“Man, can this guy preach!” I thought to myself as I sat listening to my new pastor expound on the book of John. He was like no other speaker I’d ever heard, and I found myself awed and inspired by his ability to share God’s word. I hadn’t heard anything like this my whole married life.
My husband, Jeff, and I had just relocated to this town. Although he was not a Christian at the time, Jeff was supportive of my desire to get involved in my new church.
I quickly made friends and started serving in different areas of church life, such as helping in the nursery and planning women’s retreats.
Married and Too Close
Over the course of time, I developed a close friendship with the pastor and his wife. And as the months turned into years, my relationship with the pastor became overly-familiar and far too close.
Many times when the pastor’s wife and I were having lunch at their home, her husband would drop by for a while. We would then all chat. Since the pastor and I had similar personalities we found each other charming, witty, and irresistibly funny. We could laugh and talk for hours.
Our “friendship” eventually escalated to the point where we were talking on the phone almost every day. Of course Jeff had no idea that the pastor and I were in daily contact. This was something I was hiding from him.
Although we mainly discussed benign topics such as church business or our mutual friends, in my heart of hearts I knew it was inappropriate behavior for someone who was married. The phone calls were starting to thrill me. This was alarming in and of itself. And I felt conscience-stricken about allowing this too close friendship to continue.
Yet, instead of responding to the “red light” of a guilty conscience by shutting down the friendship, I was drawn even closer to the pastor. It was run by my pride and a refusal to heed the warning signs.
In desperation I called up my trusted friend Debbie who lived in another state. She listened patiently as I poured out my heart to her. I held nothing back, doing my best to be as transparent as possible.
Her counsel was that I leave that church immediately. During our long, tearful conversation, she literally begged me to get out of the pastor’s life that day. I was to run to a different church, as if my life depended on it.
I vowed that I would obey her warning, and promised to do exactly as she said. I pledged to extract myself from this man’s life quickly. But ultimately, I chose not to.
You see, at first I was convinced that Debbie’s advice was correct. Then, little by little, I decided that I could handle the pastor’s escalating attention. Leaving a church I loved so dearly seemed too drastic. So on I went, careening recklessly through another red light.
My world came crashing down one hot July afternoon. I had put my little boy down for a nap and was enjoying my daily chat on the phone with the pastor. That’s when he revealed his interest in me as more than just a friend.
In hindsight all I can say is “duh!” Spending copious amounts of time getting to know someone of the opposite sex is called “dating”. What did I expect to happen?
His declaration of romantic interest propelled me into the worst season of my life. What ensued was a three month inappropriate relationship. Eventually the elders found out about it, and I was asked to leave the church immediately. Within a few months the pastor was asked to resign his position, and he and his family moved to another state.
After I left the church I confessed the whole ugly situation to my husband. To say he was disappointed would be an understatement. Jeff was understandably hurt and angry, but he forgave me. And ultimately, he took great comfort in the knowledge that nothing had happened physically between the pastor and me.
The Turning Point
Honesty and transparency marked the beginning of the restoration of my marriage. During the first few weeks of the rebuilding process I spent much time in prayer; repentance, a cry for renewal, and the revitalization of my marriage were predominate in my conversations with God.
It was during these weeks of prayer that I had what can only be described as a “supernatural curtain pull.” Like the old game show Let’s Make a Deal, God pulled back the curtain of my dulled and wounded emotions with a flourish. He said “Ta Da! Look who you married!”
And I saw it! I saw an honorable man, an intelligent man, a caring and steady man. It was at that point in my life that I began to actively revel in the man I married that was mine alone.
It’s Your Turn
Now it’s your opportunity to take notice of the unique and extraordinary gift that is right in front of your eyes. This revelation does not come after your husband loses forty-five pounds, or your wife goes through extensive therapy, or your mate agrees to buy that new home you’ve been hoping for.
Instead, it comes when the Lord shows you just who you are married to. Our spouses may not be perfect, but with very few exceptions, most of them have worthy qualities just waiting to be noticed and esteemed. Each is a prize in his or her own right!
Maybe as you sit reading this article, your “prize” is drooling and dreaming in his La-Z-Boy chair. Or perhaps she’s nursing the baby in two-day old clothing that smells of “spit up”.
Whatever the particular circumstances surrounding you and your mate, now is the time to ask God to wow you with a curtain pull. And to that end, let’s discuss two key ways in which you can position yourself to receive this “marriage enhancing” revelation.
Key 1: Loving Actions Produce Loving Feelings
Feelings follow actions, not the other way around. All too often, we plan to act a certain way once we genuinely feel that way. We say things like, “As soon as my wife starts doing the things I’ve asked her to do, I’ll be more loving.” Or, “If my husband would only stop irritating me, I’d be a nicer wife!”
But the truth is our feelings will follow the actions we take. We’ll feel more loving after we begin to act more loving. Our eyes will be opened to our husband or wife’s superior qualities as we begin to actively notice and esteem them.
Not Feeling It
When I teach this principle at women’s retreats, I’m occasionally approached by women who say something like, “Paula, I’m not going to act all lovey-dovey with my husband if I’m not feeling it!”
But to believe that you cannot act a certain way until you genuinely, fully, and resolutely feel that way is incorrect. And it allows your emotions to dictate the course of your married life.
And more importantly, it will impede that “curtain pull” you’re hoping for. An important first step in facilitating a new outlook and perspective on your mate is by continually choosing to take loving and nurturing actions toward him or her.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about pretending to be an ever smiling, perfectly coiffed, Stepford-spouse who never discusses anything negative with their mate. On the contrary, communication is of prime importance in marriage.
What I am saying is that ultimately we are in charge of our own emotions. And we can choose just how we will act. Our fragile, frenzied feelings aren’t in charge. The godly person inside of us —the one who desires to honor God with our lives and marriages —that’s who’s in charge!
Key 2: Learn to Overlook Your Spouses Faults
When it comes to overlooking your husband or wife’s faults I’m not suggesting overlooking addiction, abuse, or neglect. I’m talking about overlooking those annoying little personality quirks that seemed tolerable when you and your spouse were first dating.
Maybe your wife is a pack rat, saving every toy the kids ever played with —for sentimental reasons. Or your husband’s a neat freak, and you have three kids in a house that will never be picked up to his standards. Does he talk with his mouth full? Does she pick her teeth in public? Perhaps he laughs too loudly at social gatherings.
Whatever his or her particular foibles, they need to be overlooked if you want to live in peace with your spouse.
It’s true that marriage can be challenging at times. But it also can be fulfilling, comforting, and joyous. If we want to enjoy our marriages, and experience our own “Ta Da!” moments, it’s important to keep our sense of humor intact. Our minds are to be focused on our mate’s good qualities.
Look Over the Top
Overlooking another’s faults means to literally “look over the top of the faults” to see the person you love standing on the other side. You love your spouse. You don’t love their faults —but you do love them?
So what about it? Are you ready for your own curtain pull? You better brace yourself. It’s gonna be good! In fact, maybe you ought to sit down for this. Get ready now —are you ready? Okay then, here it comes:
Ta-da! Look who you married!
This article was excerpted from the book, The Man You Always Wanted Is the One You Already Have. It is written by Paula Friedrichsen. This book gives candid revelations about the inappropriate relationship that nearly destroyed the author’s marriage and will help you see that no one compares to the one you already have.
The author Paula Friedrichsen is also a conference speaker as well as an author. She is married and lives with her husband and daughter in Northern California.
This article is used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.
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