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An Affair with God

 by Laura

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After Dale returned from Brazil, he was not the same man. He hardly interacted with me or the children. He stopped sleeping with me, preferring the living room couch over our bed. He stopped praying with me which was something we did together every morning before we left our bedroom for at least 15 years. He stopped interacting with me on almost every level. He would go for long “prayer walks” every evening often returning after I had gone to bed. He would lay on his face on the floor for 2 hours in the morning and read his bible and pray.

Sometimes, after his morning quiet time, he would come get in the bed with me to “cuddle”. I felt like he was throwing me an old bone. As if I should be satisfied and thankful that he was willing to get in the bed with me for 10 minutes. I was desperate for his affection and attention. After we had been apart for those 3 months, I looked forward to the renewal of physical intimacy between us. However, when it finally happened, I remember looking at him and he was looking out the window as if he was just hoping it would end soon. I liken the whole experience to him having an affair…with God.  

He abandoned his marriage relationship in every area. I was distraught. I tried everything I could think of to woo him back to the relationship. He wasn’t going to divorce me. He would never consider that. But he divorced me emotionally, physically and spiritually. He just didn’t leave. I felt like a used up Kleenex that he just stuck into the bottom of his pocket and forgot about.

Earlier I mentioned a revelation that he said God had given him in Brazil. He told me flat out that he believed that God had plans for him in Brazil and he didn’t think they included me. I was floored. “God doesn’t work like that in Christian marriage”, I told him. “You are listening to demons, you are being deceived by Satan.” I told him these things and he refused to hear me. He drifted farther and farther away and I was clueless as to what to do to bring him back. I prayed and cried and talked to godly Christian friends of mine. Other quiverfull wives who seemed to live life in the same circle that I did. Yet few, if any of them were being denied the right to be themselves. Few were being treated as the child of their husband. None were being threatened with the misery that I was daily walking in because their husband, their spiritual head was hearing from God anew and now everything they had ever believed was being thrown away.

My husband sat all the children and me down one day and said that he didn’t care one bit about anything on this earth. He said it was all going to burn ( a reference to the end of time when God supposedly destroys the earth with fire) and he didn’t care. All he cared about was knowing God better. He would quote the verse in Luke which commands the followers of Jesus to hate their relatives (wives are specifically mentioned) and follow Christ. Otherwise they are not worthy to be Jesus’ disciple. How I grew to hate that verse. It was as if the bible was giving him justification to hate me. Justification to abandon me in every way. And yet he continued to say that he was a godly Christian man who loved Jesus with all his heart.

I was so confused and hurt and angry. I had always let Dale do my thinking for me. He was “god” to me. I let him interpret the word of God for me because I could never seem to win any arguments with him over interpretation. He was more learned that me, more eloquent, smarter and a better Christian by far. I saw him this way. I was so young and impressionable when we met. I almost worshiped him. And I hated and resented him as well. I knew inside that I was getting ripped off but I didn’t think there was any way out. I was trapped. Trapped by my culture, my faith, my little children who needed me. I was trapped by my marriage and my lack of education. I had given up my college education for this man. I had stayed home and cared for our children one after another. When Dale turned his back on me, I felt as if God himself had turned his back on me. I always trusted and believed what ever Dale told me God was telling him. Yet now it was too far off the mark for me to swallow. If God really loved me, why in the world was he telling my husband to desert me? Why was he(God) ruining my marriage?

I am a talker. I have to talk about stuff to process it. I talked to some of my friends about all this stuff that was happening. I talked to my former pastor, the man who had married us and encouraged us to have as many kids as we could, the man who was like a father to me. He thought Dale was wrong and being deceived. He was sad to see me suffering so. He couldn’t help me other than to encourage me to “keep on keeping on”.

I felt like a worthless, fat, ugly, unnecessary person that my husband was just tolerating. I had never experienced rejection like this in my life. I was always a very popular girl in school. My husband, however, was the class nerd. He was the guy everyone beat up on the way home from school. He was used to rejection. It was a part of his everyday life growing up. When he rejected me, I felt like he had jerked the rug out from under me. I had no previous experience to draw from to figure out how to deal with this. I know I have said this before but I must repeat it again…I was devastated.

Laura’s Story:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13

More from Laura:

  • Angel Renee

    I’m so sorry, Laura. This story makes me cry.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds to me like Dale’s plans involved something a tad less lofty and ethereal than “knowing God better”, and something more concrete involving the region below his belt buckle. The trip to Brazil sounds like it was a very thinly veiled excuse to start an affair with the pretty exchange student. At the point when he decided to make that trip, he had essentially already left the marriage. His actions after he got back were those of a person who wanted out very badly. However, he didn’t have the guts to divorce you, or maybe he just didn’t want to have to pay child support on umpty jillion kids. Maybe in a passive-aggressive fashion he was trying to make you so miserable you’d leave him, so he could blame you for the failure of the marriage. “I was willing to stay with her, but she left me!”In the meantime, he tried to rationalize his actions and feelings by throwing crap at you. “God gave me this revelation, and it doesn’t include you.” “Followers of Jesus are supposed to hate their relatives/wives and follow Christ.” How are you supposed to argue with God (supposedly) giving a person a revelation or argue with scripture?Funny how pastors and the like can’t offer wives much support or advice than to “keep on keeping on” when they’re de facto getting the crap abused out of them. Thank goodness you had the sense to get out of that situation!

  • David Dye

    Wow, what a powerful, and painful, story.I’m stunned by Dale’s behavior, but more so by the lack of help from your church and community. As strange and cultic as the quiverfull community appears to be (at least to someone outside like me) what does seem consistent is a commitment to the sanctity of the marriage bond. You mentioned your former pastor supporting you (at least morally – though some action would have been helpful) but what about your current one? Where was he?What about the other families? Why didn’t one of the other men take him aside and tell him to stop this nonsense and get his priorities in order? I think that bothers me the most about your story (and perhaps the quiverful movement altogether) that people who supposedly have strong convictions about marriage and family will stand idly by while the “head” of one of them abandons his wife and children for months, then announces “god” is calling him to something that doesn’t include his wife.If there wasn’t something going on with the girl in Brazil, then I think your ex husband might have been mentally unbalanced. I had a business partner who started acting much like Dale did and he ended up being diagnosed with a mild form of Bi-Polar disorder.Anyway, blessings to you as you now begin to build again. I trust that your new husband is a good man who cherishes you. You deserve that and more. If he even begins to treat you like your ex did, let me know and I’ll be glad to come up there and set him straight!David in CO

  • Arietty

    It sounded to me like Dale might have been very depressed but using all his negative feelings as the voice from God.. after all depression is often seen as failure by christians (even if they won’t say that clearly) but the voice of God is always a success, LOL.David Dye the lack of support is not limited to quiverfull oriented churches. Almost always it is the woman who is talked to, asked to change, etc.. I was told by my very mainstream church that my husband was “stressed” and I needed to be better at everything basically, to help him. This was the response to my talking out about never ending 24 hour a day anger on his part. Just have a glance at marriage books for christians, 90% of them are aimed at women and women are the ones that read them. It is much easier to tell a woman she should be more submissive, more loving, more supportive than it is to confront a man who may be angry, lying, volatile. Also the church leaders may view the man as one of them and have some bonds of church-work and friendship with him so that would really be a confrontation that affected them personally. Much easier to counsel the woman to stick to it and here dear, read this book. In some cases the behavior the woman has to deal with is eerily close to the behavior the leaders of the church know they mete out in their own homes, so you won’t get anywhere there.I was so frustrated when I left my abusive marriage because I found that “the world”, ie regular non-christian people immediately understood that abuse is bad, leaving is better for the children. The church just did not get this. They couldn’t understand these basic truths. They were so obsessed with marriage being some all-sacred deity that must be appeased at all costs.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I’m not surprised by Dale’s behavior, whether it was spurred on by a romantic involvement or was just a mid life crisis. The problem is that Dale, like a lot of religious people, was used to pushing off his own interests, ideas, and motivations on g-d and using his hot line to g-d to legitimate his own desires, or to enforce them on his wife and children. Dale’s g-d was interested in Dale and what he wanted, not in Laura and what she wanted, or the kids, or the religious community. As David in CO. said, blessings to you for having the strength of will to begin building a new life. Not only because its the right thing to do for you but because you are going to serve as a beacon to your children and to other men and women who are struggling in relationships that are destroying them, tying them down, or otherwise diminishing them. Dale needed to appeal to g-d but it sounds like you eventually found the strength inside yourself to see, to think, to decide, to act.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Hi,I’ve been following the blog with great interest, and I just want to say that the strength of both of you amazes me. I don’t know that I would ever have the ability to escape this kind of situation if I wound up in it. This particular entry saddens me a great deal. I’m an atheist and people tell me all the time, “Fine for you, maybe, but what about the people who need God in their lives for support? Why would you try to take that away from them?” Your stories only go to show that religion can generate as much suffering as it relieves, trap as many as it saves. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Anonymous

    Found your blog through a link posted in the Alternet threads. I had suspected that this “relationship with God” idea was unhealthy. I’ve heard this before (from my parents). I remember hearing as a child about “making God the first person in your life”. Even then as a wee lad I remember thinking to myself that making God the first person in your life means that your children (which was me!) was lucky to get third place after God first, husband/wife second. It’s all very sad, made sadder since God’s don’t exist. Putting a non-existing deity first place in your life. WOW. There are lots of weird ideas out there, and I’m glad you are finding your way out.dboy

  • Bronwyn

    Dale a better Christian than you? (or a Christian at all?) Pardon me while I laugh hysterically, then scream and throw things.I am *so* glad I am not a Christian, and never have been, never will be, because of how so many have been deceived and trapped this way.

  • Anonymous

    Men handle guilt differently than women. When I read this story, and outsider for sure, I was thinking Dale had an affair in Brazil and was feeling a little unclean and unworthy. One can never know, but such a change maes me think a woman may misinterpret the signals and take them personally. My husband was a pastors son and their way of dealing with their shortcomings is to throw themselves into thier religiosity, nothing to do with faith. LONG married in Oregon

  • Anonymous

    Men handle guilt differently than women. When I read this story, and outsider for sure, I was thinking Dale had an affair in Brazil and was feeling a little unclean and unworthy. One can never know, but such a change maes me think a woman may misinterpret the signals and take them personally. My husband was a pastors son and their way of dealing with their shortcomings is to throw themselves into thier religiosity, nothing to do with faith. LONG married in Oregon


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