Day 10: There Is Hope and Healing

NoMorePerfectMarriage blackThis is Day 10 of a 10 day No More Perfect Marriages series chronicling our journey from infidelity to restoration. You can click here and find all of the posts in this series.

Jill says:
Mark returned home two months after Easter.  We continued counseling for another 7 months after he returned home.  Our counselor was an hour away, but it was worth it because we felt it was the right fit for us. We had started counseling a few weeks after I discovered the emotional affair so by the time this was all said and done, we were in weekly counseling for 18 months. It was a sacrifice of time and resources we were willing to make.

Mark says:
I knew that rebuilding trust was going to be a full-time job for me for a while. I answered any question asked.  I installed the Find My Friends app on my cell phone and Jill’s cell phone so we could always see where each other was. I apologized when new information or an answer to a question would bring Jill to tears. I committed to stay steady and to not get exasperated with however long it took to rebuild trust.

Jill says:
As we’ve loved on other couples who have walked this journey, we’ve often been asked about how much is healthy when it comes to the betrayed spouse asking questions about the affair. What I tell people is every marriage is different. You have to do what brings healing to YOU. There’s no right or wrong.

For me, facts were important so I asked a lot of questions. For others who are more emotionally wired, they may not want to ask too many questions because it’s just too hard emotionally. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to healing. You have to do what is best for you. I’m grateful that my husband is patient with me. Notice I said “is” and not “was.” There are days I still ask questions three years later. It’s far less often than it used to be, but we’re still in process.

Mark says:
What we’ve also found is that any time we bring something that’s hiding in the darkness of our heart to the surface, it’s healthier for our marriage. As long as we keep something inside of us, the enemy can have a heyday with it. The minute we bring it out in the open, it breaks the hold it has on our heart and takes much of the fear away.  This is a truth for any married couple. Get things out in the open in an honest, respectful way.

We’ve also learned from our experience that emotional and even physical issues can play a role in marital difficulties. Depression and anxiety can contribute to marriage challenges. People with ADHD can behave impulsively or lack executive function. Even sleep problems can impact emotional stability. It may be important to explore some of these because they can be undiagnosed contributors to marital strife.

Once I was on the right medication for my depression, it made a world of difference. You can start that conversation with your medical doctor.

Jill says:
For the first year, anniversaries of when I discovered the affair and when Mark left were hard. As we approached the one year anniversary of Mark leaving, we chose to reframe the weekend with a two-day getaway for just the two of us.  It was relaxing, restorative, and just what we needed. There were other reminders of the affair we chose to reframe as well. That’s an important part of healing when there’s been hurt and betrayal.

I’m also often asked about forgiveness. I’ve come to understand that forgiveness is a process. It’s not a once and done things at all. In the initial days, I’d have to forgive each time I was reminded of the affair: when I’d drive by a hotel they met at or when I’d pay the credit card bill. (The affair and two households drained our finances and I had to use the credit card to pay bills for a while.)

Forgiveness is a choice…never a feeling. I chose to forgive each reminder, each situation I bumped up against. Books like Unfaithful by Gary and Mona Shriver and Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration by Cindy Beall were helpful along the way (we will share more resources on Monday).

Mark says:
I had to forgive myself. I also had to work to experience conviction without tripping over into condemnation. Conviction says “I did a bad thing.” Condemnation says, “Therefore I’m a bad person.” I made a choice that caused deep hurt to even the most extended members of our family. The consequences of my choices have taken years to get over and I’m still dealing with some of those consequences today. However, I’ve seen the truth of Joel 2:25, “God will restore what the locusts have eaten.” God’s grace is a beautiful thing.

I love what Rick Warren said in one of his devotionals, “Your past is past. You are not your past. Your past influences you, but your past does not define you. What matters today is not your past. I don’t care what you’ve done, who you did it with, or how long you did it. That’s not you. Satan will tell you it’s you, but that’s not the truth. What matters today is what direction your feet are headed right now.”

Jill says:
When Cindy Beall, author of Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, was trying to figure out what to do after her husband’s infidelity, a wise pastor said to her, “I would respect you if you felt that you needed to remove yourself from your marriage. What you’ve endured is very hard. But you are not a fool to stay and be a part of the redemptive work in a man’s life.” Those were powerful words for me to read and I can say I’ve had a front row seat at being part of the redemptive work in my husband’s life. It was hard, but it was a privilege.

Mark says:
We know not all marriages make it. We know it requires two people to make a marriage work. However, we want you to have hope, no matter where you are in your journey. Your circumstances may change but your God has not changed.  As you face mountains in your life and marriage, keep your eyes on the Mountain Mover.

We want to thank you for joining us for this series. Many of you have told us that you don’t want it to stop. We don’t either, honestly.  We’re happy to announce that we will be starting to do Marriage Monday blog posts again starting this coming Monday. In fact, on Monday we’ll be providing a list of all the marriage resources we found helpful in our journey. It’s a nice way to wrap up the series and give you resources for the future! We are also already beginning to work on the No More Perfect Marriages book and we hope you’ll pick that up when it is released in early 2017.

Jill says:
We encourage you to use these posts in your own marriage if you can. If you haven’t already, share them with your spouse. Use them as a discussion starter for your own relationship.

If your marriage is hurting, please know we are praying for you. If you’ve already sent us an email, we’ve already prayed for you by name. If you haven’t and would like us to be praying for you, you can send us a confidential email at jillsavagespeaking (at) heartsathome.org.

If your church is looking for speakers for a marriage event, you can request us as speakers through my website.

This verse carried us through our journey and we offer it to you as you continue on yours:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There are no perfect marriages, but there is a God who wants to “perfect” us through this thing called marriage.

When it comes to marriage, may we be clay in the Potter’s hand.

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6 Responses to Day 10: There Is Hope and Healing

  1. Heather F. says:

    A No More Perfect Marriages book!!!!! I’M SO EXCITED!!!!! Jill and Mark, I can’t thank you enough for all you do, and just being honest and sharing your struggles. We don’t do that enough, and then so many suffer in silence! I can tell you that Hearts At Home has made me a better mother and wife. Thank you for having the courage to let God use you and your struggles in parenting and marriage to give many others clear direction and point us to the Ultimate parent and “spouse” our Heavenly father!

  2. Doug says:

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this series. My wife has been a Hearts at Home participant/follower for years and I’m proud that she is.

    Last year I hurt my wife more than I could have ever imagined that anyone could hurt another person. A lot of what you have outlined in these ten posts sounds like our story. It is a story that I never thought I would have been a character in. I had previously chastised friends who have done exactly what I did. We are in recovery and I know that it what God wants for us. It has been and will continue to be hard as I am still identifying the extent of my brokenness and feel like every time I fall back even a little I let her and Him down again.

    One revelation that I had this past week is that the adversary has been working very hard to make me believe that I am a failure. I know (through the love of Jesus) that failure is an event; not a person. I hope that sharing that can help someone else to get out of the slump of self pity and low self worth and get back to restoring their marriage that their life and relationship with God.

    Thank you again!

    • JillSavage says:

      Great insight, Doug. Thank you for sharing that! Stay on the path of healing you are on! God is not only the Redeemer…He’s the Re-dreamer!

  3. Laura says:

    Dear Mark and Jill,

    I have just read the entire 10 days (tearfully, I might add). Praise God for His redeeming power and love! I want to thank you for your transparency and vulnerability. I’m sure, as you said, it would have been much easier to keep this to yourselves.

    I can only imagine how many people this will help! Only God knows how many marriages will survive due in part to you sharing the gut-wrenching truth about what you went through. I am emailing this link to many of my close friends and family, in hopes that they will pass it along to those who need to hear it.

    I also want to thank you, as a child of divorced parents. For each marriage that you have helped, I would suppose there are many more children who will benefit. You have helped to spare them of much disillusionment, heartache, and trials that often last a lifetime.

    Blessings to you!

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