Josh Duggar, A Wife’s Personal Story, Extramarital affairs and the church
The topic of adultery has been in the news a lot lately. The Ashley Madison hack revealed that Josh Duggar of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting show had two paid memberships. Duggar is now in some treatment program (Inside Josh Duggar’s rehab facility for sinners) which doesn’t seem to be any better than his first treatment program connected with Bill Gothard. Ed Stetzer recently published an article, ‘My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List,’ in which he predicts at least 400 church leaders will be resigning their positions this weekend because of having accounts with Ashley Madison. Stories of sexual immorality will not be ending any time soon. But what about the victims, the wives?
We have not heard from Josh Duggar’s wife, Anna. Her voice has remained silent. Now with her husband in so-called treatment, she will be taking care of their 4 children by herself. What must it be like for wives whose husbands commit adultery? What thoughts go through their minds?
An ex-wife of a chronic adulterer has shared her personal story with us: “I want people to wake up to the reality of the horror of cheating, lying, and betrayal, the horror that all those faithful wives of those Christian men who had Ashley Madison accounts are experiencing right now.”
Special thanks to the brave anonymous woman who was willing to dig deep and dredge up memories of her painful past in order to give us a window into the her world as the victim of her husband’s shameless sexual infidelity. Be forewarned – this is difficult to read. ~ja
My Husband Betrayed Me
I would like to share my story with you. The only two reasons I haven’t wondered if my Christian ex-husband’s email was on Ashley Madison is 1) he is way too cheap to ever have paid for something like that, and 2) I already know that he cheated on me multiple times.
We were both raised in the church and met at a Christian College. He came from a “good” family, well-known in our Reformed denomination. We married after graduation, at age 21. I was a virgin, he was not.
We were married for several years before our first child was born. During that time we both worked and he pursued his MA and then PhD. We attended church weekly, were members of a small group, helped in the nursery, tithed regularly, etc. We had more children, and he began teaching as an adjunct at several local schools. Finally, he got a tenured position at a Christian college. Several months after he began teaching there, I discovered that he had been cheating on me for the past several years. When asked, he initially didn’t even know how many women he had slept with. I told him that he needed to remember, and he came up with a list of 15 women he had slept with and several more that he had had physical contact with, but not intercourse. Several of these women had been his students, and all of them were 20-something (he was in his late 30s).
I was not specifically opposed by the church in my decision to divorce my husband, but I was not supported either. My pastor kept pushing me for reconciliation while grudgingly admitting that infidelity was “Biblical grounds” for divorce. My family supported me completely, but his family did not. One (male) member of his family sent me a bizarre email in which he said, “I am sickened by infidelity and I don’t say that self-righteously because I fear that it is not far away from any man or woman. But we can kick it back and fight it a little and gradually win.” I couldn’t believe he (an elder in his church) would say that infidelity was not far from anyone. I would no sooner commit adultery than I would go rob and kill my neighbor. Is this typical of the mindset of men in the church, that infidelity is an easy sin to commit?
The damage done to me by my husband’s infidelity was worse, by far, than any physical and emotional pain I have ever experienced, and I have lost babies to miscarriage and loved ones to cancer. It has been 6 years since I found out and the pain still catches me by surprise sometimes. One of the most frustrating things I have experienced during my time of healing has been hearing infidelity discussed almost as an abstract concept. One almost never hears the raw words from those wounded by betrayal. I wrote this 4 years ago but I want to share it with you in light of the Ashley Madison stories. I want people to wake up to the reality of the horror of cheating, lying, and betrayal, the horror that all those faithful wives of those Christian men who had Ashley Madison accounts are experiencing right now.
So, Let’s Actually Talk about What “Extramarital Affairs” Really Look Like
“Let’s finally let “honesty” actually MEAN HONESTY. I am just sick of euphemisms, frankly, like “marital trouble.” In a way I wish every awful, sordid detail was known by everyone because this is awful and it has shattered my life, and my children’s lives, and I HATE it that it gets cushioned. So, let’s actually talk about what “extramarital affairs” really look like:
- It’s me with my feet in the stirrups while some strange man puts his fingers up inside me to check for an STD because my husband didn’t use a condom every time he slept with all those 20-something girls, but he can’t exactly remember how many times he did or didn’t use one.
- It’s me getting an email from my husband, while he’s on the road at a conference, telling me how much he loves me and the children and how much he “cherishes me,” the morning after he slept with some married woman he met through MySpace.
- It’s me at my husband’s PhD party, sitting with some church friends one table over from the grad student he’s currently having an affair with.
- It’s me saving my virginity for a “good Christian husband” who ends up sleeping with everyone he can get his hands on.
- It’s me running screaming out of my bedroom at my parents’ house, hitting and kicking the walls, and having to be restrained by my dad while I lose control of my bladder and pee all over myself because I’m so devastated by what my husband just confessed.
- It’s me bursting blood vessels in my eyes and face from crying so hard after lying on the floor of my bedroom, curled in the fetal position, wishing more than anything in the world that I had a gun in my hand, and knowing exactly what I would do with it if I did.
- It’s me desperately wishing I wasn’t pregnant with my second baby when he confesses to visiting strip clubs and having “feelings” for a co-worker.
- It’s me finding an email to a woman who says, “I want your naked ass” and being told “it’s just a coarse joke” and “she’s just a friend.”
- It’s me getting a suggestion via email from him, when he’s already had affairs with a waitress, a co-worker, and several other women: “I think you could have a sunny disposition if you’d put your mind to it. Maybe if you had some time to meditate on a psalm every day?”
- It’s me packing up and preparing to leave beloved friends, family, house, city, job,neighborhood, and church, to follow him to his new teaching job at a Christian college across the country; meanwhile, he’s having final good-bye sex with his 19-year-old girlfriend across town.
- It’s me sitting alone, bored and lonely, while visiting his family over Christmas break, flipping through old issues of National Geographic, while he sneaks his now-20-year-old girlfriend into the house we own in the city; the tenants are conveniently away, leaving a variety of beds to choose from.
- It’s me finding a phone bill with hundreds of calls to the same number, some of them on my birthday, and being told “she’s just a friend” and “we like to talk about music and stuff – I had no idea I was talking to her so much.”
- It’s me deciding to avoid the family reunion at which I could have seen, for the last time, one of the dearest and most wonderful women I’ve ever known, because I couldn’t bear to see him basking in the usual family admiration and adoration with none of them knowing the truth of his character.
- It’s me listening to my 13-year-old son say quizzically “I still don’t understand what Dad did” after his dad has told him that he had “been with another woman,” and having to look him in the eye and say “He had sex with someone, and it happened more than once” and see his face fall and his lip quiver.
THAT is what “being the wronged party” looks like. IT’S EVIL AND IT WAS ABSOLUTE HELL AND IT SHOULD NOT BE SUGARCOATED.