7 Suggestions after You Learn of an Affair in Your Marriage

counseling distressed couple

I wish it never happened to anyone and I hope it never happens to you, but in my job I hear it almost every week. It’s a word we are afraid of, one which can destroy, and certainly a word which breaks many hearts — and sadly — many marriages never recover when it occurs.

Sometimes people admit to it, but mostly they try to deny it. Yet, the impact on the marriage is certain every time.

The word is AFFAIR.

I once thought this word was guaranteed to end a marriage, but after seeing countless marriages put back together by the grace of God — actually strengthened following an affair — I now believe it definitely does not have to be the final chapter of a marriage.

Again, I hope you never hear the word, but if you do, I want to share some tips from my observations.

Here are 7 suggestions after you lean of an affair in your marriage:

Expect numbness

For the first few days or even weeks you may not feel anything. Don’t be surprised. There will be a range of emotions to come in the days ahead, but right now you may not know what to feel. This is perfectly normal. Your emotions have been shattered. Trust has been violated. There is a huge hole in your heart. Don’t make major decisions during these initial days. They will be purely emotionally based and you may regret them later.

Get counseling soon

I didn’t say immediately. In my experience, when couples call the day or two after they learn of an affair the counseling starts off in an unhealthy way and is difficult to find successful traction long-term. There are too many emotions in the way. But, you will need someone to walk through this with you. This is not an issue you can solve on your own or just ignore. Saving the marriage will take two committed people, but counseling can help you either way. Certainly, if you intend to save the marriage (which I hope you do) then you will need help.

Decide where you want to go with the marriage

This is again, not a decision to make in the first few days, but eventually you’ll have to make some hard decisions. Do you want to make it work or not? You will not be able to move forward in any direction until you do. This may take a season — and counseling — to discern. Please understand, I know the Biblical commands for marriage — and I believe them. I think the best thing to do is to work to save the marriage. I also believe every marriage can be saved and work if two people are willing to make it work, but without your personal commitment to doing so, it is unlikely you will be successful in saving the marriage — or, at least, in making it strong again. Think about the vows you made to each other. Obviously, they have been broken. But, are you willing, at least in your part, to making them work again?

Get a plan to restore your marriage and work the plan

Working with a counselor and together you must work on practical steps to grow the marriage again back to complete trust. This will be a difficult, long process — the biggest concern I hear from the offending spouse is how long it does take — but the results are worth it.

Eventually you will need to forgive your spouse for the hurt he or she has caused you

Yes, I just said that. And, yes, that is a hard word. It will be a work of grace. Forgiveness is a choice, but it is a difficult process. Sometimes God grants you this ability quickly and sometimes it takes time. Trust is always rebuilt over time. But you can not have a successful marriage where one spouse is holding a grudge against the other. Forgiveness is a necessary step to restore the marriage.

Build safeguards into your life

For long-term success in marriage, to rebuild trust and to help ensure this doesn’t happen again you need to learn how to protect your marriage in the future. Try to find things such as what went wrong? Where were the holes in the marriage? How did it get to this point? A counselor can help sort through these, but it will be up to you to implement safeguards against them moving forward. In our marriage we have certain “ground rules” and practices which we believe help protect our marriage. You may need similar processes.

Invest in other marriages

Once your marriage is healthy again and you’ve semi-recovered, you will have valuable experience to help others. Don’t be afraid to let God use you in this way. Helping others will actually serve to further strengthen your own marriage.

This post addresses the offended party, not the one in an affair, but even for you, the word “affair” doesn’t have to end your marriage. I’m praying for those who read this and are directly impacted by an affair. I’m praying for your marriage to be saved. God bless you.

Anything you would add to my list?

7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday

senior pastor

My ministry allows me to interact with dozens of pastors each week. It appears there are some common experiences on Sunday morning for many of us.

The bottom line: Sunday mornings are a stressful time for pastors.

I also know most people who love their church — and love their pastor — want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. I get asked this question constantly. Pastor, how can I best support you?  What a great question

That’s the purpose of this post. Here are some ways you can help your pastor on Sunday morning.

I should note. I have been in churches whcih, for the most part, do each of these well.

Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday:


Pray for your pastor. Ask God to open the ears of the people, to guide your pastor’s heart and to bless the services with His Spirit.

Don’t critique

Sunday morning is not the best time to bring complaints. You might be surprised how often this happens to pastors. (Probably not Sunday afternoon either.) It is very distracting when the pastor is about to speak to hear criticism which will have to be dealt with later. It weighs very heavy on the mind and gets in the way of focusing on the message. Hold those until Monday, but even then, ask yourself if sharing it is personal to you or genuinely helpful to the entire body.

Don’t share something you want us to remember

Most likely we will forget what you told us by the time Sunday is done. Send us an email later or call us Monday morning. If it must be shared on Sunday, please write it down for us so we can remember the details. Our minds are so clouded on Sunday thinking about a million different things. And, we try hard to make our focus about a message we hope God will use.

Be Kingdom-minded

Think of others interests even ahead of your own. (That’s Biblical.) Keep in mind the temperature in the room may not be your ideal temperature, but it may be exactly the right temperature for someone else. Your song may not be sung today, but it could be the song which leads another to the throne of grace. The message may not address what you’re dealing with right now, but for someone else, it might be life-changing. Be a part of the crowd that says, “I love what helps another” and you’ll help your pastor and the church greatly on Sunday mornings.


The work of the church can’t function with only a few people. I’ve never met the church which had too many people volunteering in preschool ministry, too many greeters, or too many people willing to do whatever it takes.

Introduce us to visitors

We love to meet visitors, most especially those seeking a church home. It is comforting when the church is bringing people with them or meeting new visitors as they arrive.


It really does begin and end with prayer. More than anything, we want your prayer support. The Spirit of God seems to respond when you do.

Pastor, how else can people help you on Sunday?

3 Ways for Christians to Respond to Tragedies

TV interview

I wrote this for a weekly update I do for our church in response to the shootings in Oregon. Some thought it was helpful, so I share it here.

Let me share three ways to respond to this week’s tragedies.

There are more. These are three which come to my mind this morning.

Pray. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the people who live in the area. Tragedies like this always shake a community even more than the broader world. Pray for the response of government and law officials. Pray for our world. These are desperate times. Pray for the Gospel to have opportunities to shine through darkness. “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

Remember. This world is not our home. You believe that, right? We who believe are here on temporary assignment. We are pilgrims on a journey — passing through as we head towards our eternal home. Our God is on His throne. He is not surprised. He is not unprepared. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)

Overcome evil. What if with every tragedy and every negative news report believers decided to do something good for others? Not requested. Unexpected. Just random acts of goodness in the name of Jesus Christ. What if we displayed peace and joy in the midst of sorrow? What if others who have no faith saw us who believe responding in faith? “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21)

It is natural for children to respond with fear when they see these type tragedies. I wrote an article in response to this issue a couple years ago. I post it here in case it is helpful dealing with your children. http://www.ronedmondson.com/2012/12/7-ways-to-help-children-cope-with-fear.html

6 Reasons Why Anxiety, Worry, & Fear are Particular Problems for Christians

Desperate man holding his face in hands appears in a miserable state of unhappiness.

As a supplement to the message I did on anxiety and trust I asked my friend Dr. Jennifer Degler to do a guest post on my blog with her thoughts and observations on the issue of anxiety and Christians.

A psychologist, life coach, author, speaker, wife, and mom, Jennifer is passionate about helping people create healthy, successful relationships. You can find Dr. Jennifer podcasting and blogging about marriage, sex, parenting, friendships, and spiritual and personal growth on the Healthy Relationships Rx website at http://healthyrelationshipsrx.com.

About 20% of the US population has an anxiety disorder. That’s about one in five people, or 40 million adults. If you were allowed to pick your psychological disorder, pick anxiety because it’s very treatable. Not every psychological condition is treatable, but anxiety responds very well to treatment; however, only about 1/3 of suffering anxious people ever seek treatment. If left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression.

When I was in graduate school in the 1980’s, depression was the common cold of mental illness. Now it’s anxiety. Americans live in one of the safest countries in the world, but after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the anxiety levels of Americans skyrocketed.

I think overexposure to and over-consumption of anxiety-provoking material, like 24/7 scary news stories and increasingly violent movies and video games, has contributed to the rise in anxiety disorders. You would think anxious people wouldn’t watch a lot of news and crime shows, but they tend to be heavy consumers, usually because they are subconsciously watching for what the victim “did wrong” in a misguided effort to keep themselves safe by avoiding similar behaviors. Unfortunately, instead of making them feel safer, overexposure to anxiety-provoking shows and news stories just makes them feel more unsafe and keeps their brains in a hypervigilant state.

Anxiety tricks our brain, and the amygdala in particular, into activating our fight vs. flight response when we aren’t actually in danger. For example, when we watch a scary movie, our brains are tricked into thinking we are in danger even though we are safe in the theater. So our heart pounds, our palms sweat, and we breathe faster—until the movie is over. Then we realize we are safe, and our brain and body calm down.

For chronic worriers or those with an anxiety disorder, worry about the future is the scary movie. Those “What If” worries about an uncertain future hijack the brain, trick it into activating the fight vs. flight response, and cause physical, emotional, and spiritual distress. Once anxious people understand this neural hijacking, they are much less self-condemning of their anxiety and better able to use body-centered techniques to calm their anxious brain.

Here’s my favorite quote to use in conjunction with teaching clients body-centered techniques, such as mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation, which help them use their five senses to pull their anxious mind back into today. 

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me today.” Elisabeth Elliot

And, most of the time, we are okay in today. Dry, warm, fed, roof over our heads–that’s today, and we are okay in today. It’s in the imagined future that we aren’t okay.

It’s so much better to live in the Land of What Is instead of the Land of What If.

In my opinion, fear, worry, and anxiety are particular problems for Christians for the following reasons:

1) Christians over spiritualize fear and anxiety. They tend to believe it’s all a spiritual thing and overlook the genetic, personality, and trauma contributors to anxiety issues. And when believers hear another person tell of their anxiety struggles, they tend to prescribe only spiritual solutions for a mind/body/spirit problem. If you have an anxiety disorder, you are unlikely to be able to “pray it away” any more than you could pray away diabetes.

2) Christians carry shame over their anxiety and fear because they tend to believe it always indicates a lack of faith or an immature faith. They believe lies such as “Good Christians never feel afraid or anxious” or “If I struggle with worry, I am a weak Christian.”

3) Because of the shame, they tend to cover over how much they are suffering from an untreated anxiety disorder. They gloss over it, call it being “stressed out,” and don’t share their stories in community where they could possibly receive support and encouragement to get treatment.

4) Christians can give each other truly unhelpful but sounds-so-spiritual advice for managing crippling fear and anxiety, like “Just let go and let God” or “Just give it to Jesus” or “Just lean into Jesus.” What in the world does this look like practically?

5) Christians can be suspicious of helpful body-centered techniques for managing anxiety. It’s like we are Gnostics who believe the body is evil and only spirit is good, when in fact, body-centered techniques work well to reduce anxiety because of the way God made our brain.

6) Because Christianity offers peace, hope, and a certain eternal future, it is particularly attractive to anxious people. So baseline, you’ll find more anxious people in a church than waiting in line to bungee jump. I don’t have hard statistics on this, but I think the incidence of anxiety disorders in a church congregation is higher than the 20% you find in the general US population. Plus anxious people tend to also be imaginative, deeply feeling, empathetic people–the kind of people who are drawn to the kindness and compassion found in good churches.

If you are the 1 in 5 persons who struggles with anxiety, worry, or fear, please get treatment from an experienced mental health professional. While treatment may not make the anxiety go completely away, it should help you suffer much less and be able to enjoy the abundant life and peace Jesus promises.


There’s a Modern Day Bullhorn in Town

A grandmother yelling into a bullhorn.

I remember the first time I saw someone standing on a sidewalk with a bullhorn in their hands, shouting to the crowds, “Repent or Perish”.

They meant well. They had a passion for their work — they wanted people to come to realize the amazing Gospel of grace. I get that. And, I applaud the desire. And the effort. 

But, I never thought it was an effective method of evangelism.

I always wondered if anyone ever came any closer to the gospel because the one shouting on the street corner frightened them into repentance. Maybe someone did, but somehow I doubt it’s a large number.

It doesn’t seem to me a bullhorn on a street — or a sign saying “God hates ______” is the best way to share a message of love. And, isn’t that the message? “For God so loved the world…”

Well, there’s a new bullhorn in town.

It’s loud and it’s on every street corner – figuratively speaking.

It’s called social media. It goes by names such as Facebook. Twitter. Blog.

It’s where the bullhorn holder posts or shares a condemning statement towards someone with whom they don’t agree — sinners we call them. They make a proclamation against them. They complain. They bash. They condemn. They attempt to frighten. 

They are loud. 

Don’t misunderstand, the person with a bullhorn almost always means well. They have strong passion and intent. I applaud them for believing what they believe. (Personally I think we each hold that right.)

But, my head is spinning about this new bullhorn. With all its good intent, I simply don’t think it’s working. At least not in my opinion.

Certainly it makes the person holding the bullhorn feel better. Like they did their part. It’s a release of bent up a motion.  

And, frankly, we even celebrate the practice. It’s how a post goes viral. You’ll get the most shares and likes the more divisive you are. The more controversial the subject the more it gets shared. If simply getting attention is the goal – – the bullhorn works.  

Here’s the problem – again, my perception. 

The only people an angry online discourse appeals to is other people just as angry about the same issue as the person making the rant. 

And, the other side — it makes the people who don’t agree angrier and more firm in their own position.

The online bullhorn forces people to choose sides. It backs them in the proverbial corner where they feel they have no option other than to come back fighting with their own bullhorn. 

And, both sides get louder. 

The bullhorn approach comes across as having very little grace. And, in the bullhorn shouter’s heart, the grace may be there, but it’s covered over by the loudness of what they view as truth. (And, that’s key, because it’s usually “their view”.  The loudest bullhorns are many times subjective — an opinion — often based on truth but full of their own spin or interpretation.

And, this is just my opinion — and go ahead and say it — I’m doing in this post what I’m criticizing others for doing, and maybe I am, but it needs to be said. We shouldn’t use our platform to provoke people. Especially as believers, we should use it to make the world a better place with the ultimate goal of showing the world the love of Christ.

Without love we are clanging gongs. Semi-useless. Bullhorns

That certainly doesn’t seem to be Christ-like.

If we want to do things like Christ then, rather than blasting sinners on the street corner we will have to meet the woman at the well. We will have to dine with Zacchaeus and his tax collector friends. We have to value the poor widow and not ignore an opportunity to love the little children.

To my believer friends I have a suggestion – maybe a plea – let’s drop the bullhorn. Let’s build some relationships, genuinely love people so we can have any hope of sharing truth.

And, that’s the end of my rant. 

(Pre-post thought. In some occasions God may call us to the “repent or perish” type message – He did Jonah — but in the days of grace and with Jesus example, the relational approach appears to work better, again, in my opinion.)

I loved this post from Desiring God recently: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-should-christians-comment-online. I shared earlier this post on how Christians can be less mean online.

We Need A Labor Day – Frequently


The title of the day has always confused me. It’s called Labor Day and yet it’s supposed to be a break from our labor.

And, of course, some will work today. When I was in retail this was a busy day. Thank you to our emergency personnel and hospital workers and those that keep our commerce and lifestyles going today.

But, something tells me you need the day off — or a day off — as much as I do. If there is anything Americans are not good at its rest. It might be the one command of the 10 commandments we dishonor the most.

I wonder if that’s one reason we are so tense with each other all the time — but, I’ll save that thought for another post.

I read the following in this mornings Denison report:

Americans work too much. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of men and 66.5 percent of women work more than 40 hours per week. We work 100 more hours per year than the Japanese, and 250 more hours per year than the British. What about the work-obsessed Germans? We work 500 more hours per year than they do. We take less vacation time than other nations, work longer days, and retire later. If anyone needs a Labor Day;to cease from labor, it’s us.

(I highly recommend the Denison Report as a resource for pastors.)

Saddest of all — we often celebrate it as “the American Way”. We call it progress. Efficiency.

But, it may be causing more harm than good. Personally and collectively.

If I’m going to write a post like this I have to point four fingers back any direction I point one finger to others. I could easily be accused of being a workaholic.

Years ago, however, I learned a secret. It’s a secret about myself I believe is probably a secret about you. If I will shut down one day – and periodically shut down for several days – I am far more effective when I am working. It’s a key to long-term success.

When I go to long periods without resting I am more tempted towards burnout, anxiety, and even depression. I’m not as much fun to be around and I worry more than I pray. (Again, could this be a reason we are so tense with each other at times? — again, another post.)

It’s like God knew what He was doing when He issued the command.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m still very much American when it comes to my work ethic. I work far more than 40 hours a week. But, when I shut down – – I try to shut down. I’m not perfect at it (and I have to read this in case my wife still reads this blog), but I’m getting better with age.

Do you need a break? Do you need to invest in yourself?

I highly recommend the practice. Even if you have to work today – schedule your own “Labor Day” soon – and often. 

And, I can’t even take credit for the idea.

Happy Labor Day!

You may want to read how I protect my Sabbath.