Alan and Deidra Maner experienced heartbreak and pain from sin during singleness that carried into their marriage. Read about how when they learned biblical truth and surrendered their lives to Christ, they ultimately found freedom from sin, new identities, and restoration in their marriage.
Alan: “I heard the truth of Jesus and accepted Christ through Young Life in college. I became passionate about God’s Word, but the appeals of the world quickly distracted me. I thought that God was withholding good from me, and within a year, I viewed myself as my own god and found my worth through the attention of women. Relationships were frequent, transactional, and inappropriate. I didn’t know at the time, but my history of viewing pornography from a young age combined with the wrong view of God’s design for sexuality would lead to years of destructive patterns.”
Deidra: “I was a good kid and student, but on the inside, I simply wanted to be accepted. As I got older, I found my identity in relationships and relied on alcohol to make me likeable. I clung to men who left me brokenhearted and then would cope with another relationship. This left me feeling tired, empty, and disappointed, ready to give up on relationships altogether. Then, I met Alan.”
A: “Early in my dating relationship with Deidra, I broke her trust as I began a history of unfaithfulness with other women. As our dating continued, I began to learn how enslaved I was to sin. There was very little emotional intimacy, and spiritual intimacy was nonexistent. I was angry at my own brokenness, lack of joy, and inability to stop my sin, and that poison overflowed towards Deidra. Our conflict was extremely unhealthy and verbal abuse between us was common.”
D: “We continued dating, and after college graduation, we moved to Texas. Despite distrust, constant volatility, and profound doubts, we decided to get married. Not long after the wedding ended, public fights and divorce threats began. I would fake peace between us by shouldering blame and burying hurt because I feared Alan would leave me.”
A: “In late 2008, the truth of the grace and redemption of Jesus and my desperate need for it came crashing back in on a train ride during a business trip. I realized the foundation of my life and marriage was built on ‘sand.’ I knew I needed to surrender, orient everything in my life around Christ, and let God rebuild. God slowly gave me power over my struggles and then stripped them away. First infidelity, then pornography. Anger shifted towards gentleness. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 illustrates, the old me was gone, and I thought my past could be considered ‘gone,’ too.
“But there was a battle in my heart. God revealed through Scripture that I needed to confess my sins to truly bring healing and oneness between us and relationships with Him. But I didn’t want to voluntarily destroy our marriage that was being repaired.
“In 2015, God finally gave me the courage to confess my past unfaithfulness and sexual sin to Deidra. I couldn’t have – and probably wouldn’t have – done this without the biblical community that God surrounded us with. The aftermath was traumatic for us both, and I was heartbroken to see my wife suffer from the pain my sin caused. God desires so much more for His children and their marriages than what we had - an intimacy that wasn’t the full beauty of what He promised. It was worth every tearful moment as He was faithful to keep those promises.”
D: “Instead of displaying love, kindness, and forgiveness in response to Alan’s confession, I tried to make him feel bad for his actions. I realized I was putting my hope in circumstances and letting my experiences be my anchor instead of Christ. I knew I needed to forgive, but I didn’t want to. As God softened my heart, I recognized the sin in my own life that I kept avoiding. I then confessed to Alan my own unfaithfulness in our early dating relationship. I truly felt like this obedient act of confession brought me closer to God as I recognized my need for a savior. I was sure Alan would leave me, but he met me with forgiveness and love.
“Christ has shown me that to remain unforgiving means I do not understand that I also have a deep need for Jesus and forgiveness myself. Living for my flesh and for this world has brought pain, misery, and destruction, but living for Christ brings pure joy. I never knew marriage could be this way, but with God, it is absolutely possible and truly amazing.”
A: “God has radically redefined me. I was addicted, angry, controlling, deceitful, and unforgiving. But that is not who I am anymore. As I abide closely with Christ, He allows His Word to be the lens through which I evaluate the world, my marriage, and all of my decisions. The love and desire I have for my wife now is something I never thought possible. Our marriage is sweet and a source of joy that is continually growing alongside a faithful community group who spurs us on.”