Drs. Bob and Audrey Meisner were part of a thriving ministry, but adultery threatened to destroy their work and their marriage. They tell their story in Marriage Undercover. The following article is adapted from a section of that book written by Audrey.
King David sent the army off to war, but he stayed home. While relaxing, he saw Bathsheba and noticed that she was beautiful. He inquired about her, and then slept with her. She returned to her house.
The next thing David heard about the affair was the news that changed everything: "I'm pregnant." David's relationship with Bathsheba is perhaps one of the most talked about affairs in the Bible.
Rarely does sin loudly announce, "Here I am!" No, our Enemy employs quieter tactics. When our guard is down and our self-assurance up, he ambushes us when we least expect it. That's how it happened to me.
Almost before I knew what I was doing, I committed the sin of adultery. My first slight step off the path of safety was effortless and seemed completely insignificant and harmless. The next was more deliberate, an exercise in self-indulgence that in time led me to the disastrous decision to believe the father of lies himself.
We all need an outlet to communicate the deep issues of our heart. If we aren't communicating with our spouse, we will communicate with someone else. Whenever we share more deeply with someone other than our spouse — especially with someone of the opposite sex — even to the point of sharing news first with this other person, we have entered the arena of emotional adultery. It is the first step toward sexual adultery. It means we are bonding and uniting with that person, giving to that person what belongs only in a marital covenant.
In my case, I opened up my heart in a friendship and shared funny moments and interesting conversation. This may sound innocent and normal, and it was — at first. The other man accepted and received me. This type of interaction happened over and over again. The experience made both of us feel wonderful! A "feeling" of love grew in my heart. What I didn't know was that this relationship became emotional adultery (I call it "soulical" adultery) before it turned physical.
I may have wanted to reach out to my husband, Bob, for interesting conversation and fun moments. But I felt shut down, rejected. It wasn't anything Bob intentionally did or said. I may simply have been expecting too much and felt disappointed. Nonetheless, this made it more difficult for me to open up the next time. I gravitated to the one who was feeding my cravings for attention. Eventually, walls went up around my heart to protect myself from hurt, and honest communication between Bob and me dissolved.
Surprisingly, hard-hearted people often appear outwardly to be anything but hard-hearted. Many times they are outgoing, bold, gifted and usually service-oriented. Repeated hurt and rejection can cause service-oriented people (or anyone) to develop a hardened heart as protection against future hurt and rejection.
I can relate to this. Even though I grew up in a home that was exceptionally loving and peaceful, I strived to keep life that way, from the time I was a young child. Whenever I had an angry or negative thought, I stuffed it. This behavior taught me to be in control, self-dependent.
Deep down, the core fear of my life is fear of failure, of failing to make everyone happy. During the time of the affair, Bob was not a happy person. I viewed this as my personal failure. On the flipside, I had a great ability to make the other man happy. That was my setup for destruction.
When I began to have romantic feelings, I felt guilty about it but pushed it aside and didn't share it with anyone. The Enemy had me isolated. One day, opportunity presented itself and I compromised a little, and then a little more the next time. The next thing I knew, the affair had escalated from emotional to sexual.
Because Audrey became pregnant during her affair, the sin couldn't be hidden. But the Meisners decided to do everything they could to save their family.
If your marriage is in trouble, there is hope. The Focus on the Family Marriage Institute is here to help — call one of our counselors at 866-875-2915 or visit HopeRestored.FocusOnTheFamily.com.