How Do I Fix It?

–“Pastor, I had an affair and am trying to restore my marriage but even after three years, things still are still really difficult. What can we do to make things right again?”

–“ I was so busy with raising children and I didn’t have much time for sex but now that we’re empty nesters my husband isn’t really interested in pursuing our sex life. How do we get back to the way it used to be?”

–“My wife was sexually active with other guys before we married and it has really impacted our life now. What can we do to overcome her past?”

–“I divorced and remarried a man who was also previously married and we are having issues dealing with the blending of our two families. How can we make this work and just be a normal family?”

These are all questions typical of requests for help that I hear. What they, and so many others, are really asking is, “How can we fix it and make it like it used to be?” People are looking for the solution that will erase the consequences of actions or events so that everything will go back to the way it was before.

One of the things that I do a lot is warn people rather than supplying solutions.  “Don’t do this. Don’t go there. Stop it!” There are things you can do to help improve such situations or deal with these kinds of consequences in your marriage, but they are more patches than solutions. That’s why I spend more time warning people not to go to hell than I do helping them try to find an air conditioner once they get there!

Again, there are patches or solutions to some degree, but that’s not really what people want. What they want is for everything to be fixed and changed as if it never happened. Now in Christ we have that. The Bible tells us “though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow”(Isaiah 1:18). When you are redeemed it is as if it never happened in your standing before God. Period. But what many people don’t understand is that even though it is erased in God’s eyes, there are still consequences.

For instance, if someone commits murder, they can pray and ask God for forgiveness and ask the victim’s family to forgive him or her, but they are still going to jail. There are consequences. And that is what people don’t like. What so many of us are looking for is a version of Christianity where they can have a consequence free life and it doesn’t work that way.

Because we believe in healing and restoration, we live casually and don’t take life seriously. Young people think, “I shouldn’t steal, lie, drink or do drugs, and fornicate… but if I do, God will forgive me and it will be as if it never happened.”  Somehow we think Jesus will fix everything and we live too carelessly.
If you really believe that it didn’t matter what we did, that God could always fix it all, wouldn’t you let your kids do whatever they wanted…like play on the roof?  Can God heal him if he falls and breaks his bones? Yes. Are there scriptures that say God heals? Yes. But would you really let him play up there? No! We don’t let our kids touch the stove, drink Drano, or play in the street. If it were really true that you could live carelessly and it didn’t matter because God would just fix it all, then none of us would worry about what our kids did. No one thinks that way when it comes to parenting, yet in other areas, especially when it comes to marriage and family, many people do live very casually.

They think, “I’m not happy with this spouse so I’ll just divorce and get a new one that makes me happy.” Then they think Jesus will make all the previous stuff go away and it will be just like a brand new, first time marriage. I know that there are testimonies of people who have divorced and remarried and they say that it’s wonderful and everything is as good as or better than the first. But that is the exception, not the rule…and of course everyone wants to be the exception.

At some level the wonderful testimonies become damaging because they lead people to believe that it doesn’t matter what you do because God is just going to fix it all. If you heard a testimony from a parent whose child drank Drano and God totally and miraculously healed and saved their kid, would you just let your kid drink it?  Of course not, because we know that it is probably the exception and not the rule. The rule is that there are consequences that we are stuck with as a result of our choices and actions.

And it’s a very good thing that there are. Consequences are the very thing that keeps us from living lives of total chaos.  Every married couple experiences the days and moments that are trying and filled with problems. If people knew they could just trade in the old model for a new one and have no repercussions, lots of people would do it!

If I could dump my wife, not hurt my kids, if my ministry would stay the same, if I would still garner the same level of respect, and then marry the next woman with no consequences, I’d probably be on my fourth wife by now!  If I could do whatever I wanted and just say a prayer and have God make it as if it never happened, I would live very casually and foolishly. It’s the consequences that keep us in line. Because the reality is, it wouldn’t be the same. I’d have no credibility, I’d lose everything, there would be huge consequences and a very heavy price to pay.

Yet people constantly live as though that price isn’t real and that there must be something that can do to make it like it never happened. Let me tell you, there isn’t a fix that can do that.  (Despite the testimonies that say differently.) There is no conference you can go to, or book to buy or prayer to pray. No one can anoint you with special oil or say some super holy prayer that will erase the consequences of everything.  And even if there was and if I had it, I wouldn’t tell you!  Because all it would do is green light people to do whatever selfish thing they wanted to do.

It would do nothing but give wives the license to leave the husbands they are mad at, or for guys to find the next younger wife with the better body and start over again. Adultery, fornication, sexually starving your spouse, using pornography and masturbation would all be ok… because it would be totally fixable and wouldn’t matter.

But it matters and that’s why you hear the warnings from me and not how to fix it. You don’t fix it or undo it, you adapt.  Is there forgiveness? Yes. Can I share with you how to cope and adapt? Yes. It’s not hopeless and you can find ways to work with and around the consequences, but we need to be careful how we live. I cannot give you the secret potion on how to make it like it never happened and remove the consequences.

I know one of the criticisms that I get it that I give more warnings than fixes, but I’m trying to keep those people who haven’t gone there from stepping off the cliff into the abyss…hence the reason for my warning! They need to hear, “Don’t go down this rat hole!  There are consequences and it won’t be like it was before. You can’t always fix it! Don’t do it!” Again, I stress, there is forgiveness, you can adapt and make something out of the trials and live beyond or around the consequences, but better to do it right in the first place.

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35 Responses to “How Do I Fix It?”

  1. Brad says:

    Right on brother. I wish my ex wife and I could have found your material about three years ago. Could have made a big difference. Keep on warning. It’s the right path!

  2. Lynne says:

    I’m going through this now, my husband of 16 years just left me for his girlfriend. Yet he still comes over every day and tells me he loves me and he is there for me. We had no children together. I have forgiven him, as this is not the first time for him. He has had many affairs over the last 10 years. He does call himself a Christian man. I have just given him over into the Lord’s hands and pray for him. I am thankful that the Lord is bringing me thru. I am not saying this has been easy, it is not and very painful because I do still love him. The Lord is taking me through and giving me strength. Thank You for letting me share.

  3. joanne says:

    Thank you very much for producing the amazing dvd’s. My husband and I have watched them together and have found them very helpful in learning to understand each other. We have been married seven years, and are now in our mid 40′s. Many challenges have come our way. One of my concerns is very personal and difficult to share in counselling. My husband who was previously addicted to pornography continues to masturbate almost daily, without me around. When we are alone together , with no kids, he will masturbate for hours, throughout all the weekend. I can’t keep up and actually find it boring to sit in front of the t.v. And encourage and participate in this sexual stimulation for an entire weekend. i want to be supportive in meeting his needs but is it possible that the degree of his need is unhealthy or do i need to indulge more? what’s healthy? What’s not? Thank for your support and for sharing your gifts in ministering to couples. Our counsellor has used your resources to help us in the healing process. Thank so much!

    • Abe Wieler says:

      I suggest that both of you try to find the 12 step Christ-centered Celebrate Recovery program in your area.
      Obviously there is pain in his life that he is trying to medicate by his actions. And your codependent actions of enabling him suggest you need some help in setting some boundaries. This program is awesome for whatever hurt, habit or hang-up you might have. Blessings!

    • Krista Brown says:

      I don’t know what your situation is right now, but my husband and I were a foundational part of the mens group “Power of Purity” ( Our pastor, Tony Ingrassia, runs this ministry with his wife, and it has been such a blessing to both of us. It is a mens group, but talking with Tony and his wife, and learning more about how the enemy gets into the minds of men (and women) and ruins us in this special area of our lives. Please check it out and feel free to contact Tony if you’d still like to reach out.

    • RJ says:

      I agree with Abe.
      Your husband has a sexual addiction that is not healthy. With help, you two can work through this one day at a time.

  4. sc says:

    wow, thats reality isnt it…i guess i forgot a few things about selfishness since i’ve been single for a good while; i am now in a relationship that i expect is leading to marriage, but i forgot how many needs i have had unmet since my last marriage…i raised 4 kids along and help family and friends and anyone that enters my space but once i started dating seriously i have noticed how i want my needs met more and more and how some of this could be selfishness which for me is so strange because i spend all my time giving to others including the boyfriend but i see a monster arising in me that says “me, me,me” help before i before i turn into one of those people that are always tugging at me to help take care of them and their situation of the day!

  5. Liza says:

    Thank you for your great words of wisdom. I have a Christian School and cannot tell these things enough to the children, even though they don’t always listen. In the eyes of so many I am such a spoil sport. However, thanks for the encouragement. I will also apply it in my personal life: not to brood on what had happened that damaged our marriage, but to let it go and to focus on doing what is right from now on. May God never ever visit my sins on my children and may He keep me from sinning. Sometimes I am so foolish to just do something stupid/sinful, only to realize what I have done or said later. The consequences are always painful – even if i said only a harsh word, there is a consequence that brings about sadness. Please keep on warning people- you are doing well.

  6. Roger says:

    Thanks for your words. We need to deal with the facts and truth of our marriage problems. After 15 years of the same problems going on in mariage, no intimacy,talking about everyone else but not talking about our own problems, because we are ‘waiting for God to work them out’, how do we start over? We are both ‘saved and ministers’ but our married life is to me not by the Word at all. As I said above there is no intimacy in our marriage. Because of the lack of initmacy, or lack of feeling loved for this long, it is hare for me to ‘love my wife’ or to even want to touch her. This was both of our second marriage. It seems as though her ideal of marriage was to find a good man and to have him take care of her, her children and now, her grandchildren. I know that I don’t have all the answers and haven’t done everything right or we wouldnt be in this position. I did not confront a lot of the issues. I don’t believe you can make someone love you if they don’t really want to, or to have initmacy if they don’t want too. O just dont know what to do.

    • Val says:

      HI Roger,
      Maybe a look at the marriage in scripture will help.
      I remember being so emotionally out of touch with my husband that I said to God, ‘you said, wives love your husbands, I don’t, so you fix it’ I was so mad and hurt when I prayed that prayer.
      God in His infinite wisdom has answered it, but not in the flash, bang way we would sometimes like. This was about 35 years ago, and over that time He has healed wounds (I had been married before for some 5 years, with lots of damage, along with childhood sexual abuse)and helped ME to learn how to let Him in and slowly change me.
      I had to learn to leave my husband to Gods hands to work what we both needed. Coming up 44 years now, and I thank God for my husband. I realise how patient and how much grace he has shown me, understanding more than I did, how much I was hurting.
      We need to work at it, under the guiding hand of our loving God. A prayer that I have found to be really powerful, is asking God to bring into the light those things that are hidden in darkness. Be prepared for a bumpy road, but hang in there and obey the word of our Loving father. If we obey, He will provide, and one day we wake up and find that He has healed us in our obedience.
      Mark’s DVS’s opened up so much when we watched the two brain section especially. I realised I was not being punished and ignored, it is just the way a mans brain works. It set me free from emotional hurts of being ignored as punishment as a child.
      Praise God and trust Him. Love is not a feeling (it is nice when we do feel warm and fuzzy), but it is an act of faith and decision. I will love……. I will do it, with Gods help and guidance

  7. sparkwisdom says:

    “You don’t fix it or undo it, you adapt.”
    “If I…” I say that about a dozen times a day. Living in the consequence is hard, yet I’m doing all I can to give my daughters’ the directions they need to heed the warnings.

  8. Jacquie says:

    Hi Mark,
    I love getting your newsletters; it is so great how you just say it how it should be. There should be more teaching like yours. We Love your “Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage” and have taken a few couples though it. What a great article “How Do I Fix It?” We are one of the very blessed couples, my husband had an affair for several years, but by the grace of God He helped me work through it, He miraculously walked me through the refiners fire and to cut a long story short ….. ………………. There is redemption and Our God Heals. We are now a very restored and happily marriage couple of 30years…………… Praise The Lord. But as Mark said it is so much better not to go there in the first place. Cause dying to self in the process of restoration is very hard and only doable with our supernatural God.

  9. Lorraine says:

    So true Mark. We see the results of casual living all around us. In our families, at work and especially in church.Its heartbreaking. I also think that we live willy, nilly because we dont FEAR God. We have been led to believe that He is our chum and He understands our “weaknesses” therefore He will look the other way! God help us to Hide His Word in our hearts so that we will not sin against Him and others (our families especially)
    God bless you as you continue to speak truth to us all in the best way you can

  10. Linda says:

    You are spot on with everything you say in your stuff – too bad I can’t get my OVERLY RELIGIOUS husband to see it this way!

  11. CLR says:

    I tend to be this kind of person ( and parent). I try to be honest with everyone around me about my past mistakes and the consequences that I have had to deal with because of my poor choices. It seems the human mind seems to think they will be different and that , well that was YOUR experience , it won’t be mine. So it frustrates me ( as I am sure it does you) because you see the abyss, you see the pain and you have some wisdom and or experience but others do now want to heed your words so you watch them suffer. Then I think, this may be how God feels ( not that I am God!). He warns us, He lays out the rules and what will happen when we don’t listen, He allows us to choose even if its not going to be a fruitful choice. How this must cause Him pain. This is why I have changed my thinking .. I still warn my step daughters and friends, I am still open about my past sins and mistakes but I make a point of being there when they fall and not judging the sinner but the sin. I think as Christians many of us fall short in this area and need to be there for one another to pick up pieces after the fall and show each other how to restore and not destroy. Your friend Diane Brierly has helped me see a lot of this too and for that I thank you for you persistence , your show and never backing down from Gods word! God bless

  12. Gerry says:

    You have said that you can’t unscramble the eggs, and you are so right! I had an affair after 4 years of a rocky marriage, and six years of living together. My hubby and I decided that divorce was not an option, and that we would begin to do marriage God’s way. Well we dug into the Word, began to study it and pray together. Our marriage is not what it once was–it is much better. We were challenged by the Holy Spirit, the Word, and some of your seminars to really begin to love one another God’s way. We have been together for 44 years now, and are so glad we stuck with it. We love your minitry, Mark

  13. Sharon says:

    I wish I had the warnings. Now I try to warn others. I tell them working on your marriage is far easier than going through the devastation of divorce. My husband walked away because he got tired. He got the new young girl and is now remarried. We we married for 25 up and down years. He was a great father but now his kids come second. I get angry still and sad but I’m letting God lead me. All the things they say happens after divorce is true. I am almost bankrupt… financially and physically. The kids are still hurting as they enter marriages of their own and what that marriage should look like. I am absolutely blessed that they believe marriage is for better for worse and are starting their marriages on The Rock. There was one happy person after our divorce and that was my husband. He believes he had every right to walk away and be happy. He believes God would back him 99.9% he told me. Divorce sucks and I share that with whoever I can! I pray for my husband everyday. ( I still hate saying ex)
    Thank you for such a great article!

    • Julie says:

      Hi Sharon,

      there but for the Grace of God go I.

      I found out my hubby was having an emotional affair. He was tired and looking after 20years. All marriages have ups and downs.

      It takes work. And when you’re raising the kids its hard, and Society is busy telling you that you need “me” time… You also need “us” time, both as a couple and as a family.

      I am soooooo lucky I was pointed to two books which helped me so much… And like you I counsel people to not head to divorce, its such a hard road to even begin to go down. And we were headed there at a great rate of knots….

      Now it seems we have turned the corner, and are headed for a better time together…..Thanks be to God.

      You sound bitter which is TOTALLY understandable, but hurts you ….so I pray peace for you, I pray forgiveness in your heart to release you from your emotional prison. May God look after you in this difficult time.
      Much love

  14. Robert says:

    Where are the answers to these specific problems?

    Where is the hope for these people? Our experience is through a deeper forgiveness!

    You are a BLESSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!

  15. Linda Ranson Jacobs says:

    Good thoughts. Working with some divorcing couples and two couples reconciling. I cringed when I hear they think they can just move back together and proceed as if nothing has happened. I sit back and wait for the explosion that is invariably going to happen.

    Thanks for all you do.

    • Julie says:

      I’m in a reconciling relationship, and found two books have helped save my marriage.
      “Power of a praying wife” obviously a Chritian book, and fabulous, and hope-filled; and “ACT with Love” secular and teaches Acceptance Committment Therapy in a No-nonsense, common-sense, easy to read manner with exercises. Both can be done without your partner even being involved.

      My first prayer had immediate results.
      So did the decisions I had to make early on in the ACT book.
      We went from him sleeping downstairs and headed for leaving our house, our marriage and in the throws of a strong emotional affair, to me being his only love, and a future that looks much better than ever before… All this happened in 4 months. But I saw the biggest changes early on.

      It takes work, but you CAN turn it around single handed, it doesn’t take two to fix it, but yes there are still consequences, BUT the moment you are both back to being true and loving friends, that’s when you both ended working on the fall out from the consequences,

      I actually can see that our marriage will end up stronger and closer from this… Do I wish it had never happened? Of course, but I am still happy about the outcome, it brought me back to God, and is bringing my husband to find Him.

  16. Beth says:

    I live with wondering if my husband will have another affair , some days it’s harder then others but I know god has a good plan for me and I think I’m much closer to god now. I keep asking god how I can help others with what I have gone through my husband has also grown closer to god through it all so with his help we can make it

  17. Suzanne says:

    My husband and I have been married 19 years now. He gives half his pension to his ex-wife of 23 years. We barely get by financially. We will never be able to buy new cars or travel. In the meantime she is buying new cars and shopping at the best clothing stores. We have to shop at discount stores and won’t ever be able to buy a new car, ever! I don’t feel like he should have to give her half of his pension for the rest of his life. What are your thoughts on this issue?
    Thank you. You always have such good advice and I love your show. We attended your seminar and loved it!

  18. Suzanne says:

    P.S. My husband told me he would get back the pension after she finished school. She didn’t finish, but she has a job. Also she remarried and then divorced a year later. He said if she ever got married again he would get the pension back. She has not remarried. ??????? Thanks your insight is invaluable to me.

  19. Vigdis says:

    It is soooooooo good and refreshing to read your Blog. It’s the truth. We can can choose what to do but the consequences are not for us to choose. I love it. Blessings.

  20. Denise says:

    Thank you, Pastor Gungor, for your articles. I truly love reading them. I have for many years now.

    I only wish my husband had read them, as he is now gone and living with someone else and thinking that saying “Sorry” would make things okay with the children.

    But I continue to read your articles and share them on Facebook so others can read your fabulous insights about marriage and love.

  21. Tim says:

    I’ve been blessed by your video’s. I laugh alone, and wonder what my life would be like if my ex and I had found this before she divorced. I don’t know what happened or why? I can only guess. We have 5 children 27-23-19-15-11. I struggle daily with an old way of thinking, “Marriage is 1 man 1 woman for life”. I don’t want her back, I just don’t know her, and the consequences of the last 5 years would make it too difficult. I live with it, not a victorious life.

  22. Nancy says:

    I am always amazed when I read one of your articles and it is exactly what I have been recently trying to articulate to my adult children. This is so right on! We led a Laugh Your Way video class at our church and you have greatly ministered to us personally. We are 30-1/2 years married now, 13 years past infidelity. It took probably 8 or 9 years of healing before we made it to a peaceful place. My one desire is to share this very message – JUST DON’T DO IT!!

    Do fix the typo in the following sentence in the article so it doesn’t lose it’s kick. You rock!

    “There is no conference you can go to, or book to buy or prayer to pray. No one can anoint you with special oil so say some super holy prayer that will erase the consequences of everything.”

  23. Carly says:

    As a social worker, we believe in prevention as our first line of defense, however our society is geared towards intervention (damage control). I truly see that your warnings are a form of prevention. In the long run prevention costs less than intervention, on so many levels. I always enjoy your monthly topics. To me they make perfect sense and really helps my marriage stay on track. Thank you for your gifts of common sense, humor and role modeling God’s way. :-)

  24. Brenda King says:

    Thank you Mark for being direct and to the point with us adults who still carry themselves as children. Marriage is not for children, wimps or consistently irresponsible people. May God help us to be more responsible in our thinking and our actions, so that what we reap won’t be so awful that we cannot bear it. I thank God for what He gives you to give to us.

  25. Judith says:

    I agree with almost everything you say. I would like to add that while intimacy is important in a relationship, intimacy on demand is not. In spite of being in the 21st century with all the talk of equality, what I hear from my female clients is they are not only often expected to work outside the home, they still are expected to retain most of what used to be known as ‘women’s work’. They keep the family schedule organized, often are the lead chauffeur, head cook, cleaning lady, school liaison, caregiver for ailing parents (often for his parents as well), and the list goes on. Since we know “as a man (or woman) thinketh, so is he” I have to ask where, in the list of daily must-dos and multitasking, does she have time to think steamy or lusty thoughts? How can she possibly have energy for intimacy after running marathons day after day? If her sex drive is mostly mental (and I do believe it is) how can she possibly access it when her mental energy is in a million other places constantly? Women, I believe, see sex a mostly a ‘giving’ thing. After a woman has had an 18 hour day of giving to her entire family, fulfilling their various needs, she may not have anything left to give.
    Guys, if you want intimacy more often you need to really share the responsibilities of caring for home and family. As long as your wife in on her feet moving on behalf of the family you need to be, too. This isn’t ‘helping out’. This isn’t earning brownie points. This is simply being responsible. I assure you, your consistent output in this direction will reap you big rewards.

  26. KIM says:

    Can you share with me how to cope and adapt to my husbands affair(s). Any resources? How do you make it okay in our mind after the forgiveness??? It is NOT alright. I am on your web page praying for something to guide me. The Lord seems so distant and I am hanging on to my faith by a thread! Married 33 years… thru thick and thin…. to bad about him reading a different book for 4 years. Wan tto continue the marriage but good grief, not sure I can pull this off. Help!

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