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How a Marriage Survived Serial Infidelity

Mary and Marshall Akers have always enjoyed walks in the park. But during one of those outings in 2006, Mary had an uneasy feeling that their lives would never be the same.

MARY: “He said, ‘Let’s go to a park. And I need to tell you something.’ And so we did. My heart is pounding 90 miles an hour the whole time. I knew something was up.”

MARSHALL: “I took Mary and said ‘I gotta come clean with all the many infidelities I had with all the many, many, many women.’ I confessed it all to her. I’ve been holding this for years. I cannot continue that.”

MARY: “And I said, ‘Is this recent?’ And he said, ‘No. Our whole marriage and more times than I can count.’”

Mary wasn’t completely blindsided. She had experienced the feelings of betrayal and hurt before.

MARY: “I was going through his clothes to see which shirts I should wash and I noticed one of the shirts smelled like women’s perfume. And I panicked but I never confronted him on it. I didn’t want to know the truth at that point. I had four babies. What would I do if he did walk? I was scared. I was really scared.”

The couple met at a church camp when they were teenagers.  They were barely out of high school when they married.  

MARY: “We weren’t even close to being ready to getting married. We were two kids that were in love with being in love. And he was still very much a single guy.”

MARSHALL: “I thought it would just be that experience that hey, I got a wife now, she’s living with me. We’re going to have sex and all the things that go along with marriage and stuff like that.”

With children came the responsibilities of fatherhood.

MARSHALL: “Getting off the graveyard shift at 8:00 in the morning with four kids, small, okay. And we have to go do this, or do something with the kids. The pressures of it that I couldn’t deal with. But also a control issue that I had to feel that I was in control.”

After a one night stand, Marshall discovered an escape that became a lifelong addiction.

MARSHALL: “Constantly being this guy, switching from this guy to this guy, all this stuff with women and the sexual addiction and everything there, I was looking for God, but I was looking in the wrong places.”
To his family and friends, Marshall kept up appearances of a dedicated, Christian family man. But his marriage and faith always came second.

MARSHALL: “The Bible says that I was moving into that double-soul person. I was living two different lives. I didn’t realize it back then. But that’s what I was doing.”

He knew he had to tell Mary the truth.

MARSHALL: “Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Besides getting all my kids together and family and telling them what Dad had done. Really difficult. And how sorry I was. What I’d done to their mother and so forth. That was extremely difficult.”

Meanwhile, Mary began the painful process of deciding what she should do.

MARY: “This was gonna to be the ultimate test of not just my love for my husband. I knew that bottom line, that if we divorced, that the enemy would start a chain reaction in our family and I refused to let that happen. Let’s tough it out, let’s fight this out, let’s - let’s win so we can put the enemy in his place and tell him, ‘No, I don’t think so.’”

She knew she would need to forgive her husband. That was easier said than done.

MARY: “Of course I heard every sermon on forgiveness that you’d need. So I did. I did my best. But inside I was—my heart was breaking.”

Marshall knew he hurt his wife and family deeply. And only God’s grace could restore their relationship.

MARSHALL: “I told the Lord, I says, ‘You know what, I’m done. Done.’ I had told God that I’m so sorry for what I’ve done, the people I’ve offended. I’ve offended you and the cross and asked for forgiveness. And He showed me, literally, all the sin is laid out and it’s all on level ground. And He covers it all. And my mind has changed 100%. And it thought it never could.

MARSHALL: “It’s totally different when you start everyday with him first. That makes all the difference in the world. Reading the word and just spending time.”
Marshall has been faithful in his walk with the Lord and his commitment to Mary since his confession in 2006, and now going on 45 years of marriage. The Akers are looking forward to many more.

MARY: “And I just love him with all my heart. And I know we got a lot of years ahead. Right?”

MARSHALL: “Amen. That’s right.”

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