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Surviving Infidelity in Marriage

Terry Meeuwsen discusses how God restored the marriage of author and blogger Shauna Shanks after her husband’s devastating affair. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

HOST: In 2013, Shauna Shanks was a month shy

of celebrating her 10-year anniversary when her husband

calmly asked for a divorce.

Two weeks later, he admitted to having an affair.

Though her husband was telling her their marriage was over,

God was saying something else.

God was tasking me to do the hardest thing I'd ever done,

loving my husband.

HOST: In her book, "A Fierce Love,"

Shawna shares why she's telling the world about his affair

and what she relied on to restore their marriage.

Shauna Shanks joins us now.

Welcome to "Interactive."

It's great to have you with us.

Thanks.

Good to be here.

This news from your husband was such a shock to you

that you actually laughed at first.

I mean, you thought he was joking.

Yeah.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Did you have no idea

that your marriage was struggling

to the point of him considering something like that?

I didn't know our marriage was struggling at all,

because, you know, I just had gotten used to the way

that things were.

My husband came from a very traumatic childhood,

so he's never been overly affectionate with me.

So but it was never cause for alarm.

That was just some couples are like that,

and I just thought we just weren't overly touchy feely

and that sort of thing.

But he's always respected me, and always I felt loved by him.

So this news really caught me off guard.

Well, and it wasn't just news that he wanted out

of the marriage.

I mean it was news delivered with the I've already

made the decision.

It was cold and calm.

There was no reconciliation discussion.

Did that shock you?

Yeah, I mean, it was like an out-of-body experience for me,

because he didn't just say, "I want a divorce" He said,

"I have never loved you."

He said, "I am not attracted to you,

and I haven't been for a long time."

And I was really embarrassed, because he acted,

you know, shocked that I didn't already know this.

You were so vulnerable.

I'm sure you felt very attacked by the whole thing.

Yeah.

God gave you at that point, because you really fell apart

at the moment this was delivered,

God gave you two words to hang on to.

What were they?

Hope and endure.

Yeah.

Endure wouldn't have been too exciting to me.

Hope might have lit a flame.

How did you handle that?

Well, the endure part, I actually thought,

OK, I can do hard things.

Like I can endure.

The hoping was actually the challenge

because in a situation like that,

I think it's our human instinct to lash out,

and to close up, and become hardened,

because if you become hardened then

you don't have to kind of deal with those feelings.

But the hoping was just hoping that this marriage

would work was really hard--

It kept you vulnerable.

--because it kept me vulnerable.

God also gave you "1 Corinthians 13."

And I love what you said in the book,

because you said, "I've read that, God.

I mean like I get it.

I know it."

But none of us really do get it until we're put to the test,

do we?

Yeah.

I mean, I was literally like I know you're trying to help,

God, but I already know that verse.

I'm a church girl.

I knew that growing up, and so, yeah,

I just thought that's easy.

It's patient.

It's kind.

But when I really started dissecting

that scripture of "1 Corinthians 13" in this new concept,

I do say in the book, it's easy to give love

when you're giving it back.

But to love somebody in this context

when you are not getting that back,

but you've also replaced that not getting it back

with rejection is a completely different task

than just loving someone who loves you.

The reason that seemed to work for you is because though God

gave that verse to you and you would presume it

was, OK, this is the simple directive to my husband.

It was he was actually changing you.

He was.

Yeah, he was definitely changing me in that season,

because the good thing was it took my eyes off of my husband.

I stopped worrying about what is he doing and worrying

about him, because it gave me something to do.

It was a task.

OK, in this situation of today what he's telling me,

am I being patient?

Am I being kind?

Am I being rude?

Am I being jealous?

Am I keeping a record of wrong?

So before I did anything, I had to kind of go

through that list.

And what it did was really silence me,

because what I wanted to do wasn't patient, and kind,

and it was rude, and I was provoking,

and all those things.

So it was kind of like God had just given me a chore list

to keep me quiet, so he could do the work on my husband.

Because I think as women, we're fixers,

and we want to fix things, and my God, put me in.

I can do something good here, but it was really

just you work on your list, and I will

do the work on your husband.

And I think that's the only reason

we were able to reconcile is because God did work

in my husband.

You know, one of the other things that

that did, it seemed to me, Shauna,

and clarify this if you will, was your attitude,

because you were obedient to what God was changing in you

and showing you.

Your attitude caused your husband

to stay at home during the process of what was dividing,

and separating, and moving away emotionally from each other,

and even planning the physical separation.

Do you feel like that was part of why the reconciliation could

happen because he was able to see you walking this out?

I do think that eventually it did cause him to take notice,

because he knew my level of crazy.

And I knew it, and he knew it.

And so he knew how I should have been responding.

So at first, I think it made it worse,

because he had already decided to be out of the marriage.

He was in another relationship.

And so when it wasn't mutual, and I didn't agree

to the divorce, I think it really made him mad

because then he could just start over guilt-free if it was

mutual, but it wasn't.

And so at first, it was harder, but then eventually

when he kept thinking I was going

to snap out of this bubble.

Like it's going to hit her.

She's in denial, you know, that kind of thing.

And then weeks went on, and God just continued to keep me calm

then you have to take notice of that of knowing

like I know that's not my wife.

That is the working of a Holy God that he's doing that.

And when you feel that God is present, you take notice.

Yeah.

How did other people respond to you,

because I think it's so easy to be impacted

by the reaction, the anger, the judgment, the frustrations

for you from other people?

What did you get from family and friends?

OK, so my situation is unique, because at the beginning,

I felt like God had prompted me not to tell a bunch of people.

One of the translations, I'm not sure which one in the Bible,

because I studied it in every single version.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: I'll bet you did, yeah.

One of the things in "1 Corinthians,"

it says his love protects.

And I felt like if I went and told everyone,

my husband is doing all of these things, that doesn't protect,

and it's on my list, so I can't do it.

And so eventually God did, well, pretty early on, direct me to,

there was two women in there in the book, Jan and Shannon

that I confided in and that really

became my constant companions in that time.

No one else knew what was going on, because I just felt like,

not to say that that's for everyone,

but in my situation like God was speaking to me direction.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Yeah.

That's why I was able to do this hard thing,

because he was speaking me direction

every single day of what to do.

Yeah, and you were walking in obedience,

which is why it worked, and it drove

you closer to the heart of God.

Not further away from the pain in a sense,

but less impacted by the pain, because God filled that in you.

It's so hard to wallow, and to be broken, and to be hopeless,

and to feel defeated in the presence of God.

Yes. - And I never knew it that way without walking

through that brokenness.

You know, the Bible says, "He is near to the brokenhearted."

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Yes.

I knew that scripture before in my mind,

but having walking through being brokenhearted, he was so near.

And normally I would just think that I would just be a mess

like I was at the beginning.

But when I started seeking the Lord,

reading my Bible was coming alive to me,

Whereas before, it was just words, and it was like a chore.

In this season, it was life giving,

and I would seek God in the quiet, and with praise,

and worship with praying to Him, and Him speaking to me.

In the presence of God, he didn't abandon me.

He didn't leave me alone, and I know that I

was empowered in that season.

Actually he didn't abandon you, he empowered you.

He changed your life, changed your marriage.

Your marriage is reconciled.

And I just want to say to people who are struggling, if you're

going through the hopelessness of infidelity

or the pain of divorce, this book is a wonderful one.

Your story may not wind up like Shauna's, but the wisdom

of how she walked with God through it

made an amazing difference.

It's full of wisdom and practical advice

for the all too common reality in marriages today.

It's available wherever books are sold.

It's appropriately called "A Fierce Love."

Thank you.

Thanks so much.

Great Great to have you with us.

Thanks for having me.

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