Monday, June 23, 2014

Update

Someone asked for an update. There really isn't one. We are still together. We do great some days, and some days we don't. Some days -- the good ones -- I'm so glad I made the decision to stay in the marriage. Some days I think it was a mistake.

That's after 12 years. Someone posted a comment recently that 5 months after learning about the affair, he had days when he thought he should give up. Which seems very normal to me after only 5 months. Is it normal to still have days like that after 12 years? Yes, I think so. The difference, though, is how frequently those days come, and how intense the feeling is.

The bad days are much more rare now, and the feeling much less intense. Now when I feel like giving up, I recognize the leftover scars for what they are and remind myself of my commitments. I remind myself that I blame things on the affair that really aren't the affair's fault. Because heck, even couples who haven't dealt with infidelity have problems and feel like giving up sometimes. Even when no one has cheated, people think they made a mistake when they married his or her spouse.

The truth of the matter is, some things would have been easier, and still would be, if I had divorced my wife. Some things would be a whole lot worse, but not everything.

Anyway, comments sometimes get lost in the shuffle, so I'm going to repeat here what I said to the guy who was having bad days after 5 months:

---------------

To the guy 5 months in:

I hear you. You want to know when you will stop having days when you feel like giving up? I'm 12 years in. I'll let you know when I stop having days like that.

I don't say that to depress you or to make you want to give up. It is just realistic (at least for me personally).

To this day, things come up that remind me of my wife's affair. Every time I become angry with her (like happens with any couple ever, whether there has been an affair or not), I'm tempted to blame things on the affair.

If you stick with it, and if you are BOTH committed to making things work, those days will become more rare. In my humble opinion, I don't thing those days ever go away completely.

That's why I'm not crazy about the language some people use about becoming "healed" from the affair. I don't think you heal from something like this, in the sense of getting back to the way you were before. It changes you. Some of it is for the better, some isn't.

Imagine that someone negligently causes an accident, and as a result you lose a leg. You can forgive that person, but the leg is still gone. Sometimes you will wish you could run again. You're body will heal, in the sense that the wound closes, but your leg is still gone. You can still have a great life full of promise and achieve many of your dreams, but your leg is still gone.

And it always will be.

So for me -- and everything on this blog is describing my own personal experience, not to tell other people what they should do -- I decided that having days when I felt like giving up wouldn't make me give up. Just because I have days like that does not mean that I made a mistake. And even if I DID make a mistake, it is made. I promised to stick around and do my best to make things work, and that is a promise I am going to keep unless she gives me Biblical grounds for divorce, such as another affair. It is a vow I take as sacred as my original marriage vows.

One day at a time, friend. Your difficulty of dealing with it personally will diminish. Time will tell if you have a partner in recovery or not. If you do -- if you are both determined to save the marriage --

God will give you the strength to do so.

But it won't always be easy, and your leg is still gone.

13 Comments:

At 11:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the one wanting an update. Your posted titled " And there are days I still want to give up" just made me want to hear why. I am 3 weeks into finding out that my husband of 22 years cheated on me. We are trying to work through it and are going through counseling, but my hopes are so uncertain. I'm trying to grasp where my head will be in years to come. Thanks for your information!

 
At 12:13 PM , Blogger Author said...

Any time, friend. And good luck. I think I just needed to vent the other day.

 
At 5:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I ask, how does your wife feel about the whole thing? Does she also have bad days and feels like giving up sometimes? Or has she managed to put it behind? Or do you keep reminding it to her when you think about it and it haunts her to this day? Thank you for sharing...

 
At 8:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me again -- so after 12 years, what brought you to the computer to type "there are some days I still want to give up"? Counseling is helping and I'm making sure I get my questions answered. He's offered up his phone, laptop, email, etc for 100% tracking from here on out (which I hate b/c I've never been a stalk-ey type of wife and hate to think about having that in my future), he's tried to explain what took him to the horrible incident (which I will confirm that our relationship was lacking in certain areas - intimacy, closeness)but the fear of "getting sucked in for a repeat" rages in my mind. So, I'm intrigued by your 12 year comment, that you still have such bad days. I know the memory will NEVER go away, but would you be willing to walk away after this amount of time?

 
At 1:28 PM , Blogger Author said...

To "Me again" -- No, I am not willing to walk away now. That is, her past affair is not a reason that I will end the marriage. If we divorce at some point, it will be because she decides it or because she has been unfaithful again, but it WON'T be solely because of what happened then or my inability sometimes to deal with it well.

As for what caused me to write that on that particular day? I dealt with that a little in this post. It was a bad day. We had argued. I felt unloved, disrespected, and unattractive. That took me back to places I used to be and at the time it felt like life would be so much easier without all that baggage.

Maybe it would be easier. I don't know. Maybe some things would be easier and other things a lot harder. What I really want is for it all to never have happened, or at least for nothing to ever remind me of it. But that ain't happening.

 
At 1:37 PM , Blogger Author said...

To the person who asks how my wife feels about everything:

We don't talk about it a lot. Sometimes I think she feels more guilt than she should, for someone who has been forgiven by God and her betrayed spouse. yet other times I think she is too quick to just shove everything in the past and pretend like it never happened.

If you screw somebody at work and you want to repair your marriage, then you leave your job, period, and if you lose that job -- even if it is a really good one -- then you are not a victim. And if your spouse occasionally has a hard time with everything, that doesn't mean that he hasn't forgiven you, and it doesn't mean he's unreasonable. It's all pretty natural consequences of your choices. So when she acts put upon, like there should never be any consequences for the affair and that it should never ever cross my mind, I don't know if (1) she is just ashamed and hates being reminded of it, or (2) if she now thinks that what she did was such a small deal that it is unreasonable to expect a job change or other consequences.

 
At 2:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding to my comment. ( I am the guy who was 5 months in )

I think that all us guys that go through this hell have a special bond in the sense that we have compassion and understanding for each other. So I appreciate your response as it helped me put things back into perspective again.

I think that is why we have “bad” days. We lose our perspective on our current reality. Maybe because of fear or maybe because something reminds us of that terrible time in our lives. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone. Not every marriage can or even should be saved. But I think it applies to both me and you.

My wife is not and was not a bad person. What she did was wrong and now we both have to pay the price for it. Now she has suffer through the guilt and embarrassment of what she did.

For a while my biggest obstacle was dealing with the other man who lives in my town and we see each other quite frequently, whether it be at the grocery store, dropping off the kids at school, or just passing on the road. It was extremely difficult at first because of all the rage I held inside. I had to see a therapist to help me deal with this. She wanted me to forgive him. Yeah right, no way. My therapist explained to me that by forgiving him, I release myself from the anger and resentment that has been eating away at my soul. Instead, I took a different approach, what I found is that the more I look at what this guy’s life is like, the more I saw how so many bad decisions have impacted his life so negatively. He has multiple ex wives with alimoney, children he pays support to, but they won’t speak to him, kids that get sent to padded rooms at the psych hospital, and a girlfriend that has a ton of issues on her own. So now I really feel bad for him when I see him. I don’t forgive him at all, instead I pity him and use him as an example of how not to live life. I hardly think of him at all now. He is meaningless and insignificant to me.

The surprising next phase I entered was depression. I would say this lasted about 2-3 months before I got a grip on myself. I sensed that I was becoming withdrawn from the relationship. I had no desire sexually (very unlike me) or romantically. The feeling frightened me. Maybe one could say it felt like I was no longer in love. After a couple weeks my wife confronted me about the way I had been acting. She said she had given me my space and wanted me to have time to work through this.

I think it was your response to me that you made a commitment to your wife to stay and work on the marriage. You said that your commitment was as a strong as your wedding vows and that if you made a mistake, the mistake was made. I think that is what I was missing. I never made that vow again. In my mind, I still was not sure that in 5 years I would still be here. Not because of us, but because what if I wanted something else. I have made the same commitment as you and I feel that it has taken me out of the depression and given my life direction again.

I was at church last Sunday and the minister was talking about everyone having weeds in their garden. He said that sometimes we come across weeds that are so deep and strong that we cannot pull them out. Sometimes we need to live our life with the weeds and let God sort them out when we pass. He went on to explain that every weed also has a gift. So rather than spend my time pulling and fighting with the weed, I should look closely at the weed and find the good in it. For me the weed is clearly my wife’s affair. But there is good. We are closer and more in love today than ever before. We argue less, talk more and look forward to spending time together.

Thank you for writing this blog. I know you do it for yourself more than others. But realize that your words are supportive to all of us that come here to find guidance from someone who has been down the road already.

All the best to you and your wife.

 
At 12:00 PM , Blogger Author said...

Hi 5-months-in:

I'm glad you're turning corners. It really sounds like you are learning to accept the unchangeable and to rely on God's strength.

I'm trying to remember if I could possibly have written what you wrote at 5 months. Could I have taken such a mature view at that time? I'm not sure, honestly. It's all a blur, though, so I can't trust my memory.

I would say this: My opinion counts for nothing, but it really seems to me that you are taking a healthy view of all this. If tomorrow or next week you have a day of depression or rage or lack of desire, it doesn't mean you aren't making progress. It means you're having a bad day.

You're entitled.

 
At 4:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How will I know he will stay, after 16 years and half my life, he hates what he's done, he hates talking about it, when will I stop wanting to know more? I'm 6 months in, and we both find every bit of strength in God. I have bad nights, and bad days, I hurt still. I've always been with him..since 15 years old. Our story use to give others chills, since only a hand full of people know that story is shattered other than our redemption story.... Its new we love each other but its different... When will I let go, when will I not care so to speak_???

 
At 11:44 PM , Blogger Author said...

How will you know he will stay? You don't. You didn't know that before the affair (maybe you THOUGHT you did, but you didn't), and you can't know it after.

When will it stop hurting? When you will be able to let go? I'll let you know if I ever get to that point. But that doesn't mean that it won't get better. MUCH better.

You're only 6 months in. Give it time. Work on you. Love your husband. Turn to God. Focus on what YOU can do, not what you can't be sure of.

Good luck!

 
At 8:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. Prayers appreciated for H&J..

 
At 3:15 PM , Blogger Kyle Gabhart said...

My wife and I are currently 20 months into our own healing from an affair. You can find our story here: http://equipyourmarriage.com/our-story

Through the healing process we have found immense freedom, intimacy, and hope. God has redeemed our relationship in an incredible way.

For anyone reading this, I want to encourage you that restoration and redemption are very real. You can do more than survive after an affair, your relationship can actually THRIVE!

 
At 8:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just what I needed, I am 6 years in and still struggling. It seems there are triggers that I cant get control over. I am forced to go to a restaurant she took him too simply because my kids love it so much - I hate this restaurant now!! God's grace however is sufficient through all of this, I will survive.

G

 

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