It happened so quickly, like a punch to the gut, a blow I never saw coming. I had expected a fight of some sort but instead was met with such resolve and certainty. A decision that would forever alter the course of my life, and my girls.
I’ll never forget that day. It was our third counseling session with a marriage and family’s therapist through the church we had been attending. We sat in this tiny little room awkard and sweaty. The office was in a portable classroom lacking air conditioning in the unbareable summer heat. I remember that little fan in her room that would rotate back and forth, every so often blowing us with lukewarm air and waking me up from the numbness I was engulfed in. The night before, I had finally found proof of the two of them together. [Proof of the Affair] And my findings had only confirmed what I already knew in my heart.
And I knew who she was. God had revealed her to me months before. In spite of his continued secretiveness, I had this sick feeling in my stomach every time I saw her picture.
She had stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I remember scrolling through his social media friends trying to find something or anyone that seemed suspicious, and I couldn’t ever shake this girl’s picture. She was years older than him and a single mom. He’d never mentioned her before but something about her just seemed familiar. Shortly after our first counseling session her social media profiles went from public to private. They worked together at the same company and my husband now filled the position of her deceased ex-boyfriend (yes.. you heard that right). I remember the sickening feeling that erupted in my belly the day my husband brought home baby clothes from her. “My coworker doesn’t need them anymore and thought maybe we could use them for Tiny N.” What should have been a sweet gesture was anything but and my spirit could sense it.
The night before our third counseling session, I had finally found proof. Sunday finally came as I had laid their sleepless next to my four month old evaluating possible scenarios in my head. I analyzed and strategized. I silently yelled at God through bitter rage at how he’d allow this to happen to me, to my girls, to our family. My mind was unable to shut off. I began counting down the minutes until I could face him in our counseling session.
I feel like its important for me to be completely transparent here. I struggled with whether or not to add this part because there is a huge part of me that is so incredibly embarrassed and ashamed that I felt, this level of transparency would only shame me more. And yet I can’t help but give a voice to that piece of my heart. What am I doing here if I am not being honest. How is this every going to help another young mama waking up to this same story if I hide the realness of my heart…?
So here it is: in all my strategizing, in all my scenarios, never once did I think he’d ever actually leave me for her. I so pridefully held onto this belief that we were Christians. We loved Jesus and were running after him and no matter what, we’d fight to make our marriage work. I never even once processed him choosing to leave us for her. I didn’t know how it would look but I would have bet my life on my unveiling the affair to be met with shame and sadness and a desperation to win me back. All the scenarios in my head involved him groveling for forgiveness, me fighting the urge to punch him in the face and then me beginning the long uphill battle of trying to figure out how I would ever ever trust him again. I was frustrated because I felt like I had no choice but to figure out how to save our marriage because we had two little girls. I think that is why the next two hours that followed my walk into that office so devastating. The earth on which I stood was no longer firm. I had no idea this would be our last counseling session.
I remember walking into that office, physically shaking and light headed, clutching my cell phone that finally contained proof of the affair. The rage that engulfed me was unbearable. My mind kept circling around how we’d ever get back to anything resembling a loving, stable, normal family. I had no clue how I’d ever be able to forgive him, let alone trust this man again. I hated him with incredible rage but he was my husband and the father to my sweet little girls. I was caught in a place of incredible confusion and immense emotion. I felt absoltely swallowed by despair but equally victorious because the proof meant I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t imagining things. But the proof meant he had been unfaithful…
I whole heartedly believed in for better and for worse. I believed with every piece of my spirit that marriage wasn’t about being happy and that forever meant until death do us part. I think that’s why I was so caught off guard. I knew he was having an affiar, I just never assumed he’d leave us for “her.”
The man who had washed my feet on our wedding day. The man who had promised forever in front of hundreds of family and friends. The man whose last name I shared. The man who had fathered our two very young girls and watched me birth them naturally into the world. The man who had just graduated from the ministry school through our church and was supposably walking in deep relationship with Jesus. I never in a million years thought he’d abandon us.
I was exploding. Rage. Confusion. Disappointment. Infuriated. Shaking. I was equally distraught and yet engulfed in anger. I gave him a couple of chances to come clean but after repeated lies, I revealed what I knew.
After some intense dramatics on my end and complete evasiveness on his, the counselor asked him a simple question, “would you be willing to end your relationship with your coworker and work to save your marriage?” And with not much more, the word fell from his mouth, “no.” There was no confusion on his end. No hesitation. No struggle. That was the easiest no his lips had ever uttered. He said no.