“No one other than Christ could have changed our broken lives and turned it all into something wonderful.”
“I had no idea how couples could ever survive the pain of infidelity,” said Selena Thompson. “I had never really seen a godly marriage or a watched a couple reconcile through Christ’s work in their lives. But that changed when we came to re|engage at Watermark. I’ll never forget hearing for the first time that our problems were not unique or seeing couples who had made it through to the other side together after unfaithfulness and betrayal. If those couples could survive, maybe God could help us through.
“My own parents split up when I was a kid, and afterward, I felt neglected and acted out to get attention. Angry and rebellious, I engaged in inappropriate relationships and used drugs. By the time I was 18, I was an unmarried new mom. I developed a severe methamphetamine habit and slowly lost my home, car, and everything else to drugs. When I realized I would soon lose my daughter, too, we packed up and moved to Lubbock with my mother so I could get clean. I look back at those years and realize that I should be dead, but for God’s protection.
“I had only been sober for 90 days when I met Michael. He was so different from other guys I had dated, and I fell for him. I had lived a difficult life and had developed a hard heart, so sharing life with someone was not easy. When we got married, life seemed good, but we relied on our own abilities, rather than God, to make our marriage work. Fear and not trusting the Lord were huge struggles for me, and that played out in our relationship through control and anger.
“I never looked at what I needed to work on because I spent all my time trying to fix my husband. I controlled our money, the discipline of our daughter, and everything in our house. When I didn’t get my way, everyone paid the price. To make things worse, we didn’t know many people who were actively walking with the Lord, and we didn’t get much discipleship through church. So, we just focused on our jobs and making money while our relationship suffered.
“Michael got a promotion which required us to move to a different city, and I had to commute a long distance to work every day. The Enemy used that distance to drive us farther apart. I became insecure and was worried that Michael might have a relationship with someone at work. Instead of confronting him with these thoughts, I confided in a male friend at work with my concerns. An emotional affair began, and eventually it became physical. Soon I was secretive, anxious, and living in sin.
“When Michael and I separated, I moved back to Lubbock and wrestled with a lot of guilt and shame. Fortunately, I got involved in a local Bible study, and met women who were willing to pray for my marriage and me. In his anger, Michael had begun an affair, which made it such a difficult time for me. These women prayed for me and reminded me to wait on the Lord because reconciliation was possible. Even when Michael filed for divorce, I refused to give up. I studied Psalm 37 and felt convicted that God wanted me to fight for our marriage.
“To get farther away from me, Michael applied for a transfer in his company, and he was moved to Plano. The Lord was doing work in Michael’s heart, and after three months he eventually asked me to move to Plano with him. We found Watermark and joined re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry.
“We often describe our first time through re|engage as God’s opportunity to put out the dumpster fire in our marriage, and the second time was for God to show us what started the dumpster fire in the first place. The Lord did so much work in both of our lives through re|engage and re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. Reintegrating into the same home was not easy, but the Lord was faithful to help us look at the gaping wounds in our relationship and allow us to heal. God helped me see my own sin and depravity and reminded me how He had been with me over and over again. Even in my disobedience, God saved and protected me.
“Today, we are involved in the Watermark Plano campus, and we’ve led four groups through re|engage. Every time we meet couples who are in the same place our marriage once was, it’s a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. With every group, we end up with more great friends who love the Lord like we do.
“I don’t know if there are words to express how much God has blessed us. No one other than Christ could have changed our broken lives and turned it all into something wonderful. But He did this for both of us, and it is worth the wait and the hard work to be in a marriage that God designed. We can now leave a legacy of reconciliation instead of divorce for our kids. Now we get to walk our daughter, Skylar, down the aisle together as one. I can see God’s hand throughout our relationship, and if you let Him, the Lord can work in yours, too.”
“The grass is greener where you water it. If I had put more effort into being a godly man and investing in our marriage, it would have changed things.”
“I believed so many lies about my marriage,” said Michael Thompson. “I bought the lie that there was too much damage for our relationship to work. I believed that we could never recover from infidelity. But I had forgotten one thing: God can change anything.
“Years ago, when I worked up the nerve to ask Selena out, I asked her if she’d like to go have coffee, even though I hate coffee. We started dating after that. Selena was a believer in Christ, and when she asked me about my faith, I didn’t know if I believed in God, Buddha, or the Kool-Aid Man. So, I just told her I believed in ‘something.’
“Despite our many core differences, we moved in together. Our relationship was difficult because I was an avoider and would appease Selena until I was so frustrated that I exploded in anger. I observed that same pattern in my parents’ marriage and brought that baggage into our relationship. I adopted another of my parents’ patterns when we married in 2007. Selena controlled the house and many other aspects of our life, which I was fine with until something went wrong. Then I’d get angry about not having any control.
“Selena was very driven in her career, so I pushed myself to get promoted to keep up with her. When I took a better job out of town, the conflict in our marriage increased, and we quickly drifted apart. Eventually, Selena began an extramarital relationship. The news of her affair left me in a blinding rage, and I tried to hurt her as much as I could. I turned to alcohol to help with the pain and later turned to a woman at work with whom I had my own affair. I believed the lie that since Selena hurt me first, my infidelity was justified.
“After nine months of destructive living, I was pulled over by the police for drinking and driving and spent the night in jail. The only bright spot in that whole incident was getting to connect with my son, who was 20 years old at the time. He was the first person to share the gospel with me and demonstrate what a real Christian man looked like. He told me about the forgiveness and free gift of grace that God offers everyone, including me. Although I loved reconnecting with him, I was not able to fully understand the forgiveness he described.
“I moved to Plano and intended to divorce Selena. But instead, the Lord used the words of a coworker to show me that my marriage was worth fighting for. I called Selena, and together, we found our way to Watermark and to re|engage, Watermark’s marriage ministry. I’m still amazed by all the Lord did after that.
“I was still stubborn at first and could not see why I needed to seek Selena’s forgiveness. But I read the words of Ephesians 4:32, and the Lord showed me how true forgiveness works. The son I had abandoned for 15 years had forgiven me and was willing to pour God’s Word into my life. Each week at re|engage I met people who trusted the Lord enough to extend forgiveness to one another. The more I looked at myself, the more the Lord showed me my part in the mess of our marriage.
“Romans 3:23 says, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ At re|engage I took a look at my sin, and although it was a bitter pill to swallow, I realized I was just as much at fault for the destruction of our marriage as she was. Because of my son’s example I finally understood what true forgiveness looked like. Because of God’s grace at work in my life, in May of 2016 my entire family was baptized, and my son was there to baptize me."