If you are making the decision to fight for your marriage (no matter the cost) I am so excited for you, because you are making the right choice! I promise, it will be worth the investment and hard work because God is capable of doing wonders in your marriage.
In no way am I saying that it is going to be a piece of cake. This is going to be a long, hard road to walk down; but I have all the confidence in the world that you can do this. If an insecure 26-year-old could do it, there is no reason you can't do the same.
Yes, this road will consist of many long nights of crying, bouts of confusion and feeling like you are the only one in the world going through this. You will sometimes wonder what you did so wrong to deserve all this heartache and pain in your life, and more often than not you will think you have gone insane because you have no idea how this could have happened to you.
You will want to give up time and time again, because it just hurts too much, but then again there will be times when you will want to press on because you believe there is something there worth fighting for. It will take a lot of patience, understanding, love, compassion and whole hell of a lot of hard work, but you can do this. It will start off very slowly, but as time goes on I promise the pain will be easier and easier to bear.
As hard as it may sound, you can’t expect much starting out. The person who wronged you is still very much in denial of what their affair really meant, and honestly so are you. Neither of you know how to process much of anything in the first few days and weeks. Because you still love your spouse very much even though they stomped on your heart, you still will get defensive if people talk badly about them. You will begin to start feeling your friends out and slowly start surrounding yourself with the people who tell you what you want to hear instead of the ones who will tell you what you need to hear. Though let me stress that there is a fine line between people's opinions and the truth of what they are telling you.
It will take some time to get comfortable with one another again. For me, I felt like I was "dating" all over again trying to win this boy's heart. I felt like I was often walking on egg shells with Jesse. I didn't want to do or say anything wrong in fear that he would chose the prettier girl down the hall. SO HIGH SCHOOL! After the second communication happened between he and Lauren, I realized more than ever that I needed to be more transparent and vulnerable because if I didn't this marriage was going nowhere.
Like I mentioned last week, during this period in my life the book "After the Affair" was like the bible to me. Not only did it confirm my own feelings that I was going through, but it let me see into how Jesse was thinking during this whole process. It gave me insight into what might have made him do this, and what I could do to fix this problem. It allowed me to accept his emotional behavior for the time being. I felt less crazy, more normal, and less alone.
The first year of working through this was the toughest. I wanted to give up a million times. I gave him hell and reminded him daily of what he had put me through and what he had done to destroy our marriage. I don’t recommend ever doing this because it only slows the healing process down to a crawl. If anything, this only hurt us moving forward and it pushed Jesse away even more. That is the last thing you want to do if you really want to fix your marriage. Some of you have mentioned that forgiving too quickly is like giving them a free pass and they won't "learn their lesson." I very much understand your hearts, but if there is true repentance that is accompanied by actions that back it up than you responding by being too hurtful could back fire terribly. Instead of continuing to seek repentance many people will return to the feelings that they had because they seem validated by the hurt partners constant anger.
Music was also something that kept me going. I listen to a lot of worship songs that would fill me up spiritually and emotionally. I listen to a lot of Ginny Owens, Natalie Grant, Bethany Dillion, Sara Groves and Alanis Morissette (yes, I know Alanis Morissette isn't Christian but I had my angry days too that made me want to listen to her very first album over and over again some days). However, I do recommend trying to keep it to just the Christian music because it will lift you up more than listening to angry chick music.
I was also very much into self-help books, they helped me a lot before the affair came out and after. Jesse always makes fun of me for this… but they really did help me. I was and still am obsessed with Shannon Ethridge and the way she writes. During and after the affair I read “Every Woman’s Battle,”and “Every Woman's Marriage,” . I also read “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. They are all fantastic books. AMAZING!
However, I don’t recommend reading "Every Man’s Battle" right after you've found out about an affair though. The book goes in depth about the things men struggle with on a daily basis and some things can be hard to read, especially after an affair. Jesse and I also both read "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs which is a MUST! We now recommend it to all of our newlywed friends or anyone getting married. If only I knew… if only. ;)
Making the choice and then moving in the right direction to fix a broken marriage is going to be hard but possible to do. There were so many questions I had and so little people to really answer them so we will still be taking questions if you still have them. I know very well that every situation is different, but it always helps to get the perspective of someone who has gone through this and might be able to see it differently. If you are one of these people trying to make their marriage work after something so devastating, I'm proud of you and know that you have a friend in me or just an ear to listen to if that's what you need.
This song really made me want to do this series!