Oh the tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Sir Walter Scott
I’ve struggled for days with how to write this piece – not because I don’t know what to say about the topic, but because I do. In fact, I know this topic like the back of my hand. I’ve lived it, breathed it, and now I’m sharing it in the hopes that it will touch someone’s heart, save someone from doing irreparable damage to themselves or their marriage, and offer hope to those who have crossed the line into secret affairs of the heart.
But first, I’ll share this with you:
Our marriage was on the road to divorce. It played the World Wide Web escapade and dealt in secrecy, lies, affairs, and a lot of heartbreak. There were hidden social accounts, hidden email accounts, hidden relationships, and hidden affairs.
But that was only part of our story.
We were both wounded warriors in this battle of life. Very. Wounded. Warriors. In fact, you might call us…
While we can both say we “loved” the other, we each had our own agenda in life and it had nothing to do with honoring and really loving the other person “til death do us part.” Instead, it was about the “me” we each had developed into a selfish beast of sorts.
Technology made it easy to communicate with people of the opposite sex – that’s no big secret to anyone. It also made it easy to flirt, private message, email, and text people without too high of a risk of being caught in the act. Our modern day “advances” enabled opportunities to “meet” someone on the sly. Let’s be honest here…when you’re already in that dark gray area, you learn how to cover your tracks. You also learn how to live in a constant state of fear, knowing that one day the gig will be up…
Our relationship also had a lot of disagreements…and anger from competing with the internet and chirps on the phone. It had an insecurity of never being good enough – for anyone or anything. So the only thing the two dynamite sticks called “us” needed was a match and the explosions would happen (and boy did they).
But perhaps our marriage was the only one like that.
When it all came to a head and the truth was finally out in all of its painful ugliness, we were both oddly relieved. In fact, it’s so strange that the only way I can explain it is we were finally forced into being real with each other. Our real past came out. Our real insecurities. Our real needs and our real hopes. The real us that we had spent decades trying to nurse by looking for love in all the wrong places – or running away from it altogether – finally cornered us and we were alone with our true selves…
And with a mighty God who knew who and what we were all along – and still loved and pursued us.
But the things we’ve learned from all of the pain and ugliness of what was hidden in the tangled webs of each of our lives, was that we were broken humans desperate to be loved. And while that doesn’t make what either of us did right in any way, it does explain why we committed such sin against God and each other. It also created the opportunity to be really honest with God on how much we really need him on a daily basis in our lives and in our marriage.
Looking back, maybe we’re not the only ones who desperately need him in our lives and in our marriage…
With that, we have a few suggestions on what to do if you are by some odd chance tangled in a similar web of deceit, affairs, anger, and confusion:
- Openly communicate with your spouse
- Be a “safe” person for your spouse to expose himself/herself to
- Find a really good counselor who is also a Christian
- Have clearly defined expectations and boundaries for your marriage
- Listen twice as much as you talk – there’s a reason God gave you two ears and one mouth.
- Forgive (no, this isn’t an if he/she changes type of thing)
- Share all of your logins and passwords with your spouse
- Tell your spouse when someone has crossed a boundary with you either on the web or in person
- Share access to your cell phones with each other
- Don’t be afraid to “unfriend” or block someone who has crossed a line with you (as defined by you and your spouse).
There are two sides to every story. It doesn’t mean both are sort of right or sort of wrong. But you need to see the picture in “God view” to understand both sides. You’ll be amazed what you really see when you ask God to reveal what he sees.
No one falls into an affair. It’s not a hole in the ground and it’s not an accident. It’s a progression of something small being allowed to grow, be responded to, and within a short amount of time it can lead to the destruction of a marriage. You can protect yourself and your marriage.
Above all, remember: Our God is a big God. It’s never too late for healing to begin and it’s never too soon to change hurtful behaviors to healthy ones.