“I was so ashamed, I ran from church, community, God and my wife. Physically present but emotionally absent, I secretly hoped Jenny would leave me.” – Andy Marsh
On the long drive from Texas to Lafayette, Louisiana, Andy Students Marsh was panicked. “I had to tell my wife, Jenny, what was going on, but the thought of opening up made me want to pass out,” said Andy. “I started talking anyway, confessing everything I could think of from the beginning of our relationship. I’d never been fully known before, and I was afraid.”
In 2007, Andy’s friends told him about a girl named Jenny who had recently moved nearby to work at a community center. As they met at a small coffee shop, it seemed they’d never run out of things to talk about. When Jenny returned to Pennsylvania to finish her degree, the two dated long distance for two years. It was tough, but they stuck with it. Jenny packed up everything in her Chrysler sedan and headed to Dallas after college. Jenny and Andy went through the premarriage class at Watermark and married in July 2010. “I remember reading the verse, ‘Love covers a multitude of sins,’ (1 Peter 4:8) during that time,” said Jenny. “I had such a deep love for Andy, but that verse was a foreshadowing for our marriage.”
Andy shared the same kind of love for Jenny, but he was also carrying a big burden. “While we were dating, I moved to Dallas and experienced a lot of success,” said Andy.
“I trusted in myself rather than God and the people He put in my life. In isolation, I had an affair with a coworker. When I married Jenny, I swore I’d take that secret to the grave.” Jenny and Andy realized how hard it was to be married almost immediately after the wedding. Jenny poured herself into her job as a teacher, working long hours and succeeding in her career. Meanwhile, Andy left his job at the bank, unsure what the Lord might have him do next. “My wife was excelling at her job, and I couldn’t see where I was going,” said Andy. “As a leader, I felt inadequate.”
When Jenny spent a weekend away at a women’s retreat, Andy’s depression worsened, and he reached out to an old girlfriend he figured would be a “sure thing.” The wheels came off of their marriage soon thereafter. “I was so ashamed, I ran from church, community, God and my wife,” said Andy. “Physically present but emotionally absent, I secretly hoped Jenny would leave me.”
Jenny feels that God had prepared her heart for what would be the most difficult year of her life. “I spent time meditating on Romans 5:3-8 and Romans 8:28,” said Jenny. “I knew that, ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character and character, hope.’ I desperately needed the hope that only comes from the Lord.”
As the relationship deteriorated, their community group encouraged them to go to re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry. The support of their community and friends at re|engage helped Jenny make it through times when they simply coexisted in the same home. “God gave me the desire to pray for Andy and trust that the Lord would be faithful,” said Jenny.
Andy says he was the stereotypical, disengaged guy at the beginning of re|engage. “As I looked around, it was clear that I was the one who was confused about my life, my relationship with God and my marriage. I felt led to look to God’s Word for answers,” said Andy.
In the middle of their work in re|engage, a job change moved them back to Louisiana. God used that time to push Andy deeper into His Word and eventually closer to Jenny as well. “God showed me that I was completely unable to bring myself into salvation. I was helpless outside of my relationship with Christ. I needed to depend on Him to restore me.”
It was on the way back to Louisiana from a marriage conference at Watermark that Andy decided to confess just how far he had strayed from their marriage. “As we drove through the night, God made it clear it was time to tell the truth. What I thought would be my worst moment ended up being the beginning of the best year of my life.” Andy confessed that he had a physical relationship with another woman during their marriage and when they were dating as well. The news hit Jenny hard. But the foundation that God laid in Jenny’s life helped her step toward Andy rather than away from the marriage.
“God showed me over and over again that He was bigger than my hurt, or my desire to control Andy or my own selfishness,” said Jenny. “So I trusted that He was big enough to heal our marriage. After Andy’s confession, God truly transformed our relationship. The Lord was faithful and helped us forgive.”
Today, Andy and Jenny are leaders in re|engage at Watermark’s Fort Worth campus. They enjoy serving others and sharing the ups and downs of their marriage. “It’s a privilege to tell couples that our struggles did not break us,” said Andy. “After I confessed, I began to pursue Christ because Jenny was such a great example of how the Lord loves me through my sin. I can’t imagine loving her more. Today, I trust that God has a plan for our marriage and will use it for His purposes.”