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Final Chapter--Our Infidelity and Redemption--Grace and Gratitude, Restoration and Redemption

This post is the final in the series of our story as told at The Restoring the Glory Conference in Golden, Colorado at Lookout Mountain Community Church. Here we explore God's grace and our gratitude for his tenderness and compassion. He ministered to us in the depths of our pain, restoring our relationship and redeeming our affairs.

Ben
Our marriage became better than it had ever been.

We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. Romans 5

If you would have quoted me that verse during the time I think I would have punched you in the nose. I did not like suffering. I did not like persevering. Persevering is pregnant pain. We lived smack in the middle of pregnant pain.

How did we move forward?

We surrounded ourselves with community. Some of this was quite by chance and some of it was by choice.

Couples who make it through affairs learn to talk a lot. So we talked and talked and talked. Sometimes at two in the morning one of us would wake up. We’d wake the other one up and say, ‘Hey, get up. We need to talk.’ We each gave permission to the other to do that.

We also saw some counselors. We lived in Kansas City at the time. We thought we would be moving back to Springfield so we saw a counselor down there first. We would drive 200 miles down there, see the counselor for 2 hours and then drive 200 miles back. We had the whole day together talking about our relationship. We’d get input from the counselor about our relationship. On the way back we’d discuss what he had brought out for us. It wasn’t easy, but it was great for us. We had to deal with one another all day once we got started whether we wanted to or not.

We had some friends, still do, their daughter had been killed in a car wreck. It was a very sad accident with physical damage to other family members too. We knew they understood the depth of the pain that we were in. It was different pain, but the depth of it was similar.

I could tell him how I was feeling at the moment. I told him about the mirror that I smashed. He told me about going into his bedroom closet and kicking a hole in the wall. Nobody could see it and he fixed it when they sold their house. We both knew that sometimes we just had to release some of the energy from the anger that we had. We connected that way and were honest with one another.

I was in the Army Reserves at the time. My Chaplain’s name was Steve Smallwood. I had drill the first weekend after I found out about the affair. I told Steve I needed to talk to him. We walked 30 yards down the hall, through the door, and outside. Before I said a word, he looked at me and said, ‘What happened?’ ‘Did your wife have an affair?’

He had read it on my face. He had just been through it with a friend of his at church who had an affair. He had just been through the whole restoration process. God placed him in my life. Without him I don’t know what would have happened. He really guided us.

He took me out to lunch that first day. He said, ‘Ben, your marriage isn’t over yet and God isn’t through using you.’ I had thought they were both done. I didn’t really believe him at the time but I put that in my back pocket. His words provided me hope during some of the deepest moments of despair.

Ann and I talked and became very honest with one another. We talked not just about the events of our day, but about what was going on inside of us. We shared our fears, our dreams, and our hurts with one another. We shared our joy with one another too.

I remembered before asking her about her relationship with God. She had said, ‘That’s between me and God.’ As we talked more she began opening up her soul to me and I liked it.

Forgiveness was a huge part of our restoration and redemption. Ann’s affair was off and on for about three years. She would start and stop, but had never told me about the depth of their relationship. Ann and I before the affair had a stupid agreement that we could each have a close friend of the opposite sex. We thought we were being hip. I think now we were just in denial.

I had read that it takes about as long to get over the affair as it went on. So, generously, I gave God three years to restore my marriage. It was actually very arrogant to tell God how long he had. I knew I couldn’t forgive Ann on my own. I committed to staying for three years and working on the relationship but not necessarily staying married. This commitment let the process develop.

I didn’t want to get a divorce because I couldn’t stand the thought of another man tucking my kids into bed. I hated that idea so I just didn’t want to do that.

Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen as quick as you can snap your fingers. Learning that it is a process helped me initially. At first I felt a lot of pressure as a Christian to forgive. I even wondered if I could be angry at the start. That’s crazy. Of course I could. God is angry many times in the Bible. At the time though I didn’t really know that anger wasn’t a sin. It’s what we do with it sometimes that makes it a sin.

I could forgive little bits here and there as we went forward. Part of what helped me to forgive was to learn how hostile our culture is to our sexuality, our gender, and monogamy. I owned how much each of us was attacked with this all through our lives leading up to the affair. I began to see where those influences had taken us.

About fourteen months after the revelation I went to a Promise Keepers conference in Dallas. A friend had mentioned it to me before, but I didn’t hear back from him. However, I did take those days off from work just in case he called back. I wasn’t going to take the initiative to call him back. I was even thinking about calling another woman and going on vacation if he didn’t call back.

Fortunately, he called. He told me they had one more seat on the bus to Dallas. I took it.
I drove to Springfield and caught the bus they had chartered.

I went to Dallas not wanting to get caught up in all of the hoopla. You can imagine where I was at with that. But God started in on me some. Friday night, James Ryle and Tony Evans spoke. Tony used Rocky Five to convey to us men that we needed to get up out of the gutter.

The next day John Maxwell spoke. He put three chairs on stage. There are a lot of times in the Bible where a father is hot for God. His son is lukewarm for God. Then, his son is cold for God. That idea began to move inside of me. It began to tug on my heart with my son. I felt like my choice again was between God and Satan.

I debated internally. What do I want to pass on to my son? Do I want to pass on a life of drinking, and gambling and emptiness? Or do I want to pass on a deep relationship with God to my son?

I realized at that time, more than anything else, I wanted to be close to God. More than anything else.

This guy came out to make announcements. They don’t have altar calls on Saturday at Promise Keepers. He said, ‘I feel a lot of you are being stirred up. Come on down.’ People just streamed down Texas Stadium. It was amazing. At the end I went down. I was crying. It was like one of those cartoons where the stairs just go slick. I got down there and Terry Kendrick, my pastor asked me what I was doing down there. I said, ‘Terry, more than anything else, I just want to be close to God.’

Following that, I realized that meant forgiving Ann. So I went home after the bus ride and told her, ‘I forgive you.’ I told her what happened between me and God.

We moved through the perseverance. Character was built in me going through that pregnant pain. I did grow as a man. I experienced hope. I experienced that God’s grace is bigger than any sin. C. Welton Gaddy says, ‘Grace fears no sin.’

I gained strength as a man. I became a protector of my family and a pursuer of Ann’s heart.

We were able to grieve together instead of being on opposite sides. Anger is a part of grieving but now my anger turned to sorrow. We were sad together over the losses in our relationship.

Ann
As Ben’s anger turned to sorrow the eggshells began to be swept away. I didn’t have to walk around on them any more so delicately. True healing was evident in our relationship.

Through this process, my priorities moved from outside God’s order and design to inside God’s order and design. I began to focus on God and His image and who He created me to be. Instead of being bent over looking at all my idols of performance, the affair, and my value as a woman being tied up in sex, I could lift my head and look to God for him to show me who he created me to be as a woman.

As that began to stir in me I began to be a nurturing woman in a different way than I had ever been. I realized at that time that my husband is my number one ministry on this earth. It isn’t choir at church, Sunday school, working in the kitchen at church, none of that, but my husband is my number one ministry at church.

And even though it didn’t look like I had neglected my children in any way, I had. By pursuing this other person and being in relationship with him I was not as available to my kids as I could have been. I began to be more emotionally available to Ben and to my kids. That was so important for them.

I had been a people pleaser and that faded into the background. I began to hear God letting me know that he didn’t design me to be a people pleaser. The spotless home became unimportant to me. My relationship with my family and my God became important.

Ben’s forgiving me allowed us to truly connect. I was able to rest and to finally, openly, grieve with him instead of in a corner by myself, hiding. I could openly grieve. Most of all, I could begin to rest. I no longer had to be that controlling woman because he had become the protector of our family. I could rest. In that rest is where I truly began to know and become the woman that God designed me to be instead of the woman the world demanded that I be.

BenSo the day I found out about the affair was the worst day of my life. I experienced more pain than I could ever imagine especially since I wasn’t physically attacked. The day I found out about the affair was the best day of my life. I was sleeping. I woke up as a man that day.

Ann
Without waking up, without discovering the depths of who you are, healing is difficult. Going through this process helped me to realize that I wasn’t the shallow person I always thought I was. God doesn’t make shallow people. That’s our choice to be shallow. It’s our choice.

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Comments

May your days and nights continue with mutual respect and deep passion!

AMEN! to you both!! What an Awesome God we serve!!! His Grace and Mercy saw you through...Keep finding strength in Him, and in each other. Many rich and abundant blessings are wished for you!!! Love to you, both!!!

What a great story of redemption. We have learned the difference between marriage covenant and marriage contract. Failure, struggle, forgiveness, falling, getting up, and persevering are all a part of a covenant relationship. Contract relationships can terminate at any point for any old reason. Thank God that His relationship with us is one of covenant.
Have you heard of the University of the Family? We are instructors in our area. We teach the Married for Life course. Many of our fellow instructor couples have stories like yours. You can learn more by visiting the www.marriage.org website

Thank You Ben and Ann, your story sounds very similiar to mine and my husband. Praise God that He teaches us to forgive others.. and ourselves. We are now 16 years together and growing stonger then we ever have before!

Too often, we try to control our lives and others around us. It appears to me we do not use our moments in life wisely. Every moment is important, because even this moment will be gone too. The key is not about confessions of an affair but rather the avoidance of one.

If we only took the time to tell our partner, how much we admire her/him for what they can do not for what they cannot do. This emotional support becomes the adhesion in a relationship. It shows incredibly strong commitment, honesty and openness. This openness gives a relationship a sense of security and trust. It is the affection the conversation and the commitment that makes the difference. We need to tell one another how much we respect each other and how much we value the things our partner does.

For example, the first question in all relationships is to either commit or quit. Its all pretty basic at this point. If they commit we have to realize the effort it takes to wrap the gifts at Christmas, the energy and time it takes to prepare for holidays, birthdays, social engagements, the day-to-day work is so important for to be recognized by both individuals. Whether we can admit it or not it requires commitment, and we need to tell our partners please do not ever stop.

I am enclosing one of my writings. Initially I thought it was a love poem. As I look closer it is not a Love poem, It is a poem of affair. The poem is called “No, it is no secret…”

No it is no secret my love, and too put it very simply I want you...

Every piece of a whole will precede all pieces.

Inside my sleeve, I pull out my heart...
Handing it to you I whisper, careful it is fragile,
as you extend your arms, you take my tender warm.
heart into your hands and suddenly and unexpectedly.
it falls to the ground and it shatters into a million pieces...
You slowly begin to bend down and pick up the pieces with
sorrow and sadness in your eyes... You look closer and see that
each piece has a memory so true... Each piece of my heart has a part of you...
I am you..... You are me... and we are both pieces of the whole...


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