Why We Told Our Story to Oprah Winfrey
When Oprah first called us to tell our story on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), we thought it was a joke. (Okay, she didn’t really call us…or email…or even send a mass Christmas card. Heck, we don’t even subscribe to her magazine!) Over a year ago, I saw a posting about couples who would be willing to share their story of reconciliation after an affair, and I asked Laura if she would be open to the idea. We discussed the pros and cons a bit and rested in the fact that we would trust God with the outcome.
We filled out an extensive application, and we emailed it in – thinking that nothing would come of it.
Within a couple of days, we received an email back indicating that the production company was interested in possibly telling our story on “Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal.” Over the next few months, we literally spent over 15 hours (each) telling our story to multiple casting directors and producers (before the actual filming). They indicated that there was a possibility that our story would be told during season one, but nothing every came of it. Time passed, and we wrote it off. Then, in July of 2011, they got back in contact with us, and we scheduled a three-day shoot with a team scheduled to fly out from New York. One day was spent at our home, and two days were filled with studio interviews.
It was brutal to re-hash the pain of my bad decisions for 8 hours straight as a producer asked me question after question. It was brutal to know what Laura was reliving through the entire process.
Before committing to the project and throughout the entire filming process, we continually asked (and reminded) ourselves why we were willing to share our story publicly. We processed the inevitable negative reactions from people (who we have known and others who we’ll never meet), but we were willing to share our story for those that could possibly be helped.
- We want to challenge other couples to get help before an affair.
If you’re living as mere roommates, you’re not enjoying the intimate partnership that’s possible. Don’t think your spouse can’t/won’t do it. We’re all capable of looking for attention, affection, and connection somewhere else. Get help. Do something to get re-connected. Invest in your marriage.
- We want to inspire others who are fighting for their marriages.
It’s possible to have a better marriage than you’ve ever had before, but it takes intense commitment and unbelievable grace. Only by God’s grace were we able to take individual steps toward personal health and slowly toward reconciliation. It’s worth fighting for. It really is.
- We want to motivate other couples to get outside help (through their faith and therapy).
Trying to overcome all the challenges that get you into an affair combined with the pain of infidelity is virtually impossible to overcome alone. We leaned hard into our faith and sought outside help through individual and marriage therapy. If you want a shot at reconciliation, you’ll need help.
- I want my story to be a warning to other guys who are disconnected from their families.
With a total commitment to my vocation, I was working 70-80 hours a week for years. I was disconnected from my family, and I didn’t even know how to connect. For many guys, slowing down to intimately connect with our spouse and children is a completely different mindset and skill set than anything we’ve been taught. It takes effort, patience, and a willingness to humble ourselves to learn from others.
- I want my story to cause followers of Jesus to think about how we treat those who stumble, fall, and screw up in huge ways.
My decision to leave my family, pursue another woman, and resign from my role as pastor was absolutely wrong, stupid, and harmful to countless people. Based on how I was treated by (some) Christians at different points of the journey, my level of grace, compassion, and patience with others who have blown it in huge ways has increased substantially. I am a second chancer.
If you’re interested in a few of our thoughts during the filming, you can check here, here, here, and here. If you’re trying to recover from an affair (no matter what your role in the relationship is), we recommend Torn Asunder: Recovering from an Extramarital Affair and the accompanying workbook.
Here’s a preview for the show…