The pastor who married David and Tiffany predicted they would live on love for the first six months, and then figure it out from there. After all, as David explains, “We were crazy in love.”
But after just two or three years, that love started to wane. David and Tiffany each had secrets, and those secrets almost destroyed their marriage.
When Tiffany met David in 1990 she thought of him as a godly young man. Although she told him about most of her past, she didn’t mention her sexual activity in high school. She had convinced herself that it made her unlovable.
“As we began dating,” Tiffany says, “David told me it was important for him to marry a virgin.” When he asked Tiffany about this, she said she was saving herself for marriage.
And David had a secret of his own. He hid a continuing battle with pornography from Tiffany. Eventually he quit trying to overcome it, rationalizing, “It was just part of me.”
David and Tiffany realized that they had some struggles in their young marriage. But, they figured, didn’t most couples? They had some problems with intimacy. But what marriage was perfect? And they had their share of arguments. But didn’t everyone?
The problems and pressure increased when David lost his job, then accepted a position in another city. This left Tiffany (who was also working full time) alone with two small children and a house that wouldn’t sell.
David’s visits home became less and less frequent. Then someone sent Tiffany a letter describing how much time David and a female coworker were spending together. When Tiffany asked her husband about this, he became angry. He claimed he and the woman were only friends and told Tiffany that he longed to be with her and the kids.
After four long months, the family was reunited when the house sold. But David didn’t act like someone who longed to see his wife. Instead, he seldom talked to her, and wouldn’t even look at or touch her. Tiffany was drowning in loneliness and wondered if David had some sort of secret.
He often spent hours away from home after work saying he was going to a nearby hardware store. “I would try to lie in bed with David,” she says, and “during that time he wouldn’t even let his little toe touch me.” Then she would get up and read, clean house, listen to music … and cry.
“And when all else failed,” she recalls, “I decided to pray.” As she did, she felt that God wanted her to confess her high school promiscuity to David. For years she had not told him the truth because she was fearful of his response.
But finally she could keep her secret no longer. “As we lay in bed, I confessed my hidden sin to David,” she says, “and asked for his forgiveness.”
David seemed furious. He told Tiffany that he didn’t love her, and then stormed out of the house, saying he needed to “drive around.”
But David had a secret of his own. He had lied to Tiffany about his feelings for the woman at work. They weren’t just friends; they were having an affair. And he wasn’t just driving around; he was heading to her house.
At this point, David says, he felt confused. On one hand he knew in his heart that he loved Tiffany and he was relieved to hear her confess. But on the other hand he was enjoying his affair. He felt so accepted and understood by the other woman.
“Part of me ached to extend forgiveness to Tiffany,” he says, “but then again, this could be my ‘perfect out.’ I had Tiffany right where I wanted—broken and with no excuse. … I could blame it all on her and just walk away.”
In desperation, a few days after Tiffany’s confession he turned to his mother for advice. She had been divorced before marrying his dad. David thought that she might share some insight with him, especially since her first husband had been unfaithful.
For the first time in his life, he asked his mom questions about her failed marriage: Did she want to get divorced? Had she ever considered getting remarried to her first husband? Inwardly, David was wondering if there was any hope for his own marriage relationship.
After answering his questions she said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but you two need to get it right.” And then she offered to watch the grandkids overnight. David took his mom up on her offer and invited Tiffany to dinner.
“We talked about almost everything,” Tiffany says. David revealed his secret obsession with pornography; Tiffany quickly forgave him. And he told his wife that he forgave her for lying about her virginity; Tiffany was relieved. But he still said nothing about the other woman.
Tiffany says that after she and David returned home that night, she quickly fell asleep. A few hours later, David woke her up and confessed his affair.
“I was devastated, but not surprised,” Tiffany says. “I was hurt, but not unprepared. I was ready to fight, not with David, but for David—for us!”
The following day, David and Tiffany made an appointment with a crisis counselor who gave them hope for their marriage. At the counselor’s suggestion, they began reading a book about the differences between men and women. That began their path to healing.
Tiffany’s friends and family encouraged her not to give up on her marriage, and over time things began to improve. Tiffany and David once again started going to church together. They shared fun times as a couple, playing coed softball and volleyball. And they continued seeing a marriage counselor. They also met (both as a couple and individually) with a mentor couple and with a marriage and family minister from their church.
David was advised to read the book Guard Your Heart by Dr. Gary Rosberg. He says it helped him understand the huge gap between what he said his values were and how he was living them out. “It opened my eyes to put some safeguards in place, some boundaries, to become the husband that God intended me to be.”
But there was still a problem: David just could not forgive himself. “I could not move past all the carnage I brought upon myself.”
That changed one day when Tiffany sat by his side in a counselor’s office, tears streaming down her face. She begged him to not only accept her forgiveness, but also to forgive himself and move forward in their marriage.
The counselor explained to David that Jesus Christ had paid all of the debt for David’s affair. Then the counselor tore up a piece of paper, saying that it represented the debt David owed Tiffany for the pain he had caused.
“That visual illustration broke through my inner core,” David says, “And I began to really wake up and discover life again.”
After David and Tiffany completely reconciled, they discovered FamilyLife Today®. As they listened to the radio broadcasts, they realized that they had learned God’s principles for marriage the hard way. “Our marriage was not something to be easily trashed,” David says. “It is a covenant, and not just between the two of us, but with God Himself.”
With God at the center of their restored relationship, there is no room for secrets. “They erode trust,” David says. “We call them invisible stumbling blocks.”
Now, after almost two decades of marriage, Tiffany says she has never been so in love with her husband. And David is crazy in love with his wife!
Used with permission. Copyright © 2011 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.