Saturday, January 13, 2007

Why Bother?

Earlier I wrote that in my opinion, a person never completely recovers from an affair. In the same way, I think that a person never completely recovers from a death in the family or a divorce. You can heal and grow, and maybe even become stronger; the pain will subside and the event no longer defines you as a person and is not something that you continuously dwell upon; however, you never completely recover: A part of you is always different and the scars remain.

Someone commented, “If you never get to the same point that you would be had the event never happened....why would you bother?”

That’s a great question that I had to think about it for a while. Here is what I think:

1. Just because you may never get back to square one does not mean that your efforts to recover from an affair are fruitless. Whether or not your marriage survives, you as a person can grow well beyond the brokenness you feel when you first learn of the affair. The despair, the depression, the paranoia, all get better.

2. Maybe you can be, in some ways, even better than you were before. It is amazing how a trauma can make you a stronger person than you were before. You have scars, yes, but you can learn valuable life lessons if you choose to do so. I’m a better, stronger person because of what I have been through. That does not mean that I would choose to do it all again, but I can look back and see good that has come out of our situation.

3. What is the alternative? Spending the rest of your life in a fetal position? Always being a victim? I am not a leaf blown in the wind with no control over my life. Events will happen that I cannot change, but I can choose how to respond. The next time something bad happens to me (and there will be a "next time") I will give myself time to hurt and grieve. But then I will come to accept those circumstances and with God, I will get back up and move forward. If it is something someone has done to me, I will forgive. If it is something that is no person’s fault, just one of those times that life craps on you, I will not become bitter.

I don’t know if this will make any sense, but I will give it a shot. I would give anything for the affair to have never happened, but I would not trade the lessons I have learned from the experience for anything in the world.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A clarification

I don't want to confuse anyone, for heaven's sake. A couple of people have mentioned "anger" and "disrespect" in my early posts directed toward my wife and the other man. It concerned them because, if I still feel such anger and disrespect after 5 years, then our marriage hasn't really recovered very much, has it?

When I sat down to write, particularly when I was writing about the initial year or so after discovery, I took a journey in time and some of those early feelings cropped up. When you first find out, of course you are angry. Of course you use heated language. Of course you lash out. That came through in my writing not because I live with those emotions any more, but rather I was simply recording, for my own benefit (and later, I hope, for others' benefit), my journey from A to B. I went back to A so I could better appreciate B.

I'm not angry with my wife about the affair. I was -- very, very angry, and rightfully so -- but I am not anymore. I forgave her and no longer hold it over her head. She owes me nothing. As for the other guy, he is not in our life and is not on our mind. I have forgiven him, too (I did not tell him so, but forgave him all the same), and he owes me nothing.

So please do not think I am angry or disrespectful to my wife. She made a mistake. A big one, yes, but it is history. I love her so much and I don't think of her as a cheater or an adultress. I can look back at the way she responded to this ordeal and see many admirable qualities. It takes guts to say, "I was wrong, and I'm going to change." She is a loving and courageous person with whom it will be my honor to spend the rest of my life.

In the immediate aftermath, I did not feel that way. Duh. And that comes through in the posts. Just remember, please, as you go with me back to A, that we are now happily at B. And if you are stuck in A, let us be proof to you that if you are both committed and if you trust God to breathe life into your marriage, you can get to B too.