• Pushing Through to Finish the Race
    By Tracey Eyster I used to watch people running along roadways and think to myself, It must take a special kind of crazy for someone to run … on purpose … without being chased. I mean really, why would someone want to run? I certainly never would. Never say never. I used to hear about Christian couples who were getting a divorce and I’d think to myself, I could never imagine any of my Christian friends getting a divorce. Never say never. In the last few months these above declarations of “never” have come together to teach me a very valuable life lesson. The run I was curious to learn why someone would run. Then a friend said if I could walk, I could run. Well, my preferred form of outdoor activity has always been walking and hiking, so I thought I’d take her up on her challenge. I committed to train for five months to be a runner and run in a half-marathon (13.1 miles). At first the running was fun. The training started with brief runs and the mileage slowly began to increase. You’d be amazed at what the human body can do with the proper conditioning and practice. I had a weekly training schedule and I stuck to it. What came to mind on those long runs was, Push through—you can do it. No one said it would be easy, but when it gets tough you need to push through the physical and mental pain. There were times when I thought it would just be easier to stop, but I had made a commitment and I was determined to keep it. Race day arrived. After about six miles I thought I had lost my mind when I thought I would actually be able to finish the race. I questioned my commitment, and thought, Who would blame me if I quit? But I recognized that I had to make it. I had trained, my body was ready, and I was committed. I had to push through. I finished the race, and the feeling of crossing the finish line was amazing. It was a true personal victory for me. Pushing through in marriage I’ve always thought committed Christian couples understood the importance of staying married. They know about covenant relationship and recognize God’s design for marriage. They are committed to staying together through the good and the bad for the glory of God. In the last town where I lived, I was part of a Bible study group for a few years. The seven couples in the group were from different churches, but each couple was committed to each other and to their faith. We met together regularly to study the Bible and better ourselves as believers and spouses. We also did fun things together, had graduation and birthday parties together, and planned weddings together. But most of all we were in training together—biblical life training. And we took our training seriously. Imagine my surprise when I heard that one of the couples from the Bible Study group was getting a divorce. Just like that, the wife walked out one day. Why? They argued, it was hard, she felt her needs weren’t being met, they grew apart. Most couples could pick a reason, dwell on it and conjure up enough reason to quit. Does the reason really matter? Not if they are committed, not if they understand the need to take their covenant seriously. This couple has two children and a legacy to think about as well. What would it do to their children if they just quit? What about all the training, what about pushing through? I thought. What happened to persevering, working through the problems and the pain? They can’t give up just because it’s hard—they know what to do. God expects them to push through, honor their commitment, and allow the experience to make them more Christlike. My heart aches, I grieve … they quit, before the victory of the finish line. Running the race of marriage is God’s tool to improve us as individuals. He binds us together as a couple and uses our spouse to hold up a mirror and reveal our true selves. Then, through love and commitment, we recognize how much we need Christ in our lives and we spur one another on to finish the race and love each other unconditionally … forever.
    You can read more by Tracey Lanter in FamilyLife's blog, MomLife Today. This article originally appeared in the March 30, 2009 issue of Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter. To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here. For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.
  • Nancy Anderson, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, p. 52
    “When our marriage fell apart, it happened through my taking one little step at a time. I made tiny choices that all added up to two huge choices. I had to choose between my husband and my boyfriend, and I had to choose between God’s will and my own. Be warned that each emotional step you take will either be toward your spouse or away from him or her. Choose wisely.”
  • Nancy Anderson, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, p. 88‐89
    “If you feel an attraction to someone in your office, consider a transfer to a different department, a different position, or maybe you should quit. No job is more valuable than your marriage.”
  • Nancy Anderson, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, p. 88
    “Affairs begin in many ways and for many reasons, so we must always be on guard for the slightest hint of temptation. Because hints turn into flirtations, flirtations turn into attractions, attractions turn into affairs, and affairs turn into disasters. First Corinthians 10:13 says that God will always provide a way of escape, but we have to make a decision to run toward the door.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 121
    “If you are going to live together in harmony in the future, you need to live together differently. It’s time to start over. … The most sacred aspects of this marriage have already been violated. Now you both have to begin to rebuild.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 106
    “In most cases it will take the spouse as long to recover as it took the infidel to get into and out of the affair.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 89
    “The infidelity itself changes the way members of the family relate to each other; they begin to keep secrets from each other or develop unbalanced relationships … Overall, with affairs, no one in the family is left untouched—that’s how devastating the breaking of the marriage vow is.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 151
    “The initial revelation of the affair produces a crisis experience. The natural response—indeed the healthy response—is anger. There are both positive and negative aspects of this anger.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 261
    “Because an affair produces so much turmoil, it is difficult to spell out an ideal process that works for every family. The bottom line is that you are trying to make the best decision in a very bad situation. … It’s easy for the well‐intentioned but emotionally uninvolved people around you to provide simplistic answers. There is no perfect solution to every lousy situation.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 204
    “As you and your mate restructure the intimacy in your marriage, realize that it’s going to be two‐steps‐forward, one‐step‐backward progress. … It won’t happen overnight; in an ultimate sense you’ll never be completely over the affair. Trauma always changes people, and it should.”
  • Nancy Anderson, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, p. 120
    “Hedges will protect your marriage from the intrusion of external temptations as well as provide internal support structures, keeping the bad things out and the good things in. ‘A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it’ (Mark 12:1).”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 120
    “At discovery, the spouse’s emotions are usually intense. The anger, hurt, bewilderment, betrayal, and numbing shock are almost overwhelming. … If denied, that anger goes underground and eats away at the innermost spirit of the person. It is very important for the violated spouse to be free to express the rage that he or she feels.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 115
    “It’s a lot easier to trash the marriage and for both parties to flee the difficulty of reconstructing the relationship. Yet to divorce now means that you only take all this unfinished business with you. It will require you to work on this by yourself. Should you refuse and try to bury it, it will contaminate all future relationships you might develop.”
  • Dan Allender and Tremper Longman, Bold Love, p. 279
    “Adultery or any form of sexual immorality should be viewed as a serious breaking of the covenant of marriage … Few adulterers want to do much more than patch a leaky boat … He should be under the careful and passionate eyes of a mature group of believers and a therapist.”
  • Dave Carder, Torn Asunder, p. 76
    “In marriages that have suffered an affair, it is critical during the recovery process for both partners to develop close, same‐sex relationships to supplement the marriage relationship. Those outside relationships can provide much of the nurturance, empathy, mutual support, and affirmation that both individuals need.”
  • Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Staying Close, p. 81
    “Emotional adultery is unfaithfulness of the heart. It starts when two people of the opposite sex begin talking with each other about intimate struggles, doubts, or feelings. They start sharing their souls in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship. Emotional adultery is friendship with the opposite sex that goes too far.”
  • Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Wife, p. 75
    “I know several couples who experienced adultery in their marriages, but because in each case there was a wife who was willing to pray and a husband open to allowing God to change and restore him, the marriages are still intact and successful today.  Only prayer, a submitted heart, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can work those kinds of miracles.”
  • Esteem your mentee for coming to you admitting their sin and seeking help
  • Encourage your mentee to get involved in a local, bible‐believing church for spiritual growth and accountability
  • Encourage them with Scriptures of hope and help, with God’s forgiveness and God’s plan
  • Let them know that while not every marriage that experiences adultery survives, many do. If appropriate, encourage them with examples you are personally aware of where a marriage has been restored.
  • Let them know that restoration of a marriage following an adulterous relationship is hard work, but there are steps they can take to move in that direction
  • Let them know that it is normal for the offended spouse to take a very long time to heal, so to be patient as this process may take much longer than they are anticipating
  • Assure them that you care about them and plan to be with them to find solutions together
  • Encourage them to be completely open with their spouse regarding their schedule, who they meet with, where they go, who they email or text, etc. They will need to prove themselves trustworthy over time.
  • Encourage them to consider attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway
  • Encourage them to find a same‐sex accountability partner who will regularly challenge them in the area of sexual purity
  • Encourage them to invite God into their relationship with their spouse by praying together daily
  • Encourage them to read appropriate online articles and discuss these with you as the mentor
  • Encourage them to take the initiative to be understanding of their spouse and the hurt they have caused
  • Encourage them to continue to seek biblical counsel to guide them in restoring the marriage
  • Remind them of the vows of faithfulness they made to their spouse
  • Remind them that the goal is not just to speak the right words of regret but to show commitment from the heart
  • Encourage them to guard their heart and to set safeguards against temptation from sexual sin in the future