The question is presented often: Can you really recover from an affair?
Let’s just start out by saying, this is a tender topic. There is no one right answer for all the relationships and variables out there, so I’ll just share with you what I know: There is always hope if you both want to try.
I won’t go into all the gory details of our story, but he stepped out of our marriage really early on and I had no clue. I was pregnant, having babies , or nursing quite literally our entire relationship starting from the honeymoon. I don’t recommend moving that fast but neither of us were upset, just excited. And actually, this was Par for the course, as our dating and engagement was a quick endeavor from first date to the alter in just 6 months. A whirlwind romance neither of us could deny. I fell in love hard, just like the movies.
But real life finally slowed us down and guess what? Newborns are hard! Getting a job right out of school was hard. His changing of career paths, also difficult. No sleep, mothering, the grind of the mundane. I still loved him deeply through all that and felt he loved me too. But something changed in all the blur quite abruptly, he became distant. He would lie about silly things of no importance, spend less and less time at home and blame it on work, and I felt like I was losing him. I would look up sometimes and think, “This is not the guy I married.”
I told everyone who would listen that his job was taking a toll on our marriage, Including him. I used language like, “It’s like he’s cheating on me but with his job.” And our friends believed that it was just a tough career time where he was climbing the ladder and it wouldn’t always be like this. I told my parents , I told his, but no one could seem to help me get him back.
One day, I found messages on his beloved phone that he always kept close, but this time, he he let his guard down and it buzzed while I laid on his chest. I stole a quick glance and it was another woman’s name. I would read texts upon texts later that crushed my heart and soul.
I can’t properly convey what those next 2 months looked like without writing a novel but in short, It was a mess of tears, anger, agony, more secrets exposed , close friends over, pastors calling, therapist visits alone and together, more meetings, grief , and choosing to forgive. On repeat.
And this is the meat of what I want to say, and why we’re so open with our story now. You can heal, there is hope, people do change. Forgiveness is an alone game, I had to do that without needing an apology or getting one that sufficed the intense suffering caused. Forgiveness was what I worked on alone in my bed crying before falling asleep in exhaustion. I wasn’t going to let bitterness eat me alive, nor was I going to ignore the deep feelings and intense grief. I think sometimes we think it has to be either or, but let me tell you Grief and forgiveness can coincide beautifully together into healing.
For a while there, I didn’t know if he was interested in continuing to be married, and honestly I didn’t either. But there was a spark of hope. And when you’re in a dark place, it’s all you can do but to follow it out of the tunnel.
It turns out, when I kicked him out of the house (hello, forgiveness doesn’t mean no boundaries), he went to live with a 70 year old man from our church. He only bought gas and a few groceries, he met with men who had affairs and were restored back to their family, he went the therapy, he paid the bills. He made appointments for therapy for us both, and showed up. With his whole heart. He gave up his aggressive career path. He came back to himself and there was no question.
After I saw all this, I was compelled to believe that maybe we could recover? We started talking on the phone, and one day he asked me to dinner, at our house, he would cook. He looked me in the face and said, “I don’t pretend to know the heartache I’ve caused you. I am so appalled at how selfish and lost I was. And I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve my kids or this life. But there’s no one else for me. I will pursue you as long as you’ll have me. I will never leave again.”
I cried relief and a little out of fear for the love I still felt for someone who ripped my life to pieces. But the forgiveness I had been working on all during separation flowed through me and there I was with his face in my hands kissing him through tears.
I really believe that while forgiveness is an alone game, Reconciliation takes 2 parties willing to work through the pain and take the long winding road to healing. It’s not for everyone and I completely understand that now. Divorce is sometimes inevitable and I don’t blame anyone for choosing that route. For us, reconciliation was on the table, and we chose it, shaking and wondering if it would turn out.
Every morning when we wake up, my husband says, “ You’re my best friend.” And I whisper through atrocious morning breath, “You’re my best friend.” It’s this cheesy thing we do but I’m here for it. And I can’t believe we almost lost this good thing up.
We work hard to stay connected, to make sure we’re still in love. To fight for our marriage and to keep our eyes on the other, to not have secrets. It is fun and tireless work, but trust me, fighting for your marriage never stops. Of course, It is worth it, every second of grief to be loved and give love freely. We have a quote in our bedroom by Walker Percy that Says, “We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.” It’s not what I would want for anyone, but it’s our story. It’s not a shallow love, we learned to love deeply through suffering, through mistakes, and still choosing each other.
So to answer the question, Can you recover from an affair? The answer is you can, and you may find love again, more deeply, even so.
Here’s a great resource that Nato & I participated in : Online Affair Recovery Course | Journey To Restoration It’s only $35, and as my friend you can get the course for only $30! Just use the code JAMI at check out for $5 off!