by Sandy England
How I forgave my husband after his affairs and adultery with porn.
Sounds easy right? All you have to do is forgive and move on. For some it may be that easy. For me, it was not easy at all.
My husband had numerous affairs, and was a porn/sex addict. He was angry, and filled with justification for everything he did. He “deserved it”, and would go to great lengths to get what he wanted. As for me, our marriage and our family sometimes stood in the way of what he was going to do. Our marriage was marked by years of anger, hatred, fighting, screaming and even separation. I was a weakling – I didn’t have the courage to “just get rid” of him. He was my husband, the father of my child; in spite of all the bad, he was a good provider and his son adored him. I was a very successful business person and had worked for some really large companies. I could fix anything…. Right? I tried. I tried to change him, I tried to change me. In my mind and with my huge pride, I had to make this work. If my marriage failed, this would be marriage number two, and failing again was not an option.
Well we failed. We separated while supporting two households, multiple lawyers, (yes we went all the way to file with lawyers) and we lost my small ranch. It was a huge ego blow to me and it compounded the anger and resentment toward my husband. I had to move to the city so I could be closer to work, which was another killer for me; you might as well have put me in a straight jacket. I’m not a city girl, and living in the city, made me angrier, I blamed him for everything that was wrong in my life. If he wasn’t a cheater, a porn addict and a jerk, my life would be great.
Well that is how it ended. I say it ended because all that happened after that is truly a new beginning and the only way anything moved the way it did was through God. We just continued to mess things up. We continued to think we could handle everything ourselves. Pride, Pride, Pride. But God had other plans for us and He had to take us down a hard, lonely path to break our pride and get us to a point we would include Him in our lives.
My husband joined a church, where he found the most incredible support group of men. They were non-judging; they listened to him as he confessed everything. He had to be brought down to his knees. He went to retreats where he chose to clear all his anger with these “brothers of steal,” and they did not judge him. They prayed for him, loved him and helped him deal with all his past hurts. He admitted through all this that he was not angry at me, the family or what he thought set him off. He realized we were just in the way of what he wanted and we got the brunt of his anger. Part of his healing was to recognize and deal with his real issues. What was he so angry about? That was a long hard journey for him. My husband is big man, 6’4” and 240 pounds, big and strong. Seeing this man being humbled by God is not an easy thing to watch. He wrote letters to all the folks that hurt him, and he wrote letters to the folks he hurt. He was torn down, and when he came to me, I was in no way ready for all he had to share; he felt he had to confess everything he had done to me. I thought I knew almost everything, but when it all came out. I was blown away at how much I didn’t know. He came to me to cleanse himself, to leave all his sin, anger, and pride at the cross. He felt he had to confess by mouth so that he could be new and try to become a better man.
Well I was like, “You’re crazy; geeezz thanks for sharing, adding all that to our already painful past, thanks and good luck to you.” I was in no way ready to accept that he had changed and was a new man, just because he found a group who helped him. I said to myself, “You are all crazy and wackos.” To make it even worse, I had the support of my friends, who were telling me, “Yeah right, he is playing you again. No one can change, once a cheater always a cheater.” So I was on that band wagon and pushed him away. I would not let myself get burned again. I wished him luck and said I hope he finds his happy place.
Besides, we were getting a divorce and I was dealing with my own issues. I was a mess. I was in the city, had failed at another marriage, and wasn’t dealing well with all his confessions; I needed help, and badly. My friends only made it worse by fueling my bitterness and anger. I needed something positive; I needed comfort.
I started seeing a counselor who was not a Christian; she still helped. She took me down some ugly, hard times from my childhood. I had to face old memories that were so horrible that I had blocked them. I had to write letters to people who hurt me and who I had hurt. (Sound familiar?) I was just as angry, mean, and ugly as my husband. As I was going through all this, I kept remembering my husband’s letter and confessions. How he now seemed to be at peace, how he smiled and had friends that were positive. He was even nice to me, when I was anything but nice to him. One day I had a hard assignment from my counselor to visit old houses and places to bring the memories to the front so I could deal with the pain. Guess who went with me? My husband. Things I had buried so deep came to me like a flood. I was devastated and couldn’t believe all that was happening. I was even more of a mess; now I had wounds from my past on top of all my other problems.
My husband was helping me. He would pray for me, and he would listen without judging, He showed me verses and things he was learning in the Bible. He would talk with his group and give me Bible passages to read so I could find comfort. He was not really trying to get me back; he was honestly trying to help me deal with all that was happening. He was trying to help me see that like him, God was bringing me to a place I needed to be,
God was bringing me to my knees as well, so that I could accept His love and grace.
Well, it was working. I would read in the Bible that I was loved, no matter what. (For some of us it’s very hard to accept that we don’t have to earn it.) I had a hard time believing that was I precious to God. Our Lord loved me, and I could be forgiven. Forgiven? What does that really mean? The Bible tells us that all debts are cancelled and all sins are no longer held against us; that Jesus paid the debt for all our sins. Wow… that whole thing blew me and my pride away.
I was seeing the power of God’s forgiveness worked out in my cheating, lying, angry husband. What happened? He was a different person; he was actually my friend now. He was someone who didn’t want anything from me, but to help me get through all this mess. I needed a positive friend. I needed someone who had come to accept our Lord and actually was not just talking about it, but he was doing what he was told by God. He was helping other men who came to the group. He was helping me, even though our court date was on the horizon, he was not expecting anything from me. He was just doing what he felt the Lord wanted him to do.
I started to become a believer. If the Lord could do all that with my husband, what could he do with me? I started reading; I was hungry to find peace. I no longer wanted to feel angry or prideful, or have the hard heart; I wanted to just be with the Lord. I wanted to just let it all go and believe. Step by step without me even realizing it, God was tearing down my walls, fears, insecurities and most of all, my pride. I had a good friend; my husband. He was teaching me and showing me what God was doing in my life. I was now able to actually talk to and forgive so many people that had hurt me in my childhood and in my life. I was able to see them as struggling folks like myself; all wrapped up in past sins, and hurts.
Then one day as my husband and I were talking, I was actually realizing I had forgiven him too. I had to confess to him that I too wanted to leave my “stuff” at the cross, all of it. I didn’t want to be angry with him anymore. I wanted to just appreciate my new found friend. His debt was forgiven; I was no longer expecting payment. He didn’t owe me anything and it was all gone. We both cried like a babies and we were so relieved. Wow, I think I finally got what the Bible was saying about forgiveness. If we hold it and expect payment for wrongs against us, we will never see the promise of God’s love, grace, and yes peace.
One of the hardest pieces of my heart was finally chipped away. I had finally forgiven him. He was so relieved that God had done so much work on my heart that I was able to learn to forgive him.
My other friends were not as happy. Some suddenly became “less available with” to hang out or talk with; some thought I was crazy and “just couldn’t stand by and watch me make the same mistake again”. They didn’t want to hear about me learning about God, Jesus, and the Bible. And they surely didn’t want to hear about my husband changing. That was just another trick. So their distancing from me just left me more time to read, learn, pray and hang out with my new friend.
My husband and I decided to hold off on the lawyers, and started dating. We did a lot more family things; fishing, skiing, going to church, and just talking. I was becoming stronger in my faith, I was learning and I was forgiving. I was accepting that I was loved and I needed to give my life to the Lord. My husband and I were talking of getting back together, but only if the Lord was first in our lives. Things were moving along, and we were growing in the Lord.
And then, the enemy threw me a curve that would have sent my world spinning in the past. I was laid off; my high paying job was gone. But this time we didn’t see it as a disaster; we saw it as God working with us; we decided we would get back together. It was so amazing to watch all the crazy pieces fall into place. Where were we going to live? How would we pay the bills? As we were on the sidelines we saw how things just fell into our paths. Yes, Praise the Lord he was busy working on us, our lives and God was blessings us beyond imagination.
While, forgiveness was no longer an issue, trust was. Learning to trust my husband was my next step, and only through God was trust able to be rebuilt again. My husband’s group has helped us with that. They told him it would be a while (a long one) before I would trust again, that he would have to be transparent, he would have to always be honest and tell me what I needed to know. He would have to give me his computer passwords, and be available if I called. I needed to know for certain that he would not lie, cheat or hurt me again. He gave me everything and still works hard to make sure I know what he is doing and where he is. I still ask him on occasion for his password and he just rattles it off, like no big deal. It comforts me that he will give it to me willingly; in the past if I asked for his passwords it would mean a fight. Slowly, trust was rebuilt.
Forgiveness is necessary in every area of our lives. If we keep past hurts close to our hearts we cannot let God’s love and grace fill us. We have to forgive, even the most horrific things that others have done to us. We have to let it go, and give all the pain to God. Only then can we learn to love and be loved as God has planned for us.