My Wife’s Affair Shattered our Marriage

Written by Ron and Nancy C. Anderson

HowWeSurvivedanAffair_290x220My wife repeated the sentence I could not understand,  “I’m moving out”.

I searched her eyes for the familiar fire. Seeing none, I thought,  “Who is this woman?” My wife of two years had become an instant stranger.

“What are you saying? Why do you want to leave?”, I asked.

“I’m unhappy and lonely and miserable actually.” There, it was out. “You make me miserable. Maybe with a little distance between us we’ll get closer”.

I touched her arm, but she pulled away as I said, “It doesn’t make any sense. How can distance make us closer?”

”I don’t know, but I do know that I can’t stay here.  I need some time to sort things out, a little space. I’m not even sure I even love you or that I ever did”.

I stood frozen, as I begged,  “Please don’t go now. Can’t you wait until tomorrow?”

She silently picked up her suitcase, flung her purse over her shoulder, and with a dramatic toss of her hair, walked out our front door.

A hidden affair

I knew that I hadn’t been the best husband, and that I got angry at her too often. I knew that my need to be right often made her wrong.

I knew that, lately, she had been distant. But I didn’t know that my wife was having an affair.

During the month Nancy was gone, I was a mess. Each time I called her, I would start to cry and ask her what I could do to get her to come home, but she answered my questions with one-word sentences. Then she would abruptly say,  “I gotta go”, and hang up.

I asked friends to “spy” on her, and they told me that she seemed fine … happy. They told me to move on with my life and try to accept the fact that she was gone. When Nancy told me she was filing divorce papers, I believed that our marriage was over.

Then, one night, after a miraculous change of heart, (read Nancy’s book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome for the full story) she came home and said, “I’ve been lying to you for months, but I’m going to tell the truth now. Ask me anything.”

“Is there another man? Are you having an affair?”

She looked away and whispered, “Yes, with a man at work.  But it ends today. I’m going to quit my job tomorrow and I will never see him again. I hope that you will take me back and we can stay married.”

Rebuilding our marriage

The decision to forgive came quickly, but the rebuilding of our marriage took a long time.  I would feel good one day and hopeless the next. Then she would get frustrated and confused. There might be a week where we would be caring and loving, and then we’d slip into old patterns and have to remind ourselves to get back on track.

When we got back together, it was a good day if we were just polite to each other. If we could say “please” and “thank you” and not fight or yell,. That was as much as we could have hoped for.

The first thing we did was get godly advice from a wise Christian couple.  Then we spent several months seeing a Christian marriage counselor. We got involved in our church’s couples group, and started reading marriage materials. We knew we had to find out, “Okay, what does a husband do? What is my role? What does that look like?” She had to find out, “What is a Godly wife supposed to do?” We learned Biblical principles and found practical ways to apply them.

Another important ingredient to healing was that we offered each other mercy while we were trying to change.

When we slipped up, we tried not to get too bent out of shape over it because we both knew we were trying. It was like we were two parallel pendulums swinging back and forth, just missing each other. But through self-control and studying God’s Word, and putting those principles into our marriage, eventually we became like two pendulums, swinging in sync–together. But it took time, self-control, and a strong commitment.

Many of the habits we had established were very difficult to break. Before, we would be waiting for the other person to make a mistake so we could point it out. But when we began this new cycle. I was trying to please her and she was trying to please me.

A new personal mission

Probably the one thing that helped me the most was the verse in 1 Peter 3:7 where it instructs me to dwell with my wife in understanding.  For years and years, every comedian on television says, “Oh, I can’t understand my wife”.  It’s the proverbial joke in our culture. But if the Bible tells us to dwell with our wives in understanding, it must be possible.

I did not ask for details of Nancy’s affair.  I didn’t want obsess about what she did and where she did it. When the thoughts of her with him came to taunt me, I didn’t allow them to stay. Instead, I chose to think about the future we were building.  I took the advice I read in the Bible in Philippians 4:8 which reminded me to think about things that were pure, admirable, lovely and good.

I made it my personal mission to try to understand my wife.

I learned that my wife is more sensitive than my buddy.  I can tease and make wise cracks at my friend’s expense, and he’s just going to respond with a playful insult. But when I make fun of my wife, it breaks her down emotionally and spiritually. It hurts her and she pulls away from me.

I learned that if my wife says, “You’re’ tailgating and it’s scaring me”, I should stop tailgating.  If I love her, why would I want to frighten her? The more I understood about my wife, and respected those God-given differences, the less we argued.  We used to have brush fire arguments  – they are the little spats that turn into World War III in 90 seconds. As we worked to extinguish the brushfires, the intimacy grew, and our love grew.

Soon, Nancy realized how much my forgiveness meant to her. She thanked me many times for being willing to take her back.  She treated me with new respect and I began to appreciate her.

25 years later

I never regretted my choice to forgive Nancy. It’s been over 25 years since Nancy’s affair but we’ve never stopped learning from it.

Her affair was a symptom of a terminally ill marriage. I’m not excusing her behavior, but I was not an attentive, loving, encouraging husband.  She repeatedly told me how sad, lonely, and discouraged she felt and I selfishly tried to talk her out of her needs. I didn’t compliment her enough and I was not the spiritual leader of our home.  Our marriage was a mess and a lot of that was my fault.

We choose to take the value system God has for marriage and though our emotions may change, God’s standard doesn’t change and He is there to help us.

Our theory is: always be fine-tuning your relationship. Never let your guard down for a moment. Never take each other for granted and be careful not to get caught up in emotions because our emotions can deceive us.

We are amazed at how far we’ve come – we laugh a lot now and really enjoy each other. Our 22-year-old son often sees us holding hands and sees that we are living examples of mercy and restoration.

We had a broken home – but with the Lord’s help and a lot of work, it’s fully restored–stronger than before. My wife’s affair shattered our marriage but God redeemed what was lost and restored our marriage!

For more information about Ron and Nancy’s story, go to their marriage blog at www.joyfulmarriage.blogspot.com or read Nancy’s book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome:How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around your Marriage.

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170 Responses to “My Wife’s Affair Shattered our Marriage”

  • Kate says:

    Sin has consequences, from which we are not exempt. Yet forgiveness is possible. Forgiveness does not come cheap, it cost the life of God’s son, but it is free.

    I found James MacDonald’s teaching on forgiveness helpful. Google it if you like. He said, “Forgiveness is the decision to release someone from the obligation that resulted when they injured you.”

  • mike says:

    you know my wife cheated in the three months up till we married and a short while after – we are now married for 42 years i forgave – but it has eaten my joy – why did i stay , well i loved her to bits then – now i think its just being used to each other. neither of us is ecstatically happy – maybe we do not deserve to be – maybe we should have not married – intimacy is non existent maybe 200 occasions in 40 years [yeah i know]. I forgave but could not erase the images of my girl with a man 20 years older than her – oh it was said to be my fault i was not romantic enough – my experience would say if anyone cheats it is simply for their own selfish needs and is not the other persons fault and we should never take the notion on board that cheating can ever be excused.

  • Jesse says:

    Okay, one problem with this article. She cheated, at the end he pretty much admits fault, “I’m not excusing her behavior, but I was not an attentive, loving, encouraging husband. She repeatedly told me how sad, lonely, and discouraged she felt and I selfishly tried to talk her out of her needs. I didn’t compliment her enough and I was not the spiritual leader of our home. Our marriage was a mess and a lot of that was my fault.” It’s all bull. An affair is not a symptom, folks! It’s the biggest effing problem you’ll ever have to deal with in a marriage! Further an affair can happen whether the marriage is viewed as “good” or not.

    To Callie. Of course your husband is acting this way. Any sane person, when realizing how effed up their life is would react that way. It isn’t right for him to abuse you, but barring that he should be allowed to be free of all the toxicity in his life, and that might include you. You cheated on him. You went on vacations without him. You withheld sex from him. When he thinks of these things and then follows it up with you giving the most holy part of your marriage to another man of course he’s going to flip out and go ape-sh!t crazy. Who wouldn’t? Give him the space he needs. If you’re lucky he’ll be able to lie to himself that the marriage was awesome enough before you cheated to not just leave you where you stand.

  • Chris says:

    callie…sorry to hear of your struggles. though people may fail us we know the one person who never will is jesus christ. i pray you log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor to find out more about the wonderful life jesus has in store for you!

  • Don says:

    Why as men do we put up with this kind of adulterated B.S.!
    Not that women should put up with it either! If someone cheats on you then it is time to move on!
    Life is to short and we all should be happy! To me this shows lack of respect and no empathy what so ever! Once a cheater always a cheater in my book! Dump them and quit blaming yourself and move on and find someone that you will be happy with! Once the trust is gone then you have nothing!!!!

  • Bd says:

    Callie, amazing how you wonder…. why your husband has gone off the deep end?!?
    I’ll bet u wish u hadn’t had those affairs, it gave your husband a chance to wake up and take a mental inventory of his life!
    B

  • callie says:

    Since my husband discovered my affair with an old BF, he has terrorized everyone, me for not allowing sex for decades, because it was the only way to get him to cooperate with people even a little. many times to get him to cooperate armed force from his father and others had to be utilized. but after the affair was discovered first for a humiliation n the man I was caught with part, my husband destroyed his body and his life, For being forced into working everyday but six over a thirty one year period he has taken people to task starting with myself and his father, his father says t was just making him be a man. Two weeks after he discovered my affair he came home from a stress center, I had just finished getting ready to accompany his fathers best friend to a political fund raising dinner since his wife divorced him, it was just going to be a few hours away from home as a favor, but my husband came in like a full steam boiler about ready to go bang.
    I tried to negotiate with him about that night and the way things needed to happen, I said I will tell you what we need a many decade overdue talk about how to offer you a way back into your life, to allow you marital relations, to allow you something in holidays at home so nobody is angry.
    He said none of us had any say about his rights now, his cooperation with all the jerks in his life was at a stop, my life as a socialite was done, I was going to be a real wife and there was nobody that had a say but him now, I knew his intent was not going to be nice, the becoming a real wife was the clue that I had better run, he grabbed my dress as I took off and said I paid for this as it came apart, and by this time I was backing back into the living room crying please not like this cant we just talk this through, he said no you had your chance to make it right for 31 years, then you let another man have what is mine, He did not use protection. When he finished he got up put his sweat shorts on and went to answer the door, he tossed me the phone and said I hope you like being hungry I froze the accounts earlier for my defense fund go ahead and get the police, His fathers friend was at the door and my husband said I was indisposed that he may as well go by himself, He mentioned he could enter any residence in the city because he worked for the mayor, my husband said badge and warrant, the man tried to force his way pas and ended up not going either. his face was getting 23 sutures after my husband said you are leaving now and threw him off the porch into the drive face first, right in front of his arriving mother and father, Since then we have not had any way to get him to cooperate, if I am invited he considers himself invited and he is willing to flatten anyone standing in his way, we have tried armed force again, he just showed up with that mid evil sorcerers cane of his and laid the faces of the men open to the bone that held pistols on him, he has backhanded his father across the room. invited himself on the family cruise and vacation in two weeks, I have to allow it because he has threatened to pull my funding. he says since I have had ten overseas vacations to his none over the last 33 years its his turn, I could either cancel myself or let his arrangements stand, its left his father angry he cant get any agreement from his son for anything, and how my husband has taken every holiday, and vacation tradition made over the last 33 years and ground it into the dirt, he controls everything now, tells everybody the can drop into the ocean if they don’t like it. he feels that we owe him 32 years of life. or more, he told a dozen people in the family therapy session yesterday that we could all pick a place on his posterior and kiss it and I know if I even try to side with his father and my friends against him I will have a one way ticket away from my home and things. The doctor asked yesterday if he had any feeling of respect for me or his father any more, My husband asked a question in return why should I, they just made my life a slavery until I developed MRSA in my spine, Now I am the throw away man, who never had any respect from them.

  • Susan says:

    tezi,

    May I know what is troubling you?

    Father God, You know tezi’s situation and I pray that You guide tezi and help to tezi to focus on You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Susan says:

    Someguy,

    Let us be more humble before God. He is the Ct=Creator of this universe; His ways are not our ways. Let us give Him the reverence.

  • Viera says:

    Someguy. . Please stop laughing at God and repent from your sins. We all have sinned and you too. Don’t mock God, all bad things are coming from evil. God knows what he is doing and he is in control of everything. God is love but he is judge too! God bless you.

  • Chris says:

    someguy…while its true that forgiveness can be shown to an unfaithful spouse as we see jesus showing to the adulterous woman in John chapter 8, the bible itself gives the right to divorce based on marital infidelity. deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 19 both confirming. we need to let the holy spirit guide in all of lifes challenges and difficulties. blessings!

  • someguy says:

    Seems to be this so called holy God enjoys watching the affairs. His own little porn show. I cannot fathom why he would allow such a sickening destruction of love to occur otherwise. Christian women rationalize affairs and their nice guy husbands always take them back. Seems like Christian men like sloppy seconds and raising other mens children.

  • Matthew says:

    Thanks a lot for this invaluable piece of advice.

  • Chris says:

    bpm…i regret to hear of your situation. its obvious that although your wife believes in God, she isnt walking with him at this time. she needs to recommit her life to christ and walk in true fellowship with him so that her heart, being true to christ, can also be true to you and liberated by its wandering ways. all of our problems stem from the fact that we drift away from christ. as you recupérate from your surgery, we pray jesus give you the strength to return to work and Little by Little pay off whatever debts you have. you might check with christiandebline.org and cfstwo.com for financial planning. as you lead the way in your marital relationship, putting christ first, i pray that your wife will see the loving authority of christ in you and be led to follow to amen!

  • BPM says:

    We fell on hard times due to major life saving transplant surgery i had to have in 2010. We are in a really tough time financially, etc. I recently found out that my wife met a man in Mexico where they had a brief kissing encounter or so she says. As soon as she returned home, she looked online and found another man. Again, she had another encounter. Having two small children, I am torn. She is very sorry, knowing and realizing how she hurt me and she claims that she is still deeply in love with me, or so she says. We are both believers in God. She also has an issue with alcohol, which for sure contributed to her mistake. I feel if i don’t move on, I will be a pushover, and she will repeat her errors. Another challenge is I still love her. She says she is willing to “do whatever it takes.” Confused, upset, and angry.

  • Tom Tom says:

    Truth—
    It sounds from your comments that you had a lot of people fail you over the years. If that’s true, I’m really sorry for you.

    I’m also sorry for you that you have the fatalistic attitude that you can’t rely on anyone. While it’s true that you can’t rely on people as totally as you can the unfailing Jesus Christ, there are plenty of people that are totally reliable. And I can assure you that when either my wife or I die, we won’t in the slightest think the dying one failed us.

    You use some scripture and seem to indicate that God will, in fact, never fail, and that indicates you have some spiritual beliefs. But your comment that “still it’s 50%-50%” reveals either that you think even God may fail you in the end, or that you have never truly repented and trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and therefore realize you are NOT right with him.

    Do you understand that you need his grace because of the sin in your life? Do you desire with all your heart and mind to turn from those sins because they are separating you from a loving, holy God? Are you at all concerned that if you die in your sins you will be separated from God forever in hell? If so, then run, don’t walk, to Jesus Christ. Confess your sins to him and humbly ask him to save you. Not only will you be born again as a child of God, but he will begin to change your heart and attitude about others and take away the limiting idea that everyone is bound to hurt you in some way.

  • truth is hurt says:

    Hi Tom, / and to DE
    If he can save his marriage that’s excellent.

    Love other as you love yourself – Matt 22:39 (if you don’t know how to love yourself, how can you love other/your partner – if you cannot rely on yourself how other/partner/kids can rely on you). This is the reason I said man up: love yourself first – gain your confidence. If she sees you have confidence and she can rely on you hopefully she will take you back.

    but the truth is:
    Everyone will fail you eventually (intentionally or unintentionally) – even if you have great marriage, someday your partner will die because we are human and that time you will feel that your partner fail you.

    If you’re lucky enough to die first before your partner, your health/body will fail you. Every created thing will fail you eventually.

    Don’t fear if she is leaving you: For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7.

    And last question when I die – It will be between me and HIM – I hope he is merciful as in bible if not I’m doom but if God does not exist so be it.

    And I don’t think you have seen HIM but if you see HIM, say hi from “truth is hurt”

    I never seen HIM but I don’t want to take my chance on the wrong side against ALL POWERFUL BEING. but still it’s 50% – 50%

  • Tom Tom says:

    Thanks for your love for others Nancy.

  • Nancy says:

    My husband and I wrote this account of our marriage a few years ago, but I want you all to know that WE ARE STILL together and very much in love. We have our good and bad days, but we choose each day to see the best and believe the best about each other. My book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome is available on Amazon as a download or Kindle book. So, you can read the whole story, of how we rebuild, and with God’s help, were healed.

  • Tom Tom says:

    To Truth is hurt–
    I would suggest that DE’s actions regarding his marriage show that he has, in fact, “manned up.” They show he is a man of God who desires to keep his marriage together even in the fact of overwhelming odds, because God’s view of marriage is a sacred vow between a man and a woman for life. While it’s unfortunate that so many marriage partners quickly ignore the vows they take on their wedding and seek only to serve their selfish motives, they are some like DE who wish to honor those vows “til death do us part.” Marriage is worth fighting for, not just ignoring or discarding.

    As for yourself “Truth”, since you don’t know if there is a heaven, what do you think is going to happen to YOU when you die?

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