Welcome back to our “Confessions of a Marriage Blogger” series. Thanks to all of those who visited last weeks blog, Part 4 “Sex is not what we thought it was” and shared it. It’s become the highest hit post in the past-year-plus of blogging on marriage.
Now back to breaking up the “Ken and Barbie” facade…
Part 5 – I had a mistress
I didn’t see it happening. I should have but I was blind. She was there from the beginning and I was caught in her seduction. Examples of other pastors I’ve known were there to warn me. But her venomous kiss pulled me away.
I’m glad to say I’m a changed man. I want to say that I’ve left that person behind. Life is in nowhere near the way it used to be. But…
…I still see her around. She’s not afraid. She lures relentlessly. She wants to re-spark the passion of our previous relationship.
But I can’t go back there again.
I had a mistress. And her name was “Work”.
My previous affair may not seem like a big deal. To those who are married to the “work-a-holic”, you’ve been living through the torture of watching your marriage slowly decay as you yearn for the same attention your spouse shows his/her job. Every phone call answered, email responded, and text replied, you find yourself wishing that careful detailed attention was placed toward you. When the smart phone goes off, his/her world stops.
Remember when he/she did that for you once? It seems like an eternity doesn’t it.
It was a rough beginning for Anne and I. It all came to a head on April 3, 1999. Why do I remember that day? It was Anne’s birthday and I refused to take the day off. To be honest, I was refusing to take ANY day off. We were married 11 months and she was 4 months pregnant. She was screaming at me. I was screaming back. I picked up the living room chair with every intention of putting it through the wall. Then, like lightning striking my brain, the pieces of my fractured mind and heart suddenly came together.
How does an 11 month marriage come to this?
We spent the first year of ministry engaged. This was our second year into being youth pastors. My day off was Saturday, but with youth activities and anything else that needed to be done in the church, I wasn’t requesting any other day off as a supplement. All of the attention Anne needed was devoted to my “work”, my ministry. I was doing this for the Lord (so I told myself). Even worse, if she had an issue with me, I could turn it around and make it sound like it was her fault. It was my defense to prevent me from having to deal with, well, ME.
A few weeks later, I was at a state-wide minister’s conference where I heard a pastor pray these words:
“Lord, forgive us for making our ministry our mistress.”
I was broken. I felt humbled and embarrassed. I felt worthless.
I was so ashamed that I had the title of “pastor” in front of my name. How could I lead ministry when I can’t even lead a healthy home. It was a tough time. It’s for this reason that I’ve always embraced 2 Corinthians 5:17-18,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…”
As dramatic as the beginning of the blog starts off, it’s the sad story of so many marriages.
Your mistress can take on a number of forms:
There are too many people who have crippled their marriage by devoting themselves to any one of these lovers. Whatever the form, when you devote your time, money, attention/affection to something and/or someone to the neglect of your spouse, congrats, you are in an affair. The love and focus he/she needs is diverted to something or someone else. I’ve heard all of the excuses. “That’s my job…I have to put food on the table.” Listen, I understand sacrifice and I understand strained schedules. I also know that, to Anne, having a husband was far more important than having a nice house.
Notice: nothing on the list is in, and of itself, sinful. They can be very good things. But like anything, they all have the potential to be the center of your life. And once they are the center, they want to rule your life. Even when you step away, they will show their face around to tease and tempt you back into the bondage of the previous relationship you had with them.
Here’s a few thoughts:
1 – Call out your affair and call out to Christ. James 5:16 says “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Your spouse already knows about the inappropriate relationship. He/she may have already brought it up. Confess and call out to Jesus and receive forgiveness. As Christ becomes central, He gives the strength, peace, and joy to tackle the rest. Confess the “affair” to your spouse and ask for forgiveness. Be willing to walk humbly with your spouse as forgiveness is offered and trust is rebuilt. And lastly, as someone with experience, be ready to forgive yourself. As confession pours out, it paves the way for healing.
2 – Be willing to lay stuff aside. Hebrews 12:1b-2 has been a huge encouragement to me: “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” I lay aside anything that is a “weight”. It could be sin. If it is, shed that crap and move on. But it also could be good things. It could be something wonderful and very “spiritual”. (Believe me, I put pastoral ministry ahead of Anne.) But if it takes the place of your God AND your spouse, it now becomes a “weight” that needs to be shed and laid aside. Lay it down, grab your spouse’s hand, and “run with endurance the race set before” the two of you.
As dramatic as I’ve made all of this sound, for those that are married to someone who is married to their work/hobby/money/etc, it’s a miserable empty life to live. When you are the only one working in a marriage, it’s never fulfilling because the two became one to work as one. It didn’t become one so that one could do the work of two.
Walk in love with Jesus
Walk in love with your spouse.
Walk away from EVERYTHING that wants to replace either.
And enjoy an affair-free marriage.
Thanks for letting me ramble…