When one partner in a marriage commits adultery, finding healing may seem impossible, especially if the affair results in a pregnancy and the baby’s biological father is of a different race.
But Audrey and Bob Meisner, co-hosts of the Winnipeg-based Christian program “It’s a New Day,” told a conference at Saint Paul University recently the public fall from grace was difficult and painful, but God not only healed their marriage but also gave them a deeper experience of Christ’s love.
“Today is your day of breakthrough,” he told the multi-racial gathering of more than 50 couples from evangelical, Catholic, French, and English backgrounds at Covenant Marriage Conference sponsored by Denver-based Family Foundations International June 7-9. “Today is your tipping point. God desires to fix the things in your life that seem unfixable.”
Though Bob chose to forgive his wife and raise the mixed-race child as his own son, Audrey said she felt the judgment of those around her as if people taking Sharpie markers and painting an “X” over her. Their public role in Christian ministry made the failure even worse.
Repentance comes in layers, as does forgiveness, they discovered. Healing of the heart is a journey they experienced together.
Audrey was afraid of punishment, shame, and ridicule when she first told Bob about the adultery. “I went into performance. I would do everything perfectly to show how sorry I was. That performance was rooted in fear.”
Bob also went into performance mode, putting up barriers around his feelings and trying to control things while dealing with the devastating new reality. He said performance is necessary for a season so couples do not hurt each other further and show they prefer each other by modifying their behaviour. But no one can permanently live like that.
“It gets very tiring having to obey the letter of the law,” he said. “We want to enjoy the benefits of the marriage rather than keep each other on the straight and narrow.”
We gravitate to pleasure, Audrey said. “I didn’t want to behave for Bob. I wanted to desire Bob.” But she found herself thinking of the other man because she entertained the wrongful belief that her adulterous relationship had been pleasurable.
“The Bible makes it clear that sin is pain,” she said, noting the massive pain her adultery brought her husband, children, family, and community.
“If I have a new belief in my heart and convince myself sin equals pain, I will avoid sin,” she said. “Instead of trying so hard not to want it, why not convince your heart it is painful.”
Bob admitted he had issues of forgiveness to work through and he plunged into depression. The dysfunction in their marriage went on for two years after the adultery.
Find out how they found freedom and healing in Christ and read the rest.