Christian Marriage, Divorce, Personal Stories, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Women and the Church

A Wife’s Personal Story: So, Let’s Actually Talk about What “Extramarital Affairs” Really Look Like

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Josh Duggar, A Wife’s Personal Story, Extramarital affairs and the church

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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 reJosh Dugger, Affair, Infidelity, Sexual Immorality, Ashley Madison, Personal Storycently 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


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My Husband Betrayed Me

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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).

Josh Dugger, Affair, Infidelity, Sexual Immorality, Ashley Madison, Personal StoryI 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.

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 So, Let’s Actually Talk about What “Extramarital Affairs” Really Look Like

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“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.

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photo credits: IMG_3314 and no more love via photopin (license)

116 thoughts on “A Wife’s Personal Story: So, Let’s Actually Talk about What “Extramarital Affairs” Really Look Like”

  1. NJ – an elderly pastor and his wife made me feel like they understood and cared for my situation. We talked at length as to why I don’t feel safe in ‘c’hurches; feeling abandoned. We spent time talking of his so-called retirement years. He seemed impressed by the pastor/teachers that I gleaned from via the internet. As I left from our introductory meeting he then handed me several old copies of Tabletalk. I thanked him and said I was familiar with the ministry.
    Hmm, this same couple then met with the father of my children (I refuse to call him my husband anymore). At that time we were still talking somewhat and ‘he’ said that the pastor implied that I had shouldn’t be ‘airing out the dirty laundry’. I was annoyed and retorted, “Well, I don’t like doing that either. Why don’t you give me some clean laundry to hang out?”
    This elderly man and his wife continue to carry themselves as humble spiritual people. I grieve because it is so obvious that this ‘p’astor is filled with pride at his so-called Scriptural knowledge.
    This is only “one” example of many who do not get it and don’t want to. Remind me very much of the Pharisees. So sad and I pray that the “blind will see.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. @lydia

    “Sometimes I think I don’t even know what real repentance can look like anymore.”

    You will know when you see it in “action”. It is noble in the lowly sense. It is Metanoia a totally “from…..to” metamorphesis. Very hard and grueling work.

    However, in these times repentance means saying “sorry” when you get caught.

    —-

    Exactly! It is interesting that you bring up the grueling work involved. The English word “repentance” has it’s root meaning in “penance”. In ye olde ante-Nicene days of Christianity, before penance was reduced in medieval times to saying the rosary a few times and getting absolution of a priest, Christians caught in grievous sins such as adultery would be immediately excommunicated. If they wanted back in they would have to do YEARS’ worth of penance, which often involved fasting, prayer, giving alms to the poor, being publicly humiliated in church meetings, being barred from communion, and generally being treated like a brand new baby disciple who had to learn how to walk like a Christian all over again. Only after the prescribed number of years of penance would they be allowed back into the church as full members eligible to take communion. If they ever repeated a grievous sin again, they would be excommunicated permanently.

    While the old concept of penance/repentance could often be extreme (especially the part about not allowing repeat offenders back in ever), and violated the verse about restoring a brother in love, I think the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Now we just let ’em back in with a simple “I’m sorry I got caught–again.” Churches ought to at least have the offender spend several years working on his/her issues, and proving that they’ve turned around, especially for the victim. The victim needs to know that the offender is truly repentant for his/her (the victim’s) own safety. Unrepentant offenders want a quick restoration process. They don’t want to take the time, however many years, proving that they’ve sprung a new leaf. There’s nothing in the Bible that says we shouldn’t wait to see the fruit of repentance. In fact, it is wisdom to do so.

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  3. @Katy:

    Why the double standards between ‘leadership’ and ‘pew sitters?” Like I said, maybe my sight and understanding are in the back forty on this one. It just seems to me that our LORD’S grace applies only to leadership when they get caught, meanwhile the rest of us driven over by their religious bulldozers.

    RANK HATH ITS PRIVILEGES.
    And GAWD’s Speshul Pets (The Anointed Leaders) have the highest Rank of all.

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  4. Hell is where you find yourself following the disclosure of such heart-wrenching betrayal. Pure Hell.

    Thank you for painting such a vivid, if horrific, picture of the true effects of infidelity. Sadly, the insensitive fools and legalists who fail to see adultery as a marital issue any more harmful than eating too much chocolate will probably never “get it.” But know that there are others of us who do “get it” and can completely empathize with your suffering. Of course, divorce is justified. The adulterer willingly, repeatedly forfeited his right to any kind of relationship with his bride. And the decision to divorce should be respected accordingly without any negative ramifications from her fellow believers. I know, however, it rarely works that way…

    Again, thank you for baring your soul with the hope of educating others.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing. I’m a married man and it is difficult to read but vital to help me see where my “little” compromises can lead. I’m sorry for your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The urge to throw up while reading your post was strong. Even after 17 years, the adultery that was committed (a 7 year long relationship w/a co-worker) has never really completely left my thoughts. I have forgiven. I have stayed in the marriage. I am not the same. We are not the same. I still wake up from dreams of it all… truly nightmares. Our intimacy level has never been the same. We love one another. We love our children. We love our grandchildren. But I am not me anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marie – I hear you and am praying. Betrayal can be forgiven but considering the ongoing antics of the betrayer(s) we find that the ‘scars’ do change us. I kept fooling myself that, “I can do this. I’ve the Lord’s strength.” etc, etc
    BUT like you, I am not “me” anymore. So, I continue to trust the ONLY One who can be trusted. It requires me being ever so patient as the pain is so awful. A few trusted friends and the online ‘support community’ have become very precious gifts from the Lord.

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  8. This is rather lopsided so maybe I can balance this with MY story.
    And just to clarify…. this is not fiction.

    After a horrendous 11 year first marriage with a wife who was sleeping around within the first month of marriage and pretty much nonstop adultery with men women and probably boys and girls…. and then staying single for 11 years…. I found the girl of my dreams.
    I did research my second wife’s history ’till I was sure she was Biblically available for a second marriage.
    She seemed so devout… and to this day she never misses devotional time with her Bible first thing in the morning.

    She now says she stopped loving me before 6 months were up (23 years ago)….. and it felt like it.
    Without boring you girls with the details I’ll just jump into my last day at work before we moved back to the city from a small town hospital we both worked at for 7 years.
    A handsome doctor that worked with my wife sought me out and said, YOU GUYS DON’T HAVE TO LEAVE, I AM TAKING A 7 YEAR SABBATICAL TO “CONCENTRATE ON MY FAMILY”. ??????
    Someone in the the dept asked, “What is Dr X doing down here?”
    Someone else said, “He needed to talk to John.”
    Someone else said, “I hear Dr X’s wife made him leave the hospital over a gorgeous redheaded nurse in the X department that is leaving also.
    (My wife was a gorgeous slender 5’9″ redhead.”)

    When I mentioned the comments she just shrugged it off as gossip.

    In the city, after literally enduring a PTSD from persecution from the non believer medical staff I worked with, while my wife was sick to the point of death…. with suffering equal to that of a stage IV Cancer patient for YEARS….. with controversial CHRONIC NEURO LYME…. and though terribly sick myself ….. I hung in there and earned and spent upwards of $200,000 out of pocket to get her to recovery…. and did!
    (She had originally been diagnosed with Multiple Schlerosis….. it was a miracle.)
    During this time I went back on a contract to our old hospital… must have been 7 or 8 comments about her affair… “F’ing Doctors” was how one devout witch who hated me for my faith put it.
    Since my wife was still very ill I never mentioned it to her ’till…. she rewarded my working 60 hours a week for 6 years while very very sick myself by leaving for 9 months.

    That was 7 years ago…. 3 months ago she was crying that she wished she’d never left me. I told her both God and I had forgiven her….she simply needed to forgive herself and leave it in the past.
    Two months later she left again….. pushing me to near bankruptcy 2 years from retirement.
    Why did she leave?
    Because I would not foot the bill for 6 months rent for her 31 year old son who purposely impregnated a 22 year old mom of 3 so he could have a child.
    (Poor girl had four kids under 4 for a little while there.)
    Young gal’s third child was supposedly his…. but obviously was not…. and he is not even her boyfriend now…. which is why the poor thing is in a psych hospital as I write this.
    OH…. and I have real concerns that this son is a pedophile!!!!!
    I am glad he washed out as CPS worker. (!)

    The AFFAIR came up again… which she adamantly denies happened again.
    But I can guarantee you that she is still doing her daily devotions with her first cup of morning coffee.
    And everyone thinks she is such a SWEET WONDERFUL GODLY WOMAN.

    I have prayed for guidance on how to deal with her.
    All I got was GOD HATES DIVORCE.
    I am not lonely…. but I feel I must TRY to redeem her… but I am under no delusions.. I know that God will sometimes lead us into failure… not success…. for our own spiritual growth ….as a lesson in obedience…. and unfailing love.

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  9. I know that story is in the Bible, Just can’t remember the harlot and the husband who loved her enough to get her and bring her back. Michael Card wrote a song about it! Hang in there.

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  10. Bryce, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all that crap.

    My Dad has a long term “friend”/ live in “friend” who left her abusive alcoholic husband to become my Dad’s new “friend”.

    This “friend” has physically and verbally assaulted every member of my family. I called the cops twice on her. She lied to my Mother and said I hit her (the time I called the cops on her).

    Every Sunday she trottles off to her local Christian Establishment to get her fix. She knows all the Bible, cries at the name of Jesus.

    It’s safe to say I would be half tempted to push her down a set of stairs, if the Lord would be so kind as to turn the other way.

    There are amongst us (His people)…

    Absolute ferals.

    I hear you.

    I hope you can find the strength to make a decision which will be healthy for you.

    You seem like a good guy.

    Ps. I was only joking about the stairs thing.

    Maybe.

    Like

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