We were on a fast track right from the beginning—so fast it eventually got reckless. Richard had started his own advertising agency; we were making lots of money, buying expensive cars, living large. It seemed there was nothing we couldn’t do or have. And for me (Richard), that included women.
Early in our marriage, I began a series of liaisons that eventually shattered the very core of our marriage. For more than five years, I betrayed Linda by seeing other women and deluded myself into thinking it didn’t matter.
That all changed on a Saturday in September when we sat down and talked honestly for the first time as husband and wife. I confessed my womanizing, and Linda, pregnant with our second child, demanded a divorce.
I was one of the most self-centered and irresponsible husbands you could find. As an entrepreneur, I approached everything in my life on my own terms, with no accountability to anyone.
As I was growing my business and enjoying the accouterments of success, I saw women as just another conquest, another trophy. I lied to Linda to be with other women. I sought them out, structuring my day and time around them. I wooed women for the fun of it. A night. A week. It didn’t matter. It was all about me and my deceptive lifestyle. I was living a lie.
Richard was becoming more and more absorbed in his career, and I was becoming desperately lonely. The more success he had, the more left out I felt.
Eventually I put the pieces together. He was spending inordinate amounts of time at the office on evenings and weekends, and it became apparent to me that something was going on other than meeting with clients. He came in at all hours of the night with very weak excuses to explain his absences. In my heart I knew he was being unfaithful. He had little interest in a sexual relationship with me, he criticized me constantly, and he was more or less pursuing his own life, not ours.
How We Solved the Problem:
Our defining moment came when Richard confessed his womanizing and was repentant. That very day we called a minister, who counseled us on the phone at length.
The next day we were in church—a place we hadn’t been for quite some time. There we began to overhaul our lives. Eventually, I (Linda) decided our marriage was worth fighting for, and I dropped my threats of divorce. I had regretfully considered aborting our baby; I dropped that too.
We got out of the fast lane, made new friends, and began putting the pieces of our life back together. For me, that meant learning to forgive Richard. What he had done had hurt my heart to the very core. I didn’t know if I could ever forgive him.
We entered counseling and worked on new ways to communicate. We picked up new skills for getting along. But all the while, my heart was working at mending itself and letting go of the pain Richard had caused. I don’t know the precise time or day I reached forgiveness, but somewhere I that year of recovery, my wounded heart, by God’s grace, made room for Richard once again.
And I (Richard) began my own journey of reform. I brought accountability into my life. I surrounded myself and our marriage with positive people. I made our marriage my top priority. I learned how to honor Linda and how to prize our times of romance. We attended marriage seminars and more marriage counseling. We did everything we could think to do. But mostly, our marriage survived this hellish time because of forgiveness. It has become the lifeblood of our relationship.
A Word to Other Couples:
You can survive most anything with forgiveness that comes when you open your heart to God’s amazing grace.
The above article comes from the book, I Love You More (formerly titled When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages) by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, published by Zondervan www.zondervan.com. This is a really good book that has a lot to offer those who read it. Not only does it focus on “how to make the thorns in your marriage come up roses” from the experiences the authors have personally learned through and also found out through their counseling experiences, they also offer testimonies like the above one on various subjects from those who have lived through “thorny” experiences. They also include a listing of exercises and self-tests in this book for each chapter to work on, and they even have companion workbooks designed to go along with this book (one for husbands and one for wives). So as you can see, this book has the potential to go beyond the surface of things to dig deeper if you exercise the choice to do so (which we hope you will).