Within the first few years of marriage, however, we began to grow apart. Some causes were external. The death of Lori’s mother affected her greatly, but neither of us realized the effect it had on our relationship. I was experiencing a major career crisis, and also lost contact with my closest friends (due to events too complicated to explain here). We were also, like many young couples, experiencing severe financial stress. Finally our church, where we were both deeply involved, was undergoing a major split. The real cause of our failing marriage, though, was our own negligence. We just weren’t being intentional about our relationship.
My reaction to these events was to become very depressed and angry. My anger wasn’t primarily directed at Lori, it was directed at God. The shallow theology I had been taught growing up was insufficient to address the realities of life as I was experiencing it. In my anger and frustration, I made very poor and fateful choices. One of the worst was a relationship with a female coworker that went from friendship to flirtation to infatuation to physical. It was shocking and disturbing how easy it was to conceal and deceive those I loved. It still is.
Through it all, God never allowed me any peace. I never believed that what I was doing was right. I was tormented by my actions and by the man I was becoming. Eventually, I repented of what I had done and broke off the affair, but I did not have the courage to confess to Lori. In that respect the deception continued and that continued to handicap our relationship. That reality kept me in a deep depression. After months of misery Lori finally confronted me and demanded to know what was going on. At that point my pride collapsed and I confessed what had happened, fully expecting my marriage to be over.
Yet in spite of her rage and sorrow Lori was able receive a gift of forgiveness and grace from God. The road back from the brink of disaster was long and difficult, but we both committed ourselves to rebuilding what had been torn down. Due to financial constraints we didn’t seek professional counseling (not a wise decision, in hindsight) but we worked through our own recovery process, re-evaluating our past and remapping our future. God used the disaster we created as a catalyst to inspire us to learn all we could about His design for marriage.
Through this experience of God’s grace I recommitted myself to the study of the Bible and theology, with a special focus on a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality. Eventually I became a licensed minister in the Assemblies of God, serving as a pastor for over a dozen years. From the beginning of our recovery process, both Lori and I believed that God would one day enable us to use our experiences to help others recover from marital crisis or avoid it altogether. Now over 20 years later, Permanent Passionate Partnership is the result of that vision.