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CBN.com – Audrey Meisner: “We had the kind of marriage that people would look at and go, ‘Okay, I want a marriage like that when I grow up.’”
Bob Meisner: “We loved doing life together. We loved our children. We loved everything that we did.”
Audrey: “We were leaders of the church. We were leaders in our whole city.”
Bob and Audrey Meisner met in Bible College.
Bob: “We’d talk about everything – all the time – just sharing our lives and dreams and hopes together. I was completely enthralled by her.”
Audrey: “I felt so safe with Bob because he loved God. I felt like I could be with him forever.”
They married, started a family, and dove into ministry work. They had big dreams for the future.
Bob: “With our desire to be world changers, what you’ve got to do is work.”
Audrey: “We were pastoring a church and also working for my mom and dad in their TV ministry.”
Bob: “I had no idea how hard it would be.”
A few months into the marriage, Audrey realized that Bob’s communication style was completely different.
Audrey: “He could easily confront me if something was wrong. So I made a vow in my heart, ‘I am going to do everything possible so that he will never yell at me again.’ And I became the ultimate performer and the ultimate pleaser.”
By now, the Meisners were hosting their own television program. The hard work of ministry took a toll on Audrey, who was afraid to speak up.
Audrey: “The busyness got so tiring and so exhausting. I remember stuffing down those feelings, because I knew Bob loved the church. I could never tell him how I really felt.”
This continued for years, and then a family friend from church began spending more time with the Meisners.
Bob: “He was extremely energetic and playful and liked to be with our kids.”
Audrey: “He was fun. He was young. He reminded me of being a kid again.”
Bob: “He didn’t have a family, so it was very natural at the beginning, and we’d invite him to be on holidays with us.”
But this new family friend began giving more attention to Audrey.
Audrey: “He would overly flirt with me—‘You’re so beautiful. I want to find someone in this world that could even be as half as amazing as you.’ Something in my heart gravitated towards that and I thought, ‘That’s what I need.’”
Over time, their relationship grew closer.
Audrey: “I knew something had changed in my heart when I knew he was coming over and I wanted to look really good when he got there. And I felt like I was in control. I felt that I could have a relationship with a young guy in the church and just help him out.”
Bob: “I had no reason to doubt her love for me. We were still, you know, extremely intimate with each other, loving with each other, so I thought everything was fine.”
But Audrey’s desire for the other man grew stronger.
Audrey: “Our shoulders would bump or his hands would touch mine, and I’d start to notice my reaction to that. I was like, ‘Oh, that felt good – you know, that he touched me.’ I really told myself, ‘I can have it all. This relationship won’t really affect the rest of my life.’ I began to notice myself lying so that I could be alone with him. I just dove in and said, ‘You know what, I’ve gone this far anyway, I’m just going to do this.’ And that’s when it became sexual. Our relationship became sexual.”
The affair continued for three weeks.
Audrey: “I just lied to the people I love the most in order to get away with this guy and be inappropriate sexually and have an affair. This is not me.”
Audrey realized she couldn’t continue living the double life and ended the affair. Now she had to tell her husband of 17 years, what she had done.
Audrey: “I was scared out of my mind. I was shaking. If it came down to a choice of who I would choose, there was never a question in my mind. I wanted my husband and my kids. I haven’t confronted him for 17 years of little things, and now I’m going to tell him the most betraying message I could ever imagine. I sat very close to him and whispered in his ear and said, I’ve done something extremely inappropriate. I saw just extreme rage and hatred come into his eyes.”
Bob: “This wasn’t just a little mistake. This wasn’t just a little ‘oops’ or a hiccup. I wanted to punch holes in walls, slam doors, you know… express some anger or rage!”
Audrey: “I felt so much shame for what I did and so much deep regret.”
Bob: “All I wanted to do was get her fixed. ‘She’s the problem. She had the affair.’ Every happy memory of 17 years of marriage was gone. My head was screaming with words, ‘She doesn’t love you. She’s never loved you. Your marriage has been a farce.’”
Bob called a marriage counselor who had been a guest on their television program. The couple flew to Phoenix the next day to meet with him.
Bob: “Well, he starts with me and begins to rip me up one side and down the other. And he said, ‘Bob, you’re spiritually lazy.’ I got, you know, daily Christian television. I’m pastoring a church. I’m a father. I’m a counselor. I’ve got all these activities going on and you call me ‘spiritually lazy.’”
Audrey: “And he says, ‘Audrey, anyone who does what you just did does not respect your husband. I want you to get alone with God and ask Him the moment you started disrespecting him.’”
Bob: “He says, ‘Bob, what’s done is done. What I need to know is whether or not you will become the man of God that you need to be to keep your family together. Before you go to bed, you will get on your knees and you will pray with each other.’ I can’t remember the last time we had prayed with each other. The only words that we could get out were, ‘God, we need you.’ And we cried and we cried.”
Audrey: “Every part of our relationship had to come to a new level of transparency. All of a sudden there was no room for any secrets.”
But one big secret was yet to be revealed. A few months later they received news from the doctor. Audrey was pregnant.”
Bob: “I had had a vasectomy. So I knew, you know, that it wasn’t me. He must have seen the fear all over our faces. Because he immediately followed that statement with a question: ‘Do you want to continue the pregnancy?’ And I immediately answered, ‘Yes, without a doubt.’”
Audrey: “I was scared out of my mind. And yet that was the first moment I felt strength from Bob.”
Bob: “Before, everything inside of me wanted to punish her. Now I recognized that she’s carrying a baby. And that she needed my help. This baby’s going to need parents. I want to be that dad.”
Bob and Audrey resigned from their positions, moved to Phoenix, and told their children what was going on.
Bob: “We knew that it was a bi-racial situation, and that our children needed to know.”
Audrey: “I was so scared my kids would be messed up. Because I’m one of those moms—I love my kids more than life itself.”
Bob: ‘They walked in seeing a Mom and Dad sitting on the floor crying. I spoke to them how I loved their Mom. And that we’re a family and we belong together. And that I’m not going anywhere. With her held in my arms and covered, I looked at them and I said, ‘You’re going to have a baby brother.’”
Five months later, Bob and Audrey rushed to the delivery room.
It was one of the most beautiful days of my life. This little boy was nothing but a gift, an absolute gift. When our son was born, I gave him my name, Robert; middle name, Theodore, and then Meisner. Because I don’t want my son to ever question one day in his life whose boy he is. Theodore means ‘divine gift.’”
Ten years later, Bob and Audrey’s marriage is stronger than ever.
Audrey: “Our relationship became dynamic, like it had never been before. Because now I’m being honest and he’s being honest.”
Bob: “There needed to be a transparency and a vulnerability to be willing to be known by the other person. And so this was new territory for us.”
Audrey: “If we can get through the fears that keep you from communicating and the fears that keep you, you know, in this—in this dysfunctional dance, and really start having a relationship with no secrets, there is nothing more fun than that.
Audrey continues, “Our little Robert is our nutcake. He’s so much fun, so full of personality–never a dull moment. And those three older kids love him with every part of their being. If you see them all together, there’s so much laughter.”
Bob: “For the extent that I have experienced His love and His grace, I’m the most thankful person you’ll ever meet.”
Audrey: “I don’t get what I deserve because of what He did. He paid this high price to really take my sin and to really take my shame. And because He lives inside of me, I don’t get what I deserve, I get what He deserves. That’s amazing love.”