Bob: When Chris Beall was unfaithful to his wife Cindy, she faced a decision. Was she going to forgive him, or not? Here’s how she thought that through.
Cindy: I really do believe—with all my heart—he never wanted to hurt me. He still did—but he did not want that—so forgiving him, was really rather easy. Trusting him? That was something had to be earned for months—and years—to come.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What does the process of rebuilding trust in a broken marriage relationship look like? Chris and Cindy Beall join us today to talk about their experience. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. One of the things that we’ve talked with couples about over the years is the whole issue of how trust gets rebuilt in a relationship when that trust has been violated.
Usually the violator is hoping that that trust can get rebuilt—like really quickly. The violated person is going, “No, no, no, no, no—this is a much slower process than you imagine—or than it feels like it ought to be to you—because you’re not the one who got kicked in the gut; right?
Dennis: Yes. Usually the one who confesses the sin—especially in a marriage relationship where a betrayal is so personal—feels like they can empty the garbage can and it’s like a dump truck comes and takes it away.
Bob: And they feel free because they’ve become unburdened!
Dennis: They’ve finally gotten rid of it and their spouse is left to know—what do I do with this—
Bob: In the garbage!
Dennis: —with this garbage? We’ve got a couple with us—first of all the author of the book Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New, Cindy Beall—welcome back, Cindy.
Cindy: Thank you.
Dennis: And her husband Chris, joins us.
Chris: Thank you. So excited to be here.
Dennis: They’ve been married since 1993. They have three boys.
You shared earlier about how your marriage had to deal with Chris’s deceit, betrayal, pornography, an affair, the birth of a child outside of marriage that you knew nothing about—and your world was shattered instantly. Yet, one of the great parts of your story is that you were part of a church—Life Church—where you now work—
Dennis: —Chris. I actually love this part of the story, Bob, because many of us have heard a lot of couples, where things have gone wrong and they kind of drop off the face of the planet, and you never hear from them again. Well, that’s not the case with Chris and Cindy Beall. They received forgiveness from one another—they have experienced healing. That’s what I really want to explore here—and begin with you, Cindy, to just unpack.
After you initially responded with grace and forgiveness and a commitment to the marriage some three weeks into the discovery that your husband had been unfaithful for a number of years—
—not only with pornography but also with affairs with multiple women.
How did you experience that healing on an ongoing basis—because there are a lot of listeners who are in the midst of their own deep trauma and trial right now—they need to know where to look for help and hope.
Cindy: Grief is not enjoyable. Nobody wants to grieve. We experienced grief when we lose something—it could be a job, it could be a relationship, it could be a person—so our marriage—I felt like—died that day. So I began a grief process. There’s different stages—you can research and find about all that—but I didn’t really experience a ton of anger or denial—I went straight into the ‘pit of despair’, is what I call it.
For me, I tried for a little bit to kind of push it away when triggers would come. That’s what I used the phrase a lot in my book and when I’m talking to women.
Triggers would come to remind me of something he had done or something he had said that would trigger back to that two and a half year period. I had an option—I could suppress it—push it aside—forget it—not think about it—or I could feel it and I could push through it and I could move through it.
Dennis: Let’s talk about one of those triggers. One of the ways would be when he came home late. Maybe a bit later than he had told you he would be home.
Cindy: Oh, yes! And I’m thinking, “This reminds me of that time period and what am I going to do with it?” An even better trigger—I want to tell you about this—that I wrote about—I was in Walmart and I was grocery shopping.
I remember looking up on the shelf for a particular item for this recipe I was making. This was probably three months after confession. I see it and I’m reminded of something that I used to do when we lived in the other town and it reminded me of, “Oh, he often wasn’t home when I did this.” “He was doing a ministry appointment.”
“Oh, he was—,“ and it triggered and I started thinking, “Oh my gosh!” and I began to cry. In the middle of the aisle in the Walmart. Totally crying—not like on the floor crying— but crying—and I cried for probably a good minute. Then all of a sudden, I just kind of stopped, and I wiped my tears, and I kept grocery shopping.
A lot of people would not have let that happen—they would have run out of the store—they would have stopped, they wouldn’t have thought about it, but that’s what I’m talking about. When these triggers come that remind you of the past, if we do not deal with them—if we do not face them—if we do not feelthem—they’ll be there again! So that day I faced a trigger and my healing went a step further—I firmly believe that. I did a whole bunch of that—for a very long time.
Bob: I want to make sure our listeners understand, it was three weeks after Chris’s confession that you made the decision, “I’m going to stick this out.” Did you forgive him three weeks later?
Was grace extended in that moment? Or was it like, “I’m going to tough this out but we’ve still got a loooong road to hoe before you’re back in my bed”?
Cindy: Forgiveness, for me, was rather quick. I have been forgiven of so much. I watched the actions of my broken, repentant, remorseful husband day after day after day, and I know how much he did not want to do that. I really do believe—with all my heart—he never wanted to hurt me. He still did, but he did not want that. So forgiving him was really rather easy. Trusting him? That was something that had to be earned for months—and years—to come.
Just because God called me to stay—and I knew after three weeks—it wasn’t like, “Okay! We’re good!” No, no. I had to deal with all the—the garbage that I was covered in at this point. He was freer and flying high. I mean, he was amazing and he did so many things to earn my trust back—that he still does 15 years later.
But, man, it still hurt. I still had to deal with the pain.
Bob: Years to rebuild trust?
Cindy: Yes. Years.
Chris: I would say this—people ask her to this day, “Do you trust Chris?” and this is her response, “I trust God in him.”
Chris: “When he’s walking empowered by the Holy Spirit, I trust that.” Honestly, is there anything trustworthy in any of us?
Chris: Outside of God empowering us? Sometimes I feel like we emphasize this idea of human trust outside of God that I don’t know that is actually real. When I—for the last 15 years of healing, that’s been really my number one job is to live empowered by the Holy Spirit—humble and grateful that every day that I have with my boys and with my wife is an undeserved gift.
One thing about Cindy I will say—and this is probably not realistic so,—
—if you’re listening, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done this but—in the last 15 years, Cindy has never once used what I did as ammunition to hurt me. I really believe that she—in a supernatural way—internalizes how much she’s been forgiven by God. Her choosing not to use to wound—
Dennis: —to punish.
Chris: —to punish—is a choice of somebody that has been also forgiven much. I think that’s a significant thing.
Dennis: Cindy, I—this is—this may be off limits so, if you don’t want to answer this question, it’s fine.
Dennis: I’m not a woman—I can’t begin to imagine what it might be like to go to bed with my husband and in that moment of intimacy—more than a trigger—flashbacks.
Cindy: —an onslaught.
Dennis: Yes—a tsunami. How have you handled that?
Cindy: Obviously, it’s part of the healing. It was very difficult—it was almost like, “Let’s just get through this.”
Chris: There was six weeks where there was no physical intimacy in our marriage. Our mentors, walking us through this, basically said, “Look, this is something that Cindy is going to set—it’s going to be her decision.” Six weeks into the healing process there was a moment where Cindy was open to us being together.
Cindy: And it was very challenging. My heart was thinking, “What’s he thinking about?” “What does she look like?” “Does she have a better body than me?” All of these thoughts are going through and I just began to take thoughts captive—I mean I am literally taking thoughts captive in that moment.
Dennis: For those who don’t understand what that means, that’s praying and actually just offering those thoughts before God. “God, take these thoughts.”
Dennis: “Cleanse them.”
Dennis: “Wash them clean.”
Cindy: “God help me—help me not think about this.” “I know that you have redeemed this—You’ve redeemed my marriage—You’re making things new.”
“Please God just help me to make it through.” And then as things progressed in the months to come, there was just less and less of the onslaught of that happening.
Bob: Did it take months before you being together was something that you could embrace and enjoy as a wife.
Cindy: Potentially closer to a year—maybe more—I can’t really remember—but yes, it took a long time. Sadly, people see what we have 15 years later and they think, “I want that!” and I’m like, “Are you sure?”
Dennis: Yes. You’re title of you book makes me emotional to think about it! It a tremendous hope-giving title: Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New. So you wouldn’t trade in what you have today?
Cindy: I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t go back—and have a faithful husband. I wouldn’t go back—and not have my stepson, whom I adore. I wouldn’t go back and trade all the pain to have what I have now.
I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t do it.
Bob: I think it’s important for a wife—or even a husband—who’s been a victim here. It took a year or more before you could fully be engaged in intimacy with your husband but that doesn’t mean it was a year or more before you shared intimacy with your husband. You guys were together during that time with you having to process everything in those moments—but you also recognizing, “If our marriage is going to work, this is a part of what makes a marriage work.”
Cindy: Yes. We were growing as a couple in that—let’s just take the six week time period—we were growing and he was finally investing in our marriage—after two and a half years of not doing it. That’s what happens with these people who start cheating—they’re investing somewhere else. When you start investing where you’re supposed to—and our intimacy was growing—Yes! We wanted to.
Dennis: So, Chris—as you were talking about the three weeks—the six weeks—the year—you’re not a robot either.
Dennis: What were you learning?
Chris: I think the—trying to understand—”How did I get here?” Because there was never a day that I said, “You know, I think I’m going to become a sex addict and I think I’m going to be addicted to pornography for the better part of my adult life.” Those thoughts never went through my head—it was just one—pushing one moral boundary after the other—just real subtle things.
Going through the healing process—learning how to be convicted of my sin so not to be ashamed, necessarily—but to be broken—personally—for what I’ve done and how that affected those that I love—including God—on one side—then truly and fully walking in the grace of Christ—that I am enough—just as I am. That—that was probably one of the most challenging and life-changing things.
I was working in retail at the time—there was an 18-month period where—almost two years—where I wasn’t in ministry and really, ministry was not even on the radar—it’s like, “We’re done.”
Dennis: Your church actually—
Dennis: —took you off of the stage from leading worship—
Dennis: —and put you to work at Home Depot and took away all your screens.
Chris: The leadership team—they came and took the computer. They said, “You’re going to be under our covering”—which means you just have to do whatever we tell you to do. If you want to go on vacation—ask us first. If you want to get a job—which you’re going to need a job—you can’t travel, you can’t have a computer and you can’t have the ability to be alone with women.
Dennis: You stayed in the church.
Chris: Absolutely! Yes.
Cindy: We sat on the front row.
Chris: —where people knew! Where people knew.
Dennis: That took a lot of courage, too.
Chris: Well, but here’s the thing—so we went the weekend after the announcement and then Craig Groshell, my pastor, made the comment that, “Chris and Cindy’s with us today.” It was in that moment that the church stood up [Emotion in voice]—
—and gave us a round of applause—and there was a line to hug our necks! This is a week after the confession! In that moment—that’s really when I had just supernatural hope. It was this community of faith was going to be the hospital where we heal. God is planting the seeds for redemption. That weekend—that day in church—it changed us.
Bob: Cindy, could your marriage have made it to where it is today if there had not been a community doing what this community of faith did? If it was just the two of you saying, “Okay, we’ll try to rebuild. We’ll see a counselor. We’ll do our best.” You think your marriage would have survived that?
Cindy: I can’t see how it would have.
There’s just something special about telling people—like-minded believers—that are going to speak the truth and encourage you and build you up and hold your arms up when you can’t hold them up anymore. We had that, not only from the church staff but from our people in the congregation.
Dennis: Cindy, as Chris was telling that story, I reached and gave you a Kleenex. I want to know what it was like to have people line up and come by and look you in the eyes and hug you. What was that like?
Cindy: It was—peacefully difficult. There was some embarrassment—a little bit—kind of like…everybody knows your business now. [Emotion in voice] You’re so vulnerable and so raw—but, man! To see them actually do what the church is supposed to do? How we’re supposed to help other believers heal. That was a very profound thing—and it made me think, “I can stay here with these people. I can stay here.”
Bob: These were not your lifelong friends.
Cindy: I’d been there six weeks!
I didn’t even really have a lot of friends!
Dennis: I don’t know what it feels like at this level—I’m a broken person too, but—it has to be a little bit like a leper.
Dennis: You had to feel like a leper at that moment and have people standing in line to hug you?
Dennis: What the flesh wants to do is run!
Dennis: In the other direction—the exit.
Chris: I think—Craig stood on stage the week before and said that the American church, unfortunately—more often than not—is one of the only institutions on the planet that shoot their wounded. That will not happen—we will be a hospital. Secondly, he said that gossip kills churches and if we all know the truth in love, then we’re truly free to just love them and be a voice of healing.
I had one conversation—probably 18 months later—that I think really painted the picture of what—from the perspective of the church—the body of Christ—there was a 75 year old woman that came up to me.
I don’t even remember meeting her—I didn’t know who she was—but she walked up to me in church and she grabbed my collar and she said, “Son, are you still free?” I looked at her and I said, “Yes, ma’am.” And she smiled and she said, “We did it!”
She didn’t say, “You did it!” She didn’t say, “Good for your marriage,” she said, “We did it!” I really believe that there’s a responsibility that’s placed on a community that’s of faith—to be environments of healing. She was so proud to be a part of a church that—in her mind—we did it right.
Dennis: Your story reminds me of another one that Bob and I were told live on stage at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit where—I believe it was a foster care young lady who was cared for by a woman in the church—was never adopted by her, as I recall. She fell in love as a young lady in her 20’s and when it came time [Emotion in voice] to give her away in the wedding to the man—
—the entire church stood up and said, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” You know, that’s really what the church was expressing there when they said, “We did it! We really did it.”
Cindy, I want you to comment on something. Earlier you said you became convicted that whatever you did, you need to give God the glory. What did that look like? Now, looking back on this, what does it mean to give God the glory—practically speaking?
Cindy: It’s probably different than what you might expect. We see people in the world where say something nice—“Dennis, great book. Oh, praise God, He’s so good.” We give God the glory in that capacity—or we think we do—and we might. For me, giving God the glory is a heart condition.
I began—when people would come up—and they still do—and they say, “Oh! You’re so amazing!” They’ll say things like, “You saved my marriage!” and I’m thinking, “No I didn’t. I’m a human—God saved it!” When I get all these compliments—whether it’s speaking at an event and people are like, “Oh, you—that was so good!” I just—in the quiet of my heart—I just say, “God, if they only knew! I’m so wretched!” I’m thinking this to myself and I just—“Thank you God, that you’re using me—this vessel.”
I just look at them and I say, “Thanks.” “Thank you.” Then I always turn it and I’ll say, “What did God speak to you?” If I’m speaking…and they said something—“What did He say to you?” I’m trying to shift it to where I want to know what He spoke. At the same time, we’re called to encourage as long as it is today—so that none of us will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. So if I encourage you and you slam it back against me—you say, “Oh no, it wasn’t me, it was just God.”
I’m trying to encourage you and if you don’t allow me, I’m not using that gift—that command that I have.
That was—for me—what I began to do—was…giving God glory. For me, giving Him glory was so internal—was so internal.
Bob: I think it’s evident in what you’ve done in two books now because you’ve written two books telling this story and it all keeps pointing back to how it’s God at work in this. Nobody can read these books and go, “You’re just so smart! You’re just so clever! You came up with all kinds of solu—“ “Those tactics you had—where did you come up—“ This is just all about all about the healing power of God in the life of a couple.
Dennis: For those of you who want to hear Chris’s answer to a question I’m about to ask him, you’re going to have to go to our website. Okay?
Bob: Okay. Are we going to hear the question?
Dennis: Oh, we’re going to hear the question—
Bob: —and then the answer will be online. [Laughter]
Dennis: —and the answer will be online.
Chris, this wasn’t your statement—whatever you did you wanted to give God the glory—that was your wife’s statement. I’m just curious as to how you feel in the years that have past that has worked its way out in you.
Bob: That’s a good question. Again, we’re not going to listen to the answer now—the answer will be online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Head over there to hear Chris’s thoughts on how God has been glorified in the midst of the brokenness that has been a part of your marriage relationship.
We also have copies of the book that Cindy has written telling their story. It’s called Rebuilding A Marriage Better Than New. While you’re on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, you can order a copy of the book or you can call to order if you’d like. Again the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. The number to call to order is 1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800-FL-TODAY. 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY”.
There’s also a video on the website for those who would like to watch a short video where you guys share your story. There may be people that folks would want to pass that video along to. Again, you’ll find it online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
As we’re sharing your story this week I’m just reminded of our goal here at FamilyLife. We want to daily provide practical help and hope from the Bible so that husbands and wives, moms and dads know how to build a strong, healthy, godly marriage and family. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families—because we believe godly marriages and families change the world one home at a time.
Our desire—in the months ahead—is to expand the outreach. We’ve seen God do some great things this past year with more people attending our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways.
More people coming to our website—FamilyLifeToday.com—more ways that this daily program is reaching people—on their smartphones, on their tablets, through the radio. Those of you who support this ministry—you’re helping us expand the reach of FamilyLife Today.
At the beginning of this month we had a friend of the ministry who stepped forward and said, “I’d like to see it grow even more.” He offered to match every donation that we receive during the month of August—dollar for dollar—up to a total of $800,000. To take advantage of that matching gift, we need to hear from folks before this month ends—and this month ends in a couple of days.
Today is a good day to go online and make a donation—and when you do, your donation will be doubled. You can donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call to donate at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at P.O. Box 7111 Little Rock, AR. The zip code is 72223.
As long as your letter is postmarked before the end of the month, it will qualify for that matching gift opportunity for us. Again, please pray that we’ll be able to take full advantage of this matching gift.
Please join us back tomorrow when we’re going to hear more from Chris and Cindy Beall as they tell us about the process God has taken them through in rebuilding their broken marriage, better than new. That comes up tomorrow—hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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