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A Second Chance

Mary Murray felt betrayed, and Mike felt desperate and suicidal. That’s when God stepped in.
by Mary Larmoyeux

June 2003

To a watching world, Mike and Mary Murray were a perfect couple. They had been high school sweethearts, and appeared to have an ideal marriage. Mike had a good job, and Mary was able to stay at home with their children. They owned their home and had two kids, two cars, and a family dog.

But to Mike, after seven years of marriage, something was terribly wrong. The Murrays had reached their material goals and Mike wondered, Now what? He began to look to his job for fulfillment and often worked 60 hours a week. Mary poured herself into the children. It was so easy for her to turn her focus from Mike to 6-month-old Eric and 2-year-old Brittany.

And now the marriage seemed empty. Their lives were traveling in two different directions. They no longer really communicated—yes, they answered surface questions, but they didn’t talk heart to heart as they had in the early years of their marriage.

Mike felt trapped. With two young children, he and Mary couldn’t just pick up and go places when they wanted. “I never had time to do things that I wanted to do,” he says.

Mike did not share his feelings with Mary. Instead, he followed the slippery path of many others—he became involved with a woman at work who was separated from her husband. It began as a simple friendship. “I was able to listen and she was able to listen,” Mike recalls. “It escalated real quickly into a sexual relationships.”

Mary had no idea of the battle waging in Mike’s soul. “He wasn’t home as much, and we weren’t talking as much,” she says. “I was wrapped up in the kids and I just couldn’t imagine anything ever happening.”

The situation escalated when the Murrays attended a wedding and began to argue. Mary asked Mike if he was seeing someone else and he said, “Yes. It’s just an emotional thing.” Then he lied and said, “We haven’t had any physical relationship.”

Mike can still vividly remember the look of hurt and total surprise on Mary’s face. She was distraught, and he knew that he had betrayed his best friend since high school. The expression on her face jarred him into reality, and he began to understand the harm he was doing to his family.

Mike had been raised in the church and had a deep conviction that they needed spiritual help. Although Mary was uncomfortable about seeing a pastor, she wanted her marriage to be healed. Mary says, “I didn’t care where we went as long as we could get help.”

The pastor asked Mike to make a full commitment of his life to the Lord. Then he looked at Mary and asked her if she had ever received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savoir. She recalls, “I had no clue what this man was talking about—being ‘born again’ and ‘committing my life to Christ.’ …I’m thinking, Why are you asking me all these question? … We’re here because he messed up.” But soon Mary began to realize her own need for Christ. “That night I asked the Lord into my heart. After that things just really started to change for me.”

The future began to brighten for the Murrays. Mary and Mike had each committed their lives to the Lord, and they were both trying desperately to heal their broken marriage. Then, when things were looking hopeful, the “other woman” came to Mike and told him she was pregnant.

He was at a critical crossroads in his life. “I was suicidal and had a 12-guage shotgun in the trunk of my car.” Then, it was as if God spoke to Mike at his lowest point and said, “If you are willing to die, die to yourself and let Me live through you.”

At the same time, God was working in Mary’s heart about forgiveness. She told Mike that she forgave him but his reaction surprised her. He began to weep and confessed his sexual relationship.

Mary screamed; she felt like a knife had gone through her heart. “It hurt so much,” she recalls. “I asked myself questions like, ‘Where do I go from here?’ and ‘Is this what being a Christian is like?'”

As God continued to work in her life, Mary recalled 1 Corinthians 10:13b: “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” This gave her the strength to forgive her husband again. “I know now, looking back, that God knew that I couldn’t handle it all at the beginning. Now that I had the Lord, He was working in me.”

About this time the Murrays’ pastor saw an ad in the newspaper inviting people to attend a HomeBuilders Couples Series® study, and he encouraged them to join. Mary and Mike agreed, and they began meeting with four or five other couple to work through Building Your Marriage, by Dennis Rainey.

“We really wanted to put our marriage back together,” Mike says. “We saw a real opportunity with the material that was before us. If we cold apply these things, it would work. God healed our marriage in the HomeBuilders study.”

Through the healing, Mike remembered the scripture that says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you” (Psalm 51:12-13). “I took that as an urge from the Holy Spirit to go and share with others the healing power that Jesus Christ has in a marriage,” says Mike. “And HomeBuilders was a wonderful tool to accomplish that.”

In 13 years, Mike and Mary have facilitated more than 20 HomeBuilders groups in New England. “It’s been a thrill not only to see marriages restored and on the right path, but to lead people to Christ sitting on the couch in our living room,” says Mike. “It’s an incredible feeling, knowing that we are doing exactly what God has us to do.”

For the past three years, Mike has been the family pastor at their church, so the Murrays are able to minister to couples through his pastoring as well. Ironically, the couple that first introduced Mike and Mary to HomeBuilders has been visiting the Murrays’ church after having lost contact for many years. “I think it blew their minds to think of where we were 13 years ago,” Mary says. “It was neat that they ministered to us and now we’re ministering to them.”

Through HomeBuilders, God has used Mike and Mary and their story as a tool to change lives, heal marriages and restore hope. “Using materials such as HomeBuilders makes it so much easier,” says Mike, “because the format is set up such that you just sit back and let the Holy Spirit lead it. The next thing you know, you’re watching miracles before your eyes … It’s phenomenal.”

Mike still feels some pain when he remembers the affair. “She told me that she got an abortion,” he says. “It is something that I have had to deal with. The Scripture teaches us that we are forgiven but the consequences sometimes remain.”

Today Mike and Mary have a third child, Michaela, who they say would not be here today if their marriage had not been saved. As Mike says, “God chose to use HomeBuilders to restore our marriage. He gave me a second chance, and I want to make the most of it.”