Infidelity leading to pregnancy after 17 years of marriage is what Bob and Audrey Meisner went through, but God's miraculous work brought them back together.
Focus on the Family President and author Jim Daly and his radio show co-host John Fuller spoke to the Meisners, who have doctorates in ministry and are authors of Marriage Undercover: Thriving in a Culture of Quiet Desperation. The two-part episode is titled "Overcoming the Obstacles of Infidelity."
The couple, who have now been married for about 34 years, were pastoring a church at the time the affair happened. At that point, they had been married for 17 years and had three children. Busyness is what defined their lives.
"Even when I feel desperate, I have to wake up and be determined and be selfless," Audrey recalled. "And any time the hidden me, the girl Audrey that was hiding behind all this desperation that just wanted to be heard, whenever she would rise up and start to feel sad, I would just shut her down and say, no, we are not selfish people. Audrey, you get up and do what you're supposed to do. So I hid that part of Audrey that was desperately asking for help. And I just shut her down. And I kept working."
Amid the busyness, a young guy started coming to their church, and "he started to bring me the way I felt comfort," Audrey shared. "He was speaking to that Audrey. He was the only one — and I was craving that so desperately, so thirsty for that drink of water that when he complimented me and comforted me in the way that that Audrey felt heard, I started to let down my defenses and I started to crave more and more and more of it."
She thought she didn't need any boundaries that other people had because "I'm so strong."
"So I can go for lunch and I can write emails and I can eat alone with this guy because he's younger than me. I'm kind of helping him. … The friendship that we thought was so innocent is — it did — just took a matter of time because I began to compromise."
Now, Audrey said, she believes "100 percent" there's no such thing as a "small compromise."
Looking back, Bob said, "If you're having to keep it secret, if you're not wanting other people to know, then right away, you're already, you know, crossing a dangerous line there."
He recalled, "I was having some uncomfortable feelings. And so I'd ask her. And she's like, no, no, everything's fine, everything's safe."
Audrey responded that the "reason I lied when he asked me is that I didn't want it to stop. I was getting to the point where I was addicted to this friendship, where it was feeding me, and it became almost like my drug of choice … that friendship eventually turned into a sexual affair, something I never dreamed."
She added, "It wasn't about the sex for me. It was the escape from that extremely busy, driven, external life that was driving me. This felt like an escape for me."
Finally, the voice inside her heart said, "There's nothing about this that is you, Audrey."
"You know, when I asked that guy that I had the affair with to leave the city, just, you know, we can't have any form of friendship or relationship, this is being cut off completely, we never can see each other again. Done, he left the city. And I had no intention of ever telling anyone."
But she felt in her heart "that whisper of God say, you need to tell Bob." And she did. "I think back and I think, God says, confess your sins to me, and I'll forgive you. But in James it says confess your sins to one another, and that's when He heals you."
Recalling how he felt, Bob said, "This is a big deal, and we just can't ignore this. And so I thought of leaving. That was my initial — and I wanted her to feel my anger. I wanted her to, you know, sense my rage and disgust with this."
Bob spoke to a mature Christian worker. "Everything inside of me wanted to expose her. Everything inside of me wanted to shame her. But all that would do is puff up my self-righteousness. I'm the innocent one here. She did this to me. And he (the Christian worker) says, that's not the heart of God."
On why he still decided to stay in the marriage, Bob said, "Because I've been loved, and He loves me. And I remember one day receiving a phone call from my dad … saying to me (quivering voice), 'Bob, I thought you should hear it from me. I'm leaving your Mom.' I never ever wanted to make that phone call to my children.
"So if what God says about Himself is really true and real — because I could not live with just a theological understanding — I needed His truth to become my reality. And then that drove me into His throne room of grace because no longer was it an issue of right or wrong. His realities had to become mine."
Two weeks later, doctors found out that Audrey was pregnant as a result of the affair. "This baby was not Bob's and would not look like our other children," she recalled.
Bob shared, "When I was in that doctor's office, immediately I knew what I was being asked to do. It was not even a thought. I have a baby coming. And I have a new responsibility — this baby's innocent. … This baby has done nothing wrong. And this baby needs a dad. Tag, you're it. … My motivation isn't to be right. My motivation is to love. And this child needs a dad. This child needs a home. And that is a responsibility that I have."
Bob's pastor also told him, "Bob, there's a baby on your doorstep. What do you do? Will you participate with this fatherless generation? Or will you become a father to the fatherless?"
Audrey recalled praying for a miscarriage. But when she shared this with her dad, "he just said one thing, the power of a father's words. He said, 'Audrey, that's what you did. But that is not who you are.'"
Bob said, "Today he's 15 years old. And he's the most handsome. He's one of the greatest gifts our family has ever experienced. He's not an outsider. He's my son."
"I gave him my name Robert because I don't want him to ever question one day in his life whose boy he is. He's my son. His middle name is Theodore. It means divine gift. He's not an accident. He's not a mistake. He's not the result of a sexual affair. Just like my other three children, he's born out of the heart of God and entrusted to us."
Bob then told the listeners that "my Redeemer lives" and "involves Himself in the consequences of our choices. He comes to where we are. And He says, 'I'll make a way out for you.'"