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

  1. Thank you, Anonymous Sister, for pointing out so many of the practical considerations that most people overlook. Part of comfort involves realistically considering a situation and what a person needs to do to overcome it. You have done here what Paul admonished us to do for one another. There is nothing like the comfort of someone who has walked a similar mile — because they have comfort that no one else can offer you. Sympathy is needful, but it cannot match empathy.

    In the “ask not for whom the bell tolls” passage John Donne said that suffering is like gold in a mine, but the problem is that if we don’t work to turn it into currency, it doesn’t help anyone. If we can harness its lessons, it can benefit us all. And we are reminded that we are all dependent on God’s grace. (But for grace, there go I.) You have mined that gold and refined it for us through so much pain. May you be blessed beyond measure for sharing that wealth of wisdom with us.

    >>>

    2 Corinthians 1:3 – 7

    Praise to the God of All Comfort

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. ‘I was not specifically opposed by the church in my decision to divorce my husband, but I was not supported either. ‘ THIS. THIS. THIS. Thank you for speaking.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. This sad, sad story parallels a friend’s daughter’s experience. Her soon to be ex-husband is a complete narcissist. He likes to blame her for his behavior, suggesting surgery to be more appealing to him, comparing her to the other women, etc. The situation in the current court system is that even if he is a serial adulterer and a horrible role model, he will probably get equal custody, or at least generous visitation rights, making it difficult to move away and protect the kids from his influence. Adding more insult, his father is a well-known mega church pastor in our area. He supports his son. I think it’s because he’s more concerned over his and his church’s reputation than for her and his grandchildren. If only his church knew! She knows she will probably have to fully support herself and her kids, since he’s threatened to make it difficult.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a raw and honest article. Thank you for posting it. I have been there, not to the extent that this woman has- but I have been through infidelity. This woman’s husband may carry the Christian ‘title’- but somehow I find it hard to believe this man is truly a born-again Christian.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I pray that God will heal your heart, mind and soul. I just wonder how many wives are clueless that their husbands are doing this because the husbands are so good at hiding it. I know someone who didn’t discover this activity for 40 years during which time it had been on going.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear Anonymous Writer,
    I could have written this article and can remember how much it hurt once I finally allowed myself to believe it. The bullet points would have read differently, but the outcome would have been the same. The church I attended told me that I made my bed and should lie in it, as did some family and friends. I believed that guff for a time and stayed until he began tying me to the bed while he would tell me the stories of what he would do with other women then deny that it ever happened. He said that I had imagined it all. After that I found a score sheet from a bowling alley with his and a woman’s name on it. He tried to tell me that it was all written by him and he played both people. He actually thought I was too naïve not to believe everything he said. That is when I filed for divorce. My children were hurt by not having a father present. My oldest son has never matured into the grown man he should be.

    I was the product of a broken home and never knew my dad. My step father was a pedophile who preyed on a young wife with 2 little girls. I did not want to divorce. I wanted my children to have a strong Christian family life, which did not happen.

    I pray that your life has been an overcoming through Jesus Christ our Lord and good has come out of the ashes.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Heartbreaking. This is one more reason that women need to be on the leadership boards of churches. Too many men don’t seem to understand the devastation that adultery brings in a woman’s life. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for your honest and gutsy article on what it is really like to live with a sex addict. I have been thinking a lot lately about the language we use, especially in Christian circles, when referring to infidelity or sexual sin. It actually minimizes and sanitizes the sexual activity and somehow makes it more palatable for “sensitive” Church folk but it adds so much to the pain of the partner.

    The betrayal you have experienced, and so many others like you and I, is profound and it colors all of life. It is not just about sex, infidelity or compulsion. It really means that we have been used, deceived and often that our marriages were founded on a lie. And all of this was sanctioned and blessed by the church! We need our communities and families to understand the depth and breadth of our pain and we don’t need sanitized language that minimizes the pain we feel by the betrayal and behavior of the perpetrator.

    There are wonderful, gritty but truthful resources out there but they are not sugar-coated. Two movies that were recently released to DVD explore the sordidness of sex addiction: “Thanks for Sharing” and “Don Juan.” Patrick Carnes has written extensively on sex addiction but his book on “Betrayal Bonds” languages the anguish of the partner and offers real help. Bill Struthers wrote an excellent book on porn addiction (“Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain”). It is tragic to me that churches aren’t addressing this growing epidemic and still talk about “repentance,” “hypocrisy,” “forgiveness,” etc. when addressing it.

    My hope for you is that you have found God to be true, faithful and your provider and that you are healing. Thank you for daring to pull back the blinds and giving us a glimpse into what marriage to a betrayer is really like.

    Hugs,
    Brenda

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Very disturbing, though not surprising, that our betrayed sister’s so-called church did not support her. But let me guess, the “husband’s” fellow professors, “Christian” friends, and maybe even “pastor” were all there to support HIM through his self-inflicted consequences. About which he not doubt wailed loudly and bitterly.

    Let us hope at least that this Christian college terminated the betrayer’s employment, if only in the pursuit of institutional self-preservation. I would not be surprised, however, to hear that the college is loudly trumpeting the magnanimity the exhibited by forgiving and restoring.

    Or maybe the college in question followed the example of Wheaton College, which fired their pedophile professor while at the same time announcing how his fellow professors reached out to him throughout his criminal prosecution. See Wheaton’s own statement here: http://www.wheaton.edu/Students/The-Record/Archives/Spring-2014/February-28-2014/Former-Wheaton-Professor-Sentenced-for-Possessing-Child-Pornography

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve had men and women in court who cheated on their spouses, and now that the marriage is breaking up they complain that the process is too hard and time consuming and expensive. I want to tell them that if they’d put half the effort into their marriages that they did on their affairs, they wouldn’t be in court. But they’re really not interested, because for a lot of these folks a good marriage isn’t a priority.

    Their own interests are the priority, hence all the complaining about how hard getting divorced is. And it’s the rare person who expresses an understanding and remorse for what they put their spouse through. Then again, by the time the case ends up in court it’s because this relationship is one of the most broken. (Family Law attorneys tell me they handle amicable divorces too, but they never come to court because the wife and husband come to an agreement and the lawyers write it up.)

    Liked by 4 people

  11. You’re absolutely right, sister. This is something that no one should sugar-coat or minimize. What you’ve gone through sickens me — I am so sorry your ex-husband betrayed you this way.

    Thank you for honestly sharing something so painful. It can’t have been easy, no matter how much time has passed. I hope more men will read these words of yours, because they need to hear this.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dear sweet Anna Duggar. Run, girl, run! Your husband is a sexual addict and only by God’s grace and his repentance can he be healed. It is NOT your responsibility to bring on more of your “gentle and quiet spirit” to save him. I’ve no doubt you’ve been leading your family all along and pouring out much gentleness and quietness. Your husband claims to be a believer? Good, let him run to Jesus. You need to hear your heavenly Father’s voice and no one else’s! Don’t let anyone guilt you by manipulating scripture. Your Heavenly Father adores you! Prayers for you and every other woman walking this awful journey. A man’s sin is a man’s sin. Not yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for sharing your pain and heartache with us. It is infuriating to see how churches and Christians can minimize the impact that an unfaithful spouse has on the rest of the family. I know the pain and the memories will never go away, but I hope you have been been able to find a road to healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This story is a perfect example of why the patriarchal model of contemporary evangelical churches *has* to be done away with. It’s nothing more than a big stupid boy’s club with a bunch of immature boy-men congratulating themselves and slapping each other on the back and acting like rock stars and being extremely self-satisfied with everything they do. I’ll never attend another evangelical church again because of this sort of idiocy.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. He tells you he is going to find someone else.
    You lose your best friend because he tries to get into her bedroom when she is visiting from out of town and you know you can’t have a girlfriend again.
    You beg your son not to move his girlfriend into the same house with the man who made passes at his nephew’s friends.
    He describes his sexual exploits to you.
    He is excited when his daughter talks of going to an all girl Christian college because he knows how to find the bad ones.
    He demoralizes you in public by talking about lusting after other women.

    And he tells you it is all your fault.

    Like

  16. ” 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?”

    But it is self righteous to say one would never commit adultery. After all, she is a horrible sinner, too, so she should forgive. She must think she is sinless perfection. As a horrible sinner she should know this. This pertains to child molestation, protecting child molesters, murder, etc. We are all one step away from doing them all. Us depraved wicked worms.

    This thinking is pervasive in evangelicalism and is considered “grace” by so many now that decent people with integrity might want to rethink that church is safe.. It turns us all into evil worms that could never be trusted by one another, anyway. This thinking/doctrine is in churches all over the place and taught as truth. Listen for it. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes it isn’t. But one thing for sure is creeps, perps, liars and deceivers absolutely love this teaching!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. “This pertains to child molestation, protecting child molesters, murder, etc. We are all one step away from doing them all. Us depraved wicked worms.”

    It may be that there is a reason this teaching comes so naturally to those who are most apt to adopt it. They are simply assuming that others are as themselves. Never mind they are able to validate their psychological projection with proof texts, also known as twisted Scriptures.

    No, no. Whenever any preacher or other “church” leader says that all are equally depraved, run. They are likely as depraved as they claim to be true of everybody else–and they are not safe to be around.

    “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” (Romans 2:1b ESV)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I have tears in my eyes reading this account. Thank you for sharing. It is truly a comfort for another who has experienced the same. It takes courage and love to share a story like this.

    There is going to be a LOT of fallout in the churches this weekend, it seems. God is cleaning house.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. You are right, Overcomer. Before I posted this publicly, I sent it to a dear friend who has gone through similar circumstances and she was very moved. Women who have gone through adultery need to know that they are not alone and that others understand what they have gone through.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. He tells you he is going to find someone else.
    You lose your best friend because he tries to get into her bedroom when she is visiting from out of town and you know you can’t have a girlfriend again.
    You beg your son not to move his girlfriend into the same house with the man who made passes at his nephew’s friends.
    He describes his sexual exploits to you.
    He is excited when his daughter talks of going to an all girl Christian college because he knows how to find the bad ones.
    He demoralizes you in public by talking about lusting after other women.

    Sheisovercoming, if this is your story, I’m so, so sorry that you had to endure this kind of pain. It’s insidious. It’s one thing to hide sexual immorality, but to parade it in front of you I find even worse. It is blatant disregard for you and disregards your personhood. It’s important that we not label this as only “adultery,” this is abuse. I hope you are safe now.

    Like

  21. Welcome, A.K., thank you so much for your comment. I found this difficult to read:

    He likes to blame her for his behavior, suggesting surgery to be more appealing to him, comparing her to the other women, etc.

    Once again, this is abuse. Can you imagine the emotional pain a woman would have to deal with each day knowing her husband rejects her body and wants her to “fix” it – – as if that would really fix anything? This is a man who would never be satisfied, even if she had surgery. The problem is him, yet she must deal with the confusion of a narcissist who is very skilled at convincing her the problem is her. We really need to rally around women who have been living with such monsters. It’s going to take a long time to undo that kind of damage.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Please forgive men involved in such terrible acts. It is never “exciting.” It is a snare that takes holds of us. I have been there.

    Like

  23. I am the woman who wrote this story and I am thankful for Julie Anne for letting me share it. Thank you all for your kind comments. I have just a couple of things to add.

    First, God has been so faithful and good to me and my children. I found an excellent therapist who was instrumental in literally saving my life. I have dear Christian friends and family who walked through every step of this horror with me, willing to listen to my raw pain and rage and grief. They, too, were instrumental in my healing. Physically, I am doing very well, with a good job and a comfortable home that God provided for me and my children in my time of need. My children are doing well. And in many, many ways, I am doing well, and have experienced many moments of true joy over the past few years. But on the other hand, my life since this devastation (which I compare to stepping on a landmine) has never been the same. Sometimes I feel like I am sleepwalking. I don’t recognize my life now. I feel like it must surely belong to someone else. It is a good life in many, many ways, but it does not feel comfortable in that I don’t feel like it belongs to me. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes – the feel, the smell, the look, is all “wrong.” I don’t know how to explain it.

    Secondly, my husband was allowed to resign rather than be fired, and just a few months after his resignation he began another affair with a student from the Christian college where he had been teaching. He was later offered a job at another Christian school and even though the school administrator there knew that he had been unfaithful, he was willing to overlook it because my husband had such impressive credentials (including having graduated from the administrator’s alma mater). Only when the administrator was directly confronted by other Christian school educators who knew the story did he rescind the job offer. This pattern was repeated several times with my husband being given jobs by Christian organizations who knew he was divorced but who seemed to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, choosing to hire him because he brought his credentials, expertise, intelligence, wit, and charming personality to the table, but choosing not to ask any probing questions about his background (such as why had he abruptly left a tenured teaching position and why had his wife of 20 years divorced him?).

    Lest anyone be tempted to think “this wasn’t one of US (fill in denomination or affiliation here), my husband graduated from one of the finest Christian high schools in the country, and one of the most highly acclaimed Christian colleges in the country. He knew and worked with the top individuals in his field. He was associated with and/or worked for some of the most prominent, well-known Christian organizations and publications in the world. If I named names, I have no doubt that some, if not all, of his affiliations would be familiar to those reading. It was only because he was not at the Josh Duggar level of fame that he was allowed to slip back quietly into the Christian mainstream. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are VERY REAL but it has been my experience that often, it is more convenient to turn a blind eye than to do the painful, ugly, difficult work of asking questions and revealing them for who they are.

    Liked by 11 people

  24. This comment came in on the SSB FB page:

    It’s me having physical pain in my chest for weeks and then finding out it is scientifically possible to die from a broken heart.

    Like

  25. I feel like it must surely belong to someone else. It is a good life in many, many ways, but it does not feel comfortable in that I don’t feel like it belongs to me. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes – the feel, the smell, the look, is all “wrong.”

    I think you explained this very well and it does make sense. His actions completely altered your long-term plans and so you’ve had to throw those out and start over again, while still grieving and recovering from the pain.

    I have so much respect for you, how you’ve handled this horrible situation, while still taking care of yourself and your children. Good for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. “Sometimes I feel like I am sleepwalking. I don’t recognize my life now. I feel like it must surely belong to someone else. It is a good life in many, many ways, but it does not feel comfortable in that I don’t feel like it belongs to me. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes – the feel, the smell, the look, is all “wrong.” I don’t know how to explain it.”

    Because there is nothing more devastating than being totally deceived by the very people we should be able to trust with our lives. Then to add to the devastation are all the other people in positions of influence we should be able to trust who turn a blind eye. It is life changing. You have walked out of a diabolical war zone and are a survivor in a new land. I pray His peace and comfort on you and your children.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. One thing that struck me about this woman’s heartbreaking story is how she wrote it.

    It starts out almost matter-of-fact, like it happened years ago and she’s mostly over it. As it continues though, it’s like the anger, sorrow, and betrayal is just pouring out faster than words can handle.

    My wife and I met with a couple in our family a few weeks back, and I saw a similar dynamic. We were discussing a personal abuse issue with them, and initially the conversation was fairly controlled. As it went on, the mom’s words were just pouring out about the pain she was going through, over something that happened 2 years ago at least. It’s never over. The pain is always there. Sometimes time doesn’t heal those wounds. It’s awful to expect and push reconciliation with these people, as outsiders.

    The focus on the sin and rehabilitating the sinner takes the eyes off the pain and agony that the sin causes the spouse. My wife and I were reading this story together this morning – it’s just awful. Raw. I hate that this happened to her, but I love that she found the strength to write about it, because this kind of pain needs to hit us, and hit us hard. If the church can’t be a place of raw emotion, then what’s it for? This kind of pain should show us the real damage that is done to the person we vowed to love and cherish when we cheat.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. As a single guy that struggles as much as the next guy with steering clear of sexual sin I’m very blessed to read what I’m really missing out on. The truthful reality from the victim’s broken heart is undeniable. It grieves me to know the pain she experienced as I’m guilty too. Many years ago in my youth and in a moment of real weakness, I almost committed adultery with someone from my past. She was in a troubled marriage and in town on business. I made it as far as her hotel a few hours away. Then the conviction slammed me with horrible grief I never wish to experienced again. Literally I was sobbing on the bathroom floor, unable to get control of myself. The conviction was just so intense and the shame cut me to the core of my spirit. It was as if a supernatural cloud of sorrow slammed me leaving me feeling so broken. I bolted from that room and have never talked with her again.

    A few years after this I got a letter from her & her husband. That was kind of like getting a letter from the IRS, you are scared to open it but do so immediately. They had gone through lots of counseling, both repented of multiple affairs, become Christians and they were both baptized together. They were basically writing me for several reasons, she was apologizing for contacting me in an attempt to suduce me, and together they were thanking me for leaving. The grief she observed in me that day scared her as she had known me for 10-12 years and knew I wasn’t a real emotional guy. She went home and started marriage counseling. They said that night was the start of a long road towards redemption and rebuilding for them. Enclosed in this letter was a family picture with their two new baby girls. I have kept that photo as a reminder of what I almost helped destroy. I will never let myself get that close to the cliff. Playing with the idea of an affair, buying into the romantic version presented in the movies is just chasing a disastrous conclusion.

    Liked by 11 people

  29. Thank you for sharing your story! No story is identical but I can relate.

    It is me asking him if he is having an affair when he says he is going to move out to have some time to reflect because he believed the marriage was “not God’s will.” In answering the question, he responded with another question,”Would I ever do anything like that?” Duped as I was, I believed him.

    It is me getting a call from a complete stranger telling me her daughter is leaving her family for my husband and finding out this had been going on for months.

    It’s me unable to eat or function. It’s the blame-shifting and even self-blame because I had been so conditioned to believe everything was my fault.

    I asked God to save the marriage. He had a better plan and saved me from it instead.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. This victim’s list was very helpful. We could all make our own lists … maybe it would help to alleviate some of the guilt we feel; like as if we are too suspicious; or too sensitive; or too ‘whatever’ … We KNOW what we have lived and continue to endure … SOMEONE, PLEASE LISTEN TO US AND BELIEVE US! “Thank you, Lord for giving us strength when ‘human flesh’ fails us.”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Why is it so hard to leave a relationship with a sex addict?

    I came across a long list of factors (several of which I skipped). Here are a few, which I have paraphrased:

    1. The spouse (partner or significant other) of the sex addict/sex offender won’t get help until they experience incredible pain.

    2. The spouse is almost always a productive and achieving person.

    3. They measure their self-worth by their relationships.

    4. They gave up their own lives to try to control sex-addicted partners.

    6. Low self-esteem.

    7. Spouse came from a family with little validation.

    8. Spouse had preconceived idealof what their relationship would be like.

    9. Spouse ignored, missed, denied, or explained away the warning signs.

    10. Spouse was naive and idealistic when making decisions.

    11. Marriage was seen at the “magical key.”

    12. Sex addiction was covert, hidden and lied about.

    15. The relationship began quickly and intensely.

    17. Confrontation was difficult for the spouse.

    18. When the spouse confronted the sex addict, the sex addict lied, which led the spouse to self-doubt and mistrust.

    19. The spouse attempted to set rules and boundaries, to no avail.

    20. When the truth came out, the spouse often stayed.

    21. Spouses tend to pick new partners with the same or similar issues.

    22. Spouse eventually reach a point where something has to change.

    23. Spouse gains insights by going through recovery with a 12-step COSA (codpendents of sex addicts) group.

    I generously paraphrased these from this book:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=9y4DEp_3-xQC&lpg=PA8&ots=qdoQfooQFv&dq=Awareness%20Levels%20of%20Individuals%20who%20Select%20a%20Sex%20Addict%20as%20a%20Partner&pg=PA129#v=onepage&q=magical%20key&f=false

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Lavenderward, what an honest and heartfelt article! Thank you for your courage. I wish there were more outlets for broken hearted spouses and ex-spouses to explain to others to the devastation caused by infidelity. The worst offenders are the men and women who minimize the damage they have inflicted on their families. They especially abandon the emotional needs of their developing children in order to fulfill their own narcissistic desires.
    As for the spouses who have been cheated on, you are more beautiful than any man/woman who disregard the promises made in their marriage vow. I personally belief that forgiveness can be possible when a spouse is able to grieve the pain they have caused their partner. It takes a lot of work, but when a cheater recognizes his/her own brokenness and works to gain their partner’s love and trust, reconciliation is possible.
    On the other hand, many cheaters rationalize their behavior and project their own issues onto their spouse. Their narcissistic need for a variety of lovers to gain validation is toxic. Their spouses and children need to run as far as possible and seek a community who will love and support them during their time of healing. God help the man or woman who ends up empty handed and alone once their sorry cheating behavior catches up with them.

    Liked by 5 people

  33. Ann, you make a very important distinction. I’ve been looking at some Christian sex addiction sites where couples do manage to remain together after a long recovery process.

    I think where some pastors get it wrong is they assume that all marriages can reconcile. We, of course would like all marriages to reconcile. But is a marriage going to reconcile if one spouse refuses to accept responsibility and work on it? Absolutely not. The sexual behavior will continue and may even escalate.

    One problem that I see and hear about is wives forced to remain with a spouse who shows no signs of wanting get help. Blame is shifted to the wife. She’s not submissive enough. She does not put out enough sexually. Some pastors will move on to the partner who is more willing to change – the wife who is desperate to save her marriage.

    But they (pastor/wife) are both deceived if they think someone who refuses to accept responsibility will miraculously change.

    I have dealt with women who were put in church discipline and brought before an elder board (I forgot the name in the Presbyterian church) because the wife refused to allow her husband to move back in the home after a separation. She now became the one responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Unbelievable!

    This must stop. The discipline must be on the husband. She is a victim trying to survive. She must receive assistance and support, and if she wants to divorce, she absolutely has the right to do so.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. It is surprising, though commendable, that the Christian college that formerly employed lavenderward’s ex intervened in his attempts to gain employment at other Christian colleges. Problem is, one consequence of just deserts having been visited on the perpetrator is that, though others were protected, he was prevented from earning the income to satisfy his moral and legal obligations to support his betrayed wife and children.

    Sufficient information has not been shared to know whether this Christian college, standing in the place of the Jericho road priest and Levite, went so far as to run after and attempt to “minister” to their adulterous professor, who stands in the place of the Jericho road robbers (in the manner that Wheaton College’s professors ran after their pedophile colleague). However, I have a five dollar bill that says lavenderward’s ex’s Christian college employer made little if any significant effort to come to her aid–much as the Jericho road priest and Levite left the robbers’ victim to die.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Gary, nope nope nope, the college where he was employed did NOTHING. In fact, I have a copy of an agreement signed by the President, the Dean of Academics, and my ex basically agreeing that none of them will say anything about why he left. And even though I had what I thought were friends at the college (I had briefly worked there myself) not one person from the school reached out to me, and they certainly didn’t pursue trying to get him to change. They just wanted us to both go away as quickly and quietly as possible.

    The educators who intervened in his subsequent position at a Christian school were only friends of mine who knew what had happened, and who cared enough about me, my children, and the importance of safe schools, to try to stop what would have inevitably been a disaster. Yes, the loss of potential support for the children and me was unfortunate, but I was so thankful that my children were spared the shame of what would surely have happened – their father ultimately losing another job once he began preying on students again.

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  36. FWIW, the ex-wife of Wheaton College’s pedophile professor wrote the following:

    “When my ex was arrested and his case became a media feeding frenzy, the religious organization he worked at made the correct decision to fire him. But they also made the decision to distance themselves from me and my children. I was a former employee and an alum. I was left in dire financial straits and would have been homeless if family had not intervened. I have since learned that at least one member of his former department visits him weekly–I guess to encourage him in the faith. They attend his court dates and offer counsel to him. I am happy that they are reaching beyond judgment, embarrassment and scandal to “minister” to him. However, I have yet to receive a phone call on even a quarterly basis from these men or from this organization. No one inquires how we are doing–or if we are surviving.” http://brendafindingelysium.blogspot.com/2013/08/pedophiles-partners-churches-double.html

    It grieves me to have to wonder if Wheaton College wouldn’t have swept their whole pedophile situation under the rug had they had the option. I am a Wheaton graduate.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. @GaryW:

    Or maybe the college in question followed the example of Wheaton College, which fired their pedophile professor while at the same time announcing how his fellow professors reached out to him throughout his criminal prosecution.

    There’s a Boz Tchividian (sp?) referred to on a lot of the spiritual abuse blogs who used to be a prosecutor specializing in child sexual abuse cases. I think he said of all his pedo-prosecutions, he has never seen a church sitting on the side of the victim. Only on the side of the pedo-perp.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. @GaryW:

    It grieves me to have to wonder if Wheaton College wouldn’t have swept their whole pedophile situation under the rug had they had the option. I am a Wheaton graduate.

    From what I’ve read on various spiritual-abuse blogs (including this one), they would have. Covering up and protecting the pedo at all costs is THE Christian response. Especially if the pedo is a Pastor, Elder, or court favorite of the Pastor or Elder. (With a finger pointed in pious denunciation of those Romish Papists and their pedo-priests — “I THANK THEE, LOORD, THAT I AM NOTHING LIKE THAT…”)

    Liked by 1 person

  39. My mother went through many years of my father womanizing. They divorced once, remarried and then separated several times. He’d come crawling back, begging forgiveness and we would pack up and move across the country and start a “new beginning.” (I went to 11 schools before graduating high school) When my mother was in her late 40’s she became a Christian and “forgave my dad.” Sadly, though, she was unable to trust almost anyone, she had been so damaged by betrayal. They stayed together, but she had no women friends, as every friend she’d ever had, also betrayed her with him. She started going to a little church, but stopped, when the pastor had an affair and ran off with the church secretary. Can you imagine how that hurt her? On a positive note, my dad, in his early 50’s came to the Lord and repented. He spent the next 25 years trying to make up to my mom for all the pain he caused her. He was a loving father and fabulous grandfather, but a lousy husband. I know he tried and they did have some good times together, but he hurt her so badly, so many times, she never did completely heal from the pain. Our entire family suffered greatly from adultery.

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  40. A Daughter, your story is a perfect example that repentance, even true repentance which your father ultimately had, DOES NOT heal the pain and damage caused by betrayal. Those wounds are deep and the scars are permanent, and if the damage is bad enough, as in your mom’s case, complete healing might never happen this side of eternity no matter what anyone does to try to “make it up.” That is, in part, why I shared my story – I wanted people to understand that the damage caused by betrayal is horrific and utterly devastating. During the period of time in which I was still living with my ex after learning of the adultery, I truly felt as though I were trying to live with my own murderer. It was excruciating.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. Yes, Lavenderward, the damage is horrible…… to everyone in the family. My mother was so depressed during my childhood and teen years, and of course, we children didn’t understand why Mom was so “moody” and never wanted to go out with the rest of us. Dad would come home, all happy go lucky, and offering to take us to the movies. He would ask her to go and she would just stay in her bedroom, while the rest of us went out. She never talked to us kids about it. We didn’t know what was going on. We just knew mom was depressed and dad didn’t come home sometimes. It wasn’t until I was married that she finally told me about some of what she had gone through. I loved my daddy, but I didn’t respect him. However, as a grandfather, he stepped up to the plate and all of his grandchildren have only good memories of him. As he lay dying, my mother sat by his side, holding his hand, singing to him, praying over him. Yet 6 months later, she would tell me that she still was angry and hurt so deeply over how he treated her.
    Sin, love, hate, grace, redemption, forgiveness, pain……humanity is complicated. One day God will wipe away every tear……one day….

    Liked by 3 people

  42. Pingback: Adultery in Christian Marriage – One Woman’s Story, via SSB Blog | Christian Pundit

  43. Ah, so familiar sounding. The church even excommunicated ME for filing for divorce when he was totally unrepentent and openly continuing an affair. What little of ME was left was totally wiped out by the church! But God was there with me and brought friends forward that understood what had been happening. God continues to carry me and the health issues that ensued.

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  44. On the other hand, many cheaters rationalize their behavior and project their own issues onto their spouse.

    There are still 500 books available written by Barbara Roberts, “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery & Desertion”. These books are free for Christian ministries or secular DV programs, shelters or poor churches that cannot afford them themselves. If you know of any programs for this cause, please contact me. Online resources have not been helpful as far as addresses and phone numbers, as most are not updated.

    So many churches and ‘c’hristians are counseling to keep the marriage/family together at the cost of the people in it.

    Thank you,
    Brenda R

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  45. HUG: “Romish Papists and their pedo-priests”

    You can turn a phrase in today’s language like a modern day PG Wodehouse, and I think the only person I know that does it as well as you is PJ O’Roarke. Though you likely get ribbed for making such sardonic commentary, keep it up. It’s refreshing to the cynicism that has been born out of my broken idealist heart.

    (I imagine that Wodehouse might call them all “sons of unwed parents.” I know I’m so inclined.)

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  46. The Bible is fairly simple to understand for Christians. One is able to get divorced in the case of adultery (fornication) because Jesus understood that the pain of being the victim of adultery is so overwhelming.
    Anyone advocating that it is better, from a Christian perspective, to encourage a woman or man to remain in a marriage after learning she or he is the victim of adultery is placing an unfair burden on the victim. It is the victim’s decision alone to make and all the “well intentioned” people that place an additional burden on the victim with their “opinion” are no different than the “wise friends” of Job.
    Jesus said: “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” This apples equally to men and women.
    Jesus had a lot to do while gracing our earth with His presence. This issue was important enough for Him to take the time to clarify.
    If someone harmed my children by committing adultery, I would remind the adulterer that my child that they victimized has a choice to forgive or to get a divorce and the adulterer has as much say in that decision making process as the victim did in the decision to commit adultery in the first place — which was none.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. A Christian Father/Husband,

    I think I disagree with you to a certain extent. Paul wrote:

    “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 ESV)

    You say that the innocent spouse “has a choice to forgive or to get a divorce.” If by “forgive” you mean set aside a desire for and/or pursuit of retribution, the innocent spouse may both forgive and obtain a decree of divorce. However, if by “forgive” you mean reconcile, that is an option 1 Corinthians 5:11 prohibits.

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  48. Gary W and Christian Father/Husband,

    I think it depends on whether the adulterer is repentant and honest and working at forsaking sin through solidly observable change over time. That change builds the foundation on which two parties can build a reconciliation after trust has been betrayed or destroyed.

    “Forgive or get a divorce” is a bit narrow and may or may not be exclusive, and it seems to frame the expectation that such matters can be resolved rather quickly.

    We all have to forgive as Christians — a commitment that grows into fullness after pursuing it and the process that we go through until that forgiveness becomes a part of us. That takes time. Even if you divorce though, you still have to forgive those who have betrayed you. Forgiveness is a unilateral process that doesn’t have to involve the cooperation of the offending party. But forgiveness, releasing someone from the legal right to demand justice, is very different from reconciliation. Reconciliation is built on the bedrock of forgiveness and is the first step towards reconciliation, but you can’t reconcile with someone who doesn’t accept responsibility for their actions in a spirit of respect for the other party.

    There are plenty of spouses who are still married to their unrepentant partners, and it is sad that many don’t even have the chance to reconcile. The one who betrayed the other may not be interested in building that with their partner. And responsibility to children makes that complicated, too. (Working through that is also a process.)

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  49. Cindy K,

    Supposing that reconciliation is conditionally permissible in cases of adultery, certainly the offender must first turn from his offending ways, with solidly observable change over time. However, I would suggest that there must be more than an absence of further betrayal. There must be the giving of restitution. If a thief who had been a friend stops stealing from me, well and good, but the restoration of friendship will require that the thief first return what s/he stole.

    It is difficult for me to imaging what restitution would look like in cases of adultery. Lavenderward makes it clear that adultery takes from the innocent spouse that which the offender has no ability to restore. I supposes that the innocent spouse, being under no obligation to reconcile, gets to decide what form restitution would take.

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  50. A comment about forgiveness: this is such a loaded word and I would argue that the common teaching about the necessity of forgiveness is off the mark. We are taught that we are supposed to forgive those who sin against us BUT (a very very important “but”) God DOES NOT ask us to do more than He Himself does!! And God DOES NOT forgive everyone for their sin. Forgiveness is freely *offered* to all, but only those who repent and turn from their sin are forgiven. We are told to love our enemies and do good to them, but that is not the same as forgiveness.

    I believe that if we are sinned against, we should be willing to forgive (and if we are not willing, we should ask God to soften our hearts so that we will be willing) but we are not required to forgive *unless* the other person demonstrates true repentance. Yet so many victims of abuse and/or adultery are told by their Pastors and other church leaders that they must forgive, no matter what the current state of their abuser’s heart. If a woman’s husband has an affair and leaves her for the other woman and never repents or turns from his sin of adultery, he is at odds with God, and his wife is not required to forgive him when he has not yet sought or received God’s forgiveness!

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  51. “A comment about forgiveness: this is such a loaded word and I would argue that the common teaching about the necessity of forgiveness is off the mark. We are taught that we are supposed to forgive those who sin against us BUT (a very very important “but”) God DOES NOT ask us to do more than He Himself does!! And God DOES NOT forgive everyone for their sin. Forgiveness is freely *offered* to all, but only those who repent and turn from their sin are forgiven. We are told to love our enemies and do good to them, but that is not the same as forgiveness.”

    Exactly. Thank you! A good way to view it might be that our forgiveness is not seeking vengence even when it is deserved as we see in Hebrews 10…a pretty scary passage when it comes to this topic but a passage many tend to ignore.

    Forgiveness does not mean you must have any contact with toxic people. (Legally speaking that is impossible with kids, I get that)

    I think people misunderstand Matthew 5-7 and others. It was a seriously charged political environment with Roman occupation. I do not think Jesus was teaching the Jews he was speaking to that they should take repeated beatings from their fellow Jews. Does that even make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Restitution is definitely part of forgiveness, and it’s a fruit of repentance beyond lip service. Talk is cheap and actions speak the intent of one’s heart far more strongly. That’s part of what builds trust again after it has been shipwrecked. In Genesis, even Joseph waited and tested his brothers who had thrown them into prison to see if they would be trustworthy.

    Forgiveness is a toughie because our English doesn’t get specific about it, and we often merge forgiveness and concepts of reconciliation. There is a giving of one over to God — or to evil that they might be saved later. Paul wrote about this a few times.

    The word forgiveness in Greek literally means to relinquish the right to collect on a debt and is used to describe financial transactions — and Jesus used it as such in His parable about devt. In emotional things, it is giving up the expectation of getting an apology or of them making restitution so that you can move on with your life. It doesn’t mean that you have to feel good about the person or that you have to stay in contact with them. It can just mean letting them go so that you don’t live on empty expectations.

    I think that we layer in the English meanings of what the word connotes as we use it today in common speech, not how it was used when Jesus told us to forgive. Even in that 70 x 7 example, He says “if he repents.” We tend to think of it as more than just giving up on expectations, giving forgiveness some kind of warm and fuzzy meaning that isn’t there in the Biblical language.

    In a vendor cheated you out of what you paid them, you can just dismiss what they owe you, whether you want to do that on your own or whether you want to try to recoup what they owe you. (Maybe they can’t afford to do it for some reason, so you agree to move on.) But you don’t have to be friends with that person anymore, and you certainly don’t have to do business with them.

    There’s an old Scottish saying that I love:
    “Always forgive your enemy, but remember the bastard’s name.”

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  53. Thank you so much, Lavenderward for writing this story and Julie Anne for sharing it. My husband left after 31 years of marriage and who knows how many affairs. There are many things you wrote that I could so identify with. After 2-1/2 years without him, it is still hard to move on. Seems I take 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards many days. My ex-husband had the ever-present appearance of a very godly man, was well known in our church, and well liked. He had many roles over the years, Sunday School teacher, deacon, choir, soloist, etc. My pastor, after many attempts to talk to him as well as many others in my church, finally felt led to begin the church discipline process. When my church family as a whole were told what he had done, I have never heard it so quiet in a building with 400 people. He was eventually voted out of the church body and still remains under church discipline 2-1/2 years later. He has made attempts to end it by sending letters to my pastor, my 4 adult children and myself stating he has repented…..this after he married the woman he was having an affair with on my birthday and at the same time I received final divorce papers in the mail. After the marriage, he and the woman were fired from the company after it was found out they had been living together and she was an employee under him who was a manager. He has lost so much, mostly his children who have had nothing to do with him for 2-1/2 years and he just cannot understand why they feel this way.

    My church family, my children, as well as his brothers and sister have stood by me the entire time. My support group has been enormous, but there are times when it is just not enough, but the Lord has always been there, walking with me, holding me up, reminding me that my identity was not in my ex-husband, but in Him who loves me more than any human ever could. I still have times when I feel the anger coming on because I am alone and have to take care of things I never had to deal with before. I feel so guilty for allowing the anger and hurt to come back, but as was mentioned in above posts, my life will never be the same again, nor will my children’s lives. I have one daughter who lives with me and she will never have her father give her away when she gets married. I am having to sell my house and move into an apartment in my son and daughter-in-law’s new home (which is a blessing of course), because he stops paying the mortgage in another year and I will not be able to continue to pay it on what I make. I had not worked outside the home for 25 years because he wanted me to stay home with the kids and homeschool them all. Suddenly at age 59 and 60, I am unemployable with no skills. However, I went back to school and now work at home as a medical transcriptionist full time (which is also a blessing).

    All that to say that this is the very first time I have had the joy to be able to read what someone else has gone through and be able to identify with! So thank you so much. I am not sure where I found this…maybe on Facebook shared by Hannah Anderson, I believe. God bless you as you continue through your journey of recovery! Love in Christ, Pam C.

    Liked by 3 people

  54. I have experienced nearly the very same you have. I remember vividly, knowing I really needed a good cry but couldn’t allow it because a had a toddler and infant who needed my attention. I calmly called a friend, asked her to come get the children and the moment her car pulled out of the driveway with my precious boys, I crumbled to the floor, fetal position and sobbed for only-God- knows how long.
    Months later, divorce finalized, my ex told me he went to Promise Keepers and now wanted to reconcile. Nearly 12 years later, another child in the family and he did it all again. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. If it weren’t for my daughter, I’d be really angry about falling for him the second time. Of course, I hate that now there is a third child whose parents are divorce.

    Liked by 3 people

  55. A David Hayward (former pastor/blogger/cartoonist) in Canada cartoon about the Ashley Madison data breach and some 400 pastors whose names have been found on the list:

    I don’t think he has any hard numbers or facts, just information passed on from church leaders in various denominations. It will be interesting to see what happens – – and sad if there is even one pastor on the list.

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  56. Toni – I ache for you. If you can imagine, I was rebuked by another “woman” who insisted that the father of my children was still saved even though he professes to ‘now’ not being a Christian. She claimed that after all, many years ago he had gone to Promise Keepers. Well, ‘promise keepers’ are also promise breakers and use the excuse that he should never had made ‘those promises’.
    She claimed that I had received wrong teaching because ‘once saved; always saved.’ I agreed but challenged her with the fact that saying “a prayer” doesn’t mean someone is truly saved.
    Going to conferences and going through the motions doesn’t make one a true disciple and obedient disciple of Christ and one who would desire to remain faithful to their spouse.

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  57. Velour:
    A David Hayward (former pastor/blogger/cartoonist) in Canada cartoon about the Ashley Madison data breach and some 400 pastors whose names have been found on the list:
    Julie Anne
    I don’t think he has any hard numbers or facts, just information passed on from church leaders in various denominations. It will be interesting to see what happens – – and sad if there is even one pastor on the list.
    ***********************************
    Correct. (Another media source has said that.) More importantly – it’s a funny cartoon!

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Off topic, but a really great flash mob Happy Birthday music concert (all different kinds of music including the Beatles being played) at an old square in France.
    (This was just emailed to me and I had to share it.)

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  59. “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.

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  60. “Sometimes I feel like I am sleepwalking. I don’t recognize my life now. I feel like it must surely belong to someone else. It is a good life in many, many ways, but it does not feel comfortable in that I don’t feel like it belongs to me. It’s like wearing someone else’s clothes – the feel, the smell, the look, is all “wrong.” I don’t know how to explain it.”

    Yes. This is how it feels.

    I think I knew the whole time we were married, but I tried to find reasons to be wrong. When he moved out of our home and into her’s, I was both devastated and relieved.

    We had three small children – 4, 6 & 8 – when he moved out. He introduced them to her a week after he left. They were horrified and confused. He told me it had nothing to do with them. They didn’t mind. They did.

    He was angry that I didn’t want to be friends with this woman.

    She called to complain that because he had to pay child support for three children, he couldn’t help pay her mortgage. “It wasn’t fair”

    She called to complain when he cheated on her.

    He used her to walk away from his second marriage.

    It was all my fault.

    I could go on and on. Thank you for telling your story. You Rock!

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  61. Thank you, ladies, who have shared your personal stories here. This post has really touched a lot of people and I know that your words are resonating with many who have walked this path alone. I’m so sorry you had to experience adultery and betrayal.

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  62. My ex blamed the marriage failure on my son and I…and I found out the reason 10 months later, he was having an affair with “just a friend”. He had refused counselling and divorce. He wanted to maintain his relationship outside while I continued to be a mother and pay for most of all the household and children’s expenses. I am so glad I decided to get a divorce. Today, I have the care and control of our two daughters. And we’re waiting for him to leave our home.

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  63. “…but the Lord has always been there, walking with me, holding me up, reminding me that my identity was not in my ex-husband, but in Him who loves me more than any human ever could.”

    Amen to that, Pam. And what a contrast to the way married women are so often encouraged to see their identities as being solely in their husbands, within conservative churches. Ezer kenegdo, and all that.

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  64. NJ – I can relate so much to, “… married women are so often encouraged to see their identities as being solely in their husbands…”
    It’s not just within the church but all around me as I now realize that others really have never bothered to know me but identify me as the wife of ______ or the mother of _______ . Yes, I willingly gave of myself out of pure undefiled love for my Savior to be a loving wife and mother. I now realize that my forgiveness was taken advantage of and I am now abandoned by ‘him’, children, extended family, and most whom I thought were friends.
    Only the Lord is to be trusted. AMEN.

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  65. NJ – “And what a contrast to the way married women are so often encouraged to see their identities as being solely in their husbands, within conservative churches.”

    Amen, You hit that nail on the head via a sledge hammer, with such magnitude in one swift stroke of a mere sentence. In those types of church systems, the men see women as their servants and unable to understand our Holy Scriptures for ourselves as we do not have the capacity/mentality/understanding/rightly dividing the very Word of our LORD as they, the men, do. It is crippling, it is embarrassing, and it kills the very Work of God, the Holy Spirit, to be regarded as nothing.

    And when I study and meditate upon God’s Word for myself, I am in awe of how Jesus treated women and held them in such high regard. Never once, did He abuse a woman, for He did not have to in order to control, manipulate, or use her for His means. Love and respect encourages servanthood in Christ Jesus, it never destroys it.

    healinginhim – “Only the Lord is to be trusted. AMEN.” In agreement with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. I think it’s true that infidelity is not far from many men, even most men. Most men have a real problem and I am not excusing them. Most women IMO are very much like “I’d no sooner commit adultery than rob a bank or kill someone”. I wonder if anyone has any other opinion. I know it’s not reliable statistically but I believe finding a good man is one in a million. Good women seem so much easier to find. (OK–maybe my sample is drawn from Christian groups, but still…)

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  67. Did you read the article at Christianity Today about James Epting former president (?) of North Greenville College in South Carolina? He took a sabbatical in January this year & eventually retired in May for “health reasons” per the article. Seems the school was actually covering up that the married Epting was cheating with a female staffer. And Epting’s son confronted his dad & the OW, recorded it via cellphone video. It has been posted on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjrTenquYSg. Sad stuff to put it mildly.

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  68. Thank you to all of the women, from the OP to the commenters, who shared their painful stories. They humanize what might otherwise be just another headline in this Ashley Madison hack.

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  69. Thanks BTDT!

    It is beyond creepy, how many, so called men of God are getting exposed for their sexual sins. Almost seems like a christian epidemic. I hope God is behind the outing & that many will make the exodus out of phews-opps-pews and fall tenderly into the arms of Jesus & can stop listening to guru’s and hear the voice of the beloved Holy Spirit.

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  70. 1 year suspension- a wrap on the knuckles indeed. RC Spanky Jr needs to be sat down permanently; and get a job outside of theology in the real world.

    Liked by 2 people

  71. @Godith, I don’t think that infidelity is not far from most men, and any man who thinks it is not far from him should do some very deep soul searching. People do not just fall into bed with each other. Many details and planning and secrecy and lies go before the physical act of cheating. If, like murder, it was tried in a court of law, no one would ever be able to claim that their adultery was not premeditated.

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  72. I’m going to expand on something in my OP. I heard from another woman yesterday who had a very similar situation to mine and she said “Getting tested for STDs was honestly as hard or harder than the day he confessed. I was crying so hard on the way home I couldn’t see straight and I clipped a mailbox with my van and broke off the side mirror.”

    This was a woman who, like me, was a virgin when she married. And, like me, even though she had only ever been with one man in her life she had to undergo the humiliation of being tested for STDs, which no doubt included having to explain to her doctor the reason why she needed to be tested.

    I cannot emphasize what a painful, shameful, horrifying experience this was for me (and, I assume for her and all the other women who have had to endure this). I felt dirty, tainted, and disgusting. I felt violated. The horror of the idea that I might have a sexually transmitted disease that could stay with me for the rest of my life (herpes) or even endanger my life (HPV), and that my own “Christian” husband had given it to me, was agonizing.

    Even though it was not rational thinking, I began to loathe myself. I truly felt like a hideous, horrible monster. I had never had body image issues before, but suddenly I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I felt so disgusting and loathesome. I felt fat, ugly, pathetic, and stupid. I hated myself, and wanted to kill myself because I felt so nasty and vile.

    Through a series of providential encounters, I found a wonderful therapist who helped me deal with this self-loathing and return to rational thinking about myself, but the psychological effects of having entered such a dark place still linger. I have to work hard to remember that I am God’s child and beautiful to him. I have to work very hard to keep just a neutral self-image, and not to sink back into the deep despair and self-hatred, and it seems impossible that I will actually ever feel positively about my body and my self.

    Maya Angelou famously said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I hope all the women suffering silently with the aftereffects of their husband’s infidelity will tell someone their story. They deserve to be heard, and they need their community to surround them with love and comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. Lavender, a friend found out her husband of nearly two decades was unfaithful when she developed symptoms of an STD, a treatable one. She also found out that he had been unfaithful their entire marriage. Supposedly he had to work one evening a week. No one ever questioned him because he wasn’t acting differently – he always ‘went back to work’ that particular night from the very week they got back from their honeymoon.

    When she confronted him, he admitted it and then said, but you can’t divorce me, you are your family are devout Christians – she had thought he was one too. Well she did divorce him with her family’s full support and I was glad.

    As bad as the infidelity was, as bad as having an STD was, I think that the worst was knowing that he never intended to keep his marriage vows. It makes you wonder if you can ever really know anyone else.

    She was able to rebuild her life and be happy again but I saw what courage it took. I am glad you told your story. It will help others.

    Liked by 2 people

  74. A one year suspension does not necessarily mean no income. During the last scandal when he was defrocked, daddy gave him speaking gigs for money.

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  75. 1 year suspension- a wrap on the knuckles indeed.

    Big Name ManaGAWD, and Rank Hath Its Privileges.

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  76. When she confronted him, he admitted it and then said, but you can’t divorce me, you are your family are devout Christians – she had thought he was one too. Well she did divorce him with her family’s full support and I was glad.

    Not just a divorce, she might have had grounds for an annulment for fraudulent pretenses.

    Liked by 1 person

  77. A one year suspension does not necessarily mean no income. During the last scandal when he was defrocked, daddy gave him speaking gigs for money.

    Isn’t it great when your name is that of a Man of Power and ends in “Junior”?

    “How to become a megachurch CELEBRITY lead pastor/apostle: Be born the son of a megachurch CELEBRITY lead pastor/apostle and have your name end in ‘Junior’. When Daddy retires, you inherit the pulpit and all the Spiritual Position & Power.”

    I would like to point out that one of the practical reasons for enforcing clerical celibacy in the Middle Ages was to discourage such nepotism. In an era when life-and-death political power (including whole nations) was inherited father-to-son like any other personal property, a celibate could have no legitimate heirs.

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  78. From the CT article:

    In that July 22, 2015, blog, Sproul Jr. said he had “only recently learned about” Ashley Madison. But in his August 31 blog, he said he visited the site on August 2014. He provided no explanation for this discrepancy.

    No surprise. Jr. sure splashed the word “Grace” liberally throughout his statement. I wonder if his departed wife was worthy of a little of that Grace instead of a spanking.

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  79. Sprout JR needs to grow up and quit with the I’m a pastor scam. He isn’t qualified to lead anything. He is a known drunkard and obviously has some sort of spanking fetish.That would be ok if he was up front about it and married someone with the same interest , instead of abusing a wife that had cancer and was dying from it. Instead of love and care she was getting spanked by her disgusting pig of a husband. Maybe he needs to start a site for spankers & spankees. That would atleast get him out of the ” ministry ” . I would pay his hosting fees for the first year just to accomplish that.

    He was defrocked by one denomination’s presbytery so he just left and joined another. Funny how these clowns that are all big on church discipline and always filing charges on someone in their church courts, are the first to flee jurisdiction when the shoe is on the other foot and they are under discipline themselves. Sproul JR did it, Doug Phillips did it and Scott Brown along with his side kick Jason Dohm did it. Now they run the family integrated church thing in Wake Forrest and recently held a seminar on church discipline and how and why it is so important. The Ephesians511.wordpress.com blog has their entire church court case and excommunication on display 24/7 , and these guys are hosting a seminar on church discipline and demanding that the Christian world submit to the authority of church elders when they themselves REFUSED. I can’t believe anyone listens to these idiots, much less PAYS to travel and register for their conferences. I guess the void left by the implosion of Vision Forum is a lucrative niche to tap as there apparently is a huge demographic within the homeschool / extreme conservative side of Christianity that is incapable of running their own lives without a guru’s direction.

    The church has largely accepted such a double standard from these self appointed church guru types that it is nauseating.

    Liked by 2 people

  80. Scott, you said a mouthful of truth there. I used to spend big bucks going to conferences for it is considered fashionable to be in sync with these great moves of a god. Only to discover many of the preachers and teachers are actually wolves whose teeth are like sharp spears and their tongues, sharp swords. Yep, been there, not doing that anymore….and one would think it is the end of the world as we know it, for the churched around me think I’m terrible, unspiritual, unsaved, an unbeliever, and worthy of not living due to the fact that I choose not to attend these self serving functions any longer. Most conferences promote man/woman over our LORD Jesus and are a back patting fests of building up leadership, leadership and more leadership. Humility is absent from such boasting fests.

    And I may be a country red neck bumpkin for asking this for such a question may seem inappropriate in the world of religion. Here it goes anyway, please be patient:

    Timothy C. Morgan, author of the article published in Christianity Today, writes:

    “In that July 22, 2015, blog, Sproul Jr. said he had “only recently learned about” Ashley Madison. But in his August 31 blog, he said he visited the site on August 2014. He provided no explanation for the this apparent misstatement.”

    So here’s my question, “Why is it that when important people within Christianity lie, words like “misstatement, discrepancy, untruth, etc.” are used, masking the fact that they are liars. However, when the average, every day church goer lies, they are called a liar, disciplined by those who lord it over them (most leadership in churches are liars alike), are never allowed to forget the fact they lied, and are often shunned by the other liars in the church who say, “oh, I never do anything wrong.” So why can pastors and leadership get away with lying, oh, I mean “apparent misstatements” and the rest of the sheep are sent to the shearer to have their wool shaved off, complete with bleeding cuts due to carelessness.

    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.

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  81. My current PCA church gets Tabletalk, published by Ligonier. They probably have the next issue already to print. If I see any more RC Jr. articles in there after that one, I will quit reading that publication altogether and explain to our pastor why. In fact, I wonder if he knows anything about Junior’s history with the RPCGA.

    Liked by 1 person

  82. I’ll be praying for you, Julie Anne, and your kiddos for the coming school year. Encouraging you and your family to continue “being the church of Jesus Christ” wherever you go.

    Confession time once again. I used to be an avid listener of R.C. Sproul, the senior, when doing tractor time in the fields…..seems I’ve heard just about everything…..then again…..not quite. Wife spanking……seriously? What about pastor spanking.

    Blessings to all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  83. 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

  84. @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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  85. @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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  86. 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

  87. 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

  88. 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

  89. 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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  90. Pingback: Spiritual Sounding Board’s Top 10 Blog posts of 2015 | Spiritual Sounding Board

  91. 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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  92. 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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  93. 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.

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