- Gender and Relationships»
Surviving Infidelity and Healing a Marriage.
What I am going to tell you is a true account of how I got completely over my husband, divorced him, moved on, and then we got back together. That sounds crazy even as I am rereading it. However, in retrospect I wouldn’t change what happened. The growth I experienced was so unbelievable, so profound, that I can never regret what happened. Forgiveness comes with time there is not a quick fix. This is my personal journey with a few ideas for you thrown into it. It is a very journey with a truly happy ending.
Blame Doesn't Fix Us
I hid in the bathroom. It was the only place I could go where my sons would not see me crying. The cold floor emphasized the cold feeling in my heart. I had developed anxiety attacks that would come on with such force causing sharp shooting pains through my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. The first time it happened I went to the emergency room. My body was handling what my spiritual heart could not, the betrayal of my husband. So often I look back on that time in my life and wonder how I survived.
When we marry a person it is for life. That is the understanding. There are many reasons to leave. The reasons range from ridiculous to monstrous. What happens when the greatest relationship you have ever seen is torn to bits? There is a misnomer among people that good relationships are invincible. This is simply not true. Every relationship has a breaking point every marriage is under threat and that safe place can turn into something horrific with just a few words.
I had the marriage everyone wanted. My husband and I were great friends and we loved each other. In fact many people can attest to the reality that my husband and I could carry on conversations without speaking. This was a special gift that freaked out those around us. We did not think the same but, we did not fight, we simply discussed things like adults. We compromised sometimes and sometimes we swayed each other, we always worked together.
It seems unreal to me even now that we divorced. In that moment sitting on the bathroom floor there was no one to call, no one who would understand. It was as if, part for my soul was being removed and I could not alter the experience. People are rarely honest about divorce. It is always one person’s fault, not really but, we see it that way. In this case it was husbands fault. He had strayed, he had taken what once was beautiful, and warped it into something evil and regrettable. Those of you, who have felt that moment, know that blame doesn’t make you feel any better. Deep inside us all know, we too, contributed to the death of the marriage.
You Are Still Alive
People have the support of family and friends during this type of trial. Most people would cling to those people and breakdown. Unfortunately, I was always the person everyone came to with their problems. I never went to anyone else, never even considered it. I had three wonderful sons counting on me to be strong and to be there for them as both mother and father. More than anything I did not want to let them down.
So there I sat on the bathroom floor, quietly crying while my kids slept, knowing that the electric bill was due and I was broke, knowing that tomorrow would be another day and it too would rough like today. In my mind there were not anymore happy days, only survival.
That was twelve years ago and it seems like it was another life. At the time, I wanted to get over my pain. I wanted to move on and be strong. I read every article I could get my hands on concerning surviving infidelity. I read books with nonsensical advice. The only thing that did help was prayer. I prayed every day to be enough for my children. I prayed for God to hold my heart and make me strong, and he did.
Since those days I have learned that as long as you are still breathing there is another day and there are miracles to be witnessed every day. I read a book about a woman who went through a similar break up, she got to go live with her parents house and cry for a month while her mother took care of her children. Everyone handles infidelity different however, my mother worked full time and I had to support myself so that was not a route I could employ. You are still alive so its not over yet.
Understanding the Fall
There are two things I would like all married people to know. The first is about evil, and maybe you are not Christian so I will put it like this “Evil or the Devil knows what you and your spouse will sacrifice your marriage for”. If your husband is addicted to work, he is sacrificing your marriage, if you shop until there is not money for food, you are sacrificing your marriage. The marriage has to come first. You don’t get married to accumulate wealth or be pillars of the community. Marriage is between two people, not them and the rest of the world.
The second thing is that no two people were ever perfect. When a person starts to get angry over inconsequential things, they are really mad about something else. Here is an example, you get really angry that your spouse does not pick up their shoes and put them in the closet. Does it really matter that the shoes are out? Probably not, but if you are getting angry about this, then there is a good chance that your spouse did something to upset you and instead of discussing it, you let it go…until grabs hold of your emotional responses to that person. At that point you are ready to scream over something silly. When you are upset about something your spouse does, discuss it. Be honest with yourself and that person.
If you are considering reconciliation, you have to be honest about what led to the infidelity. Why did it happen? Did you and your spouse get caught in the trap of negative dialogue? Were you saying negative things to each other? Considering that most people quit jobs because of their Boss's lack of appreciation, don't you think the same can be said about marriage? Do you appreciate the good in that person?
When we constantly emphasize someone's negative side they start to shy away from us. At times people make huge mistakes that effect the family either spiritually or financially. It is the ability to bounce from those situations that makes a marriage work. However, when one person constantly harps on those negatives, the other person is going to go looking for support somewhere else.
Learning to Live Again
If I'm being honest, I dumped all our marital problems and expectations at my husbands feet and then expected him to fix everything into a perfect life. I had stopped taking responsibility for my own happiness, my own life. I had stopped living and growing. When he left I was forced to live again. I was forced to make decisions on my own about what I was going to do with an entire weekend without my kids. I was forced to reevaluate my future and in that realization I decided that I was going to college.
I took up kayaking and painting. When my kids were at their dads I cleaned the house, read books, and went places with new friends. Most importantly I did what I wanted. When my kids were home we spent time together. We went on trips. I created new traditions where the old ones had once been. Eventually, I was so strong I could have my husband over and not feel the fall out from when he left. Living doesn’t stop because you are not with someone. Time is time and it passes no matter if you waste it or do something meaningful.
You can do many things to try to get through a tough divorce, learn to dance, go out, get a hobby, or even get an education. When it comes down to it, time is the only thing that helps. Every day that you don’t sit in the bathroom crying, everyday that you can hold your head up, you are one step closer to being ok. Live! Life is the greatest gift. Go live it. Notice the miracle of trees, air, and water. Take people up on their offers to try something new. Be ok with being single, it doesn’t make you any less of a person. Use the time to become the person you want to be.
You have read all the way to this point and you are wondering, where is the reconciliation? Six years ago I remarried my husband. Oh I felt you cringe! How could I do that? How could I forgive him???
It is always easier to forgive people you don’t care about isn’t it? If you do not care about someone then you can walk away easy. When you love someone the hurt runs deep and even though the only way you are going to survive it is to forgive, you can’t seem to do it. Seven years ago I was done with him. In fact I had started seeing other people, not a lot, just a few dates. In my mind we were through and sometimes I even felt bad for him. I was fine. My heart had healed. I was on another road, a road that I was creating. The grand thoughts of a reconciliation were long gone.
There was not any part of me that wanted or needed him in my life. I moved four hours from him and we didn't see each other accept to drop of the kids. It took several years to forgive him. It wasn't easy for either of us. We were out of each others lives. I was happy without him, I loved life even though he wasn't here.
In December of 2008, I was faced with a dilemma. I did not want to do Christmas without my kids and we were too far from their Dads to attempt a Christmas eve trade off. He and I were still speaking, it was old friend conversations nothing remotely romantic. So I got a crazy idea to have him come visit for Christmas.That way I wouldn't miss Christmas with my kids. My ex wasn't a bad person and in general he was fun so I didn't anticipate this being a problem. The kids were super excited when he agreed (I don't think they wanted to be traded off either).
When my ex-husband got there, something was wrong. I sensed it from the moment he walked in the door but I tried to ignore it. The kids played with their dad we opened gifts, had dinner and then my ex announced that he was going to leave. Nothing had happened, it was weird. Like a disturbance in the force. I wrote it off to him having a work issue. But later the next week he called me and asked if he could come talk to me. My mind always goes to the worst case scenario in these situations. I though he was dying or something.
On January 9th 2009 my ex-husband showed up on my doorstep. He was nervous and a little excited and I was still worried. He wanted me to go somewhere with him, I agreed. Now I should tell you at this point I didn't have feelings for him at all. I wasn't sad or mad. When I saw him I never felt any residual love for him. I was over it. So when he looked at me and said "I want to come home" Nothing could have been more shocking to me.
Why? Why after all that time? Why? I was fine alone. So I'm sitting there not convinced and really not feeling like this can be fixed at this point. I didn't feel it.Then did something I always do when faced with a life decision. I asked myself "What will I regret more? Will I regret not putting my family back together or will I regret taking back a man who may hurt me again?". In my life nothing has had a greater impact on my decisions than my children. If there was a chance that we could fix this, did I owe that to them? Yes. He told me he was going to prove to me that he was serious, he was going to come out and see us every weekend, and he did for an entire year.
I was skeptical and had even told my kids that I didn't know how this would go. Over time I started to love my husband again, I started to trust my husband again. He never locked his phone and invited me to check his email. He even learned to kayak. Here we are eight years later, the kids have moved out, and we are happy.
The Person Who Cheated
Healing a relationship is not easy. Infidelity carries with it a special type of pain. This part is for the person who cheated:
When you hurt a person this badly that person bounces between the emotions of love and hate. If you decide to stay then you have to realize that the person you hurt is going to lash out at you for no reason, cry at times when it makes no sense, and at times it will feel like you are not getting anywhere. You have to be transparent in your life, let them into everything, do not keep secrets. You will want to leave rather than handle the pain you caused, but be brave, be loving, and know that one day the same time that caused you to split apart will heal the wounds. If you have been sincere in your efforts and loved with everything you are… you will get back what you lost. The best things in life , are the things in which we work the hardest to obtain. Be worthy of the love you want. Be faithful.
Heal the Marriage
How do you put a marriage back together? Both people have to want to be together. Both people have to be honest about who they are and willing to take each other as they are. You never know a person until you see their worst side. Divorce brings out the worst in people, if you can see that, and still love a person then you may be further than most people. It is easy to love the good side of a person. It is not so easy to love both sides of a person. Can a person forgive? Yes.? Can a person find themselves in a disaster like divorce? Yes. Can two people be better together than they ever were before? Yes. The human spirit is capable of great things in the face of adversity.
The Japanese have a 500 year old art called kintsugi. When an object is broken they join the parts and then fill the cracks with a gold, platinum, or silver filler. The finished product pays homage to the objects original purpose creating a thing even more interesting and beautiful than before. Wabi-sabi the philosophy behind kintsugi literally means "find beauties in broken things". When you put your marriage back together, fill the cracks and imperfections with gold, and find beauty in what was once broken by making it stronger and worth more now.