They Do Exist.

Ask A Married Woman: Have You Ever Cheated On Your Husband? Have You Wanted To?

Editor’s Note: This month we have been answering questions from our readers that they would ask a married woman, if they could. I am ever grateful for the wisdom that has been shared this month. Dozens of our readers have asked, “Have you ever cheated? Have you ever been attracted to another man? What about emotional infidelity? Is monogamy possible?” There is no proper way to answer these questions without a story. Lindsey Hartz has given us the gift of her words, and her life. Lindsey, thank you for your open heart, and the brutal honesty of your story. – Lauren

“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

I stand up to meet him, ready with my friendly façade. Hand to hand we touch, a handshake, a formal introduction. Our eyes lock, and I am immediately unsettled…a violent reaction crashing through me, a hint of darkness, and devastation.

I blink, unsure of what just happened. I want to snatch my hand away, furiously wipe his touch away, turn and run away. Dancing around the edges of my unexplainable fear is the awareness of etiquette, of maintaining my composure.

We casually chat, the talk of strangers in a business world. He asks me to lunch, and my unease grows even as I accept. I don’t know, then, that the Holy Spirit is frantically beating at the doors of my hardened heart…warning me, trying to steer me away, before it is too late.

Photo by Branden Harvey

The next day, we walk to lunch. His gaze slides over me, up and down, settles. He glances back up and catches my eye, says, “I like your shirt.” I blush furiously, mumble thank you, try to change the subject, knowing it’s not my shirt he’s focused on.

The lunch drags on, and he seems to grow aware of my awkwardness, my discomfort. He says something funny, the mood grows lighter. I start to wonder if it is just me, misinterpreting his actions, his words, his glance.

The weeks pass by, and we fall into an easy relationship. He is funny, charming, charismatic, as we talk about work, family, God, church.

The mention of God fills me with wonder and hope, and makes me dismiss my initial feeling about him. I have been lonely, empty, scared for so long. The devastating fallout of painful abuse in my childhood and the crumbling pieces of my marriage have been crashing down for years. I follow the rules; I am a good girl, but I also define myself as a victim. Seeing the world through the eyes of despair. And I think that maybe, this thing called God, can help. And maybe, this man who appears so full of God, can help.

* * *

One day, we talk more about my childhood, the effect it has had on my marriage, my husband. He asks, “Are you together?” I look at him, my naivety wrapping itself around me. Then I realize what he means, and that feeling from the first day we met rushes back in. Only this time, I ignore it, and I shake my head no, too embarrassed to say out loud how empty my marriage has become, how I have failed my husband emotionally, physically.

I needed a friend.

And in my desperate need, I made him my savior.

This pattern in our relationship goes on for months. The ebb and flow of casual friendship interspersed tragically with more moments like these. Inappropriate connections and conversations, me willingly hanging on to and encouraging the slivers of attention and acceptance dangled in front of me. The small doses of hope meted out whenever he sent me Bible verses or talked about God.

By the time it finally happens, we are both already lost. We have continually compromised, steadily given in to the monsters inside. We have gazed into the abyss of our hearts and justified our need, our selfish desire for far too long, flirting with disaster. All the while Satan has waited, crouching, laughing for the final surrender.

In this moment, I am no longer following the rules, being a good girl, being a victim.

I willingly become a whore.

Stolen moments pass and days full of agony and shame drift by. I know I am drowning in a foul pit of destruction, know I am bending and swaying to Satan’s siren call.

And the most devastating knowledge of all? The foretold rottenness ingrained in the very nature of my soul? It is uncovered, raw, exposed:

I don’t care.

* * *

Then we are caught. And life implodes with fury and hurt. Consequences for the affair come swiftly, and they come hard. I feel my identity being ripped away; the separation violent and bloody. When I made my choice, I threw away the beauty of being a wife, a mother, a friend.

Trying to put that skin back on in the aftermath feels uncomfortable, like I am trying to wear clothing meant for someone else, someone more worthy, someone more pure.

But there is also love, has always been love, between my husband and I. The only tenuous thread we have to hang on to in the middle of the storm raging between us. My first real glimpse of God occurs the morning after, when my husband says,

“I love you, I always have. I will never leave you, and I am sorry I did not protect you from this.”

A new bond between us is made in an instant, a feeling of awe and the gentle sigh of hope that he (and He) could still love me, after what I’ve done. God is already moving, rushing in to take back what has been lost.

* * *

My inability to forgive myself creates an aching rawness in my soul. I go through the motions of attending counseling and recovery, try to use God as a band-aid over my gaping wounds instead of as the Healer, wrestle with God and what He is asking of me.

I do not want to believe His love for me.

I do not want to let go of the control I think I have.

I do not want to let go of my crushing unbelief.

Our church and community continues to surround us, fills our lives with grace and stories of a merciful and loving God who abhors what has happened, who weeps with us, who is waiting for us.

And one day, the veil lifts, and grace rushes in. Only then, as I accept Christ as my Savior, do I finally feel the weight of my sin, cry out in agony, laugh with joy, beg forgiveness. Only then, do I forgive myself.

* * *

Since then, this journey towards God has been full of steps forward and back. Even so, I can so clearly see the devastation of my life without Christ, and have found such precious hope and beautiful peace in the promise of my new life with Christ. It certainly has not been easy; this process of learning how to receive grace and learning to accept that
I am forgiven,
I am loved,
I am free.

My husband and I are on this journey together, our goal united. We live and breathe everyday to glorify God through our new life and love, our marriage, our painful past. Simply so that others may know Him and love Him too.

And now that you have read our story, I leave you with a question and a challenge.

Whatever you are doing, whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you…

Are you willing to stop, willing to take a deep breath full of mercy and power and love, and allow your story to become His story?

He’s waiting for you, and He loves you right now, as you are. Even in the midst of your own abyss.

That’s what grace is.

That’s who God is.

All you have to do is cry out, and believe.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. -Psalm 40: 1-3


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55 Responses

  1. Jen

    How long has it been, and when did you feel ok to share your story outside of the church family, or more openly? I really identify with how you describe getting back up – "Trying to put that skin back on in the aftermath feels uncomfortable, like I am trying to wear clothing meant for someone else, someone more worthy, someone more pure."
    I'm finally embracing forgiveness of myself (and my husband who much like yours walked in grace I'd never before experienced, pretty much right after I confessed my failure and sin to him.)
    Sharing so boldly has me a little scared of consequences (we're doing better, but what will people say or how would things change, would it cause further damage, etc) but then I hear stories like yours and it peels back the layers and brings more positive vs negative…

    July 24, 2012 at 2:32 am

  2. I am not married, nor am I even in a relationship, but I feel like this is such a good article for anyone to read. I have never, ever thought of myself as anyone who would be "the other woman" nor have I ever had an inappropriate relationship with a married man, but I feel like I need to be reminded of boundaries in relationships so that I avoid any potential problems. Thank you for your honesty!

    July 24, 2012 at 3:09 am

  3. As I shake my head, relating to you, in awe of your boldness, and undescribably grateful for God's grace, I just want to extend hugs your way! What a powerful testimony! Thank you for sharing!

    July 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

  4. Laura

    I've been here…I relate all too well to this story! "I willingly became a whore" sounds so harsh, but that is how it feels. It still amazes me how that statement alone didn't stop me…how I didn't seem to care. I could not believe in my husband's love for me and I gave up on my marriage. I am now dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of giving up. Bless you for sharing your heart.

    July 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

  5. oooh this was beautiful. thank you so much, Lindsey. <3

    July 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm

  6. Thank you Lindsey. This is so great to read as a newly engaged woman who will be married next year. Thanks for opening up your heart and sharing so honestly with us.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

  7. Emily

    Great article! Thanks for your vulnerability.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

  8. Rachel Clements

    wow.
    this is incredible.
    thank you for your raw honesty in both your sin and your acceptance of grace.
    beautifully written.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

  9. anon

    Thank you for sharing this. I struggle, continually, in my marriage. And though I have never had an affair or been close to having an affair or even been attracted to someone else enough to want it with someone specific…sometimes I have fantasized about it happening…found myself maybe *wanting* it to happen. Sometimes I fight that urge or fantasy and other times I find myself "just not caring" and letting myself indulge or to even go LOOKING for it. Reading this and other accounts of the damage and destruction (that I even KNOW in my own head whenever I logically play out the ramifications of betraying my marriage, my family, etc…for my own selfish reasons/sin) is a good dose of reality. A call back to God. To love God. To know I AM LOVED by God. And to let that be my identity.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm

  10. katie

    Oh, sweet Lindsey. I wish I could tell you how many times in the last year my fiance and I have had this conversation. His previous marriage fell apart after affairs, on both sides. I'm constantly amazed to be reminded that an affair is less of a boundaries issue and more of an identity issue. THANK YOU for speaking into this.

    July 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

  11. Carrie

    Lindsay, thanks for sharing your story.

    I'm curious about the victim motif. I was interested to read that you associated the moment of deciding to have an affair as both the moment you stopped being a good girl and the moment you stopped being a victim. I think I understand what you mean by that, but I'm curious about how the victim issue has taken shape during your healing–how have you been able to rebuild a faithful life without going back to the victim mindset you had when you were "good" and not a "whore"?

    Also, I have to say I do not find the particular quotation to be in harmony with your story… choosing not to battle the monster or gaze into the abyss would have been to ignore, deny or accept the darkness you found in your heart–instead you saw it, battled it, and became a stronger woman, NOT a monster. I think God gives us the power to take on the daunting challenges that would destroy us in Nietzsche's world.

    July 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

  12. no savior

    Thank you for sharing this so honestly. It is a hard, but powerful story, and the picture of redemption is beautiful.
    I have been praying about sharing a story here, but without sharing my name… What you are saying about how you saw the other man as your savior at that moment is so central to many of these temptations, I think. I struggled with that idea a lot when I was single, but the other way around. I saw myself as the girl would could save the messed up guy. I had multiple times of trying to help the troubled guy & getting my heart all tangled up in it.
    Quite recently, I saw that savior complex rear it's ugly head in me again. But this time it was while being very happily married. And I was feeling the need to "help" a very married man. Holy Spirit speaking into my heart. The savior / victim complexes are so unhealthy. And yet, don't think that is what we feed ourselves so often through movies & songs & all that in popular culture.

    July 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

  13. Beautiful, honest writing,which will no doubt help many, many women. Thank you for sharing your gift of words and the grace of our heavenly Father, especially seen through your dear husband. Blessings on you.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

  14. I too have what I call "swam in the deep dark waters of adultery" as has my husband, whom I now honorably call my Covenant Love. I call him this as a reminder of who we were and now whose we are. I am over joyed that you and your love have chosen to fight. We found that what we feared the most is what set us free- the telling, the transparency, the admittance of habitual sin. Just as you said "in an instant" we too had our in an instant moment. The words "You are worth fighting for" rocketed our marriage into what it was designed to be. Oh, I am so excited we are not the only ones knowing of such grace and power. We chose to feel the entire weight of this journey, our choices, and felt to not would be to fail. This is why we tell our story just as you have. More of these stories are needed and I am so thankful you have told yours. I just met with the woman my husband had his affair with a couple weeks ago. God has brought such a depth of healing to our marriage through that meeting, deeper than he had already done. I posted about our meeting today. I pray to hear more of your story. Tell you husband I said that it does not go un-noticed that he has allowed you to tell this story so many men would desire to be covered for fear of shame. That is a good man!

    July 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm

  15. Beautiful story Lindsay! God is simply amazing…restoration, reconciliation, forgiveness….he writes such a GOOD STORY!!

    July 25, 2012 at 2:18 am

  16. Terri

    I read this last night on my phone. Wonderful blog, but I am most interested in finding again your husbands blog/response. That was amazing!! Yes, we as women are wrong to make those choices, but what a refreshing prospective from your husband to actually step up as the "leader" of the family and to openly accept his sin, which most likely came first! Would you please point me to his blog? Thank you for sharing.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  17. Terri

    I'm back again…Terri…here….maybe instead of saying "I willingly became a whore", the more accurate statement would be, "I willingly became submissive." Did you have indiscriminate, sexual intercourse? Was it with a number of partners for money? Was it casual, irregular, or haphazard? Those are the definitions of a whore. As a women, God made us as helpers that want leadership…not dominance to rule over us with an iron fist, but dominance to rule over us with affection and love,…. "cherished as rubies"….as God does. None of us are perfect, but doesn't a good leader take responsibility for those he has chosen as his helpers? Sounds like we are still in the garden.

    July 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

  18. Terri

    I understand what you are saying too…but turn the tables and put a man in your shoes…what would he be called?

    Ahhh…"used and misguided" even by someone claiming to be a Christian. First of all and foremost, you should have been filled up and secondly, as a married women you should have been covered. Had either of those situations been the case, you would have never fallen for that deceit. Don't beat yourself up too much and thank God every day for a Christian man who does know his responsibility.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm

  19. Lucy Q.

    Did you purposely quote Nietzche?

    July 26, 2012 at 6:57 am

  20. Yes ~ there is an explanation as to why earlier in the replies. This is a picture my life before Christ (starting with the quote by Nietzche) and my life in Christ (the bible verse). Thank you!

    July 26, 2012 at 7:05 am

  21. Oh my Lindsey friend. This is just so beautiful. The words, the story-telling, the Grace rushing in. I'm speechless. God is not done with your words…I don't believe it. Thank you for this raw beauty this morning.

    August 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

  22. AlbertaBob

    “I love you, I always have. I will never leave you, and I am sorry I did not protect you from this.”

    Terri says: "…but what a refreshing prospective from your husband to actually step up as the "leader" of the family and to openly accept his sin, which most likely came first!"

    First, Terri, I wish you had been around to explain to my ex-wife that it was her fault that I had an affair. After all, she opened the door to that temptation.

    But more importantly, by what occult knowledge do you declare his sin probably came first? We don't even know what his sin was, which in all likelihood was probably just his lack of willingness to confront his wife on this. Women are completely and utterly able to sin with no outside impetus whatsoever. In fact, the first recorded sin in history was Eve succumbing to the serpent, thinking God was holding out on her and that she knew better. That sin was not coerced by anyone else whatsoever.

    Lack of "covering and filling" is simply an excuse, because that leaves the "covered" as sole judge of if the role is being fulfilled by the "coverer".

    September 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

  23. Hi! I believe Terri's comment was in response to my husband's part of the story, which was not referenced here. You can read it here if you'd like http://www.lindseyhartz.com/story/ and scroll down the page till you see Josh's Story: Taking Responsibility.

    I agree that in a lot of cases, adultery can occur solely due to one spouse's decision and the other had no responsibility or part in the matter (in other words they were honoring their marriage, etc and the other spouse chose to have an affair anyway). Our case was a little different, as both my husband and I made choices that led to affairs and distance in our marriage.

    Blessings,
    Lindsey

    September 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

  24. AlbertaBob

    First, a technical concern. When I received the email notification that you had replied it was from a different user name. That user name is something of a luminary in women's ministries with whom I am well familiar. Due to my respect for her I will not state that name. However, I am concerned that this could cause some confusion about who is actually posting and conceivably whose story this really is.

    Second, I continue to disagree and I guess we'll just have to leave it at that. If we are to be obedient to God, then be obedient. I am satisfied that in God's recounting to me of my whatever my sins have been, there will be no mention of my ex-wife's (or anyone else's) name.

    September 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  25. DRp

    Hello all,
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    November 12, 2012 at 3:00 am

  26. D

    Ya I cheated on my hubby, bc I found a pic of he’s ex that was recent. And I felt cheated and lied on. I couldn’t take the pain so I slept with this hottie just about every night.. He liked me and I liked him. He was better looking and bigger under. My hubby is ok with small dick!!!!! But I love that man…. He and he’s small prick. We been married for 2 years and to this day I hate him for that I no longer trust him. I still think he still loves he’s ex even tho she’s married fat and had 2 children and treated him horribly like a pice of trash, but ya w/e. I treated him good and he repays me shit. We have a kid now, if I could I’d love to leave him… I love him but I can’t stand him anymore!!!!!! But then if I leave I can provide for baby!! I need to go back to school so I can be powerful and he can’t control me wih small prick!! That cums after 1 minut of sex!! It’s horrible a and he leaves me insatified while he runs back and plays stupid vedio games for hours , but keeps no effort to his performance if I told him he was horrible a his lil feeling gets offended and his ego is crushed.. Blah blah.

    May 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm

  27. goodwomen???

    So, the wife cheats on the husband and the HUSBAND is the one who apologizes? WOW. It's no wonder women get away with anything and everything – because society never places any real responsibility on women. It's always something/someone else's fault. The poor woman is always the victim, no matter what atrocious sin she has committed.
    And I thought this was supposed to be a Christian site – so much for that with whoring around, but still – why are you quoting the infamous Friedrich Nietzsche???

    November 8, 2013 at 6:50 am

  28. Drake the raper

    Fuck my ass wife.

    February 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm

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