2005. We both then remarried. I am divorcing my abusive husband and have given my life back to the Lord. Soon after I gave my life back to the Lord my first husband gave himself back to the Lord. His second marriage is falling apart fast because they have such different views about religion.

    We both asked each other for forgiveness where we each needed to. We have started a friendship again and we are getting along wonderfully. We both know that his current marriage is over even though nothing has been done about it yet. We have even discussed our feelings of unending love for each other and we know that at some point we will be reunited. The problem is that I am growing restless. Anyone with any advice please help!

  2. Mike says:

    (USA) My wife and I are are still married. 23 years a year ago she was doing service at a soup kitchen, a cook who was just released from prison, a black man (we are Caucasian) somehow got to her. She was always devoted mother, I thought, and wife. But after some therapy together we both learned a lot about each other’s childhoods we didn’t know, which the therapist claims is when 80% of our emotional structure is developed during childhood.

    I was not a perfect husband compared to some. Maybe I was faithful to her physically but once I did get emotionally involved and lust entered my heart. Physically, I never had any contact, no kissing nothing, just conversations but wrong and I knew it. I prayed often for strength to help me stop because I knew our Heavenly Father was not pleased about it, because it was going to lead into physical contact if I didn’t stop. My prayers were answered. I began to treat this woman different and she became irritated and our relationship ended. Amen!

    But my wife was so blessed she had slept with this person five times. I caught her because my children told me she was acting strange and they thought she was being unfaithful. Anyway, it’s a pretty sick story. She was caught, confessed then attempted to take her life, this all during Thanksgiving and Christmas. She returned from the mental health hospital, and me and the children opened our arms forgave. She said what she did she was sorry for but guess what? She continued to see him and laid with him. He was having relations with other women at this time. I felt she lost her mind so I put a tracker on her car. It was the best thing I ever did. I tracked her to his place, and pulled up. Outside it was a ghetto, I mean graffiti on walls etc. It was very, very difficult to accept. I love her deeply. I was not a great husband but I did work hard to change and to be a decent husband and father. We were Mormons, with lots of good family values, taught no drinking alcohol, etc…

    Anyway, one Sunday she shares her testimony with the entire congregation, comes sits with me, kisses me and after church goes to the soup kitchen, has relations by going to bed with him, comes home and immediately has me go to bed with her. Strangely, I felt like someone had been with her and that he was black just impression, but I knew nothing yet. But as I said earlier, I did find out. She acted like she was disgusted with herself but kept going back. It did not stop until I personally met this guy, told him about her attempted suicide and that she was mentally ill or in need of help. That it stopped it.

    This is the weird part; it all has me mentally sick. I take medicines now to live because of anxiety, sleeping problems, etc… It’s been a year and we are together. I still I really love her as a daughter of God and I want to accept her in forgiveness and mercy as I hope Jesus will or has for me. Today, she admits it was bizarre and she never thought she would let herself go so far. I still don’t know how or if I can stay with her. It is so painful I want to die. Often I’ve talked to many others, read a lot, and will continue to strive prayerfully to love her, and our children. I want them to have us. She’s remorseful and said she’s sorry but has not asked me to forgive her. That’s okay. I do forgive her. Who am I to judge? The Master taught us judge not, for by what measure you judge you will be judged.

    I told the person I forgave him also. It was very hard but Jesus forgave me of my sins, who am I to not forgive another? I hope we make it; it’s trying. I can’t have sex right now and am feeling I don’t want to ever again. This is my concern I have, but I feel strongly inside that the pleasure she had with me wasn’t enough so she continued with this person. I hurt so much. It’s like I am not even here. My mind is in so much pain. I still cry in my prayers almost daily. I know this is what I feel but I also am scared.

    We can make it; our marriage will survive because with God all things are possible. But here’s what I wish, that she would put God first in her life. She has not repented to the church or to God. She blames the church. She gets angry when I talk about prayer. So I continue to love her as I would my neighbor with no expectations at all except hoping she will find our Heavenly Father’s love in some way. I hurt so much. She hurts, my children hurt, I just don’t know. I take a deep breath, pray and hope that I can learn to let go and let God. I want to be like Jesus, pleasing to God. I strive to practice his ways and I must say it works. I believe she will turn to God some day and that if I can find true love in my heart for her like Jesus has, we could have the best years of our marriage ahead. As a man it’s always, did she have more pleasure with the other guy? So I feel inadequate and don’t want sex to be part of our marriage anymore. Does any woman out there have any insight that may help me feel differently about this, please? Thank you!

  3. James says:

    (US) I just ran across this story while looking for comfort in the scripture about adultery. I am by no means a “Christian.” I mean I believe in the Lord and in God. I believe the Bible as well, though I do not regularly attend church services due to the life I choose to lead, if that makes any sense. Anyhow, this story really hit home with me because my now ex did this exact thing to me. We were together for 3 1/2 yrs. We have a child who is almost two.

    She cheated on me multiple times with 2 different men. I knew it was going on well before she ever told me, but just couldn’t prove anything. Through the whole ordeal, we both have said and done horrible things to each other. The issue lies with my still having feelings for her, still being in love with her, and her not having feelings for me and having moved on and in another serious relationship. I am happy for her in the aspect that she is happy in general, and not depressed anymore. I’m not happy she is with another man, or that he is, or will be playing my role as a father to our son in his everday life, because I am not with his mother still.

    I have told her that I forgive her, but she has never asked me to forgive her for what she did. I was still holding it against her and using it as an excuse to try to make her hurt like I was, not a great idea I know but I was devastated and wanted her to feel the pain she had caused me. We have been broken up since July/August of last year. I have only been moved out for one month because I had nowhere to go so she let me stay till I did. I am truly grateful to her that she has been trying to be kind in order to makeup for what she has done in other ways, and she has even apologized for her actions.

    My only concern now is that I know we’re not going to be together anytime soon or ever again. I just can’t seem to forget it. I can forgive her for what she did and have in my heart already, I am just struggling really hard with letting it go and not holding it against her when we talk about our relationship and where we went wrong. I know I made mistakes, as far as how I started acting towards her when I knew about it going on and she didn’t know I knew. I was mean, bitter, and just not my usual self towards her. I have apologized and asked her to forgive me for my actions after it all came out, and was still going on. I just need help letting it go and moving on from there with a new foundation for my life without her and my son there everyday.

  4. Jennifer says:

    (USA) Dear readers I am 30 yrs old with three beautiful young boys by my husband of 10 years. Last year he cheated on me and gave me an STD. However, I was able through the grace of God to clear it up! At first he denied it but eventually he had to confess so after a couple of months I agreeded to forgive him. I’m so in love with him and so are our boys! He is the soul provider for our home and recently he had been acting mean, withdrawn, and picking arguments to leave the house.

    So a week ago he left and promised he would be right back and stayed gone for 5 hours and wouldn’t answer the phone. I called and texted several times and finally after four hours he picked up with an obvious lie that he was at the gym. We argued and he moved out again. He also dropped verbal hints that he was seeing someone else and that I wasn’t good enough. He has distanced himself from the boys and me and it hurts them so much! He isn’t at all sorry for what he is doing! I’m scared and emotionally destroyed. I don’t have any finances or hope. What can I do?

    • Josey says:

      (USA) Hey Jennifer, I understand what you are going through!!! You have to give it to God, because you can’t fix this -only the Lord can!!! Focus your energy on the Lord and your three boys, because He wants give you no more than you can handle!!!

  5. Nicole from United States says:

    I have been so inspired by all of these posts and it has helped me tremendously. I am 33 been married for 7 years now. My story so similar to everyone else’s. My husband has always been a ladies man and would have all kinds of women from the time we were in junior high, high school before marriage, and now.

    Long story short my hubby was real distant, sleeping on the couch last year October 2012 and although he would pretty much do this from time to time and I would know he would be cheating but the evidence wouldn’t be that concrete. My fears were confirmed when the other woman 10 years younger than myself and my husband somehow got my phone number and sent me text messages and pictures of him and her together out of town. Mind you, this was a trip that he was very secretive in taking, which was the 4th trip like this he had took.

    Now currently they are still seeing each other Oct 2013. She hates me and does everything possible to get me to leave him, him as well, because he lies and tells me the affair is over and information always seem to reveal otherwise. I turned from church and God and fell into a deep depression. I became overly insecure and would throw up his affairs every chance I got because there have been many others. He would always accuse me of doing what he was doing.

    I have now learned to trust God no matter how bad this looks. Difficult isn’t the word. I was a mean cussing fighting machine and I’m learning to yield to God’s way loving. I struggle many days feeling hopelessness, anger and disparity. I didn’t realize that I was idolizing my marriage and him until I’ve become more involved with learning his will. I have repented for my part in the destruction of my marriage. There are times when I just want to give up and separate because this now has made it clear that she loves my husband and she will not leave their affair. Please pray for me as I need strength to continue standing. He refuses Christian counsel. He is not saved. I have counseled with a pastor but wasn’t feeling it was helping any.

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