“You provide the willing heart and I’ll provide the miracle.”
This phrase is packed full of more truth than you can imagine. And, it’s a truth Rick and Tiffany Bulman have lived.
In their new book Mended, the Bulman’s tell the powerful story of their reconciliation after Tiffany’s adultery. They both provided willing hearts, and they are now living a miracle.
As I read the Bulman’s story, so much of my own life flooded back over me. The pain of betrayal at the deepest levels. The fear of the future. The acknowledgement that so much of my marriage had been filled with lies.
Yet, the Bulman’s—unlike me—have the joy of living in a reconciled marriage, a union made stronger by the power of God working in and through two people committed to Him and to each other.
The key to reconciliation was two hearts willing to follow God and do the hard work.
Mended is full of gut-wrenching honesty from the Bulman family, including their children. Each person’s story is skillfully woven into the book, allowing the reader to get a glimpse into the minds of each family member when adultery invades. There’s no hiding the pain, the devastation, the long-term effects.
As I read the Bulman’s story, several key points came to mind:
Reconciliation requires two willing hearts. I can never emphasize this point enough. So often, people push the myth that every marriage can overcome betrayal such as adultery. It simply is not true. In many cases (mine included), there’s only one spouse willing to do the hard work of reconciliation. If both spouses are not willing, the marriage will not succeed.
When an unfaithful spouse doesn’t want to look deep inside to understand what caused him/her to wander, there can be no reconciliation. If the unfaithful spouse is unwilling to accept the consequences of his/her actions (such as broken trust), there can be no reconciliation. If the victimized spouse is not willing to do the hard work of forgiveness, there can be no reconciliation.
The Bulman’s make it clear that God is still in the miracle-working business. There’s no limit to what He can do with two willing hearts.
God provides an anchor to hold onto. In premarital counseling, the Bulmans were asked if adultery necessitated divorce. When Rick answered no, he had no idea how God was preparing him for the future. That simple question and his answer became an anchor for him in the midst of the storm. He remembered how he had been certain even before the I dos that divorce did not have to mean divorce. God had provided him with a glimpse into the future even before he was married.
In a similar way, God provided me with a foreshadowing of our future many years before adultery rocked my life. We were on staff at a large church when my then-husband learned of the senior pastor’s affair. As we discussed the reality of this situation, we talked about how God was showing us what could become of us if we did not actively abide in Christ. It was a painful lesson, and unfortunately it became a reality. If only we had both held tightly to that lesson God provided us years earlier.
Often the cause for adultery can be found by examining our past. In Mended, the Bulmans walk the reader through their childhoods. They show how their families of origin created expectations that were never discussed. As each spouse had certain beliefs in how a family should operate, they created an atmosphere where neither spouse was meeting the needs of the other. When a charming man moved in on Tiffany, her emotional pain made her the easy target.
Here’s where things were hard for me. I could relate to so much of what the Bulmans share about the unmet emotional needs within their marriage. However, that’s where things broke down for me. I almost felt as if the message being communicated was that adultery is always the result of two people failing in marriage. It simply is not true. I could relate to the husband being harsh and verbally abusive. I could relate to what Tiffany experienced in childhood. I could relate to the differences in expectations. What I could not relate to was that Tiffany became angry, withdrawn, and eventually had her needs met with an adulterous relationship. If this was the anatomy of an affair, I would have been the one to stray from my marriage. Instead, it was my husband—the one who had a loving, supportive wife by his side.
The truth is that adultery only requires one hard heart set against God, one hard heart not abiding in Christ. While there are certainly situations where both parties are at fault, it is not always the case.
There are two types of adulterers. As I just mentioned, adultery is not always the case of two parties failing to meet each other’s’ needs. Sometimes it is the result of one hardened heart.
And that’s where we see the two types of adulterers. Tiffany is the type of adulterer who fell into a situation, the type of adulterer who got sucked into a relationship with a conniving individual. She was a naïve victim in so many ways. Her character was not the type to wander from her marriage.
Chad (the man with whom Tiffany had the affair) was the second type of adulterer. He is the type of man who preys on innocent, naïve victims. He’s the type of adulterer who doesn’t repent, doesn’t have the willing heart ready to submit to God.
For more information on Mended, visit www.mendedbook.com.