54. My Vow

54. My Vow

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

My Vow

I knew I needed God, and I needed Him now. Ashamed and broken, I got down on my knees and begged Him. “Help me, Lord,” I cried. “Forgive me, please forgive me, for my extramarital affair. For risking everything I loved. For pushing You out of my life.”

Slowly, a peace I’d never known washed over me, proving what we all have been promised — God forgave me.

But could Allen forgive me? Could I ever forgive myself?

I knew if I trusted God, my marriage would be saved. That evening, armed with a new sense of hope, I asked my husband if we would try to work out our marriage or would we separate. With conviction he said, “I made a commitment to this marriage. I’m not going anywhere. If you want to leave, go ahead, but I’m not giving up.”

I was stunned that he would want to stay, but told him I was willing to work it out as well. Then God’s grace was shown through Allen when he said to me, “You are a great person. You stand up for your beliefs, and there could be no better mother for our children than you. I guess I didn’t think you had any moral flaws. You made a mistake, and I forgive you.”

The tears I thought I’d used up raced down my cheeks. My heart began to open up, and I wrapped my arms around my husband. I told him I would work hard to earn back his trust.

Changes began. We both agreed we needed God to be a part of our family, so we found a church and attended weekly. With the help of my newly found faith, I adjusted my attitude and began focusing on my family and all the blessings in my life. I made sure Allen knew where I was at all times and when he could expect me home. I went out of my way to prove he could trust me. His attitude changed as well. He didn’t put in such long hours at work, and I could see he was really trying to get past this.

Even with all the positive changes, our relationship was still strained. The wound was still new and very deep. Life felt like a roller coaster. Everything would seem to be going along smoothly, and at any given time Allen would think about what I had done and all of the anger and hurt would surface. If the kids weren’t around, he would go into a verbal rampage for a few minutes, or else he would just ignore me. I also got tired of giving a detailed itinerary every time I left the house, but knew it needed to be done. The guilt continued to weigh on my heart as I tried to maintain a positive attitude.

After a few months of emotional highs and lows, I questioned whether or not I could deal with it anymore. I wanted Allen to just forget what had happened so we could move on. It was then God showed us how to stay on the correct path. There were brochures at church giving information about an upcoming Marriage Encounter weekend. I brought it home and showed it to Allen. We decided we needed to do all we could to make our marriage work, so we signed up for the weekend.

On Friday we drove into the beautiful Rocky Mountains to a small retreat center. With our hopes high and our hearts still aching, we entered the weekend eager to heal. The days included a few large group meetings where the volunteer couples modeled good communication skills and then gave us a topic to take to our rooms to discuss. Over the course of the weekend, Allen and I rehashed recent events and talked about the kids, money, forgiveness and our future. There were a lot of tears, hugs, smiles and closeness.

On Sunday afternoon, following a short, uplifting church service, all the couples were asked to stand in a circle and face their spouses. Allen and I did as we were told. We looked at each other and smiled, unsure of what was next. The minister announced, “Today you are going to relive a special moment in your lives. You are going to renew your wedding vows.” My heart skipped a beat. I wanted to do this, but was Allen ready? The men went first. My insides were shaking. Allen took my hands, lovingly smiled and with tear-filled eyes, he vowed he would “take me to be his lawful wedded wife, in sickness and in health... till death do us part.” My heart opened up, and I accepted him completely. Tears welled in my eyes. It was now my turn. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked at this man who I had put through so much pain. It was hard to believe he still loved me, but I knew at that moment that he did. I gripped his hands tighter and vowed with all my heart to love him for the rest of my life, in good times and bad.

We sealed the vows with a kiss, and I knew at that moment our life together would last. We left behind the crumpled pieces of a troubled marriage and rebuilt a stronger foundation — this time, with God in the center.

 

~Lyn MacKenzie
Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul 2

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