I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7 (NASB)
Marriage to the Man of Her Dreams
A woman married the man of her dreams. She planned to live happily ever after with him, serve God with him, raise children with him, and have a normal, simple life. A few years into this scenario her husband developed a wandering eye and decided his life was not at all what he wanted it to be. He was dissatisfied with the constraints Christianity put on him and stopped going to church and reading the Word of God. Soon after, he admitted to his wife that he wanted something different, and that he wanted to leave her behind. She begged and pleaded with him not to break up their home. She proclaimed her love and devotion to him, but he would not be swayed.
Prodigal Walks Away
He took his half of the finances, arranged visitation with the children, and left his wife and family. He moved into a one room efficiency over a bar and squandered his life and his money with loose living. He drank hard and partied hard and woke up many mornings with strange women in his bed. He thought he had everything he wanted. Eventually, he lost his job due to his new way of life and moved into a trailer with one of the women he met in the bar.
After some time went by the woman began to be demanding of the man. She required expensive clothes and handbags, she wanted to take trips, and together they lived the high life on the money he had left. In spite of all he gave her she was never satisfied; she wanted more and more. Catering to the woman and the other things in his new life didn’t leave time for his children so he rarely saw them. He frequently found himself thinking of how simple his life used to be and wondered how things got so crazy.
Seasons changed and the man found himself very unhappy with his life. The woman was a continual drain on his finances and his nerves. He missed his children, and even found himself wondering about his wife. He wondered how she was getting along. Did she miss him? Was she lonely? He was stunned to realize he was lonely! How could this be? He had everything he wanted and yet he was miserable.
He began to think about what he had done to his life and his wife. He wondered where he went wrong, analyzed the situation and came to his senses. One Friday evening after work he drove to the house and parked close enough to watch his wife and children who were in the backyard. His heart broke as he realized what he had been missing. With a heavy heart, he went back to the trailer park and told the woman they were through. During their loud, ugly brawl he packed up what he had left of his belongings and left her screaming at him as he walked out the door. He was out of money, jobless, and now homeless.
He said, “I was a fool to leave my wife and children! I am lonely and miserable this way. I will go home and tell my wife, ‘Honey, I have been a fool. I have sinned against God and against you; I am not worthy to be your husband; please just let me live here in the house with you and the children. I will work, I will take care of you for the rest of our lives and I don’t expect anything from you at all. I just want my wife and family back to whatever degree you will allow me to have you.'”
The Prodigal is Welcomed Home
Early one Saturday morning he again drove to his house and sat in the car rehearsing his speech and trying to get enough courage to go to the door. He took a deep breath and began to exit the car. As he put his first foot on the pavement, he saw the front door open and his wife step onto the porch. Their eyes locked and she moved toward him down the steps and onto the walkway, arms outstretched and tears streaming down her face. She met him at the car, embraced him and kissed him. The husband said to her, “Dear wife, I have been a fool. I have sinned against God and against you; I am not worthy to be your husband.” But the wife turned and called to their children, “Kids! Come and greet your dad! Let’s celebrate; for my husband was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” And they began to celebrate.
The couple worked hard for many months with the help of a counselor to restore their marriage. The husband fully repented and confessed his sin to his wife. He was astonished at his wife’s ability to forgive him. She loved him in every way, cared for him, honored him, and did not throw his sin in his face when they disagreed or talked about his time as a prodigal. He was profoundly grateful to God and to his wife.
The wife was so thankful her husband had repented and come home. Her heart was broken at what she learned about his activities during his prodigal wanderings. She spent many hours with the Lord crying out to Him and seeking comfort in His Word. There were times she experienced tremendous anger in her heart at her husband, but she was determined to be forgiving and to love him for the rest of their days.
Lack of Support from Friends & Family
Her friends and family, however, were not so forgiving. “Look!” they said. “You have been faithfully married to him and served him for many years; he treated you like dirt! I can’t believe you are allowing him back into your marriage or into your bed after all he has done. He’s had sex with other women! Had one of them move into his apartment with him! He’s disgraced you and yet you take him back as though nothing happened!”
It was not easy for the wife to move forward. Her thoughts were sometimes haunted by what she knew about her husband’s time of wandering. She struggled with inadequacies in her own mind, and at times she even doubted her decision to reconcile with him. Yet, she knew that God desired her to forgive him and that reconciliation was the greatest demonstration of forgiveness.
The wife understood that she had been forgiven many sins. She knew that in the eyes of God her sins were as heinous as her husband’s were. She knew that her family and friends were not her judge, and that her decision brought God great pleasure. She said to her friends and family, “I know you find it difficult to understand my decision, but I love him and I believe God is honored and glorified by our reconciliation. I made a commitment to him for life and by God’s grace, I will keep it. I have to celebrate my husband’s repentance and his homecoming, I have to rejoice, for he was dead and has begun to live. He was lost and has been found.”
This post was inspired by something my pastor said in a sermon. I know many of you have suffered the heartache of infidelity in your marriage. It may seem impossible for your marriage to come back to life and health after such a brutal blow, but I want to encourage you to, if at all possible, forgive and reconcile with your own prodigal husband. ~Blessings.
"In this proverb, we are not told why the woman is unloved. Perhaps she was originally innocent of provoking dislike. Perhaps as a child she was mistreated. But at this point, if the earth cannot endure her, then she has certainly responded in an odious manner that does not engender love from others."
With all due respect, this article just doesn't line up with Scripture. Romans 8:19-22 tells us that creation has been subjected to futility and that it groans with longing until the sons of God shall be revealed. It's far more likely that the earth groans under the weight of such a broken image of the unconditional love Christ has for His Bride.
Furthermore, Leah is an excellent example of one who, through no fault of her own, was acted upon in ways that were unloving. Still, Scripture presents her as faithful and full of prayer. Conversely, it was the beloved Rachel who lied, stole idols, and made impossible demands of Jacob.
The sad fact is that often there is just no accounting for why some women are loved and others aren't. But to use Scripture this way, to automatically assign blame to an unloved wife is just cruel. Scripture never blamed her and neither should we.
Dear Given Grace,
Thanks for your comments on this blog post. I would like to clarify a few things based on your comments to me. First, this is a parable not a proverb. The original parable is that of the Prodigal Son and is illustrative of the love the Father has for us. I borrowed the theme of the parable because as a biblical counselor I am confronted with real life situations like my adaptation on a weekly basis. The goal was to show a woman that the love and forgiveness of God for her sin enables her to forgive even the deepest hurts.
Second, I think you misunderstood the contents of the post. Nowhere did I say or suggest that the wife was to blame for what happened in her marriage. The wife is consistently portrayed as loving, kind, and in the end forgiving. The husband decides he wants something else out of lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. He realizes his foolishness after being out in the world and humbles himself before God and his wife and repents. The husband was responsible for his own sinful decisions.
Thank you for reading the blog and for your comments. Blessings!
Wow! What a challenging post. As a Christian woman going through an unwanted separation, I can relate. I’m more in awe of God’s love and mercy. I’m not sure my heart would survive this kind of devastation…but with God all things are possible.
your story has really encouraged me am at this point in life.my husband want to look for happiness i have blessed him and his out there in the world.I pray for Gods grace to prevail.
I am standing and waiting for my Prodigal Husband to come back to His family.