Phoebe, how did your restoration actually begin?
We married very young; I was 18 years old, and my husband 20. We had absolutely nothing that had been bought with our own money--all furniture and household appliances were a wedding gift. We also lived rent-free, we had no vehicles and at the time we each made very little at our jobs. At the beginning of the marriage, we both went to college and worked hard. We hardly saw each other, because I studied in the morning and worked in the afternoon, and he worked all day and studied at night.
Time was passing, and this situation was never solved. We had a huge problem, and that was simply the lack of time to dedicate to each other and our marriage. With lack of time, it was as if we were two complete strangers, living in different worlds, who shared expenses and slept sporadically together, sharing the same house.
Our financial situation had been improving, once we both finished college, and we each found better jobs. My husband started working at a multinational company in the evening, so there were many, many nights we were sleeping alone, and the problems were never solved but increased. We had sexual problems because I could not fully relate to him because I felt a lot of pain and discomfort in the relationship. As I've always been very shy, I've never been able to seek the help of a specialist who could guide me (in the end this proved to be a blessing). Problems with a lack of understanding each other have always existed because we didn't talk; we argued, which soon led to a shouting match. I was impulsive. I would blurt out whatever came into my mind, not caring about the weight of my words, and he would just shut down, not say a word, and he would never show any reaction to what I said. We were drifting further and further apart. I confess that I was a cold, distant, terrible housewife, not a real woman--a woman after God's own heart. To make matters worse, I was always very active in the church, involved in a lot of things and therefore always out. This was also the cause of many quarrels, and the quarrels between us escalated.
We managed to buy our house and our first car. At that time, I worked two jobs, and he worked from early morning to late at night, without a break. We both worked hard, living this routine for two years, but working so much meant that I did not have time to take care of the house nor dedicate any meaningful time to my marriage. Because I always arrived home tired and sleepy, I just could not do anything. By this time, we had been married for 10 years. My husband always dreamed of having children, but our dream was always delayed due to our financial situation or because of college or work. That was also a problem for us.
With everything stacked against us, it's no surprise that he ran into a college classmate and started a relationship with her.
I realized almost instantly that something was wrong. He changed. He was distant, not looking into my eyes when he spoke. We continued to fight over just about everything, no matter how small, and somehow he always mentioned the subject of the Divorce with me. All our conversations ended with him suggesting a Divorce. He became cold, and his sexual interest changed as well. He stopped attending church and would often go out with a new "friend," and I was left alone at home. On social media, he would post pictures of places he went with people, people I didn't even know. It was as if he had created a new world for himself, and I did not belong in this new world. None of his new friends knew I existed. I'm guessing the women knew he was married; I’ve no doubt that the other women, OW, knew.
At my work, I have a friend who is also a Christian, so I explained my situation to her, and she agreed to pray, and, if there was anything I need to know, we agreed God would reveal it to us. Less than a fortnight later, on my lunch break, my husband called me and told me everything. He was going out with a woman; he said he liked her so much and he wanted to know if we could get a Divorce, so he could move on with his life.
I discovered who it was at the same time because I had access to the phone bills (big mistake). When I began to snoop, I found countless calls to one particular number. I trusted him so much that I had never, ever checked the accounts. "Love believes all things," but at the time I just felt foolish. Apparently, my husband did nothing but talk to OW day and night. It was terrible to discover this, but things were about to get even worse. We tried a reconciliation that lasted no more than a week, and at no time did he ask me for forgiveness, so I remained bitter and angry, unwilling to forgive. So God decided to break me. My husband told me that the OW was pregnant, so it was important, and he was determined to get a divorce.
No one told me about the protection God gives us as wives when we bear children. I didn't learn that until I read "Fruit of the Womb" in A Wise Woman course. Had I known what was in my future, I would have thrown away my contraception and welcomed a child into our lives.
That day my world ended--it was as if someone else was living my life, my dreams, my plans, my future. It destroyed me as a woman. I lost 30 pounds in just two months. I only got the strength to go to work and nothing else. My husband never did leave the house, which I thought was worse—until I read later how God had given me the advantage few women are blessed to have. I confess though, it was difficult having him there flaunting his infidelity.
As he worked the night shift, he stayed in the house during the day, and when I arrived, he had already left, so we saw very little of each other. I never told him to leave home. On the contrary, I kept washing his clothes and organizing everything. I suffered a lot, mostly because very few people knew about my situation. He did not want anything to do with our marriage anymore.
It all changed on a Saturday night that I will never forget. I was desperate, and I prayed and pleaded with God for an answer; I did not know what to do. That's when I turned on my computer, and God directed me to the book (and course) How God Can and Will Restore Your Marriage. I downloaded the book and began to read it that same night. What most caught my attention in the book, which I marked, was the verse "Be still and know that I am God." When I read this verse, it was as if God Himself was saying to me, "Stop crying. I'm God. Trust Me. There is nothing impossible for me.” Reading that first chapter, it was as if a light, a thread of hope, sprang into my heart for the first time in weeks, months, maybe even years.
How did God change your situation, Phoebe, as you sought Him wholeheartedly?
In the first chapter of the book where Erin exposes more practical situations, I realized that I was doing everything contrary to what I should. At that moment, I stopped calling, texting, begging and forcing him to talk to me. I stopped everything I was doing to try to get his attention, for then I knew it was God's attention I needed and He’s what mattered. I kept reading the book, doing the course, and God began to show me how I was the only one to blame for our entire situation.
That’s when my healing process began. I realized that I was Contentious, cold, distant, that I had never been a real woman, that I was the most foolish of all fools. I destroyed my house with my own hands. I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about what God wanted from me as a woman, much less what God expects from me as a wife. I've always been in favor of divorce. I even told my husband that many times. Let's be honest with each other—nobody wants to live with someone you're forced to live with. I always said I would never forgive betrayal, my husband cheating, and that this would mean an immediate divorce, no second chances. I believe that was the first miracle of God in my life; it was the root within me when I read the truth that He "hates divorce" and in no way, including adultery, would He agree to us just wanting out of what He put together.
It was exciting to watch just how much God was transforming me, cleansing and healing my heart, taking care of me. I searched for Him day and night. I meditated on His Word all the time, day and night. It was God who kept me upright. It was with Him that I slept, with Him I awoke. It was from Him that I had a reason to want to live another day and eventually do so with such excitement that I've never experienced before. It was amazing how He always took care of me, with so much patience. Every day a new wound would cut open and bleed, and He would come along with all the love that only He has for me and brings healing so deep and perfect.
Even though I hadn't lost everything, just my husband, and I still had my car, my house, a good job, nice clothes, enough food, none of it meant anything to me. The only thing that mattered was the Lord and nothing else. I looked for Him as never before. These were long periods of fasting and just sitting quietly with Him, and each day I approached the Lord more, as He transformed me into His bride. It was so beautiful, as I lived moments of intimacy with my Heavenly Husband--which happened within just a few months—nothing close to how I had lived for more than 16 years during my walk as a Christian. I discovered how much our hearts are so far from our First Love. How we live just like the world because we are ignorant about how He teaches us in His Word to live. I’d listened to countless sermons, attended Bible studies and paid for retreats, but I never touched upon anything close to how I was living with Him as His bride.
Meanwhile, God was touching my husband's heart. The more I searched for my HH, the more my husband began approaching me. Gone was the contentious women; I never quarreled with him, never argued once, simply said nothing or gave a gentle answer. I kept up with my duties in the house, as if nothing was happening, and did so better than ever. I got the workers@home ebook and worked through it. In his days off from work and on Saturdays and Sundays, he was always with OW, even though he had not left home. Yet, instead of feeling hurt, I was excited to have this time with my Beloved.
Since all this began, we have maintained intimacy. At first, I did not know if I was doing this part right or not, but God revealed to me that I was not in sin to maintain intimacy with my husband, because we were still legally married. In fact, after all this started, we were more intimate than before. I did not understand it; it made no sense at first because a man with a lover shouldn't have so much interest in his wife after so many years. Yet, I realized this was a spiritual battle, so none of it would make sense. We had intimacy practically every day, and this certainly helped a lot in our restoration, as did, of course, the fact that I was silent and the Contentious Woman was long gone. I was agreeable, and my EH enjoyed being around me. The Lord has done a miracle in both of us, and it was a joy to watch it unfold.
What principles, from God's Word (or through our resources), Phoebe, did the Lord teach you during this trial?
The principles that our Beloved impressed upon me are that He is a jealous Husband, and that He does not share us, His brides, with anyone, and that He must be first place in our lives and hearts. So many women say He's first, but the way they live, the obsession they have over their husbands, proves this isn't so. The principle of "letting go" of my EH, the principle of "letting go" of my church (I confess this was probably one of the most painful and difficult things for me but came with the greatest fruits in the end), the principle of submission and obedience, these were key in my restoration.
The principle of not sharing my situation with anyone: people, including my family, knew nothing about what was going on. Even though many people knew and kept seeing my husband and the other women in public places, I never opened my mouth to shame or expose my situation, with the exception of three trusted friends. Each woman was also going through a restoration journey; we each had the books and did the courses together. So only with them did I share what was necessary, so we could each encourage each other through His Word.
The principle of excluding all social networks, for me— this was one of the best and had immediate results. I learned, after a while, that the OW made a point of posting photos, talking about her pregnancy and how happy she was and how much my husband and she were in love with each other. All along she thought I was witnessing their relationship, when, in fact, I didn't see or have access to any of this, which was great for me and made my journey so much easier. Anyway, there were so many lessons that I could mention. I have learned things from this journey that will change the way I live the rest of my life.
What were the most difficult times that God helped you through, Phoebe?
When my husband told me that OW was pregnant, for a moment I thought it was the final nail in my coffin and that my marriage was over. I had no children; why would he stay with me and not with her? It was over. But the Lord said to me, "There is nothing impossible for me." It was difficult when my husband said he wanted to try to make it work with OW when other people saw the two of them together having fun, which we had not done for a long time because we were just too busy. It was difficult when he kept intimacy with me, yet, got up and ran to meet the OW (I often felt disposable). It was difficult when my earthly husband proposed that we reconcile, but that nobody could know, because he did not want to hurt the OW, because he thought it would harm his baby. It was difficult when my earthly husband said that if God had allowed OW to become pregnant, while I'd been off birth control for almost a year, that it was because it was God's will that he stay with OW and building a life with her was His plan.
It was difficult when people would congratulate both of them about their relationship and say that the pregnancy was a blessing; even in the church, they ignored the sin and the fruit of their sin. (Yes, to the world all this is natural, but within the church body I was shocked). It was difficult, when I was alone, without friends, family, church, without anyone, yet my Husband would always listen to me and wipe away my tears. My Heavenly Husband never abandoned me, never lost His temper. When I was wrong, He was there to forgive me and give me a second, third and fourth chance. He was always there for me with open arms, smiling, with his infinite love to welcome me and comfort me.
Phoebe, what was the “turning point” of your restoration?
When I “let go" of my husband, and I stopped all discussion, with no more arguments ever, that was the turning point. When he came to me to propose our reconciliation, I said I would gladly accept and help raise his daughter. I told him that I would pray and ask God to give me the ability to love his child as if she was my own daughter as if she had been born to me. And I really did exactly that—I prayed and asked God to give me His love to love her as my own, and now that she is a reality, I am amazed how much I love her unconditionally and just as if she were mine. I do not want to look at her life and relive any of the pain of betrayal. Instead, I know God brought this little girl into the world to change our lives.
Tell us HOW it happened, Phoebe? Did your husband just walk in the front door? Phoebe, did you suspect or could you tell you were close to being restored?
My husband never left the house, although he was admittedly with the OW. At first, he created a kind of hate wall, to justify himself and blame me for everything that had happened, including telling everyone that it was all my fault. Yet, as I learned the principle of being silent in all things, being agreeable, to be submissive--just like His example in 1 Peter 2:21 and to “turn the other cheek” as it says in Matthew 5:39-- every day the wall of hatred began to fall apart. He did not understand why I continued to do everything for him, washing and organizing his clothes, making meals and treating him with respect and goodness every time we saw each other, why I remained silent. He eventually came back, because he gained confidence in me. I believe that maintaining our intimacy during all this time also helped a lot because we maintained a physical and emotional bond. Gradually, he said that he loved me, that he would not give up on us and I was the only one he ever loved, that he would never divorce me unless I made that decision, which I said I never would.
My husband told me often how the OW always pressed him to divorce me and marry her. Yet he never did. He said that he would take the child with all responsibilities but never marry her because he understood that God would never bless that union. Wow, I was so happy when I learned from a person of extreme confidence that my husband read the Bible to OW and showed her that they could never get together, that God would never bless them. My happiness was knowing that the Lord was already touching my husband's understanding and that we need never tell our husbands anything because God convicts the man of sin, not us.
One afternoon, my husband called me to talk, at home, and he wanted help from me to solve the sticky situation with the OW. He said that he did not have any physical relationship with OW anymore and that he was paying her expenses and helping her because of the pregnancy. He proposed that we return to being a couple, but that things would remain as they were: our families knew that we were together, but in the face of their friendships, work, and society, I would still not exist. He claimed that he was afraid to harm the child, or that OW would disappear and not allow him to have contact with the child. Later, I discovered that she threatened my husband by using the pregnancy and taking his child away from him. Even though I was saddened by what he proposed, I excitedly agreed, after reading Prison to Praise and Facing Divorce Again. I won't lie; at first, it was horrible; we did nothing together, from going to the market, to going out for a pizza. I was by myself. Though at first, it was hard, because in the past we had done everything together as a couple, I began to relish these times to go out as my HH’s bride. I stopped feeling self-conscience like everyone was watching me. I no longer cared, but instead, I was blissfully happy to be dating my Beloved Husband.
Several times, I felt humiliated, as if he had lowered me to the position of his "lover" and elevated the OW to the position of his wife. Yet, as I became His Lover, and He was mine, God began to fight for me and win the battle that was trying to wage war inside my mind and my heart.
Things are so different now. Our daughter was born and is such a beautiful baby girl. When we have her, we go out and do things together as a family. We began going to church too (I let my church go but go now with him and focus on our daughter as we sit as a family). Things are slowly returning to their proper place, and we have exciting plans for how we will spend our holidays. He planned a trip for just the two of us, on the week we don’t have our daughter.
I will not say that the restoration journey has been or is easy. It's not. When we were first restored, he never asked for forgiveness; he didn't do anything romantic, like giving me flowers, nor did he shed one tear for what he'd done. My husband came back cold, distant, silent, uninterested in making it work. He came back with the same defects as before, and some of them were even worse, but I believed all along that He who began the good work is faithful, and I just trusted Him to complete it. And He did!!
There were times when I felt I want to run away; I wanted to disappear, but then my heavenly Husband came quickly and calmed my heart, and He used those times with me to heal the deepest wounds and strengthen me to move on in this journey that has no end. Each time I face trials, I become more and more in love with Him, which is why God doesn't bring the husband back changed.
Would you recommend any of our resources in particular that helped you, Phoebe?
Yes, every one of the resources helped, actually. The book How God Can and Will Restore Your Marriage and course was the way God used to bring light and hope where there once was only darkness and no hope. The book (and course) A Wise Woman is vital, and it helped me make sense of how to be the wife God intended. Workers@Home brought order to my home and put my priorities in line with His plan for my life. All your materials are, in fact, inspired and directed by God to restore relationships—relationships that are utterly destroyed and without hope. Especially important is finding our relationship with our Heavenly Husband who is the Lover of our souls that I discovered by going through the Abundant Life series.
Would you be interested in helping encourage other women, Phoebe?
Either way, Phoebe, what kind of encouragement would you like to leave women with, in conclusion?
There is nothing impossible for God. My situation seemed impossible--everyone said that. There was a child; the dream of my husband and this child was not mine, and it was in the womb of the OW. Whoever knew my story did not believe there was a way out, nor that there should be any sort of forgiveness on my part, because as many have told me, what my EH did was unforgivable. But the Lord moved on my behalf and turned my husband's heart after turning mine to Him. He did not even wait for the child to be born to reconcile. The Lord turned his heart months earlier so that no one had any doubt that it was a miracle and that this miracle was the Almighty who did it.
Do not give up on your family; do not give up! Forgiveness is expensive, for our Savior paid for it with His own life. The price of forgiveness may be too high for you, but remember that Someone paid an even higher price for you to be forgiven. Do not ever give up; do not turn your family over to the enemy by ignoring the principles that will result in the impossible happening to you, too. Stop carrying your negative feelings; leave them at the feet of our Lord, then open your arms to embrace Him as your Husband. GOD can do the impossible, and He will. And where there was once sorrow, there shall be a double portion of joy! Where there was dishonor, double the honor shall be yours. God is faithful--He is the God of the impossible.