There’s nothing wrong with moving up the ladder at work—unless we become married to the job. Those extra hours and nights and weekends often come with a heavy price tag: our marriages suffer. The consequences of that neglect can be devastating for the entire family.
Early on in our marriage, my wife, Lisa, was working at a bank to help support our family. At the time, the FBI was investigating her bank and she was one of many people interviewed in the process. A guy we went to church with was the lead investigator, and Lisa developed a friendship with him that turned into an unhealthy, inappropriate relationship. Although they were never intimate, they developed an emotional attachment that crossed the line of marital faithfulness. I was shocked and hurt when I learned about this, but I didn’t have a clue what to do. I decided to treat the whole situation like a near miss and move on. Looking back, I was wrong not to take the necessary time and effort to find out what was going on in my wife’s heart. In fact, I did the exact opposite. I berated her for her mistakes and threatened her that if she ever pulled a stunt like that again, I would be out of the picture.
The next ten years for us were tough. I graduated from preaching school and was hired by White’s Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, Louisiana. I felt blessed to serve my home congregation and worked hard to make a splash. As the new guy in the pulpit, I felt called to go the extra mile in my weekly sermon preparation, in serving others, and in traveling around the world preaching, teaching, and leading small groups. Yet as my ministry stock rose, my marriage stock was plummeting. Lisa felt left out, like she was living in my shadow. We were supposed to be “one flesh,” but my intense focus on my work was driving a wedge between us.
Gradually, the distance between us grew larger and larger. I could sense something sinister was going on, but I was either too busy or too afraid to dive in and deal with it. Then Lisa’s fourteen-month affair with an old friend came to light. My world crashed down around me. After a time of separation, counseling, and emotional healing, coupled with Lisa’s coming to a true faith in Christ, we were reconciled. Lisa and I totally understand what Christ had in mind when He told the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
After all this, you might say we’re experts in Christ’s forgiveness. I’ve learned to love this woman in a way I could never have dreamed of twenty-nine years ago. I’ve learned the hard way that I’ve got to balance my work with my marriage and family life. Today, when Lisa and I think back on those years of disunity, unfaithfulness, and impending divorce, and when we look into the faces of our daughters and our grandchildren, we’re both overwhelmed at what we could have lost were it not for God’s abounding grace.
By Al Robertson