“In 2012, events unfolded that would change our family’s direction for all eternity.
“Melinda and I had been married ten years, with two young daughters, and while I was living under the impression we had a great marriage, I was clueless to the fact that our inability to share struggles with one another was leading us down a dangerous path. Years of unspoken expectations, frustrations, disappointments, resentment, contempt, hurt, and anger erupted like a volcano sending us into a turbulent storm.
“My focus during the first ten years of our marriage was getting where I wanted us to be financially. It wasn’t about trying to create an intimate connection, leading Melinda spiritually, or loving her in the selfless way God wants us to love our spouse.
“Later that year, I received an unexpected phone call that informed me of Melinda’s infidelity. I had no idea what the future held for us, but I vividly remember just a few hours later, hugging Melinda, telling her that I was choosing to forgive her, and explaining that I would never leave her – regardless of the choices she had made.
“We tried to reconcile our marriage for the next six months in worldly ways, with no success at all. When Melinda pushed for separation in June 2013, I filed for divorce because I knew that, as we separated, she was returning to the affair.
“Just over one week later, I received a phone call from a good friend asking me why I didn't attend our high school reunion, and I just felt the Lord telling me to vulnerably share my circumstances with him. I told him about the difficulties in our marriage, and, without any judgment at all, he reminded me that our marriage was worth fighting for. Over the next five weeks, he encouraged me daily with scripture and other Christian resources. He selflessly entered into my mess and shared Christ with me at every turn.
“In response, I terminated the divorce proceedings and chose instead to honor God by committing never to stop fighting for my marriage. From that point on, I began seeking God with all my heart, and He was changing me from the inside out. After 38 years of doing life on my own, my heart was ready, and I surrendered my life to Christ in July 2013.
“God then opened my eyes to my own form of infidelity in our marriage through my focus on money and career instead of building a Christ-centered marriage with Melinda. Recognizing and confessing my own contributions to the downfall of our marriage, I would start each day by asking God to help me forgive Melinda for the choices she was making. This daily practice allowed God to fill me with His strength to endure and His strength to continue loving Melinda during a very long separation.
“I knew our marriage had no chance without Melinda surrendering to Christ first, so I tried to manipulate the situation by imposing my newfound faith on her. I tried to show her what life with Christ looked like. Repeatedly, I would try another approach in hopes that I, or someone else, would say the right words to bring her to Christ. Eventually, after multiple failed attempts to control, I recall the moment when I truly entrusted the outcome of our marriage to the Lord.
“Our marriage seemed to have reached its end 14 months later when Melinda decided to finally file for divorce. This decision resulted in us spending the better part of the next month going through several mediation sessions.
“In stepped God, and within that month, God started to really get a hold of Melinda’s heart. One morning, just before mediation and divorce were final, I received an email from Melinda telling me she was ready to piece our family back together.
“The very next day, after a 15-month separation, Melinda moved back home.
“For the first time ever, God was at the center of our marriage. It was a slow work of the Lord over those next several months to help us rebuild the trust we needed to restore emotional and spiritual intimacy with one another, but God gave each of us the patience we needed to do so. After we each surrendered our lives to Christ, we finally began to experience freedom from the chains that bound us individually, enabling our marriage to thrive as God designed.
“We were on the doorstep of divorce, and now I think of how much everything has changed. Every part of our life is different. Our family has experienced the Lord because of this. Our two daughters have seen forgiveness in living color right in front of them, a tangible example of Christ’s sacrifice for us. It’s incredible. We have a desire to share our story to help others realize that it’s never too late.”
You can read Melinda’s story in next week’s Watermark News.