This is a question I still struggle with, even today.
I can tell you that it's NOT because "I let myself go." You wouldn't believe how many people think that is why someone cheats on you. I actually thought I was pretty smokin' at the time. I wanted my husband to want me so I did everything to make him want me. It didn't work... but I'm pretty sure if you ask my co-workers at the time and best friends, they would tell you that I was pretty fashionable and always looking my best.
Maybe it’s me just not wanting to see my own responsibility for the instability of our marriage. Or maybe it was like a thief in the night trying to steal the joy of a new life. Either way somehow my marriage started slowly breaking down.
I remember that day like it was yesterday - words no wife ever wants to hear, “I’m just not attracted to you anymore.” It was like a knife in my back. Quickly I started to go back through my memory of the months before to figure out where we went wrong. At the time I could think of nothing. Right then and there I heard the Holy Spirit say there was someone else and I swiftly blurted out, “Is it Lauren?” He angrily replied, “No.” (which should have been a huge indication) That was the very first conversation that haunts my soul to this day.
Could I have done something then?
Maybe changed the outcome of what happened?
After 13 years of being together and 6 years of marriage I’d like to think I know and can read my husband pretty well. The way he was withdrawing emotionally and physically in every way was not who I had known him to be. He was the class clown, always making people laugh; always making me laugh. He was outgoing, the Vice President of our senior class, liked by all and commencement speaker to our graduating class. This conversation that just drove a knife through my back just didn’t seem to be who he was.
Over the years we had become aware of this repetitive oppression of a bi-polar phase that would come in waves. During this time I did a lot of research on bi-polar disorders and his actions seemed dead on. My mom, who grew up with a father battling this everyday, was the first to point it out.
For Jesse, it manifested itself first by a break-out of alopecia (a small loss of hair in patches on his head), then a dissatisfaction of himself and his life choices. Because Jesse is who he is, talking and connecting to others is a vital part to his emotional survival. An extrovert through and through, he must find people to talk with, laugh with, share his life with and be vulnerable with. And because he was questioning the major choices in his life and I was one of the biggest parts of his life, I seemed to be the last person he wanted to talk to.
Trying to find someone to help fill that emotional void was his priority. And boy was the devil ready for that point to come into Jesse’s life. Satan had it planned out perfectly! He wanted to split this marriage apart; I mean rip it to shreds! New girl in town, pretty as a peach, working side by side with one another while her husband is overseas… REALLY?! I mean, REALLY?! This had now become a breeding ground for the ultimate destruction for not just one marriage, but for two.
For a man that never really lied to anyone and was always so very truthful with his life even when it came to his struggle with pornography, Jesse began to change. He learned to be deceitful, think quick on his feet, to cover his tracks and manipulate others. He became defensive and would get angry if I asked him anything. I knew he was keeping secrets and I knew exactly what it was, but there was no way of proving it.
I had no idea what was happening here. I thought this was all Jesse's fault. Never once did I think I needed to look at myself. Jesse had just gone crazy, because I had no idea where all this was all coming from. You see, our sinful, human side likes to hide and push back all the things that are wrong with us so that we don’t have to fix or address them. We like to point out everyone else’s flaws so that we don’t have to keep examining the ginormous flaws in our own life. Let me stress that in no way am I taking responsibility for the affair, that was his choice and his choice alone, but I do take responsibility for where our marriage was at the time. I didn't want to see all the things I was doing wrong in my marriage, just notice all of his.
It took months of going before Jesus daily and taking the focus off of what Jesse was doing so wrong in the marriage and focus primarily on who I was and who I had become in our marriage. After that heart breaking conversation, I knew there was no way that I could change him. We can’t change people… if I wanted any change in this marriage it was going to have start with me. He had checked out, he punched his ticket to home wrecker paradise. If there was going to be a chance in hell to keep this family together I was going to have to do some major soul searching.
I’m not sure where we went wrong. I’m not sure I’ll ever really know. I do know that I was not the best wife. I know that I didn’t always respect him the way a wife should. I know that I didn’t always put his needs ahead of my own. I know for sure that my faith and identity was mostly based in him and our relationship instead of being in my Lord and Savior. Maybe the crack started before we even got married. Whatever it was, I knew for sure something had to change.