On a marriage cruise a few years back, we had the pleasure of meeting George and Cassie Soete, who were willing to be vulnerable enough to share their story to urge families to affair-proof their marriages.
Roll back the clock 23 years to their 20th wedding anniversary. This is the day George announced to his wife and children that he was leaving them. He was rejecting his wife to pursue the wife of a friend of his. For years before that, unbeknownst to them, they had a third party in their marriage. His name was Satan. The father of lies was teaching this couple, married young and the parents of six, that it is okay to pursue life as each saw fit. Cassie, busy with six children admittedly did not think about pursuing her relationship with her husband. With six kids and twenty years of history, she just assumed he would always be there. George, with a promising business of his own decided his life was ready for some changes, and the biggest obstacle he could see to those changes was his wife.
That evening was not the end of the turmoil. For the next 4.5 years, George moved in and out of the family home at least 8 times, each time saying it was the last move in, then the last move out. With children in five different schools, and toddlers still to potty train, Cassie was devastated. She felt conquered and destroyed. George was playing at life, much like a hamster in a plastic running ball. He thought he was free, but he was really in a bondage he could not recognize. He thought he was having the time of his life, but he was really in a bubble hitting the baseboard, with no more hope than a rodent of ever pulling out of there.
Finally, blessedly, Cassie began to seek another man in her own life, the Lord. A friend invited her to a Bible believing church and she heard the marriage series Bob Russell was doing years ago. She was coming to the realization that she could not change her husband, but she could do one thing. She could spend her idle time and her loneliness to draw closer to God, through the study of his word and through prayer. George began to see a different person in his wife. His wife was the victim, being continually trashed and discarded, but she had the peace he so desperately wanted. He plucked a tape off her counter entitled, “Conflict in Marriage.” He took it back with him and listened, and through Bob’s message, the Holy Spirit went to work in his life, convicting him of his sin and his need for a savior. “I knew I was purely and absolutely wrong on the eyes of the Lord.” He also knew he needed to pursue the bride of his youth. “The loser in this thing is me” he thought. He wanted to come home, and for the first time, Cassie said, “No.”
Cassie needed some things. She wanted assurance that her husband really had transformed. He had. She needed to know he would never leave her again. He has not. She needed to be able to trust him. After quite a bit of time went by, he did regain her trust. She needed to know she was cherished and loved absolutely and positively by her husband. She is. They rebuilt their marriage, with much work from the entire family. Things were awkward at first, but now they are more vibrant, more satisfied, and more in love than they ever believed possible, even as they took their vows 39 years ago. Once they survived the horror of a marriage ripped apart by Satan’s lies, other couples going through similar crisis sought them. People wanted to know how they did it. They wanted the magic formula. This eventually lead to the Marriage Mentoring program at their church that now helps numerous couples survive with their marriages intact. The Soetes know no magic formulas, but they have many suggestions to share with other couples. “Do not try to change your spouse. Concentrate on what changes you need in yourself, primarily in your relationship with the Lord, and secondarily in your role as a spouse. Love in complete obedience to your Lord,. It is not about obtaining happiness. It is about obedience, then true happiness can be obtained.” The Soetes also urged women to be extremely vigilant in the marriage. If you suspect something is amiss, address it head on. Do not shove it under the carpet and hope it will go away. That is a lie of Satan, who wants to destroy your marriage. As Cassie quipped,” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but it does not hurt to salt the oats.”
Ask yourself if YOU would want to be married to YOU? Are you living in such a way that anyone would be attracted to you? Are you the kind of person God desires you to be? If not, change. Use God’s word to transform yourself, surround yourself with God’s truth and reject the worldly methods you may have tried before. They simply do not work. Set appropriate boundaries to protect your marriage. Keep yourself accountable and fresh in the Word.
Some books the couple suggested were: Love Life by Ed Wheat, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas, Every Woman’s Desire by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker, and the Bible.
Finally, George Soete stated he had to put a stake in the ground and declare that regardless of the past, regardless of the world’s influence, he was declaring that the lie of divorce is STOPPING here. This is not a legacy he wants to spread further down his family tree. He insists there needs to be a defining moment when you make that declaration, and never remove the stake.