Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Judy Starr has learned from experience how important it is to remain faithful in marriage. She says it requires a “whatever it takes” sort of attitude.

Judy Starr: Whatever it takes might mean changing jobs, but my marriage must be the priority over my work, over anything that would hinder that marriage.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Friday, February 3rd.

Rebuilding a marriage after infidelity really is possible. But as we’ll hear today, it takes a lot of work and a strong commitment, and there are some definite safeguards that need to be put in place. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some time ago I was on the phone talking with a woman who had broken her marriage vows. She had flirted with disaster and ultimately fallen into disaster by developing an emotionally intimate relationship with a man in the workplace, and her life at this point was . . . well, it was a mess.

She was sobbing on the phone. She was heartbroken and guilty over what she had done, but she was asking some tough questions, just pouring out her heart and saying, in essence, can I ever be right again? Can I ever be pure again? Maybe I’m just destined to be an immoral woman. Can my marriage really be rebuilt? Can it survive something of this nature?

We’re talking about those kinds of questions today with my two friends Holly Elliff and Judy Starr. Judy and Holly, I know this is a tough subject, but thank you for having the courage and the willingness to deal with it.

We have a lot of listeners today who are in varying stages of asking those same kinds of questions, and I believe God wants to use this program to help minister grace to some of those very women. So thank you, Holly, for being here with us on Revive Our Hearts.

Holly Elliff: Thanks, Nancy.

Nancy: And Judy Starr, not only for being here but for having written a book called The Enticement of the Forbidden, where you go into a lot more detail than we can on this program, illustrating out of your own life about an emotional affair that you entered into five years into marriage, and how God graciously intervened in your life and brought you back to Himself and back to your husband, averting what could have been an even worse disaster. So thank you for writing that book and for being willing to share with us here on Revive Our Hearts.

Judy: Oh, you’re welcome. I am an example of God’s grace.

Nancy: I want us to dive in here. We’ve talked about how you almost threw away your marriage, Judy. It could happen to anyone. You happen to be in fulltime vocational ministry. We’ve heard of this happening with pastors’ marriages, with Christian workers’ marriages, with lay people’s marriages.

There’s no marriage that is immune to temptation, because we have an Enemy who hates God. He hates marriage, and he’s out to destroy your marriage. So we have to be proactive in putting some things in place that can make a marriage strong enough to survive that kind of attack.

Now, I think some who have been listening perhaps have already gone down this road. They’ve blown it morally. They’ve become involved in physical adultery or an emotional affair, or maybe they have an addiction to pornography—yes, women do, as well, today. Is it possible, really possible, to rebuild a marriage once infidelity has entered in?

Let me put with that a twin question, because this is what we want to discuss on today’s program. Once you’ve blown it, can a marriage be restored? And if you haven’t blown it, you’ve not gone there yet, what safeguards, protections, can you put in place in your marriage to make sure you don’t go there?

The answers are kind of the same to both of those questions, but Judy, as you look back on where you were and the time that you came back to your husband, you confessed your sin to him. You determined that honesty was the best policy.

Your husband was gracious. He was hurt, but he forgave you, and you began a process of rebuilding. The emotions that you felt toward that captain on the boat in the Caribbean—those emotions didn’t go away right away, did they?

Judy: Oh no, not at all. In fact, as it took time to develop those emotions, it also takes time to heal from those. So one of the first things I needed to do, which I did right away, was to cut off all contact with him.

Nancy: And you mean all contact?

Judy: I mean all contact: e-mails, phone calls, letters, anything. Anything that would rekindle that in any way, that would put us back in contact.

Nancy: That is a huge point. I don’t want to pass over that, because I’ve talked with people and heard stories of people saying, “We can just stay friends.” The answer is, “No, you can’t.”

Holly: You know, if that guy’s in the Caribbean, that’s one thing; but if he’s a work associate, cutting that off completely may require really drastic steps.

Judy: That’s right, and we need to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain our purity before the Lord and keep our marriage the priority. “Whatever it takes” might mean changing jobs, but my marriage must be the priority over my work, over anything that would hinder that marriage.

So I need to trust that God will honor my decision if I’m in a position where it looks like I will never be able to deal with that relationship rightly, where I will get out of that situation and trust God to either provide another job or keep me at home and provide financially another way.

Nancy: Now, there are other safeguards that need to be put into place, whether your marriage trust has been violated or not. What are some of those safeguards that a woman can put into place to protect her marriage and her relationship with the Lord?

Judy: There’s one thing I call building the invisible wall. That means I don’t share personal things with him. I don’t ever get in a situation where I’m alone with another man. Some people in the work situation might say, “That’s impossible, because I have to work individually with this man.”

We can be very creative in finding ways to sin, but we can also be very creative, if we’re really committed to being holy before the Lord, of finding alternative ways of dealing with those situations. You can always call a co-worker, the very thing I didn’t do with the captain. I could have always had somebody there when we were working and talking.

Nancy: We as women really have a way or either putting that invisible wall up or letting it down, but there are so many ways we can signal availability without even saying a word.

 Judy: Oh, it’s the truth—by our lingering looks, a wink, just the way that we maintain eye contact—all these signal to a man, and they can pick up on them very quickly. Not to mention the way that we dress that can lure some man in. It’s amazing to me how many Christian women seem so totally unaware of the way that they dress being a way that attracts men.

Holly: You touch on this in your book, Judy, where you talk about how, if we’re going to claim the name of Christ, there needs to be distinctiveness about our lives as Christian women that does make us different from the average woman in our homes or in the marketplace.

Nancy: Okay, what about the whole area of the Internet? This is something that I see just luring women in. They’re craving relationship, craving meaningful conversation. Do you see this happening with women in terms of chat rooms or the use of e-mail?

Judy: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I have two personal friends that met men just by going to a chat room, harmlessly thinking, “Oh, I just need someone to talk to.” Again, they began pouring out their hearts, pouring out personal information, receiving positive feedback, a man who cares about all their intimate struggles. They both ended up leaving their husbands, and then the relationship didn’t work out, but at that point it was too late and the marriage was gone.

Nancy: And the truth is, most of the time it won’t work out, because what you’re seeing in that chat room is not like living with that person.

Judy: Oh, it is a fantasy situation from the start, because you only write your very best; you put on your best face, your “superwoman persona” that comes across the Internet, and that’s not who we are.

Holly: I think one thing that makes that so dangerous, again, is that we can do that in the privacy of our homes. I can get on the computer at 1:00 in the morning, and no one knows I’m on my computer or who I’m talking to. So it gives us an avenue that has very low accountability.

It’s not like we’re stopping at an adult book store and going in to purchase a book where someone might see us, but we’re in the privacy of our own home, and unless someone pulls up a history on our computer, they don’t know where we’re going.

Judy: The other thing that’s equally as dangerous as chat rooms is the simple thing of e-mail. Or, as you said, Nancy, you’re working with men in the Christian work that you do. I do too, and it’s very easy to develop a relationship even just on e-mails, where you again become more personal, more friendly with men that you’re working with all the time.

Nancy: But you know, I’ve found that it can be avoided if you put a hedge, a boundary in place. I have a policy, and the men I work with know this—no personal exchanges on e-mail. And I do an average of 60 to 100 e-mails a day. So they’re flying; there’s a lot of e-mail communication going on.

If there’s something that we’re going to be discussing that’s at all of a personal nature—and I don’t mean just sexual issues, I mean just family things—it’s very simple: make sure the wife is being copied. So she’s reading the e-mails.

Boy, it just makes you make sure. If I know that wife is going to be reading what I’m writing, and I’ve established that as a boundary, it takes care of saying things that shouldn’t be said.

Judy: That’s exactly right. I copy Stottler on any e-mail that I send to another man. I also have found that if I sense in my spirit I’m writing something I think, “Oh, I don’t really want Stottler to see this,” I go back and erase it because it should never be sent.

Holly: And Judy has done such a good job. She has called me before and said, “I have to be in this business relationship with this man that . . . I’m not comfortable with this level of interaction with him, and I just want you to know that. I want to be honest with Stottler. I want to be honest with you. I want you to pray for me in this area, that God will make me wise.”

So I think, because of knowing her vulnerability in the past, she is now a wise woman in this area, as opposed to the Proverbs 7 woman who is foolish. She is wise in this area, so she has antennae up to alert her early to any potential dangers.

Nancy: The neat thing is that Judy didn’t use to have those antennae up. That’s how she got in this situation in the first place. But the neat part of the story here is that you can develop the right patterns in your life even if you’ve blown it in the past; or, better yet, without having to go through what Judy went through.

Paul says in the book of Ephesians, chapter five, “Let there not be even a hint of immorality among you” (verse 3). Well, how do you avoid the hint? You put up the safeguards. You put the boundaries in place.

I don’t know what your boundaries need to be, and you don’t need to determine your boundaries based on mine.

You need to get before the Lord and say, “I want a walk with You that is above reproach, that is pure. I want to love my husband the way You want me to. I want our marriage to be protected. Lord, what do You want me to do? What do I need to put in place, in the workplace, in my e-mail habits, in my computer habits? Does it mean we need to get rid of the television in our home?”

If that’s what it is for you, then do it. Does it mean we need to get rid of the Internet in our home? If that’s what it takes for you, then do it. But I want to tell you, it is worth any price, any step of action, to obtain and to maintain before the Lord a heart that is pure and above reproach.

Leslie Basham: That’s practical counsel from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, along with Judy Starr and Holly Elliff.

Judy has more of that kind of advice in her book The Enticement of the Forbidden. In fact, chapter 19 lists eight practical ways you can build walls to protect your marriage. We have that book here at Revive Our Hearts, as well as an eight-week personal study guide to use by yourself, with an accountability partner, or in a small group. Visit our website to order your copy.

And don’t forget that Revive Our Hearts is a listener supported program. That means we depend on prayers and donations from our listeners. If you’d like to give or become a prayer partner, go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959.

In fact, during February, if you make a donation of $25 or more and ask for it, we’ll send you Nancy’s book Lies Women Believe, along with its companion study guide and a bookmark.

We’ll have more practical help for building those walls of protection in your marriage on Monday. Have a great weekend, and we hope you can worship with your family this weekend. We’ll see you Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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