The Markleys: Finding Passion in Marriage
By Kristi Watts
The 700 Club
Chad Markley describes the beginning of his marriage to Sarah. “The first couple of years of marriage were brutal.”
Sarah understood her behavior. “I was a very emotional person.”
He adds, “I came in selfish.”
She explains, “There was a lot of sarcasm on his part and emotion on my part.”
He sums it up. “I would say without exaggerating that we fought every day.”
Sarah and Chad Markley couldn’t understand why their young marriage was failing. After all, they grew up in the church and always tried to do the right thing. In fact, Chad was even the worship leader at their church.
But they were young…barely 21 when they married. So with their new found sense of freedom from their parents they started to explore a lifestyle that they had been taught was forbidden. The only time they didn’t fight was when they were partying.
Chad admits, “I can remember a number of times showing up on a Sunday morning and nobody knew, and people should have known, but I’d still be buzzed from the night before.”
Sarah continues, “We started going out. We started dancing. We were just kind of living really free. As free as you can be and still be married.”
Then it escalated to another level… pornography.
Sarah remembers, “Instead of me saying, ‘Oh no! What are you doing?’ It was interesting and captivating and it was something I began to desire.”
Sarah continues, “I don’t think we were willing to admit how bad off we were. I’d grown up in this ‘please-God-or-do-what-is-right’ type of mentality. Once you get to a certain age then it’s kind of like, ‘What’s the motivation anymore?’”
“I had been overweight growing up and then I lost about 60 pounds. Before, men had never looked at me, then after that point I was getting flirted with walking down the street. It made me feel great. It made me feel like I was finally pretty.”
Chad’s life changed direction. “I’ve never called myself a workaholic, but I became that. I found things that were exciting that provided distraction and sort of filled the void.”
Chad started working away from home up to four days a week. Sarah started getting attention from one of Chad’s close friends. He was also married. Sarah’s attention began to shift. “So I started talking a lot to this other man. We talked on the phone. We hung out. For a long time it was this friendship, this emotional bond.”
But that emotional bond, turned into something more.
She continues, “I was trying not to do it. I was trying to be good or better than I was. Then it kind of went full bore into a completely physical relationship at that point. Every time I was with him and we did something that I would have had to hide from my husband, there was guilt. But the guilt was so much less than the desire. I hated myself. I hated what I was doing, but I really didn’t know how to get out of it. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell. If I told, then my world would come crashing down.”
The affair lasted for three years, until a friend of Sarah’s guessed her secret and "outed" Sarah to their pastors. The next Sunday after church, their pastors called Chad and Sarah to the back office.
Chad wondered, “I’m thinking about me what I was doing. Did they know I was looking at porn? Do they know that we’ve been like totally getting hammered on the weekends? What do they know? I’m not any way, shape, or form, thinking about Sarah at all. Then they said, ‘Sarah, you have something you have to tell Chad.’”
Sarah had to make a decision. “I had a choice. I could keep lying and I probably would have even been believed by them at that point, and maybe even by Chad. Or, I could tell the truth and I could be done with it, no matter what the consequences were. What I did is I decided to tell the truth.”
Chad was stunned, “My first reaction, my first feeling was just shock!”
Sarah wondered what would happen next. “I didn’t know if I was going to lose my daughter – I didn’t know if I was going to lose my husband. I didn’t know if I was going to lose everything because being done with that and being right with God and with my husband was more important.”
While Sarah spent the night at her parents’ house, the next day they met up at the screening of The Passion of the Christ. They had already committed to attend the screening months prior.
Sarah tells, “The most amazing thing happened. We were sitting next to each other watching this film and I had just confessed to an affair and watching in gory and in brilliant detail the beating and crucifixion of Jesus.”
Chad responded to the film’s message. “I was broken. I was just bawling my eyes out. I’m sobbing. And it was like the Lord sort of orchestrated a moment to remind me of the extent He went through to restore relationship with me.”
Sarah admits, “I really came to understand the gravity of my sin and how much it had both hurt Jesus not just my husband, but hurt the Lord.”
Chad thought, “How could I stand before God and say, ‘You know what? Hey, thanks for everything You did for me and all of my stupidity, but this was just too much.’”
Sarah could see a change. “He was very sad still, but he had been going through his own transformation over the past, 24 hours and he said to me…”
“How can I not forgive you, when so much has been forgiven of me," Chad asked.
“That day-and-a-half or so was the point of us deciding to be done – both of us, but me particularly, deciding to be done with an old way of living, a sinful way, a hurtful way, a selfish way of living," Sarah says.
Both Sarah and Chad recommitted their life to Jesus Christ that day. Chad even stepped down from his church position as worship leader.
He explains, “It’s both people committing and coming to the point where no matter what it entails, we’re going to make it work.”
“We cut our cable; we poured out all of our alcohol. We started going to marital counseling, Christian counseling," says Sarah.
Chad continues, “We cleaned everything out. Spiritually. Physically. Cut all ties. It was like we were together like all the time.”
Sarah shares, “As we grew closer together as a couple in a pure way, we were also growing closer to God.”
Chad was astounded with the change. “We didn’t fight, and we didn’t argue, and it’s like ‘This is awesome!’”
Since then, Chad and Sarah have renewed their wedding vows. They both realize that their old marriage had to die, so that God could rebuild their new marriage.
Sarah says, “The image I always have of Him whenever I think of God as a Savior, as the Savior, as the only thing that’s ever been able to save me.”
Chad explains, “The key to it all is that you have to be willing to do what Christ did in going to the cross. I mean you think about what are the things he suffered. He suffered embarrassment. He suffered shame. There was pain involved. There was death involved. So it comes down to what are you willing to give up in exchange for what He has?”
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