The best days for my marriage came after the affairs
For most of their marriage, Greg and Paige Telley lived as though they were roommates.
Early on, Paige's second-shift job managing a fast food restaurant left Greg to take care of their four kids and do the chores. It made Greg lonely and resentful.
Conversation dried up, replaced with fussing and fighting.
When their schedules overlapped, she would spend time in the bedroom. He would hang out in the living room.
There were no hugs or kisses. Sex was an every-few-months thing.
“I didn't have my wife 100 percent with me in my marriage, and I didn't know how to fix it,” Greg says. “I just didn't know where to turn to, or who to talk to, or what to do.”
I felt like there's no way to make this better.
Flirting with disaster
Mostly, they tolerated one another for the sake of their four kids, Greg says. It was too easy to avoid one another — and neither seemed to care enough to fix their problems.
"I think at some point we were so content with how things had gotten to be," Paige says.
To fill the emotional void, Greg turned to dating sites on the Internet. He found it is easy to talk to women, mostly for everyday conversation, though sometimes flirting led to the exchange of sexual pictures, too.
Several times, Paige discovered unexplained texts on Greg’s phone, and he would deny anything improper. But he could never shake the guilt over his emotional betrayals.
In December 2010, Paige discovered an iPod stuffed in a dresser drawer filled with months of intimate texts between Greg and another woman.
The discovery happened the same day Greg met her for lunch for the first time. They had kissed and cuddled but went no further. He had never met anyone in person before.
'Greg, this is the time … to get rid of the sin.'
A second chance
Paige thought it was easiest to be done with the marriage at that point.
Then, at a NewSpring Christmas service, Greg felt the Holy Spirit call him to surrender his life to Jesus. He saw that his emotional affairs were sin. He wanted to stop hurting Paige and make his marriage work.
“I felt like God was reaching down to me personally saying, ‘Greg this is the time … to get rid of the sin that had been damaging my marriage for the last five, six years or more.”
The changes that followed in his life were visible to Paige, and she was willing to give their marriage another chance.
"I saw a side of him I had never seen before," Paige says.
Six months later, she gave her life to Jesus, too.
The Telleys surrounded themselves with the emotional and spiritual support of a small group, and Greg met regularly with a friend who would ask the tough questions that helped him stay focused on following Jesus and resisting temptation.
The Telleys read and studied the Bible and prayed together, and they were more intentional about pursuing one another romantically. Their relationship grew healthier than ever.
But after a couple years, Greg still felt something was missing in their emotional and spiritual connection.
I could see how hurt she was.
Crossing another line
Then Greg discovered he hadn’t overcome his habits of sinful coping.
The spark that set his life on fire started with an innocent Twitter message.
But the interaction continued until it led to exchanging texts and sexual pictures. Then meetups. Then those meetups progressed to sexual touching and kissing.
Finally, he crossed the line he’d never thought he would cross: Sex.
The five-month affair was filled with guilt, shame, and fear that Paige would surely divorce him if she found out.
“I went through so much with Paige to make things better, and I pledged to God to obey Him, and to follow Him, and to put Him first in my life, and that's not what's happening,” Greg remembers thinking.
Eventually, Greg ended the affair at the beginning of 2015 — but it was the woman who told Paige everything.
“When I looked into the eyes of my wife after I confessed the sin that I had done, I could see how hurt she was,” Greg says. “I felt like there's no way to make this better.”
'I want to be free God.'
Greg was confronted with the depth and the desperateness of His sin.
At rock bottom, with his marriage seemingly burning around him, Greg realized he had asked Jesus into his life, but he’d never truly let God come into the darkest places of his heart.
“I felt God get my attention. He was telling me that I was still holding on to something in my life that I haven't given him yet,” he says.
He pleaded with God: “I want to be free God. I want to live to please you.”
Greg’s honest, full repentance was met with Paige’s faith that their marriage could be healed and that God could give her the grace of forgiveness, day by day.
The Telleys were vulnerable to one another like never before, working through nearly two decades of stored up resentments and unexpressed expectations. Their small group supported them all the way through.
“In the midst of the ashes, Jesus used this affair as an opportunity for us to tackle the issues that we hadn't discussed in years,” Greg says.
Overcoming sinful temptation wasn’t only a matter of setting healthy boundaries, Greg discovered. It was also about finding his ultimate satisfaction in God and trusting God to fill any emotional gaps in his life.
I've never known this type of love.
Renewing their vows
By October 2016, Greg and Paige had discovered a place of genuine love and mutual understanding they never knew was possible in marriage.
The couple renewed their vows in the presence of their children, declaring to the world the power of God to rescue His people from the worst circumstances and to redeem the pain.
“When we initially got married in 1996, we were not in Christ,” Greg says. “This was our opportunity to dedicate this marriage to him.”
They are celebrating 22 years of marriage in May 2018. They’re close. They're intimate. They’re in love.
“I went so many years taking her for granted and not giving her the opportunity to know me and to know who I am,” Greg says. “I've never known this type of love. I just can't believe I've gone so many years and not been able to experience that.”
Watch the story to hear Greg explain how the worst day of the Telleys’ marriage became a turning point.