Reba Post felt trapped.
Stuck in a world of four little kids—all under the age of 5—Reba didn't have enough time for herself. Her husband, Tyler, was seldom home, and she began to wonder what had happened to her dreams. "I was going to be a neonatal intensive care nurse," she says. "I never had plans to be a mom of four little boys who pick their noses."
Her days felt like a never-ending assembly line of getting the kids dressed, fed, bathed, and put to bed. And then she'd wake up the next morning to start it all over again. What about me? she asked herself over and over.
She wondered if her husband even cared. She and Tyler were drifting farther and farther apart. But when she begged Tyler to try marriage counseling he said, "You're delusional. Everything is fine."
"Everything is not fine!" Reba shouted.
Tyler laughed in her face, walked out of the room, slammed the door, and went to work.
Stressed and taking prescription medication for migraine headaches, sometimes Reba went into what she calls "zombie mode." She found herself yelling at the kids, trying to just get through one more day.
Eventually she turned to social media and poured her heart out to her Facebook friends. One day she posted, "Life is horrible!"
And that's when things got even worse.
Feeling like a single mom
Life had certainly not turned out like Reba had hoped. She dated Tyler during high school, and she got pregnant. They got married because Tyler said it was the honorable thing to do.
By the time the baby arrived Tyler was seldom home. And as they continued to add to their family, she felt like a single mom as he worked several part-time jobs, finished his engineering degree, and was involved in ROTC (Reserved Officer Training Corps).
To Reba, Tyler was an awesome dad but a terrible husband. If he happened to be home, he focused on the kids. "Are you ever going to take me out on a date?" Reba complained. "Are we ever going to be just married and not mom and dad first?"
Tyler, whose days consisted mostly of going to work and then to school, snapped back, "It's not like I get to have a social life and you don't. I go to work, and come home. I'm trying to work hard to provide and get us to a better place in life. We just need to suck it up and things will be better eventually."
They needed help. But she couldn't turn to her parents. They didn't know anything about lasting marriage. She had lost track of how many times her mother had wed, and her father? She barely knew him.
By the time Tyler graduated in 2013, the Posts had four little boys and were spiraling into financial disaster. And Tyler was told that he would be deployed in January 2014.
But plans changed and Tyler was not deployed. He then found himself struggling to find a good job, so they swallowed their pride and moved in with Tyler's mother and stepdad. While living there, Tyler accepted an engineering job that required a 60-minute commute one way.
Alone and overwhelmed, Reba again questioned what had happened to her life. And things didn't get any better after Tyler finished college and started his career.
"We were fighting more," she says. "He was drinking more."
"You deserve better than that!"
That's when she posted her "Life is horrible" message on Facebook. And that post prompted a private reply from an old high school friend.
"I know we haven't talked in a while," Ben* said, "but I just wanted to see how things are going. If you ever need to talk, I'm here."
Reba stared at her computer screen and breathed a sigh of relief. Well, she thought, somebody is interested in my life.
Reba convinced herself that it was okay to communicate with her old friend. After all, she just wanted someone to understand what was going on in her world. But that soon led to a visit to Ben's house. She told him that Tyler was a terrible husband. That Tyler was not only drinking more, but also verbally abusive. Sometimes Tyler and Reba would push one another back and forth, and once he pushed her against the wall. "You deserve better than that!" Ben said.
Soon there were more visits to Ben's home and countless late-night telephone conversations after Tyler drifted off to sleep. The two old high school classmates crossed the line from friends to lovers. "He made me feel wanted," Reba recalls.
She decided to take the kids, move out, and get a divorce. She packed their bags and visited her divorce attorney, but when she returned home, there stood Tyler with flowers in his hands. They had argued the previous night and he had come home early from work to try to mend things.
Tyler dropped to his knees by the side of her car and cried. He pleaded with Reba to stay just one more night. After some convincing, she reluctantly agreed. Then she took some strong migraine medicine and went to bed.
While she was in a deep sleep, Tyler pressed Reba's thumbprint onto the keypad of her iPhone so he could look at the calls she had made. That's how he discovered her affair with Ben.
Shattered, but trying to remain level-headed, Tyler woke up his wife. "We need to talk," he stammered. "I know about Ben."
"Now you want to get counseling?"
Reba shook her head as if in a bad dream. Then she glared at her husband and said, "I don't care. I'm done. I've been done. I've tried. I warned you. A while back I tried to get you to go to counseling with me before this affair ever started."
"Then let's go to counseling," Tyler said.
Reba laughed. "Now you want to go to counseling? It's too late."
Tyler would not give up. Finally, after hours of talking, Reba agreed to meet with their former pastor. Maybe there was a glimmer of hope for their relationship.
Things seemed better after that first counseling session, but then something happened that would have destroyed most marriages.
A few days after meeting with the pastor, Reba went to the hospital for a procedure to block a nerve in her back in an effort to stop her migraine headaches. But pulmonary edema put her in the intensive care unit.
Emotionally fragile, Tyler refused to leave Reba's bedside. And when he finally left to get something to eat, Reba texted a picture of an empty chair in her hospital room to someone named Cole* with a message, "Wish you were here in this chair."
Well, Tyler knew about Ben, but not about Cole.
After he returned from the hospital cafeteria, he scrolled through the numbers on Reba's iPhone. There was one that he didn't recognize. So he dialed it.
Cole answered and said he had planned to call Tyler. "Your old lady is cheating on you."
"Who with?" Tyler asked.
"With me," Cole said.
It was as if a bomb exploded in Tyler's heart. At first he refused to believe what he heard. Hadn't Reba come clean?
So he asked for proof. Cole texted him some pictures that Reba had sent him.
Most men would have left their wives that very night, and no one would have blamed them. Even Reba knew she did not deserve a second chance. Her tears and regrets could never erase what she had done.
Help for hurting marriages
Disgusted with the woman she had become, Reba told herself, I'm going to straighten this up.
For the next week, Tyler and Reba spent every waking and sleeping moment together in the hospital. They talked about what had gone wrong in their relationship.
But the reality of Reba's betrayal didn't hit Tyler until they got home. That's when he began drinking and threw a glass candle holder against the wall, watching it shatter into countless pieces … just like his marriage. Could he ever completely trust his wife again?
Longing for lasting change, Tyler and Reba did a search on their computer: "Marriage needs help" … "marriage retreat" … And a marriage getaway called Weekend to Remember® popped up on the screen. It offered help for hurting marriages, and military scholarships were even available.
Two weeks later, the Posts headed to Dallas to attend a Weekend to Remember getaway. It was the first time they had heard biblical messages about building a lasting marriage. Reba says, "I laughed a lot and really soaked the information in."
As part of a Weekend to Remember project, Tyler and Reba wrote love letters to one another. Reba told Tyler that she longed for his leadership and reminded him that she had never had a father to lead her. "I know you are determined to be a good dad," she said. "I want to see that effort put into you being a good husband for me."
Tyler vowed to carve out time to be with just his wife. He promised to listen to her emotions and not just work harder. He was determined to protect Reba's vulnerabilities and weaknesses. He wrote in his love letter, "I believe you are just the person I need in my life."
The Posts left the getaway knowing they could not bury what had happened. But that they could continue to heal and trust that God would somehow use their experiences for good.
At the getaway, Reba and Tyler learned that a healthy relationship is a lifetime commitment, not just a one-time promise. They never wanted to become isolated from each other again, far away from God's plan.
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A healthy relationship is a lifetime commitment, not just a one-time promise.
Building a new marriage
Shortly after their marriage getaway, they moved out of Tyler's parents' house into a new home in another town. They not only unpacked boxes there, but also a biblical blueprint for marriage. And they understood their new life together would take hard work.
Sometimes, even after the getaway, Tyler relived the hurt from his wife's affairs. He became stuck in the past, feeling deceived, rejected, unloved. But on one of those occasions, a new thought popped into his head: That's how God feels when we turn from Him.
Before then he had brushed aside his own behavior and focused on his wife's faults. Suddenly he came face to face with his own sin. Reba was not the only guilty one in their relationship. He was, too.
For the first time in his life, Tyler was broken over his own sin. How could he have made so many poor choices that he could not take back? He confessed his sins before God and totally surrendered his life to following Jesus Christ.
He also vowed to become the husband, father, and man of Christ that he needed to be. He wrote in his journal, I have to create the environment for her to change, develop, and follow me as I lead us through life and closer to Christ, us growing closer to Christ side by side.
Understanding that their marriage still had a long way to go, the Posts sought spiritual mentors and joined a Bible-believing church, Midtowne Church in Benton, Arkansas. The lead pastor there, Doug Pruitt, gave them regular biblical counseling and also helped them invest in others' marriages.
They have now not only helped host an I Still Do® video marriage conference at Midtowne, but also The Art of Marriage® event for their church and community. And they have led two of FamilyLife's Marriage Oneness small-group studies in their home.
Tyler is going through FamilyLife's Stepping Up® program for men, and he and Reba are part of two groups of couples. They have learned the importance of not only being accountable to one another, but also to others who want to follow God's plan for their marriages.
Reba Post no longer asks herself "What about me?" Instead she asks Tyler, "What about us?" She no longer thinks life is terrible, but now looks forward to growing old with Tyler and their four children.
The Posts can never erase all that has happened in their lives. So they have chosen to put the painful events of the past behind them and are pressing forward. And they are doing all they can to tell others what God has done in their marriage. Their story is a testimony that He can turn the worst situations into good, if we will only let Him.
*These names were changed for this article.
Copyright © 2016 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
1. If you or someone you know has suffered the devastation of an affair, a common question is: “Could we ever be one again?” The answer is “Yes!” Read “Recovering Intimacy After an Affair.”
2. Infidelity leaves a gaping wound in the heart of a family. It has become endemic in our society and no marriage is immune. If your marriage or the marriage of someone you love has been assaulted by infidelity, order Torn Asunder by Dave Carder. Filled with hope, it provides an overall recovery process from sexual or non-sexual affairs. Also listen to Carder’s FamilyLife Today® interviews about affairs.
3. Tyler and Reba Post’s marriage was transformed at a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Invest in and strengthen the foundation of your marriage, no matter how firm or fragile it is. Register for a Weekend to Remember.