I did not know God, or even believe in him, when the story I’m about to share began.
Greg and I were married in 1987. Within three years, we had a daughter and son. We were a happy couple, busy with friends, kids and our respective jobs.
After our 10th wedding anniversary, something started to change within me. Maybe it was because our kids didn’t require so much of my time and energy that I started to focus more on myself. There was a restlessness deep within me.
I had always played roles: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and career woman. All my life I had appeared, on the outside, very cheerful and secure. Inside, however, I felt sad and vulnerable. I thought that if I could only be more confident and physically attractive I would finally be happy.
Obsessed with perfection
What started as an attempt to become physically fit soon became a vortex of self-absorption. As I exercised incessantly I began to see results. Friends told me I was looking great. This only fueled the fire, causing me to devote more time to my obsessive pursuit of physical perfection.
My husband had always complimented me. However, I would refute his positive attention, replying with negative things about myself. Over time, he gave up telling me I was beautiful, because he knew I would not believe him.
I now craved the positive attention my husband used to shower upon me; but it seemed to me he didn’t notice, regardless of my attempts to get this across to him.
We remained respectful of one another, and functioned well in our family roles; but the spark had certainly gone out of our relationship. Days became purely routine and quite mundane. A deep loneliness was seeping into my heart.
I started to notice I was getting looks from other men, which I secretly relished. One man in particular began to pay a lot of attention to me. He was a married father of two beautiful little girls. Our children attended the same school. We would chat, as we dropped the kids off at school.
We started exchanging lingering glances; we spent extra time talking after the kids went into the building. I found myself looking forward to the mornings when I would walk the kids to school, knowing he would be doing the same.
I tried to tell myself he was “just a nice guy” and that he would make a nice friend. However, I found myself thinking about him more and more. After several months of these morning chats, I discovered the feelings were mutual. He invited me to go for a drink at a local pub that afternoon.
When I agreed, I crossed a line – from a harmless friendship, to something I would hide from my husband. In the pub, I hoped this man would say or do something that would turn me off – but that did not happen. I was addicted to him. Now my life split into two worlds. An affair began.
Within a month, I told my husband about the other man. I felt he would just have to understand and accept that I was in love and needed to move on. Of course, this didn’t happen!
He was incredulous and understandably devastated. Witnessing his pain, I felt like a monster. I resolved to end the affair.
However, matters of the heart are never easily resolved. Feelings can’t be switched on and off like a light bulb.
Six months later my husband accepted a job transfer. We moved and I tried to begin again to save my marriage and keep my family together. But sadly, my secret life had complete control over me. I even became numb to my children.
Realities of pain
There were more negative aspects to this life than I had expected. The realities of the pain we were causing our spouses and children became more apparent. We began to see our new life together was going to be anything but wonderful.
For two more years, multiple attempts to put an end to this relationship failed. When a personal crisis would arise in his life or mine, we would contact each other and the relationship would begin again. All the while we were both living double lives, trying our hardest to keep up the charade.
Then one day, my daughter suggested our family attend a service at Southside Church. One of her school friends had invited us. Greg and I were ‘unchurched’ folk – only setting foot in a church for our own wedding and for those of others, or for funerals. Mostly to please our girl, and because it was near Christmas, we decided to go.
As the four of us walked in, a feeling of warmth and love washed over me. I could see a real difference radiating out of the people there. They were smiling, hugging, laughing and some were even crying! I felt a true connection begin.
Next Sunday, to my surprise and horror, the husband and wife pastor team announced their topic of the day: adultery. I felt they all must know what was going on with me. How could this just be a coincidence?
God was missing
What began then was a conviction in my spirit – but not one telling me how horrible I was. Rather, I realized my love affair was not what God had planned for my life. I had never thought about it in these terms. That’s when I realized what was missing in my life: a personal relationship with God.
Knowing now that Jesus loved me regardless of my sin, I had the strength to put an end to the liaison. Without Christ, it would have been impossible to say goodbye to this person. I had tried on my own for two long years. This was the hardest thing I ever had to do; but I wanted to honour the Lord.
I remember the two sides of me, alone at home, battling out this choice inside as I knelt on my basement floor. I cried out to God, pleading with him to take away this desire to be with this other man – not knowing, at this point in my baby steps of a budding faith, if God was even listening.
I asked Jesus to forgive me. He was faithful and true – slowly, day by day, cleansing me from within.
Coming clean with my husband was extremely scary and difficult. I knew the very real possibility existed that, even though God had forgiven me, Greg might not be able to. I had been deceiving and hurting him for so long.
I knew that if we were to begin anew, there could be no more secrets that might one day pop out of the closet. I believe that when I confessed to my husband, he could truly see I was sincere from the deepest part of my soul. It was not easy for him to take a chance and trust me again. But I told him I would do whatever he required in order to rebuild this trust.
We worked together, keeping no secrets, and becoming closer together than ever before. Seeing that the change in me was real was making an impact on Greg, too. Over the next 10 months he studied the Bible, attended church with the kids and me, and eventually came to accept Christ himself.
We have attended marriage workshops and conferences together, learning more about how God has wired men and women so differently and how we can appreciate and understand those differences to make our marriage the best it can be. God has used us to help others with troubled marriages.
I have found a peace inside that I never had before. Yes, there have been challenges along the road; but I continually turn to the One who lifted me out of the mess I was in. He is always faithful to guide my steps. I would not trade the life he has given me for anything.
Michelle Adams and her family still attend Southside Church in Chilliwack. Her testimony is featured on the church’s website.