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Restoring Your Marriage After an Affair (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
February 22, 2024 5:46 am

Restoring Your Marriage After an Affair (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 22, 2024 5:46 am

Infidelity can rip a marriage apart — and it’s hard to imagine a betrayal more painful than finding out your spouse is involved with someone else. Josh and Katie Walters share the story of Katie’s affair with the husband of their good friend couple, and how Katie vacillated for quite a while, torn between doing the right thing (ending the affair) and still feeling love for the other man. Meanwhile, Josh was convinced by God that divorce was wrong and he needed to love Katie as Christ loves the Church, which meant pushing through the pain and hoping against hope to rescue his marriage. (Part 1 of 2)

 

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Imagine having a conversation with a hurting friend who feels like something is off in their marriage. Their spouse seems distant and maybe even is involved with somebody else. And then, what if in that moment you discover your spouse is the someone else and your spouse is being unfaithful to you? That's our topic today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. John, research shows us that certainly infidelity is one of several reasons divorce can happen. But this is probably the most critical thing that can happen. Even the Bible talks about this as the one reason people can leave a marriage is when there's unfaithfulness. It does strike me in such a positive way when a couple can hang on because, again, it should not define you. And the strength of the marriages that I see that go through this are far stronger because they're totally exposed, right? You really know each other after something like that. And those marriages, again, not all of them can survive that. But those that do, man, they are bonded in a way that's very different. And today we want to talk about it.

This is an extremely difficult issue. I'm thinking of something that we've created called Hope Restored. It's one of our four-day intensives that couples can go to. Many of the couples who come to our Hope Restored four-day intensive have gone through infidelity. And the great counseling staff there can unwind that and help those couples rediscover each other in intimacy and trust. It takes time to rebuild that. But I'm so looking forward to the program today because, again, we are in a sexually saturated culture. And sometimes these things happen. And I think the Lord smiles when recovery can occur.

Yeah. And we've got some guests who have lived this out in their own marriage. Josh and Katie Walters are with us today, and they serve on the staff of Seacoast Church.

It's a multi-campus ministry in South Carolina. They have seven children, ranging in age from 20 to 3. And they've written a book that forms the basis of our conversation today called New Marriage, Same Couple.

Don't Let Your Worst Days Be Your Last Days. And we've got details about that and our guests and information about Hope Restored in the show notes. Josh and Katie, welcome to Focus on the Family. Thank you. Thank you so much for having us. Really good to have you. I'm so glad to be here. So appreciate it. You know, when we come into a story like yours, I always want to acknowledge right at the front the vulnerability of this. And I've always thought that's got to be a little uncomfortable to always talk about your worst day on this earth. You know, over and over again.

But people do benefit from it. And I'm so grateful that you guys are willing to do that. We're honored to. The more we have, we realize the more people, you know, our story is a bit extreme. But most every marriage experiences places of pain that are often silent. And so just talking about it, we feel like it opens the door for a lot of helpful conversation for people. Well, let's pop the story open and start talking about that revelation of the affair. Someone kind of described that at the beginning of the program, but Katie, what were the circumstances that led to your revealing of the situation? I mean, everybody's going to have a different way that that's done.

It's like a fingerprint. Nothing is the same. What was going on in your life? What was the day like when you told your husband, okay, we got it.

I got a problem. Well, I still look back at that day as such a bad miracle in a way because I don't know. I don't know how the Holy Spirit just got those words out of my mouth.

Because if you have ever been in a place before where you've hidden anything and you've had this secret sin, it can feel like it's going to swallow you. You know, and that day I'd actually gone to a Bethmore simulcast and I was in the back of an auditorium and she said, there's a girl in this room that's in a pit so deep she can't see her way out. And I knew she was talking about me because I've had this secret life, this secret sin, you know, this communication with this man that I hadn't told Josh about, that were also our close friends.

And that night I came home from the simulcast, again, I don't know how I got there by myself. It wasn't at a church we were serving at, it was a church across town. But the girl from the couple, the man that I was having the affair with, the girl came over to our house that night and she was just in brokenness and she started crying and saying something's wrong with my marriage.

You know, oftentimes they say women can feel there's something going on, something's not right. So both of you were there? We were both there, sitting with her in the kitchen. And she's expressing this and you know exactly what's going on.

Which was normally not the case, it's part of what made it the bad miracle. Me happening to be there, sitting down outside with them, hearing her process and me being confident like, no, there's no one else, I know him. She was like, I think there's someone else in my husband's life. And Josh was like, absolutely not, you know, I know him, this would never happen to him. And when she left that night, as soon as she got out the door, I looked at him and said, what if it's me?

What if it's me? That's all I said. That was the moment. And again, which had to have been just the spirit getting that out of me, you know, to say that and that was that we all often say in these stories of confession, it's usually the 10%, the tip of the iceberg that the person's willing to get out. And there really needs to be grace for that in that moment, because it's really challenging, you know, to expose the whole of the entirety of the betrayal. That's a really unique situation. You know, that the fact that she kind of sensed something was wrong, and then that was partly due to you. I mean, and to say that in front of the two of you walk out. Can I ask, I mean, that period of time, how was this a year, six months and and was it just emotional or was it the whole way?

Yes. So it started probably a year earlier, emotional, just in my mind, you know, and we used to talk a lot in the I guess the earlier days about 20 years ago about emotional affairs. If you guys remember the book that came out every woman's battle, you know, where she said, women, you can have this emotional affair, you start dressing for someone, you think about their life, you covet things of their life. That was definitely happening for about a year in my own heart and mind. But not that I would have told anyone, you know, not girlfriends, family, just let my mind go there. And we say to couples that the enemy, you know, even starting in Genesis three, the enemy who is there often plants things in our minds in our thought life. And that thought life is trying to take you somewhere. During the course of that year, I just continued to hide from Josh. But what happens was, that perspective also starts to shift your perspective on your husband, you know, you start to see their weaknesses. Do they even love me?

Do they even care about me? So I think that was happening for about a year. But then on May 29, we had our third son, and he was in the NICU.

He was really, really sick. So again, you can imagine I'm on bedrest, there's all of that happening in the relationship. And we also often tell couples that the enemy is just waiting. You know, nobody wakes up thinking they're going to have an affair or betray their husband.

But the enemy will just be patient and wait for the right opportunity. And I think that was the right opportunity in our life, because we were in such a thin place. And that's when the man and I kind of said, in this moment of the NICU, like that we had feelings for each other, that was at the end of May. And so from the end of May to August 8, when I confessed, I just was in the summer of hell is what I called it, you know, trying to constantly connect with him, the other man, and also try to manipulate Josh and hide from him, not let anyone know, you know, he's a pastor on staff at the church, I'm still serving in the church.

So that summer was just devastating. Katie, let me ask you, and then we're obviously going to ask you some questions, Josh, but in that context, the older I get, the more complicated these situations are. And I think, you know, when you're young, and, and your faith is building, and you're living for the Lord, that tendency towards self righteousness can occur, you know, that you've got this button down, and you look down on other people, the longer I live, that point is this, it's complicated. I mean, there is emotional starvation, there are things going on, that nobody can really know about, certainly not the Pharisee among us. And we do, we're hard on these things, and you know, rightfully so.

But I think the thing that I'm learning is that we never understand the full picture of what vulnerability has been created, that nudges us toward these things toward the enemy lying in wait. And I think that's what I so appreciate about what Jesus was expressing, that he knows our pain, he knows our shallowness, he knows where we ache, and, you know, he's here to take all that away. So I'm just thinking of the couple that, you know, maybe going through this right now, there is forgiveness, there is grace. And I just want to, I know we're early into the story, but you know, someone's just crushed, because they've just heard the news that last week, they went through it. I just, you know, be careful about how you judge others. And you know, the end of the story is brilliant, and it's good, and it's a God outcome.

It doesn't always work out that way. So Josh, coming your direction, I mean, the door slams. In the next few minutes, Katie turns to you and says, What if that's me?

And what did you say? What do you mean? What if that's you? That's exactly what I said.

Yeah, that seems right. You know, I remember much of that night and like HD in terms of sitting down, emotions flaring, all of a sudden, we're all out in the front yard. All four of you?

All four of us. And I don't know, you see people walk through really difficult things. And I think maybe just subconsciously question like, could I do that? Well, I've looked back on our story and question like, man, could I do something like that again? And just feel like in that season, man, it was such a grace covered season where God had given me what I needed for the day every day in terms of walking through it.

Let me ask you. And again, for the person that I mean, they may already be divorced, the affair happened, they're looking back now they're listening. How did you find that grace? How did you want to find that grace? I think I'd always had a stubborn faith that going back to our vows for better for worse for richer, poor sickness and health, like there was a commitment that I made that I will finish this race with her and that we felt called to have a large family. I think a lot of our love early on was based on kind of the youthful infatuation with one another.

Sure. And I knew there was a love like the fathers in the sense that, you know, while I was a sinner, he died for me, he chose me, it wasn't about him just delighting in this kid. And there was a new place of love through pain that that was largely a choice that wasn't going to be, you know, as shallow or as driven by attraction and infatuation. And so, ultimately, I would say it's all God, you know, I, I was committed and surrendered to what I believed best. And I believed that me finishing this race with her was God's best.

And so I was gonna walk through that. Let me press you because again, this is the one place some theologians would argue to that abandonment also fits into this. I'm not here to debate the theology of all that, but certainly, infidelity is the place that God says, that's your exit, if you want to choose it, that you're justified to do so. Why did you not choose that path?

I mean, you kind of just said it, but speak to the person who did choose that off ramp. Yeah, so, so I'd say two things. One, you know, there's very few things that Scripture speaks to that God hates, and I hate divorce being one of those. So, so part of it for me was knowing like, okay, I know that on my worst of days, he saw me and chose me.

I can't imagine a worse day in our story. And if my love is supposed to resemble the Father's love for her, I'm going to be all in on this and believe God doesn't want us to have a mediocre, mundane story. Me choosing to stay isn't going to bring about an okay outcome, like fullness, abundant of life is what he's going to author through the midst of this pain. But for the person who's chosen another path, man, his grace is sufficient for you. He's kind and loving and gracious and forgiving, but ultimately, like there, there are consequences to all of our, all of our decisions.

Yeah. You're a pastor, so you're counseling couples. Why do you think God said this breach of confidence, this breach of trust is one reason, the reason I would let you out of that covenant of marriage?

Even though he hates divorce, why do you think he says, this is one spot where you can make that decision? It's intriguing to me because God does hate divorce and it's, so it's kind of fascinating that this breach even outruns God's command to stay together. You know, the whole act of infidelity and betrayal is, is a soul tie that connects you to another person.

And when he talks about this hardness of heart, it can be as if you've left the relationship, you know? And so I just think God's grace giving allowance for that, that each person has to make their own choice. But I think about your response to compassion when you first heard my story and you said, you know, I just invulnerability want to say, Hey, Jesus still loves you. He still loves sinners. And I think about, that's what Jesus did when the adulterer was thrown at his feet is he recognized, you know, we all get lost sometimes like, and he stepped in with compassion in that moment and instead drew to her, you know, and push the accusers away. And so I think, I think he makes allowances for all people cause we get our own choices, but that God's heart, his character is compassion to draw towards those that are hurting that are lost. You know, I even think though the whole metaphor scripture being the bride and the bridegroom that the Lord is saying, even though you're a harlot to all of us, that you don't love me the way you should love me. I mean the whole thing is in this context of trust and betrayal. And I think I largely felt like I was praying God's will.

Like he wants us to have a rich, full and satisfying marriage. And so ultimately the work, I knew there was no switch in her that I could flip to make her want to stay, to make her love me. But I think much of my decision, commitment, choice, and that season was aligning with like, God, I know you want this. What else could you do? You brought us together and so yeah, do it. That's amazing. Josh, let me come to you again because you created an acronym.

Maybe both of you did this together. I don't know, but stay. Give us the acronym definition and then we'll come back and look at a couple of those elements. Yeah. So S is start with me and that's in a situation like ours where it would seem very easy to point a finger at who is at fault, you know, just to acknowledge, especially in the context of marriage, there's some percentage of this that's my responsibility in terms of the culture that I'd created in the home. T is take quitting off the table.

That's kind of the thought, especially as Katie shared earlier, that people can quit long before they leave and if it's quit in their mind in terms of their commitment to their marriage or in their heart long before they leave. A is allow others to be a part of your story and in ours, from the outside, we appeared healthy but no one really knew the stuff that was going on in our home or in our hearts and then Y is yield division and that's about building a desired future together, having agreement alignment between who are we becoming, where are we going? That's good. Maybe with your permission, we'll post that on the website so people can just look at that and certainly we're going to offer you the book which has all the things you need to know but going back to S, let's get into that a little bit with S, go a little deeper in that definition. Start with me?

Yep. Yep, so in our story, I knew that there was nothing, you know, you've heard one person gets better, the relationship gets better and I knew in our situation, there was nothing that I could do to change Katie's mind or heart. There was no measure of convincing. She thought that I just wanted to win, I didn't want to lose with, you know, with a best friend and him being the one that she was in a relationship with so she didn't trust my motives, she didn't necessarily know that she loved me anymore or really liked me and so really all I could do was focus on me and there was a confidence that God, I know that this isn't your will for us, you don't want to rip our family apart, you don't want to see us go through a life without one another, you brought us together and so I just focused in on God of like, okay, if we're going to emerge from this together and if we're going to emerge from this better, then I've got to let you start with me and so what are the choices I made that led us to this place? It's interesting because I think, you know, a counselor would suggest that that usually takes a little time for the victim, if I can use that terminology, to get to that place that I had a role in this, what are you talking about? I didn't have the affair, she had the affair and you got to get through that, you got to so that's a great path that you got there so quickly. Well I still had all of the anger and grief, I still went through the full gamut of emotions but it was a matter of what do I do today and even as a pastor, man, I sought God more in that season than I ever had before. I was unemployed, church had quickly dismissed me and we were kind of like void of community or a church family and so Katie was still a school counselor and I was home with the kids and so they had a morning rest and an afternoon rest that was really, Katie would say like, kids don't have two naps and I was like, well while I'm the stay at home dad they do.

I needed just the sanity of going after God for those two full hours to get me through the day and so I think that's where God really brought about that work. Katie, how about you, the start with me concept, I mean, yeah, how did that work for you? It does seem easier when you're the one that's fully out there exposed, you know, but the reality is, you know, how we had gotten to that place was I had these desires outside of the covenant God had given me and what do you do when you have desires more than your marriage, outside of your marriage and I think these principles of start with me, we still use today, I mean, they will help you rebuild in any season and so for me what I had to start with me was to start questioning me, you know, start questioning the lies that I was believing, start questioning I'm thinking this is love with this other man. What I, my first realization was that it was self-love and it took me a while to get there that this is called self-love, this is called selfishness and that whenever there's this desire gap between what God has given us and what we want, that is actually an invitation for us to go to Jesus, that gap is our invitation whether you find yourself in a betrayal situation or just you're wanting more, you know, I want more from my marriage, I wish we were more fun, I wish we had more adventures together, all of that gap is meant to actually you take that to the Lord and to each other to build intimacy with you, Jesus and your spouse. So starting with me really started questioning with me is there any lies I'm believing, any ways that I'm discontent or dissatisfied and I've blamed that on Josh.

I was a master what I call blame shifter where if our life was not going up and to the right there was one man that was at fault for that, you know, and I blamed him for all of that and so a lot of these principles in the book, you know, again, really helped us rebuild when we were standing on rubble but they have also helped us even today to hey we just want to, we want more, we want to go to a new place. With T take quitting off the table, I mean a lot of people say, you know, the D word is not in our vocabulary, however you want to say that but for you the Lord spoke directly to your heart, something to do with I think you can have my feet so let's connect these dots. Yeah so again take quitting off the table for me, I think I'm naturally a quitter, he is not, he is more faithful, you know, but I have a high quit factor and if there's anybody listening that's like me, Jesus still loves you but he will meet you to strengthen you towards faithfulness, towards endurance and so when I would spend time with Jesus he would give me these words of hey you are actually quitting in your mind, you're still going places, you're still not believing that I can restore this marriage. I would think that if I stayed with Josh I would have done the good Christian thing and I would have ended with like a pal but God would show me hey I am the author of all things, emotions, I can resurrect anything, you know, don't quit in your mind, really give me your feet and so that was my language, I would say God you can have my feet, my heart is not all the way back yet because of my own choices again and sin but still that was the reality of what we were facing, my heart wasn't all the way back yet but I would say you can have my feet, I'm going to commit myself to you, to your plans, trust myself.

Josh in that vacillation, I mean what kept you engaged, how did you navigate that pain and fear about losing her? I mean it would have maybe been different if Katie came back that night and said I'm all in, I'm so sorry, I love you 100%, I made a mistake, please love me, please take me back, but it wasn't quite like that, she was vacillating which again puts a lot of pressure on you to trust the Lord in the process because you were getting the affirmation. Yeah well that's where the great news of you can have my feet, it was like man that was the best news ever because at least we were using real words and I knew just by way of her saying I don't know that I love you anymore, it was evident on her face, I could hear it in her voice and so but the fact that she was telling God you can have my feet just meant that we're going to be under the same roof every night, I was pray over her every night after she had fallen asleep, I could be the one to serve her when she got home from work, I'd have her cheese and crackers, a little wine and snack plate, I could go on walks with her in the evening, it's like all the little things that I had taken for granted earlier on in marriage or had not done, it's like man I was going to do in this season because I felt how fragile the relationship was.

How did Luke 23 work into your calculus there? Ultimately it helped me separate Katie from the act that she had committed, God just helped me see very clearly like who she is, is not what she has done. Yeah and that is God forgive them for they know not what they do. Exactly and so on a day where if I'm Jesus looking at these people that had mocked, beaten and persecuted, I'm thinking they know exactly what they've done, yet his prayer was Father forgive them for they know not what they've done and so I feel like a big part of that season, you know you would never get mad at a spouse or a friend for getting up in the middle of the night and stubbing their toe and waking you up like gosh what are you doing I'm sleeping. Well ultimately Katie had made a decision in a dark place and so in this season I could either remind her of her name means pure at heart, I could remind her who God created her to be, I could be a picture of him to her or I could take my anger, grief, disappointment, frustration out on her and it just drive us further apart. So ultimately I took all that to God every day in hopes that he would be the one to work in our hearts at home and rebuild something special. I mean this time has flown by, we've covered just very little of the story, we're thinking this would be one day but we've got to come back for a second day and continue the discussion. I think it's so healing for people to hear what you've done, what you've gone through.

We started with having to relive the worst epic situation in your life and yet it's going to help so many people. So if you can let's stick together, we'll come back for a day two and talk more about how the Lord brought healing. Can we do it? We'd love to.

We'd love to. If you're in this spot or you know somebody who is, this is a resource you need to get. New marriage, same couple, we often do this but if you can make a gift of any amount we'll send you the book as our way of saying thank you.

If you can't afford it we'll get the book to you. We are a ministry and we'll trust others, we'll cover the cost of that. So the bottom line is we want your marriage to thrive.

We want you to find kind of that revelation of how much God wants you to succeed in your marriage because it is the metaphor of the kingdom of God and he wants us to live it well. So we would encourage you if Hope Restored is something that you need, a four day intensive program, it has a post two year 80% success rate. I don't think there's anything in the country quite like this. It is hard work, it's about 36 hours in four days of getting to the core stuff and kind of repackaging everything for you as a couple so you can do better in your marriage and again an 80% post two year success rate. We go back to every couple after two years. Isn't that amazing?

It really is. So we're excited about the work the Lord is doing in our Hope Restored program. There's a number of locations, just get in touch with us and go through the details of going through that program. It's probably one of the best things, if not the best thing, you can do for your marriage. Yeah, take that first step, learn more about Hope Restored and request this book, New Marriage, Same Couple. When you call us, our number is 800, the letter A in the word family.

Of course, we have all the details in the program description. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue the conversation with Josh and Katie and once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ. As a parent, it's easy to find myself sitting backseat to my kids in the backseat. It's tough to be a step ahead and full honesty, I'm pretty hard on myself when that happens, but I've found Practice Makes Parent, a podcast from Focus on the Family hosted by Dr. Danny Huerta and Rebecca St. James. It helps me be more intentional and not feel alone when things get tough. Everything they share is practical and well practiced, and I can use it right away. Listen to Practice Makes Parent wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-22 06:48:50 / 2024-02-22 07:00:47 / 12

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