From a dear sister in Christ, Quinn (not her real name), with her permission in response to a comment on Encouragement for Those Who Are in the Trenches. This is a long post – but it is MORE than worth it to take the time to read the whole thing:
I started reading your blog April 13, 2015. I know the exact date because that was the day my husband and I had a major blowout fight to end all fights. We concluded the conversation with the words…”I’m done.”
As we said the words to each other our 24 years together seemed to race before our eyes. There was still something there beneath all the pain. When we got up the next morning we both were drained and sad. We got into another spat and that lead to a two-day long conversation. We talked about everything. Anything. It all came bubbling out. And by the end we said the words…
I’m not done…I want to fix this.
I LOOKED FOR HELP ONLINE AND FOUND YOUR SITE.
- Let me say the first thing I did not understand was how important sex was to men. That it was how some feel loved, which definitely was my husband. I was always turning him down. He has a high drive and I was a once a month-er. I even told him if I never had sex again it wouldn’t matter to me. (I deeply regretted that comment when I learned differently and apologized to him.) I just didn’t know it was different for men. Sadly, I viewed it as another thing on my to-do list. And it wasn’t that the sex was bad. Quite the opposite. I was just always too busy and tired.
- The next thing I learned was what a shrew I had been to my husband. I didn’t realize the way I spoke to him was disrespecting him. It was how the women I grew up with spoke to men. I only saw his anger problems and blamed everything on him. (he gets verbally angry – he has NEVER been physical. I have been and still am completely safe with him. He just learned verbal abuse in his family and that was communication to him… much like shrew was a language to me.)
I started reading everything I could on your site and implementing it.
I asked him to start praying at night with me… something we had never done together before. I made more effort to keep time aside for him and our sex life too. He started to notice the differences in me, he relaxed and I was feeling better too. About six weeks later I decided to apologize to him for my past behavior. It was cathartic.
And then he looked in my eyes and said God is prompting me to also apologize and come clean too.
Then he admitted to having an online emotional affair from January to May. He said it was over and that he had ended it because we were getting to a better place.
To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I laid in my bed and sobbed. After about an hour I heard God so clearly say, “Go forgive him. You two have had enough pain it is time for healing.” It was the hardest thing to do – but I did.
We had a long talk and decided to work more on our marriage and for the next several months, I thought we were. I know I was. It seemed he was. He was better at being calm and we talked more things out. We still had arguments but no blowouts – which were the regular before. Then one night in October, I just felt something was off. I can’t explain it but I knew I needed to check our phone records. I firmly believe what I found was God’s prompting to fix the mess of our marriage once and for all. Because what I found was from July to October two phone numbers had a ton of calls to them. Numbers I didn’t know in a town about two hours away.
When I confronted him, I found out he was having emotional affairs with two different new women online. He was viewing porn with one of the women and his relationship with her was sexting. She lived in another country. The other woman…sigh….this still hurts to say….the other woman lived two hours away and he told me he fell in love with her and was going to tell me the next day he was leaving me for her. Then he said I will always love you but I am not IN love with you anymore. (For clarity he never met any of these women in person – it was all online/phone. Not that it made it hurt any less.)
I was blindsided. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I thought we were working things out. He prayed nightly with me! How could a praying man do this to his wife?! His level of deception was so deep. I didn’t know who this man was. The man I knew would never…I…it…huge sigh…
I cried and screamed for a good few hours at him. I have never felt that kind of hurt in my life.
Remember how I said I felt the feeling I had to look up the phone records was God’s prompting to fix the mess we called a marriage once and for all? Well, I can say without a doubt it WAS indeed God’s hand of intervention. April, I think when I sought out your site in April (I don’t think that is an ironic coincidence either!) that God was preparing me then for what He knew I was going to have to endure in the months ahead. By reading your site – I started to pray, really pray for my marriage and my husband. Remember my husband and I were praying nightly together, too. How you pray to God while cheating I still don’t understand but that is between him and God. I do think though God used it as a chance to be in my husband’s heart. It was an opening. And my prayers gave God more room to work as well.
The next part I am about to explain no one around me understands. I am hoping as I share it here that in this atmosphere it will be understood. Less than 48 hours after I was leveled by my husband… God settled on me in a way I could never begin to put into words. He gave me complete peace. He healed all that pain in an instant. It was gone. (From Peacefulwife – sometimes people experience an instantaneous spiritual healing like this, other times it is a gradual healing.)
What I was left with was this deep, unabiding love that God spoke to me was how He felt for my husband. I still can’t say that without crying. God let me feel, truly feel, the love He feels for my husband. His deeply wounded and abused child. He then spoke to me and said,
“I want you to have the same compassion for him that I do. He is hurting from the lifetime of abuse inflicted on him by his family. He needs to come back to me and I am going to use you to (help him) do that. I want you to go to him and forgive him.”
Now remember I had been asked to do this back in May too when I learned of the first affair. I remembered how confused I was to be asked to do that but I saw God work through it then so I chose to trust God again. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face when I said, “I don’t like what you did and you hurt me beyond comprehension but I forgive you. God has given me a deep compassion for you and I see the pain in you differently now. I still love you. I see the man God knows you can be and I think your leaving would be a huge mistake. I think God has so much better for us. But if you don’t love me anymore that is your choice but God loves me and I him so I will be okay.”
His eyes got as big as saucers and his hard shell exterior melted into sobs. I’ve never seen my husband cry like that.
He started to say, “Dear God what have I done?! What have I done to this woman I love so much?! What happened to me?!” over and over.
It was like a literal blindfold was taken off of him and he saw me again. Then he saw his sin. He was so distraught. I kid you not when I say I think I heard some demons screaming for cover as the Holy Spirit descended on us.
PRAYER CHANGED EVERYTHING.
Fortunately, our pastor was coming over within the hour to pray and talk with us. When he walked in the door he said to my husband, “Well brother, long time no see…it is good to see YOU again.” Our pastor and my husband are walking partners. And the day I felt the prompting to look for the phone records was the day my husband admitted to our pastor on their walk that he didn’t love me anymore and that two days later he was going to tell me that and leave me. He didn’t tell our pastor about the affairs on the walk though. But God told our pastor. Our pastor started praying after their walk fervently for our marriage. He stormed the gates of heaven on our behalf and I think that is why I felt the urging to look for the records and that was how it all came tumbling down.
So on the day the enemy had planned for my husband to leave and to destroy our marriage for good…ended up being our day of redemption. PRAISE BE TO GOD! It was instead the day I forgave him and the day my husband was freed from demonic oppression. If you ask my husband now he will tell you, he felt like he was literally blinded. He still can’t fathom how it got so bad. How he did what he did. But that is the enemy’s game…little here, little there until you are so deep in the pit you don’t see the light of day anymore and you somehow don’t think you need to ever again.
HOW HAS IT BEEN SINCE THEN?
My husband and I have spent the last six months going through some DEEP healing. We have done counseling and continue each day to understand our “new” marriage, the new ways of coping with life and ourselves as individuals. We had to learn how to talk to each other, be real and love again. We went through a honeymoon period where we couldn’t keep our hands off each other and wanted to be with each other every moment we could. Then we were tested with a lengthy time of not being able to have sex (read below) and we had to level up again in our emotional relationship and friendship.
We still have times when we have to crush the enemy all over again and realize he is still trying to take us down. We have gotten better though at seeing it now and we act on crushing him together. We still pray nightly together and we see how He continues to work through those prayers. We both know we will always have this pain in our past but it does not define our present. It is part of our story that we use to now help others. I often get asked if I really was delivered of the pain that fast. Yes, I truly was. God did a miracle for me. Do I feel sadness that we had to go through this? Yes, I sure do. Do the things I wish I didn’t know pop in my head at times? Yes, they do. So no it is not all sunshine and rainbows but without the dark clouds and storms we wouldn’t appreciate the sun (Son) as much now would we?😉 I choose to remember that God has a plan for us. And whatever that plan is required me to trust God quickly. He had a reason for needing us to work through this all so fast. Whatever that reason is only God knows but I sure am not going to get in the way of whatever it is by holding on to past hurts. It serves me no good in my present day or my future.
What really makes the biggest difference, and always will, is handing the reins over to God.
Doing things His way and not ours. Dig deep into your relationship with God and let nothing and no one interfere with that. Even your spouse. If I had accepted my husband saying he didn’t love me, if I had let the enemy keep whispering to me, if I had not read April’s words and taken them to heart, if I had not allowed God to change ME first… NONE of this would have happened the way it did. I am 100% sure of that. I would be divorced right now.
Even if that worst case scenario had happened I still would have been okay though because I have my God and I need nothing else. *tears of joy* I didn’t know that before April 13, 2015. I was raised with God from birth but I never truly knew Him until this last year.
And I needed Him this last year like I never have before. While I was going through all this I had many other horrific life events going on as well. Illness in my body, deaths of parents, the beginning of our empty nest, and we ended the year with my husband recovering from a very serious car accident.
A MAJOR CAR ACCIDENT.
April, when you used the analogy of marriage being like a car accident down a deep ravine…that is what hit my heart the most.
Six weeks after the betrayal and reconciliation, my husband’s car hydroplaned on a wet road, spun into a pole and went down the ravine toward the river.
If he hadn’t hit the pole the fire chief said he would have gone IN the river. Our 18-year-old son watched the whole accident happen as he was in the car behind my husband. It took 10 firemen to secure the car as it hung on the ravine to keep from sliding down the wet, muddy ground into the river. It was downpouring and there was a power line that he took down went he hit the pole. The first man on the scene and my son both stepped on this line without knowing it was there as they tried to get to my husband before first responders got there. Thank God, the line was not live. It took them almost two hours to extricate my husband from the car.
The passenger side door was resting next to his right side because it was the side that hit the pole. The passenger seat was demolished. The passenger seat I would have been sitting in if not for a stomachache that kept me from going with that night. They had to use the jaws of life to remove the roof and take him out that way. With both lungs collapsed, eight broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder. Miraculously, that was all of his injuries. He didn’t hit his head, he had no cuts or bleeding, no broken limbs… unreal – considering what the car looked like. When you looked at him he looked normal. He was in ICU for three days and I never left his side. I spent the next four weeks nursing him back to health at home and then he slowly returned to work. That time together while he healed was precious. So many conversations and so much love shared.
My husband has now made a full recovery.
Just like our marriage.
OUR MARRIAGE WAS DOWN IN THAT RAVINE.
Deep down there with the rain pouring on us and the mud keeping our marriage “car” stuck. We were refusing to see how the other was hurt because we were so focused on ourselves at the time. And we both had very little focus on what God wanted for us despite calling ourselves Christians.
I could have wallowed in the pain my husband caused me but the truth is – I hurt him too.
I know what I did to him was not the betrayal of affairs but the way God worded it to me was like this…
“His sin is no worse than yours. Sin is sin. You both have been deeply hurt by life and by each other. Enough is enough. It is time for you both to heal and get onto the plans I have for you.” It took the true First Responder to deliver us out of it but we had to reach up for His hand first before He could get a good grip and pull us out of the mud.
We realize that on that dark, rainy night things could have gone so much differently. If I had been with him, if he had gone in the river, if our son had stepped on a live wire…so much could have changed. Before my husband left the house that night I had a sinking feeling something wasn’t right. (Being an intercessor I get these feelings often.) I went to God in prayer and asked him to watch over my boys and give them safe travel – to send his angels of protection with them. I have no doubt those very angels are why my husband and son sit with me still today. It is the power of prayer that changes lives.
I HAD SOMEONE SAY TO ME…
“Well if God really answered your prayers then He would have kept your husband from getting in the accident at all.”
Oh, this reaction always makes me so sad. It is the refusal to see that life can’t be all good. It is from hurt souls who think following God means everything will be good and if it’s not then God failed. Oh sweet sister or brother we live in a fallen world. Bad stuff happens unfortunately. God is the one that helps us endure those things though! And He uses them for good!
So much good came from the accident.
Of course I wish it hadn’t happened!! But that accident pushed us closer together as a family. It healed a broken relationship that I can’t mention here. It gave ME a renewed zest for life because nothing makes you appreciate life more than seeing a mangled car in a junkyard that could have been where you took your last breath. Honestly, there are too many things to mention. That is not even mentioning the ways it helped others that we don’t know about. The same goes for the affairs. Much good came from that mess coming to light. I have a strong, healthy and happy marriage now. We have a very active sex life and we both speak respectfully to each other now. We are able to help others now who are going through what we did.
GOOD came from it all…because of God.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OTHERS WHO ARE HURTING DEEPLY
If I can encourage anyone else who is going through the trenches (so appropriate you named it that, April, because it is exactly the word I always use) with something it would be this… pray, trust God and don’t ever be afraid to do what God asks of you… even the REALLY hard, unimaginable things… pray through them if it is only way you can get through it. If He is asking it of you then there is a good reason you need to do it. And remember that thing you are praying for may only happen if you do that hard thing He is asking first.
Sometimes we truly hold the answer to our prayers in our own hands and until we act we won’t see it happen. If I had argued with God about how “entitled” I am to my pain or refused to see my husband with God’s eyes of compassion… I WOULD HAVE MISSED OUT. I would still be wallowing in that trench full of bitterness, pain, and misery. And I would have denied myself, my husband, our children, our pastor, family, and anyone who hears our story from seeing God’s amazing power at work! If I had not forgiven, as brutally hard as that was, I wouldn’t be able to share this amazing testimony today and maybe touch more lives.
God is always waiting it the wings to get to work. He isn’t the problem. We are.
Our life is completely different now and IT ALL STARTED WITH ONE PERSON… ME. I laid down my idols and dreams… and found God had bigger, better, and more amazing things for me than I ever could’ve imagined. But none of it could happen until I gave him the reins and did as He asked. Even when it made no sense whatsoever to me. And for the record I’m working through another trench currently. It is a deeply painful one. It likely won’t go the way I am praying and I may have to be okay with that. Here is where past trenches can help you… you know you will survive… you know there are better days ahead….and you know where to look for help. UP.
You are all in my prayers. May God fill you with peace, understanding and love.
And April, girl, I can’t wait to hug on you one day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a mentor to me. You truly changed my life. Words can never express what you, my sweet sister, mean to me.