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Twelve years into our marriage, I found out that Clint had an affair. A few days after his initial confession I found out there was more. He’d had multiple affairs over the course of almost four years. It was completely devastating and life-altering. In all of the ways you could possibly imagine. It was also completely life-altering in a plethora of good ways as well. It completely rocked our marriage as we knew it. It turned everything upside down. It required us to take a long hard look at the state of our union and be honest about what we wanted our marriage to actually look like.
I’ll be honest…I almost didn’t stay. But I’m glad I did. And I’m even more glad that God has allowed us to share our story and has used our experience to bring hope to those who are going through similar trials. As we continue to grow Marriage Life we are continually reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:4-5:
“who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
During the aftermath of Clint’s affairs, digging through all of the rubble, we both realized that we had changes we needed to make. There were a number of cultural lies that we had bought into that contributed to our marriage being ripe for an affair. Because of that, one of the most important aspects of our ministry at Marriage Life is sharing truths with others that will hopefully rock their marriages and their mindsets for the better. We have realized the importance of living in truth and not buying into the lies that we are fed through TV, music, and our own basic thought processes and then choosing to daily live out that truth in our actual lives and marriages.
I’d like to share some of the most important truths that we came to learn about marriage as we walked through infidelity in hopes that you can take some of it and apply it to your marriage as well:
*Unrealistic expectations will kill your marriage.
Unspoken expectations will kill it just as fast. Your marriage will never look like your parents so quit silently expecting your husband to be just like your father. Your marriage will never be like your favorite Hollywood love story. They aren’t real. Quit expecting your spouse to talk to you sweet every moment of every day, to be perfectly romantic at all the right times, and to say all the right things just when you need them. We set ourselves and our marriages up for failure when we go into them with unspoken, unrealistic expectations for our spouses that they can never measure up to. It is more than okay to have expectations but we can’t create ones that your spouse can’t or won’t live up to. My husband is not a huge romantic by nature. I love all of those little gestures like hand holding, coming home with a single rose, little back massages. When we were dating he actually told me he didn’t like giving massages. Yet, what did I do? Continued to harbor that expectation that in my marriage I would have a husband who would give me massages whenever I wanted. Years later, he knows how much I enjoy them and we meet in the middle. It’s not something I expect and its something that’s even more treasured when its given.
*Your spouse will fail you.
Plan on it. A while ago, we read about marriage speakers who will have their audience turn to their partners and actually have them say this to each other. “You will fail me.” Your spouse might not fail you in the ways that my husband did me, but they will still fail and fall short. It’s inevitable. If we stop elevating our spouse’s to God-like status and remember that they are fallible human beings we are more apt to accept and respond to failures and disappointments with more grace.
*Forgiveness is key.
If we are in relationship with people who are going to fail us and not meet our expectations we are going to have to learn to be forgivers. One of the first things I did when Clint confessed was forgive him. I just heard God speak to my heart and I knew. Didn’t I keep making the same mistakes over and over? Did I desire forgiveness every time I failed? Lack of forgiveness to me felt like I was telling not only my husband but also God that what Clint had done was just too big. Too big to forgive. Too big for God to heal. And that’s not true. Nothing is too big, or too bad, or too awful for God to completely restore and make new.
If your marriage is struggling or experiencing infidelity we at Marriage Life want you to know that we are here for you and we are in constant prayer for you. Do not hesitate to reach out and daily keep doing all you can to make your marriage all it can be!
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