How Can I Save My Marriage?

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners


Dear Chuck
My wife is leaving me and I don't know what to do. I have failed in so many areas in the past that she is basically tired of trying. She is saying that I will only change if she leaves me. The problem is that one night several months ago, I foolishly responded to a "personal ad" on the Internet (you know the kind). Even though I know it is no excuse, I was feeling unwanted and undesired. I asked God for forgiveness, and over time I forgot about it. She later found this e-mail, and as you can guess, the outcome was not pretty. We never fought (we never do) but she was really hurt nonetheless. I love my wife and I cherish my marriage and I really don't want to lose it after only a little more than 2 years to a senseless mistake that never meant anything to me. I believe that God can restore my marriage, but it's hard to when the woman of my dreams is about to leave me.

Chuck's Response
I was so sad reading your email. I hear a broken heart, and that is the first step toward healing. First of all, if you have not done this already, you need to get on your knees in a private place and ask God's forgiveness for your sin. When He senses a broken heart, He forgets your sins. Here are some scriptures that speak to this:

"He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west." Psalms 103:12 (Living)

North and south meet at some point. If you go north for awhile, eventually you will begin to go south. However, if you go east you'll always be going east. Or if you go west, you'll always be going west. The two will never meet.

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19 (KJV)

"... and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross." Colossians 2:14 (Living)

"For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others." 2 Corinthians 5:19 (Living)

You're probably too young to remember blotters, but we used to use pen and ink in school. We would blot the ink to keep it from smearing, because it dried slowly. However if you blotted it too quickly, you took all the ink away. We use a paper towel to blot water off a kitchen counter. God's "blotter" erased all of our sins.

There are many other scriptures that imply that our sins have been covered by Christ's blood and thrown in the deepest sea. God forgives our mistakes, so we can forgive others for their mistakes as well, and help them go on. So try not to beat yourself up with the past. Since God has forgotten the incident you talked about, so should you.

As far as your wife is concerned, did she give you a chance to ask her forgiveness? It can't be "I'm so sorry" or something like that. She has to sense your broken spirit and the words are "would you forgive me?" There is something very special about the words "forgive me." If she won't give you a chance, then you'll just have to let it go ... but I would love for you to sit her down and beg her forgiveness. After asking her forgiveness, be sure to say something like:

"I'm not doing this to win your trust again. That might take forever. I'm doing this because I am broken before God for what I did to you. If you choose to go, that's up to you. I would like to have another chance to prove my faithfulness, but will understand if you won't do this."

Then get on with your life. If she stays, let me know and I'll send you some of our marriage materials and a list of things that a godly man does for his wife. If she goes, she will have to suffer the consequences of disobeying God. What you did is not a reason for divorce. Even if you had an affair and were broken, I always suggest that the wounded party forgive and start again.

She is out of your control, however, so you will have to accept what she is going to do and let her go if necessary. Just stay single and uninvolved to give God a chance to touch her heart in some way. Do not leave the home. If she wants to divorce you, she can leave. That's as much your home as hers. You are not suffering God's punishment for your sin. Christ handled that on the cross. But there are consequences for sin, and that's what's happening. I know this is not an easy answer, but I think it is your only alternative. Be sure to get back to me if you want to talk further. our only alternative. Be sure to get back to me if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder



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Updated 05/24/2005