My name is Kacie, and I had an affair. I already wrote an article about it (I’m Ready to Talk About My Affair), but I really want to talk about what happens after the confession.
Affairs seem to be everywhere. Most end similarly—the marriage gets worse or ends. But that’s not my story, and it has often baffled me.
Even five years later, there are days when fear creeps in. I think my husband’s going to take it back and leave me. This especially happens when we are watching a show with an affair in it (on a side note, it seems like in every movie and TV show someone is having an affair). The fear is irrational because I know with a 100% certainty my husband is not leaving me. He has forgiven me. But real forgiveness is so rare, it’s honestly hard to comprehend.
So I asked him if he would be willing to share why he forgave me so fully with no questions asked. So ladies and gentlemen, here is my husband, Doug.
Doug: Hello everyone. I thought this was going to be my beautiful, extremely talented wife writing this, maybe asking me questions here and there, but alas, you get me. I will try not to disappoint.
The question is: How can I just forgive my wife for an affair and genuinely not hold it against her?
Doug: To understand, you have to know my story.
I grew up with two older sisters, so I thought girls were icky. The pursuit of girls did not dominate my life. I know, not typical of a young, virile boy.
But then I found alcohol, and we started a glorious love affair. It convinced me that I needed to try to have sex with lots of women. And so, like a dutiful soldier, I set off on a mission to sleep with as many women as I could.
Kacie: Umm, excuse me? What do you mean you were on a mission to sleep with as many women as you could? You told me you slept with four women, including me? Four women! For 17 years, this is what I believed. Man, you think you know someone (said with sarcasm).
D: I didn’t say I was very good at it. My friends referred to my efforts as “the caveman style.” It wasn’t that effective.
In college, I found a girl that I liked, and she liked me too. I even asked her to marry me, and she said yes. At this time, I was in the Marine Corps, and even though I was engaged, I still continued with my mission of trying to sleep with as many girls as possible. In fact, one time while I was still engaged, I took my girlfriend to the airport so she could fly home and then walked three gates down the terminal to wait for my fiancee’s plane to arrive 10 minutes later. I was not the best person.
K: Wait a minute, Doug. I knew about the fiancee but not about the girlfriend while engaged. What the heck? Who are you??
D: So yeah, like I said, I wasn’t the best person. And if one of them is reading this, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Turns out we weren’t meant to be. My fiancee dumped me while I was on the other side of the world.
K: This is my shocked face.
D: I didn’t believe that God existed and would fight anyone that tried to say otherwise. Did I mention that I was in the Marine Corps? Well, guess what you learn in the Marine Corps? That’s right, folks, you learn how to fight. And I was pretty good at it. One time in the Marines, I came across someone standing on a street corner, trying his best to spread the word of God, and because I didn’t want him telling me about a God that didn’t exist, I beat him up to shut him up.
When I got out of the Marines, I tried office work for about six months, but I was definitely not cut out for it. I figured being a police officer was as close to the military as you could get in the civilian world, so that’s what I did. After a few years on the force, we hired this young guy who was a Bible-thumping Christian. Since fighting wasn’t an option, I would debate with him about the non-existence of God.
I started reading the Bible to be able to use it against him, to point out contradictions and other books that refuted Biblical statements. But my plan backfired on me. I started actually understanding what God was saying. I began to believe.
Kacie and I had been married for a little over five years, and we just had our second child. Our marriage was going downhill fast, and we were talking about divorce. One night before I went into work, I was feeling extremely alone and angry. I just felt like the whole world was crashing in on me. I knew that I could go into work and talk to the Bible-thumper, who had become my friend. I got into work, said hello to him, and then he turned and started walking away. Something caused me to go after him. I grabbed him by the shoulder, he turned around, and what he said floored me.
He said, “Is it time?”
I was stunned, like being tazed. He said it again, and sobbing, I said yes.
That night, in the basement of our police department, Jesus ripped me out of the pit I had dug for myself. I clearly saw how broken things were in my life, how broken I was, and for the first time, I heard God talk back. He said, “I forgive you!”
“What? How? Jesus, I have done terrible things. I don’t deserve to be forgiven, I haven’t earned Your forgiveness. How can You forgive me?”
K: I have to break in right here because that was the same response I gave to Doug. How can you forgive me? Interesting that it was both of our responses to God’s forgiveness—not embracing the gift God gave, but questioning and even being skeptical. OK, back to Doug for the answer.
D: That night, my friend helped me to understand a concept so illogical, that it’s easy to see why most people totally miss it. He taught me about grace.
I learned that grace cannot be earned. It can only be given, and Jesus said, “I give it freely to you.”
The Bible is full of references to grace that struck me in permanent and amazing ways. In Romans 3, it says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
But then in Romans 5:8, we are told, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
For the first time, I realized the power of admitting how messed up I was. Even better—I understood the bigger message was that it didn’t matter. My mistakes were no match for God’s grace. It was clear that there was no way to help myself, but He was offering a way out anyway. Accepting forgiveness felt like being rescued.
Romans 4:7 says “How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!” I took Jesus’ gift with all my heart, and I thank him every day.
And He didn’t stop there. God began to make me into someone new.
Colossians 3:12-14 sums it up and just happens to be my favorite Bible passage.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you” hit me like a shotgun slug straight to my soul. It is not some pie-in-the-sky, feel-good thing. It is a commandment from Jesus! If we claim to follow Jesus, then we must obey his commands. But ultimately I don’t think it was the “command” that made me able to do it. Once I actually experienced His forgiveness and felt grace personally, it changed me. We don’t forgive out of obligation, we can give it away when we’ve freely received.
You see, if Jesus can forgive me after everything that I have done, who am I to think that I have more right than Jesus to hold judgment against someone for wronging me? The answer is that I have no right because of His forgiveness. So when Kacie came to me and confessed, it felt that simple. I forgave my wife because I have been forgiven, I’m commanded to forgive her, and I love her with all my heart.
K: I love you too, babe.
In the five years since my confession, Doug has never brought it up, accused me, or held the affair against me. Our marriage grew stronger that night, but not because of anything we did. It was because of what God did in our lives. So, babe, how is our marriage after an affair?
What strikes you most about Kacie and Doug’s story?
What is your reaction to forgiveness? Do you feel like you’ve ever been truly forgiven or been able to truly forgive? Talk about it. Why or why not?
Think about an area in life you feel shame and can’t receive grace. Or think about an area you feel bitterness because forgiveness just seems out of the question. Whether you’ve ever talked to God before or not, try praying for a minute. Just ask Him: What am I missing? What do you want me to hear? Then write down whatever comes to mind. No editing or questioning if you’re hearing right. Just write it down.
The Bible talks about marriage as a picture of our relationship with God which means forgiveness is a core part of the puzzle. If you’re married, what would it look like to experience this type of grace for one another?
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