I thought Anna and Don Walker* had the kind of marriage I wanted — maybe they did at the time.
That was 15 years ago, when I was in college. Back then, Anna and Don were the kind of couple you never dreamed would divorce. They were steady, salt-of-the-earth folks who effortlessly served others and gave the impression that they really liked each other.
After I graduated from college, the only contact I had with the Walkers was through Anna, and that was just via Facebook, where she wasn’t very active. But it was through Facebook that I noticed something strange the other day: her name wasn’t Walker anymore.
I sent a message to a mutual friend and asked if something had happened to Anna and Don. He replied, “I am sorry to say that Don divorced Anna last year. It is a long and bitter story that broke my heart. Please lift them both up in prayer.”
I went to Anna’s Facebook page and found a cryptic post that provided a little more detail. It said...
“One year ago today my world came crashing down around me. I felt like life was taken from me — that a part of me died. I was in a place in life I never thought I would be. I felt hopeless. There was darkness all around me, BUT GOD WAS THERE. I am telling you this to let you know that no matter how dark it gets, His light shines. He has sustained me. I am still standing because I serve a wonderful, loving God.”
I was inspired, but I also grieved for Anna, especially after I later learned that Don left her for someone else.
There was a time when I thought I could never do what Don did to Anna, where I truly believed I was above that kind of mistake. I am no longer so foolish.
Don didn’t leave the house, meet someone new and pack his bags. He didn’t wake up one morning and say, “What the heck — I think I’ll destroy my family and my good reputation today.” I’m sure, as my mom once said about another man, “he did it one bad decision at a time.”
I wonder what that series of bad decisions looked like for Don, and what they would look like for me. Maybe I would start dabbling in online porn, stop praying with my wife, choose unforgiveness, stay at the office five minutes longer to talk with a charming coworker, or just go to bed angry. As C.S. Lewis said, "The safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
As I thought about all this, about how far Don had gone in the wrong direction over the last 15 years, I realized it’s not that hard to make a series of poor choices, and it’s not that hard to disengage from my wife over time. And that’s why, outside of God’s grace and making good choices, I am the kind of spouse who cheats, too.
*Anna and Don Walker are pseudonyms I have chosen after receiving permission from Anna to post this article.