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

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Kevin, I would recommend that you guys get marriage and family counsellor to help guide you through this process of healing. Having an objective third party mediate your conversations can be very useful to get past patterns and habits of communication that stop you from understanding one another better. Have you talked to her about seeing a counsellor?

  • Kevin says:

    My wife was caught by me having an emotional affair with an old high school friend. Come to find out this wasn’t the one I should have been worried about. She had already been having a somewhat physical affair(kissing/fondling) with a guy that she works with sometimes. When I found out about this one she had admitted to me that she had a crush on the guy, but I found out that it had been more than that. She states that she just wanted to feel loved and wanted by somone, but I don’t understand that. I tell her how beautiful she is on a daily basis, and send her little emails throughout the day. Come to find out she told the guy that we were having issues at home that I wasn’t aware of, so he said that the same thing was going on in his marriage which ended up being a lie because I called and told his wife of the affair. I have agreed to work things out with the wife because I do love her, and we have 2 kids. She still doesn’t like talking about how I feel because of it though and tries to shutdown the conversation instantly.

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Mary, thank you for your encouraging words for Jay and James! It sounds like you are a wise woman who has learned from her mistakes but was also willing to fight to make her marriage work and that’s really key.

    Communication is so key….as Jamie asked you earlier Jay, ‘in all of her remorse and counseling what has she said are the reasons that she pursues other men?’ There are obviously some deep needs that she is seeking to meet. Have you thought of trying the Love Dare? This excellent book helps couples start again to look at their marriage and practice unconditional love.

  • Mary says:

    James, maybe she has given the truth. Think about it. If she were to come clean in your mind, would you believe her. If she told you ever detail of a scene. It would hurt you more, and would you even believe her then? Listen to what you are saying. There may have been more, but will that cause more hard feelings? Your gut feeling may be right. . . but will more details help if there are more details.

  • Mary says:

    Jay, Our marriage has survived and flourished after my affair. You see, I had no marriage before the affair, or because I had very good moral character would not have ran to the first affirmation that I was anything above a mouse. He treated me good for a very short season, and I needed that to survive.
    With that said, I am now happily married. The affair happened at the 25 year mark, and we have been married almost 34 years now. Your wife either has an addiction to the high an affair gives her, has a self-hate, or your marriage is terminally ill and her affairs are your sign. It may be a combination of several factors, or she may just be a not a one man woman. My take on it is to find her love language, and it can be found through what she does nice for you and do it over and over… then find another nice thing to do. I know you are empty now, but this is easier than starting all over. Fifty years from now you can say I gave it my very best shot.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Hi Jay, I can understand your reluctance to reconcile when the pattern has been so consistent. In all of her remorse and counselling what has she said are the reasons that she pursues other men?

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    Dear Father God.

    I lift up all who are going through a struggle in marriage in which there is an affair, that they will come to grips in this together as one under God’s Holy Matrimony. In Jesus Mighty name amen

  • confused jay says:

    i can relate to Corey above and to Joey i definitely agree with you. in my case she’s had multiple emotional affairs(her confession), in our 10 years of marriage, everytime she’s caught, she promises to be of good character but goes back to her old ways. the last but one affair was with an old ex and it lasted almost a year without me knowing. i stayed then because of our 3 little kids. seven months after this she’s gone had a physical affair with another man,sexting and all that. i know i have to quit now, but i am still confused. as usual she’s putting on a show of remorse, and is prepared to go for counselling again. i feel so confused, but i come from a long line of broken homes and i swore that i would end that cycle. we are separated right now and i really do not want to reconcile.

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Joe and Corey, I am sorry to hear that you have both had your trust destroyed by your wives. Trust is something that needs to be earned and once it is broken, it is very hard to restore it and must be earned again. In the author’s story, they were able to restore that trust and rebuild it over the next 25 years but it will have taken lots of work and a commitment on both sides to work through the issues that initially got them there.

    As the author says, ‘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!’

    Only God can destroy those broken pieces. If either or both of you would like to interact on a more personal level with one of our online mentors, just fill out the form on this page, http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and someone will email you back.

  • Joe says:

    Once a Chester, always a cheater….
    I was on here 2 yrs ago struggling with my wife’s affair, did counseling, therapy, was working on forgivenes….them found out 3 weeks ago she was back to her old ways, so for all of you guys going thru this…I feel your pain, get a good lawyer because not going to lose everything because of her indiscretions….it is a terrible situation, true work of the devil!!!

  • corey says:

    i struggle with this as well. my wife had an affair two year ago. i had just got done putting her through nursing school and one night she basically told me she never loved me to begin with and that she had finally found someone who made her happy. i was told i was a horrible husband, father and too fat for anyone to love (keep in mind i was 170 pounds at the time). i beg her to stay i went to counseling with her and worked really hard to change…even lost over 40 pounds. but she continued to have the affair even after we started to “work on” the relationship. she finally did end the affair but not until she had damaged me beyond repair. we did more counseling, met with pastors, but i never was able to heal. she never apologized for it and is now taking the position that only god can forgive so it isn’t up to me. she tells me that i should look at her affair as the exception that proves the rule for her faithfulness. it is no two years later and things aren’t any better. she still wants to hang out with i told her i wanted a divorce and now she is telling me this is my fault. that i am not following god’s plan for us. i personally dont believe this is god’s plan for me. i dont think he wants me to be miserable forever. of course now that i am looking for a divorce she is going after me financially and raking me over the coals. i am going to lose my house and have to pay for her affair for the rest of my life. seems unfair but i guess that is what i get for trusting another person. marriage is a joke…i my wife is getting the last laugh.

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