Hugh was never caught in his mistakes. He came to me and confessed.

That didn't mean it was easy to forgive him, because it was the hardest thing I've ever done. When you say in your marriage vows “for better or for worse, till death do us part,” there is nothing that prepares you for your husband admitting that he's been unfaithful.

I remember praying “God, help me,” and He did. Right then, when I needed it the most, He did.

I knew that forgiveness wasn't just a choice. As a Christian, it was my obligation. John 20:23 tells us that the forgiveness we bestow upon others will be bestowed upon us, but whatever sin we retain in our own heart toward others will be retained toward us. In other words, if I want to be forgiven by God for my own sins, I must forgive others.

But I didn't just want to forgive Hugh out of necessity. I forgave him because he's my husband and I love him. All I wanted was to look at him the same way I did when we were at that fairground in Louisiana. I wanted to look at him the same way I did when he proposed, or when we took the field at Neyland Stadium. When I look at Hugh, I don't think “there's the man who made this mistake or that mistake.” When I see Hugh, I see God's love radiating from my husband. I hope others can see the same in me.

One thing that made it easier was the fact that I knew Hugh's heart, and his mistakes weren't a reflection of who he was. This was the same man who would arrive at family dinner with a prepared ice-breaker question, and no cell phones allowed, so we could talk as a family.

This might sound hard to believe, but our marriage is stronger now than ever. God used our pain and suffering to break some strongholds in our lives. We've had some breakthroughs in our marriage, and even though I would have considered it a good marriage before his mistakes, I would consider it great now.

 
 

That doesn't mean getting to this point was easy. As we were working on repairing our marriage, Hugh's transgressions came to public light. And as a result, he lost his job. Playing out your struggling marriage under the spotlight is not an easy task.

When you're the wife of the Ole Miss head coach, sometimes the attention can be a little too much. Hugh and I will be the first ones to say that UM has the best fans in the country, and we loved the fans so much, but the spotlight was already intense when things were going well. I remember going to a Valentine's Day dinner with Hugh once and we never got to speak with each other the entire time because everyone wanted to come up and get their picture taken with him. If you think it's tough being under the spotlight when things are good, imagine what it's like when people are speculating about what your husband did or did not do.

Having to live out the worst mistake you’ve made in life in the public eye is no fun. I would guess there is no one that would want their worst mistakes played out in the public eye, where people draw their own conclusions and say anything - whether true or false. But I have seen God use even these attacks on him to make him more caring and compassionate to others, especially those hurting.

While many say to him that OM should have stood by him through this, my husband is the first to say that he is the one who put them in that difficult spot. I'm just saying that dealing with the embarrassment, unemployment, and unfaithfulness all at once is a lot on a person. But the beautiful thing about God is that He doesn't want us to just come to Him when we have everything together. It was perhaps in His plan that Hugh and I would approach God in our brokenness and ask for His intervention.

And intervene He did.


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Thomas Hager