A Traveling Man's Redemption

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

(We are working on a book! This book will take a long time to finish but we've started it. One page counts? Here is just a snippet of our amazing story)

Our Words:

When you marry a person no one expects that marriage to end in death. You marry and you are gleeful, you are excited, hopeful of the future and of what is to come with your new spouse.

When I married traveling man (Tony for those who don't know) I felt deep in my heart that this was the truth. That this would be the last man I would marry. I had faced one divorce and I refused in the beginning to let this one go. This would be the man I spent the rest of my life with.

The first year of our marriage, 2012, we were sure was going to be the best year of our life. We were coming to the end of a DSS case and were hopeful that things would be resolved in that area. We began serving in our church and also joined a life group to help us grow in our faith as well as in our relationship. All seemed smooth.

Tony Talks: 

Meg didn't know I had a private issue and struggle. I was hiding the fact that I was viewing pornography daily. A lot of men struggle with this and so part of me believed, "This is natural. This is what guys do." But I couldn't stop. Whenever I would get bored it was the first thing I would do. Then my lust was being fueled daily.

This addiction caused me to start treating Meg poorly. I was distant not because I didn't love or care for her, but because I had this weight on my shoulders and knew that if I drew closer to her then I would be more vulnerable to it leaking out. Part of a porn addiction is knowing that it's wrong even though it feels so physically good.

She eventually found out though. We were driving in the car one May afternoon and she just started asking questions. She was catching on to the fact that something wasn't right and that it was more than just first year marriage issues. She discovered the porn on the computer later that afternoon. The guilt riddled me. She would barely look at me. Yet, I couldn't stop.

Meg Talks:

Ladies, wives, it was the Holy Spirit that prompted me to start asking questions. With our story comes much wisdom. Never stop praying for your spouse. Never stop seeking the Spirit's guidance. This entire marriage testimony stems from His beckoning and my being sensitive.

When I discovered the pornography my heart was hit hard. Pornography is the same as adultery. When you look at these naked pictures of men or woman you are committing this sin because you are lusting for someone other than your spouse. I have researched and studied the industry since I discovered my husbands struggle and will continue to follow it and keep sharp with it because it's a very serious issue threatening hundreds and thousands of marriages.

However, I did not understand the depths of what it was doing to our marriage and to my spouse. Tony promised to stop looking at it and said he wasn't addicted and I believed him and we moved on.

Our Words:

To make this long story short Tony accepted a job with Amtrak in May of 2012. This was in our fourth month of marriage. I did not want him to go, he accepted it, I was humble and let him lead, and that was that. He spent 11.5 weeks in Delaware training for his new position.

During that time our marriage took a strong hit. Things with Tony got extremely difficult. He didn't want to communicate, he became mean and short with me on every conversation and then the thoughts from the heart started surfacing. Tony didn't know if he married me for love or if he married me because we had conceived and had a child together.

To try and ease the situation I went and visited Tony for his birthday. I was there for 3 days and it was weird. The same treatment that he was giving me over the phone he was giving me in person. He didn't want me touching certain things of his, didn't really receive anything I wanted to hear, and was just mean.

Towards the end of this meeting after church (Tony had found a church much like Freedom House to attend while he was away for this long length of time) I just prayed that God would reveal to me what was going on. At another Holy Spirit prompting I checked his computer and found tons and tons of pornography. I left feeling defeated. Something had to change.

I began to pray specific prayers for Tony when I left. This was right during his birthday so I was home alone by the 3rd of July. This was during a time that I was served custody paperwork from my ex-husband, it was also an exciting time of a new journey with FHKids that I had begun that February. So much was on my plate including practically being a single mom again and I needed God to speak to me.

Over the course of the next two weeks Tony began to share that he had feelings for a co-worker. I found this out after he had mentioned her and again was prompted from the Holy Spirit to ask him more. I also discovered what would seem to others to be a simple facebook post to this woman and I knew....something was not right.

After prayer, dreaming, and finally the questions Tony admitted in early August that he had an affair. It was unprotected, careless, and life crushing.

Tony Talks:

The age old question from Meg was always, "Why?!" She couldn't understand why I would have sex with another woman when I had her. She was an amazing wife, more than I had prayed for, loved God, our children, and me. It was almost too much to believe. 

For the longest time I responded to the why question with, "I don't know." Most don't know. It took counseling and lots of prayer to understand the why and sometimes, please hear this, you won't know. You just have to know guy to guy or guy to a woman who's feeling that pain that sometimes and most of the time the why is the least important part of the equation.

For me, in the beginning, I just needed and wanted to know what Meg's next step was. I realized quickly how much damage I had done. I also realized that it was her decision at that time on what she wanted to do regarding our marriage. I had broken our covenant and I understood if she didn't want me home. I was terrified she would tell me not to come back but at the same time I continued to treat her poorly out of anger for myself and what I had done.

I was also struggling with the shame of the sin. Sin will always be found out in a marriage where one spouse is praying so frequently.

Meg Talks:

When I married Tony I was well aware of his upbringing, past, life. His past and those things did not bother me and I was happy to become his wife. I was also excited because I thought for sure that even though he had been with other woman that I would be the last one to lay my head on his chest, the last woman he snuggled, and shared the more intimate affections with. This wasn't about sex for me, this was about giving away time and intimacy that was only meant for me.

When I began to see guidance and counsel on this situation I listened intently. I read dozens of books on healing from affairs and prayed, prayed, prayed. I heard God clearly tell me to let him come home. Not just this, but I heard God tell me to welcome him home like He had welcome ME home. God wanted me to paint a picture of grace for Tony. He wanted me to love mercy and to give it freely. I was so humbled by his directions and knew that while God would still love and walk with me if I wanted to end the marriage, that He would bless me and my marriage more if I stayed. He wanted to use our story for hope and healing in a way we could not even imagine.

I did what I do best in that moment. I painted a picture of my choice. I've posted this on facebook and it is a picture of the day I decided to let him come home, to push forward. It was three days exactly after I found out.

Our Words:

When we decided to push forward it wasn't a quick fix. To this day we are actively working on this. We have mentors, accountability partners, we talk, we get counseled. Marriage is hard work and a marriage that suffers a divorce is ten times harder to work through.

But it's not impossible. When I first found out about the affair I felt like Tony had died. My marriage had died. In a way, it had. When a covenant is broken it's severed but it's not unrepairable. We believe in a healing God. We made the vow to work on this together and each and every day we are living in God's grace and forgiveness.

I forgive Tony on a daily basis and he forgives me on a daily basis. I don't bring up the affair in a negative way or in a way that would cause him to feel ashamed. Throughout our healing process I would limit my questions to ones that would promote growth and healing, I wouldn't ask questions that would be a hindrance. I had to let go of the fact that I could possibly never know the full details and I was OK with that.

Tony has also been delivered of his pornography addiction. We had new boundaries set in place that limits his temptations and when we first began it was hard, but it has been a tremendous help. We also pray often, forgive often, and talk often. PrayForgiveTalk.

More times than not adultery stems from underlying issues that most men or woman don't know about their spouse. We have learned so much scripturally and in the physical about marriage, sex, and intimacy because of this. There is so much more we'd love to share but feel blessed that we are now able to come out and talk more openly about our testimony and where God has brought us. We were recently in a video at our church and it was a big and final piece to our message. Our prayer is that God will use our marriage to help restore and redeem many marriages and relationships.

Nothing is ever too broken for Christ to heal. We are so excited because we are planning a big vow renewal for our five-year wedding anniversary. We never had a big wedding and this will signify part of our story of healing. It will be such a beautiful day!

We are an open book and we'd love to pray with you and hear your stories of healing and redemption.

Financial Peace

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I had to write in detail our journey with our financial peace lifegroup. For those who aren't sure on what this means our church Freedom House offers life groups throughout the year. This is a way to stay connected despite the fact that we are a larger church. In fact, this is what keeps our church so strong.

As a couple we've been wanting to take Financial Peace since we started Freedom House. It just never happened. It was either on a day that didn't work or their wasn't a child care. Child care was a must for us. When life group launch happened and we saw that not only was FPU going to be on a Monday (my hubby's only scheduled day off) but that it was going to offer child care we knew God was telling us to take it. 

So we did. Going into the class I personally was mortified. I remember walking up to Shelley (one of the teachers of the class) and saying, "I have such a bad feeling. Such fear." We had tried doing Dave's program before and had even gotten our emergency fund when murphy hit. We had to use it and just stopped. We thought, "If we've failed once how can we do it again?"

She and her husband Ruel were some of the best life group leaders I've ever had. The class to date, was my favorite life group. They were so encouraging and said, "Martino's, YOU CAN DO THIS." The class was only 9 weeks and they talked about this snapshot of before and after and all I could think of is, "How much can change in 9 weeks?"

The first four weeks were havoc. We were hit hard financially. It was literally frustrating that we had finally given our ALL regarding finances and things seemed to be getting worse. You see though, things weren't getting worse because God didn't love us, things were difficult because He was growing us. He wanted us to solely trust Him so that as we moved through each step we would move into a new level of trust regarding our finances. Tony and I both were pretty uneducated in how to handle finances properly and how to handle them scripturally which is one of the biggest goals we had for ourselves...becoming educated.

So we go through the first four weeks, faithful. God gave us little things here and there to show us that He was seeing what we were doing. A Starbucks gift card here, another visa gift card there, God is so faithful. Then literally overnight our finances started to change. Sometimes miracles take time and we have to wait patiently, other times they are thrown at us in grace. God was so graceful to us. In the course of taking BACK our finances Tony received a promotion, an unexpected bonus at work, I started a business, and we went from living paycheck to paycheck to not running out of money. This change only really took half the class so a little less than five weeks.

Dave's program works. But we would not have had the passion and fire if it weren't for such diligent leaders like Shelley and Ruel. We wouldn't have strength and accountability if it weren't for friends like Amber and Terrel and all the other FPU rock stars that attended life group with us. We started with no cash savings, no plan, and no hope.

We ended with an emergency fund, FUNDED. With A PLAN. With HOPE and purpose. We made two big goals (one to buy a house in cash!) and believe that as we grow in trust, as we grow in these baby steps that God will bless us. Ultimately our biggest goal is to be BIG GIVERS.

If you have never taken a life group or have never heard of financial peace I recommend checking it out! Click here for more information!

Be Blessed,