.Weight.

WeightOfGrief

Weight of offenses against you.

Weight of misdeeds, intentional and not, curled in and through your being.

Weight of abandonment. Of abuse.

Of corruption. Of deceit. Of exploitation. Of injustice. Of perversion and manipulation. Of hatefulness and rage and retaliation. Of resentment and vengeance. Of scorn and mockery and neglect.

Of infidelity. Of betrayal and collusion.

Of exposure.

Of distortion and evasion and slander.

Of selfishness. And ill will. And disdain.

Weight of grief.

Betrayal Decided.

 

Wednesday (or the third day) of Holy Week. Not much happens on this particular day, or at least I never realized it in the same way I did today. Wednesday was the day that somewhere around two-thousand years ago, a man named Judas decided he would betray the One whom he had loved, and followed, and dedicated his life to over the prior years. The One to whom he had listened intently, shaped his understanding of his past, and the direction of his future.

JudasBetrayal

I find it astounding that God chose to let us see a window into the heart and mind of Judas…not just the action of his betrayal the next day, but that he chose betrayal before he acted. That on the day before he moved into the action of pointing out Jesus to his captors, he considered it, saw the “reward” of thirty pieces of silver, and decided to betray his Lord.

HUSBAND and I have talked incessantly about how the betrayals happened within our marriage. The last affair began immediately following his HS reunion. As we were standing toward the exit, talking with another couple and preparing to leave, HUSBAND’s body jolted a bit and I glanced over, only to notice someone had bumped into him. It was a non-moment, a non-event with a non-descript person that I hardly noticed. But as HUSBAND turned to say “I’m sorry,” he now tells me that there was a fleeting moment of eyes meeting eyes that went beyond two old friends. I didn’t see it, or sense it, or have any idea it had happened. The next morning, HUSBAND sent a brief text…are you heading back to Atlanta…and SW answered…why…what do you have in mind…

The affair began.

BUT…what HUSBAND now sees is that isn’t really true. The affair began with his own inner pain and personal disdain, with small thoughts and little justifications and tiny moments for the months prior. It began with HUSBAND rejecting the good that was us and making us bad so that he could seek the bad and make it good. It wasn’t thirty pieces of silver that his whore offered him, but it was a quick path to momentary pleasure of the body and mind that led straight to a deep plunge into destruction. And he had sold out to the lies along the way long before he accepted the trade, long before he did away with the journey of the real for the mimicry of the false.

Circumstances reveal

How wise is the God who reveals the path of betrayal so clearly, both for the betrayed to be able to see they played no role, and for the betrayer to be able to learn his foolishness was his alone. Jesus…so pure and kind…betrayed and laid out for his betrayer…

I am humbled to read this story with new eyes. And to grieve with Jesus with a broken heart. And to thank Him for showing me that betrayal, and death…in a way that only God can make happen…can be a path to freedom, and life.

Freedom

 

 

 

 

Another Kind of Weary

The last three weeks have just done me in.

My head is bursting from the devastation of infidelity. Of betrayal and abandonment.

A phone call, a desperate request from a cheating husband to my cheating husband begging me to reach out to his wife. A series of texts from just-recently-married-Daughter, confused about the abandonment of a husband by the wife of dear friends who she esteemed. A different phone call, asking for support for the daughter of a friend who has discovered betrayal by her spouse.

The swath of pain ripples out from the epicenter of the couple…hurting children and families and friends and co-workers.

Many of us keep our truths silent and those around us create their own stories about why our marriages end, or we suddenly lose mass amounts of weight, or appear as if we cannot quite connect because we really cannot quite connect.  And in our silence, our betrayer can, and often does, continue to look like the great person we believed him to be and that he sells himself to be to the world at large.

We carry on…we continue to move through our lives and take our children to school and show up for doctor’s appointments and go to the grocery store. We are literally shattered into millions of pieces but somehow kept together by our skin and as we walk around we wonder how other people don’t look at us and scream and run from our bloody wounds. But they don’t. They don’t see. They don’t know. And our pain goes deeper and deeper and deeper inside.

I cannot believe that less than two years ago, I had no idea this world existed other than rarely and amongst “those people,” not people like me. I’m not sure who “those people” were, but they were not people I knew or walked with or worked with or lived with. Now I know that I am “those people,” and that I was sitting next to them on the school bus headed to a field trip, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery check-out. “Those people” are me and you and them and us and everywhere. They are young and old, newly married and long-time-married. They are faithless and faithfilled and overweight and underweight.

The few people we share with think they get it, and try to help.

They tell us what they would do and how they would respond and how to get better. But it doesn’t help because they don’t know. We didn’t know. We still don’t know. We just keep going to bed and trying to sleep and then waking up and getting out of bed. Each moment we try to figure out if we are doing what we should do but then we realize we don’t know the rules of this game.

So when I get the call and need to support someone else, I am so confused. I am confused by the rush of emotions it quickly brings up in my soul, and by the reality that there is no advice I can give. Only care. Only support. Only faith in that person to be brave and be able to wake up each day and to discover the strength they never knew they had.

The support to the family members who are trying to make sense of it all…this is a new role…and one that I don’t know how to move in. It is heavy for me, and hard for me, and I hope to help them see that there are no rules or must-do’s or have-to-be’s. That they need to give care. And support. And have faith that the person can be brave and able to wake up each day and find strength they never knew they had. They need to keep their advice off the table, and refrain from telling anyone involved in the situation what to do…and just love. Just comfort. Just share themselves and no one else.

I am weary now, not just for my story and recovery, but for so many around. Can we just stop the madness…

Reflecting on Deception

I am awake in the wee hours thinking about a large community event tonight. It is the third year my non-profit is hosting this event…the third year that we have the privilege of engaging with an amazing group of young talent to spread our message…the third year that I will be on stage to thank the leadership and to encourage thousands of youth to choose health & opportunity & freedom.

YOUTHcrowds

Through the years, HUSBAND and my children have always played an important part in events like this, assisting my small staff through volunteering to set up, shoot video & photos and any other way they can help. Three years ago, HUSBAND was fully engaged at this event despite the reality that he was also fully engaged with SW and contemplating ending our marriage and going off into the sunset with her.

That’s what woke me…thinking about the reality that he had so easily deceived me by remaining my helpful partner and doing anything he could to help us pull off a-really-big-event with a really-small-staff. He never showed me a crack in the façade, never let me see that he wished to be anywhere but there with me, doing anything else but helping me, wishing he could be with someone else besides me. He played the role so smoothly of supportive and proud HUSBAND, interacting with friends new and old, acting as if he was excited about the work my non-profit was doing, and honored to be by my side. All an act…all a deception.

I was thinking about him taking pictures that night…being on his phone to post some things to our instagram and then to send some chats to SW. That while I assumed his phone time was all about us it was really a lot about him-about them-when there was a them that wasn’t us.

SecretTexts

It is painful, and hard to remember. It just crops up inside my soul and travels up to my brain sometimes…triggers…thoughts…memories. Memories that looked one way then, but look very different now.

I remember HUSBAND telling me that during his affair with SW, he had attended another event and taken a picture of me while I was speaking. He sent it to her, and she replied back DID YOU JUST SEND ME A PICTURE OF YOUR WIFE? HUSBAND discovered then that the little whore was sensitive – she put him on silence for a few days – to punish him? Nipping at the bubble of the fantasy world she had created in which I didn’t exist appears to have really pissed her off.

This is one of the most wearying parts of affairs and recovery…and I imagine it is hard for the betrayed whether they reconcile or don’t. These moments of remembering the lies, the deception that we were so blissfully unaware of at the time, that now distort the beauty of memories…kind of like a photo that has gotten burned and the image is still there, but the edges are curled up, and a dingy layer covers it all dimming the colors and distorting the original image. That is what memories are like for me from during HUSBAND’s affairs. I want to unfurl the photo…to wipe away the tarnish…but I can’t. It remains ragged and damaged.

So tonight, I will press on. I will press on with my taped-together-heart and my very-sorry-HUSBAND and we will work on making memories that don’t need any revising. One step…forward.

OneStep10

Road to Reality

inlovewithpotentialvreality

Girl met Boy. Fell in love. They bared their souls, dreamed dreams.  Had the wedding, made babies. Did the good and bad of life. Thought they were on a road to grow old together.

And mixed in and out and up and down and through and through were others. Others who caressed Boy’s body and distorted his mind and twisted his thoughts. But Girl didn’t know.

One day…the truth came out and Girl looked at Boy. Who was this Boy that had shared her life but hadn’t really?

This is the short story of a long marriage…nearly 30 years now…

So when I look at our lives together, and I look at his life apart, and I consider the profound healing that has happened in a little less than two years, what I realize is I was in love. I was in love, and stayed the course of love even when the in-love part waned but it was with the potential man, not the real man, because the real man was deeply hidden. He was hidden under piles of lies and shame and hurt-turned-nasty. I never was in love with his reality, because there was no way he was going to let me, or anyone else, see that reality. It was too awful, too flawed, too unlovable. The real man was not willing to be known – even by the man himself – much less his wife, or even his whores.

The shattering of his carefully created self…and my understanding of life for 27 years…was the beginning of going to a place that I never knew existed. I couldn’t know, it had been hidden.

But the place we are now is more than anything I could have written in a fairy tale. Have you ever noticed that all the love stories in print and on screen end with the “and they lived happily ever after…” Our imaginations create beautiful lives of bliss, no-work-or-conflict-and-everything-is-amazing-and-lovely-and-perfect…He always remembers to call, and bring flowers, and write love notes, and tell us we are beautiful, and senses our every need, and treats us with kindness even when we are not-so-kind…

My marriage now? Well…it is reality. Two real, broken people who have become safe for each other in our wretchedness. Two real, broken people who used to take care to never touch in the bed at night, and now never break contact, ever, all night long. Two real, broken people who have no subjects that are off limit, no words that are not allowed, no thoughts that are shunned. Two real, broken people who have learned to dream together, and don’t have to know the end of the story to be determined to write the story. Together.

As painful as it has been, I choose reality.

 

How Could She?

In my desperate pursuit to put order into the chaos of my life, I spent hours and hours and hours researching the Other Woman. It started with a pursuit to hate them, to be able to categorize them into one neat little package of filth and desperation as they claw and fight their way into the lives of others.

I read articles and books authored by these women on how to be a good mistress, how to please their man, the rules of being a mistress. I visited websites and read blogs. And then found various forums in which other women share.

Before I knew it, I began to grieve. To be sickened and saddened about and for these women. Nearly all OW claim some version(s) of: I didn’t mean to fall in love with a married man; the heart wants what the heart wants; I didn’t know he was married; he pursued me relentlessly; he told me he was separated/divorcing; we are soulmates/twinflames/long-lost loves/always should have been together; he married the wrong person. Ultimately…all deceptions, all lies either made to themselves or by the MM. I found myself wanting to cry out to women about to delve into affairs, or newly in, NO! STOP! This will only lead to heartache…MY HEARTACHE…YOUR HEARTACHE. There are certainly outliers – women who are complete narcissists and manipulate and pick up and drop at and for their own pleasure. But the majority of the women that I was able to research are women who want love and somehow, they end up with a man who loves someone else. All the statistics show that it is rare for the Other Woman to end up with the MM, and when that happens, it lasts even more rarely. The odds are completely against them, yet OW are rampant amongst us. So how, how, how does it happen. How do affairs really start…how does the deception occur, who does what…I started with HUSBAND’s first OW, and asked how…

The first night with the first OW was his tenth high school reunion. HUSBAND had been married to me for a little less than two years. We had a darling 8 month old baby boy and (unbeknownst to us at the time) I was pregnant with our second child. I did not attend the reunion with HUSBAND…he had gone fishing that day and gotten home hours later than he’d promised, and was already feeling the effect of numerous beers. So off he went to the reunion and what he remembers is:

Talking with specific people. Dancing with specific girls. Standing at the bar talking to a specific guy who had always looked down at him, and did so that night too…to which HUSBAND just drank more. HUSBAND does NOT remember dancing with SW (slut-whore, his first and last OW), although she told him later that they did. He does not remember going to his car with SW, or getting in the passenger seat, or any of the 25 minute drive to SW’s apartment, except when he woke up as they stopped in the bright lights at the toll booth with her at the wheel. He does not remember walking into her apartment, or going to the bedroom or fucking her. All of which he did.

He does remember waking up, seeing his clothes on the floor, realizing he was not in his bed at our home, jumping up “in horror” and quickly dressing and driving home…devising his lies on the way there.

HUSBAND has been shockingly honest with me about all his encounters, intimate words spoken, promises of futures, etc. He does not have any recollection of the anatomy of the first-fuck…did he tell SW he was married to a raving bitch? Maybe. Did he tell her he never got sex at home? Perhaps. Did he tell her she was hot and he wanted her body? Could be. Did he tell her he was too drunk to go home and that wife would be mad? Possibly. He doesn’t remember, and any or all of the above are possible.

Liesnotworthtruth

But here is what I KNOW, what is indisputable.

He was at his reunion, having driven himself, which was between our home and her apartment, each being 15 or so miles away in opposite directions.

Whatever happened that night at the reunion…whatever words my lying HUSBAND poured on SW, she knew he was married – she had attended our WEDDING.

She got into his car, in control – she drove.

She invited him to her apartment – that is where she drove him.

She offered her body to him – they fucked.

She had so many choices…no matter what words he said (assuming he was the pursuer – he has no recollection, but is willing to consider that possibility). She could have offered to call him a cab, called me, had one of his male friends take him to their respective homes, driven him to our house and dumped him on the lawn, left him there to be dealt with by someone else…she could have reminded him he was married…refused any advances by a man who was married…

DevilAngelEthics2

But instead, she drove him to her apartment and allowed him to fuck her.

Who is the woman that makes that choice? Is she seriously thinking this is going to turn out well…lead her to the love she is seeking?

I try to imagine that even being in the realm of options…and it is not. I try to imagine how you feel as you are driving the car with a married man in it, knowing full well you are planning to be part and party to deception and betrayal. I try to imagine what it feels like to see him wake up, jump up and throw his clothes on, and rush out of the house. I try to imagine what it is like to get into the shower and let the water run all over your body that has just been felt by and connected to a man’s body that is going home to his wife. I try to imagine how you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t see embarrassment and shame. I try to imagine that there is any pretense that there is anything remotely like care or compassion or hope or love in this…

And I can’t imagine. So after it all, I’m left with how could she?

 

A Marker.

Two years. Two years ago, HUSBAND picked up his slut-whore (SW) at the airport and let her sit in my seat of our car. Two years ago, he drove off from the airport and headed to a neighboring resort town, pointing out sites along the way to a woman who had no business being with him, other than to fuck.

Two years ago, he walked on the beach with SW, and they ate the lunch he had packed in our kitchen in our home. Two years ago, he got a phone call while on the beach from my mother, arranging kids since I was out of town.

Two years ago, SW and HUSBAND went into a local famous watering hole, asking the bartender for a good eatery suggestion. Two years ago, they walked down the street of the town holding hands til they got to the local spot…and two years ago, HUSBAND called that bartender back to thank him for such a great recommendation.

Two years ago, HUSBAND and SW returned to the hotel and fucked, and in the morning, after another fuck, went down to eat some breakfast…SW wearing a fake wedding set since she ‘knew HUSBAND would not take his ring off, and didn’t want to look like a (ready for this) mistress.’

Two years ago, SW asked HUSBAND ‘how he’d liked it…being a real couple’ and pushed him to take the next steps. Two years ago, as they drove to the airport and sat in the cell phone lot, SW prodded HUSBAND to make the appointment with the divorce attorney and to remember, ‘they’d come too far to turn back now.’

Two years ago, SW got on the plane and flew back to her life of lies, and into the arms of her live-in lover. Two years ago, HUSBAND picked me up at that same airport just a couple hours later, and I got in my seat of our car oblivious that the filthy DNA of a whore was present and that HUSBAND was cloaked in illicit sex and deceit and false smiles and pretend greetings.

Two years ago, someone saw HUSBAND and SW.

Two years ago, the carefully crafted house of flimsy cards was poised to fall.

Two years ago. A marker.

LoveMagicalandCutting

More Truth Revealed…

HUSBAND and I had been through an excruciating, six-week disclosure process. Our counselor had asked, point-blank, if HUSBAND had used porn…self-satisfied…during our marriage, and HUSBAND had responded that he had looked once or twice, but it “just didn’t do it for him.”

Our counselor had also asked us if we thought HUSBAND might be a sex addict…and we both had shunned that idea. The counselor indicated that he thought it was a possibility, and encouraged HUSBAND to take a screening, which he did, and he scored in the possibility range.

Now, this new information revealed by Son-2, changed several things for me.

First…another lie. ANOTHER LIE. After the deep revelations and Night From Hell that ended in sobs and disclosure and what I thought was everything, here was more. Additionally, porn. Porn. PORN? To what extent? Enough that my son had found it multiple times? AND…the possibility of sex addiction? In my mind, knowing how he’d responded on the screening, went from possibility to probability.

It sent me spinning into another gut-ripping state.

After I left Son-2’s room, I quietly found HUSBAND and suggested we go for a drive, knowing that the conversation we were going to have should not be had at home near our two children and parents. So we left on a drive.

HUSBAND spent the first thirty minutes spinning and circling and justifying and finally just started telling the truth about porn, the role it had played and what it lead to. Again, I was astounded at how long it had been present in our marriage, how long he had sought some kind of solace or refuge or satisfaction in this smut. How it was often easier to partake and satisfy this way, then drive into the intricacies of our marital relationship. How easily it transferred from the screen to the flesh with an affair partner with whom he lived a fantasy life.

It was a difficult night. It was a night that left the carefully, barely-taped-together-parts of my heart ripped back open and spilling out all over and it was hard to see how they could get back together again. Lies on lies on lies on lies. Loneliness on loneliness on loneliness of loneliness. Rejection on rejection on rejection on rejection. Through the years, all those nights, lying in bed, wondering why he didn’t want me now made sense, but it STUNG. My husband didn’t really have a low-libido like he hid behind. He had just handled things differently.

HealingHeart

I wanted to know the sites and his routine, which he disclosed sadly…with shame… We returned to the house, and I could not bear to be near him. I quietly moved to one of our other bedrooms, where, during the night, HUSBAND came in and slept on the floor. Although I heard him, I did not acknowledge him, or invite him to join me on the bed. I was broken. Again.

Telling Our Kids. Part 3.

We finished reading. We looked around the room. It was one of those suspended moments…a split second of time in which time doesn’t really exist. A moment in which I could see the confusion and hurt and pain in each of their eyes, yet no one yelled, or got up and ran or stomped out of the room.

The oldest, our brilliant former national-merit-scholar son who’d spent time seeking his own way and returned to start a company locally only a year or so before was the first to speak. He fumbled around his words, saying something that sort of tried to bridge the gap between his understanding of his life and what he now knew his life really was; something laced with an attempt at logic for a situation that defies logic. He twisted in his seat and got up to refill his coffee.

Our daughter, number two child, had an interesting, quick insight. She said that so many things made sense now…mom’s craziness wasn’t really so crazy…that she was shocked yet not shocked…that she sensed the discord in our lives but it was so under control…and that she was glad we were going to at least try to work things out.

Number three child, Son-2, was angry. His eyes would NOT meet his father’s eyes. At first, he hid behind some kind of sarcastic dig at his dad, and he pretty quickly told the room he thought I should divorce dad. Then he said it more emphatically, and was pretty disdainful toward me if I stayed with him.

Son-3…our quiet and introspective son…the one who had heard the sobs regularly and imagined all kinds of pain or tragedy around my outwardly visible disintegration…was sad. Just sad. He didn’t meet his dad’s eyes either, but it was less with anger and more with…well, the best word? Sadness.

We got up and the kids hugged me and felt awkward about their dad and we came home.

That afternoon, HUSBAND and I took our daughter and soon-to-be SIL out. It was very important that he know about this since it was now a big part of her life. We felt like it was unfair to not share it with him…what a bombshell to learn ANYWAY, but specifically as you are planning your own marriage with visions and dreams of a future, and your past has just been shattered in some ways. So we told him the gist of the story, with HUSBAND sharing how affairs came to pass and encouraging SIL to make different choices. SIL’s mom and dad had a difficult marriage, filled with alcohol abuse and other women. When he was 7, the marriage ended and he had no relationship with his father. He had looked to HUSBAND as a father-figure, an example of a husband, so it was a sober moment when he realized that even the person he held up as a model was broken. He was very gracious, and encouraged us to continue our counseling and work toward reconciliation if it was possible.

Some days passed, and Son-2, who was home from college for the summer, was staying away from our house and completely distant from HUSBAND. One day, I went into his room and he asked me, no, he sort of yelled at me WHY AREN’T YOU DIVORCING HIM MOM? WHY? He’s an ass…he’s never going to change… HUSBAND came to the door and Son-2 told him to LEAVE! I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU OR TALK TO YOU! HUSBAND honored it, went out the door. I sat on the other bed as Son-2 sobbed and told me what a jerk he was. Son-2 began to recall some events in which his life and HUSBAND’s life had crossed the secret life: That Friend (see prior post) who had been complicit in the last affair was a great cheerleader of Son-2, texting him from time-to-time and supporting him with an occasional gift in the mail, or check for good grades, that kind of thing. That Friend had mentioned to Son-2 that he should plan to come up for the opening of his new building with HUSBAND and me. Except that That Friend had also told HUSBAND that if I didn’t come, SW (slut-whore) could come and he wouldn’t tell. Son-2 didn’t know that, of course-about SW, and mentioned to HUSBAND that That Friend had invited him…and could he go…and HUSBAND had empathically and overbearingly said NO! YOU CAN’T COME! Son-2 had been surprised at his response, and hurt and wondered where that response had come from. Now he knew. He felt so used by HUSBAND and That Friend. He felt so manipulated.

I listened, held his hand as he sobbed.

barely_hanging_on_by_daisukie_chan-d4ua27c

I tried to explain softly that I didn’t KNOW if I would stay married to dad. That I was involved in a process. That I didn’t want to make fast decisions, and had a lot to consider. That there were years of faithfulness and good and that it was so much.

Then Son-2 gave me new information. He told me he’d found porn on his dad’s phone several times.

Porn. On his phone. Several times.

I did not react, but I asked when.

In high school.

Why didn’t you tell me.

You were his wife, Mom.

My mind reeled back. One time…one time…the younger two boys were in middle school…siblings off at college…we were getting into the car…HUSBAND was in the driver’s seat….boys were in the back seat…I was fumbling with my blackberry trying to look at something on the web, which worked so poorly on the BB, and asked HUSBAND if I could use his iPhone…reaching for it as I asked…and when I swiped it there was a PORNOGRAPHIC picture and I LITERALLY shouted THERE IS PORN ON YOUR PHONE!!! He grabbed it from me and closed that page. I was shocked, and did not try to hide my shock from anyone including the boys. IT WAS COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, TOTALLY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR MY HUSBAND, OUR HOME, OUR WAYS, OUR LIVES. So when he told me that he was so sorry…someone from his office had sent that to him and ‘he was so shocked when he saw it he just closed his phone…he’d meant to delete it and confront the co-worker’…I bought it. I sat down in the car, and he told me how sorry he was, and I looked at the boys and said something mom-like such as “isn’t that disgusting…who would ever…”

 I comforted Son-2, asked him to bear with me, to just support my journey, hugged him tightly and left the room.

Son-2’s words resonated…. Yes. I was his wife.

And I was his mom.

And I was so so stupid.

 

Telling Our Kids. Part 2.

We both agreed, telling our kids was essential. It was still early on in the process of discovery…just 33 days…

At this point, we had been to two different counselors. We got their insight into telling our kids (18-26). We decided to write out the story, to make sure we covered what we wanted to share and didn’t get distracted or bunny-trail into other areas. We designated who would say which parts…wrote it into our copies…pressed print…

Seriously.

Here HUSBAND and I were, writing out a presentation to our children about the lie their lives had been. It was surreal, unbelievable. It felt to me as if I was watching someone else’s life, surely, not mine. Looking back, I have no idea how I was part of this process…bleeding and broken and shattered as every part of my being felt.

Our not-yet-engaged daughter and her boyfriend came to town for our meeting, but only daughter joined us that morning, along with the three boys. We traveled over to my precious and very SAFE office…a small, restored home in a revitalized area of our town…bringing donuts and milk and OJ…I brewed coffee…we sat on the comfy chairs in the “living room” and looked into the eyes of these most-beloved children. I could scarcely believe the scene.

And HUSBAND began. He began by saying that he had some really hard things to tell them, and he needed them to listen, and to not ask any questions until the end. He also told them we had prepared our words in writing, because we had thought them out carefully and wanted to make sure we shared the important things.

HUSBAND – This will be difficult to hear but we are confident that the best thing in the world when facing tough situations is to get them out of the dark…to kill the power that secrecy and uncertainty have over us, and to commit to the actions and attitude changes that are required for healing and restoration.

First thing we want you each to know is that we love each of you, completely and unconditionally.

ME- Parent love is a bit different than couple love. A wise woman once said the difference in the two is that a mom/dad would not hesitate to jump in front of their child to take a bullet. That same mom/dad MIGHT jump in front of their spouse to take a bullet. It doesn’t mean the couple love isn’t real, it is just different because it is two, independent, adult people who bring in their own “stuff” and perspectives and backgrounds and needs and wants into the relationship and sometimes those things can make the love feel dim.

HUSBAND – We married, as you know, 27 years ago. We married quickly and we thought we had tons in common because some of the “outward” things we shared-parents who were still married to each other, hard-working dads, moms who stayed home mostly with us kids, financially secure, etc. We walked down that aisle and said “We will…for better or for worse…for richer or for poorer…in sickness and in health…til death do us part.” We had guests there who had the opportunity to share any concerns, and when they did not, the Priest declared, “What God has put together let no one put asunder.” And our life together began. It wasn’t easy for us from the start. We had some quick differences that were kind of big…I spent many weekends away for pleasure to hunt and fish. Mom was pretty lonely pretty quickly. And I had some struggles with old habits that included marijuana and personal time and friends. But we worked those things out, and then decided we would try to have a baby…which happened immediately upon our “trying.” SON-1 was born when we had been married only one year and four months. Four months later, my ten year high school reunion took place, and I went while Mom stayed home with our 8 month old. It was a rough night…I did not come home til really really late, but explained to mom that I had really tied one on and slept it off in my car in the parking lot of the event. Since I already had one DUI on my record, it made sense and mom believed me.

ME – Life went on…we had Daughter…we had Son-2…we had Son-3. We faced some tough things – Dad’s DUI, economic difficulties, failed investments. And we had some really amazing and fun times…holidays and Disney trips, homeschool plays and soccer games and birthday parties and renovating houses. There was lots of good…we grew closer as a family and we sought to have God in the center, praying together, reading scripture (remember struggling to get through Leviticus and Deuteronomy)??? We made school decisions and car decisions and had a couple accidents and surgeries and braces and recitals and championships and animals to love and animals to bury.

And then the last few years, we both began to realize in our own ways that we were not spending much time talking to each other. We weren’t spending much time having fun with each other – most of our fun came when spending time with children-related activities. Both of us spent less and less time reaching out for each other for anything other than the “work” of the household. And both of us were beginning to wonder what was going to happen over the next couple years as our last children graduated and left our home although we rarely talked about it together. I tried to talk to dad a few times about my concerns. Dad would listen, not respond much and usually say something like, “I’ll do better.” Simultaneously, dad was coming to the conclusion that he was really dissatisfied, but he did not tell me.  We did not fight much, as a matter of fact, we did not interact much at all.

HUSBAND – There were some great times in the interim during the last year. You guys remember: fun holidays and dinners. A quick trip to South Carolina to help Daughter move, and senior photos for Son-3. A new condo for Son-2 and building furniture in St Augustine. There were nights out with Son-1, and US Men’s Soccer games. There was moving your grandparents into our home. There was National Honor Society Induction, football season (Go NOLES!!!), David Crowder Concert…Soccer…Ranch trips…visits to RAM…Holidays and Anniversaries…bowl games…National Champs…Senior Night…a new business…office renovation…

ME – Then, on April 12 of this year I got an email from an anonymous person who indicated they had seen dad with another woman in what appeared to be an inappropriate relationship on Feb 3, 2014. He told me it was true.

This started a journey for us. A journey in which dad told me that he was not happy and that he thought he wanted a divorce. A journey which started with an adamant denial of any affair- just a friendship, but eventually, the admittance to having an affair for the past-10 months. An affair that was emotional and physical, and that dad wasn’t sure at first he wanted to stop. Finally, on 4/28/14, he did stop the affair.

HUSBAND – Eventually, more came out. Over the next months, I admitted another affair with the same woman that began with my ten-year reunion, when mom and I had been married less than two years. It was someone I had known in high school…never dated, but had a brief casual sexual relationship with the year after high-school, and then invited to attend our wedding. I never told mom that she had been a former sexual partner. Not too long after this affair ended, I had a one-night stand…And then I had another affair a couple years later, lasting about a year, with a woman that I worked with. This last affair ended up going beyond just sex – the truth is I was even thinking of divorcing mom to have a future with the other woman. The details are devastating, shocking, painful and overwhelming for mom and we are working hard with counselors and a couple friends to get to a place of peace and forgiveness. I am very sorry now, and am ashamed. In looking back, we both realize several things:

ME –

  • Affairs do not just happen. There are all kinds of subtle precursors, including
    • Society’s casual view of sex, and a constant mocking of fidelity in all realms.
    • Cultural norms including adults who have affairs and are still loved and respected without consequence, the constant emphasis and lauding of “personal satisfaction,” and “doing your own thing,” Dad’s family emphasis on personal pleasure seeking…all while there is a huge lack of talk and understanding about the holiness of our bodies…and of sex…and holiness of the sanctity of marriage.
    • The ability to disassociate behavior from who you are as a person. Dad never saw himself as “that guy.” He did not integrate that he was my husband and your father, and also a cheating man. He looked at cheaters with disdain. But he was a cheater.
    • The concept that you can have things happen outside your marriage that don’t affect your marriage…as if one has nothing to do with the other. Marriage is a covenant and what affects one part directly and hugely impacts the whole. The lies and deceit surrounding dad’s ability to carry off these affairs affected every part of our marriage.
    • Early and past sexual relationships, even before marriage, are damaging and dangerous to a marriage.
    • The ease of communication these days: FB, FB messenger, Glide, Skype Snapchat and other forms of communication that are nearly untraceable and can be accessed mobile along with on the computer. They create the ability to be in contact with no one else knowing, even if you are sitting in the same room next to them.

HUSBAND –

  • I did not flee from the opportunity for sexual sin, from adultery, in our marriage. Instead I flirted: by inviting a woman that I had had a sexual relationship with to our wedding, by leaving mom and going to the ten-year reunion, by expressing interest with a woman on a trip, by engaging with a woman at work, by talking to the same women I had already had an affair with earlier in our marriage. Then, I flirted by facebook messaging her, and giving her my cell phone number and then by taking calls, and calling her back. And quickly each time the flirting turned in to an adulterous situation and/or a full-fledged affair.
  • I am really good at deception and covered my tracks well. Mom had no idea, none at all, and wasn’t looking or tracking anything. She asked me about things…and I lied. And mom believed me every time. I could never lie to her about anything else, but was very successful at lying to her about sex with other women.

I did a terrible thing that is super difficult to recover from, and mom is not to blame in any way. This behavior started early in our marriage, and affected every part of our lives. It was always there between us…but I was convinced that since mom did not know, it could not be affecting her, or our marriage. I know now that the early affairs destroyed our true intimacy, and the low-lying hurt, anger and disappointment mom had was due to my lies. Mom always felt unloved by me…she tried talking to me, and pursuing me.  The situation made her confused, and sometimes hurt and sometimes angry. You kids saw that. You saw her anger toward me and her sharpness. She had no idea what the real source of the distance was between us. Mom thought it was her. We attended counseling from time-to-time, and I never revealed my affairs, or my lies. After becoming a Christian, I confessed to a men’s group (“I was unfaithful.”)  I thought I had really overcome the behavior, and for the next years, I pursued God and we had a good family life, but I never told mom. For 18 years, I did not engage in the behavior, and for about 16 of those years, we were pretty happy and enjoyed each other overall, yet there was a gap that she could never quite figure out. Then I did it again.

ME – As the story has unfolded, I have experienced shock and pain and devastation. Son-2 and Son-3 saw this as I would be sobbing, or go out of the house and drive, or stay in my room all day in tears.

HUSBAND –This pack of lies has been between us for 25 years of our 27 year marriage. It was the “space” between us that impacted our intimacy. It was the wall that existed that Mom was always battling and never knew. After I broke, after the truth was out, I looked at Mom, and said “I am so sorry. And I love you so much.” And for the first time, Mom knew it was REAL.

ME – The damage to me as a woman is enormous. There is all kinds of data that shows that marital betrayal affects the betrayed and they suffer PTSD. The consequences for adultery, for having an affair, are huge and it will take gigantic commitment for us to recover. It will be a journey to rebuild trust. The very core of the relationship has been fractured, and trust is nonexistent right now. We have excellent counselors and a small group of mentor couples who we are leaning on heavily and we are hopeful that we will stay together. But it is one day at a time, and I cannot say with certainty that I will stay married to dad at this point. It is extremely painful for the betrayed spouse, and will be a very very long journey. That’s why we are telling you…we need your help and your support. And we need you to understand the TRUTH.

HUSBAND – For our possible recovery, I need you to know what I did. I need you to know how ashamed and sorry I am, and what I put your mom through. I need you to love her and to understand that I love her and that I treated her wrongly for a long, long time. Mom is my beloved, I adore her and I cherish her. I need you to never treat mom with anything but love and respect, and to know that she is a fantastic woman of faith to agree to try to work through this. Many women throw their husbands out. Most punish their spouses. Mom has done none of this.

ME – In the bigger picture, and equally important for us to talk to you about is communication. We have learned that we had some very unhealthy communication patterns and were dealing with each other from the mind-side of our brain v the emotion/heart-side of our brain – and that is how we have communicated with you. That is fine in business, but it is not the side of the brain that we should deal with the people that we love. We are reestablishing the patterns with which we listen, hear, process and react and the intimacy that we are developing is nothing short of astounding. You all have learned from US your patterns of communication, and it is not healthy. We want you to know this. We want you to have healthier ways to communicate and to build intimacy with your cherished ones. While this is NOT the cause for the affairs, the lack of emotional and physical intimacy in our marriage was one fissure. Our intimacy was doomed with the lies and deceit that dad was carrying, but our communication patterns were also damaging.  We NEVER want to see any of our children go through the unbelievable pain of an affair. It is nearly unbearable.

HUSBAND – So…here we are. We want you in this fight with us. We need your prayers, your support, and your grace as part of our support system while we heal from this grievous situation.

ME – This has helped us realize that we love each other deeply. And we love each of you so darn much it hurts. We are a family. We have warts and lumps and dark places and sadness. But we also have joy, and relationship, and safety, and dreams and commitment. We have each other. We are so blessed.