Friday, April 8, 2011

Ask Us Anything Friday

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and interest in our story.  Due to the unexpectedly large number of questions we have decided not to answer all of the questions we received this week.  Plus, we want to save some of them for a later date.  :-)   If you still have questions, please send them in and we will continue to answer them as best as we can.

Also, remember that every situation is different.  We are in no way trying to give all encompassing answers.  The answers we give are primarily based off of our experiences, the experiences of some of our friends and people we've both counseled.  These are mostly just opinion and should be looked at in this way.

Tuesday you talked about all the ingredients that were adding up, were there signs/red flags early in the marriage, before you had your son? Or even before you were married?
Lyryn -- Not that I could tell, that's why I think it was so confusing for me. Jesse was amazing while I was pregnant, but after Jayden was born he quickly started to pull away. I didn't want to deal with it because I was struggling with postpartum depression and for me it was one more thing I had to worry about. I think the red flag for me was him pulling away emotionally, because he is normally not like that.

Will I ever have a semblance of control over my emotions? Will every little thing always make me burst into tears? Sometimes I feel like I'm living on the constant verge of a breakdown. It's really not fun.
Lyryn --Yes, and yes! And trust me... I thought I was crazy!!! It does get easier, I promise!!  Though it's hard to see it now. I think when people told me that; I just rolled my eyes and started balling all over again. All I can tell you from my experience is the more faithfully you work on your marriage the faster you'll start connecting again. Once you've connected again those negative emotions get less intense because you feel more secure in your marriage and in your love for one another.

I know you said he was far gone in the beginning, how did he come to change his mind and want to make things better?
Jesse -- I assume you mean far gone in the beginning after the affair had ended.  I didn't change my mind, not at first.  And things definitely didn't go perfectly.  I had to take a very deep look into myself and what I wanted for my future and I couldn't see any other path that would have been as fulfilling over my lifetime.  There were days and fights after it ended that were very big challenges to overcome, but we both made sure to connect with accountability partners (sometimes calling the other person's partner and saying "CALL HIM/HER NOW!").
Is there any part of you that still holds on and judges him?
 Lyryn -- A little, I think it's more out of fear of him doing this again and me going through all that pain again. I only get this way when we have a real fight because that normally triggers me to feel the way I did because we fought a lot then. Lots of my judgments or fears come from the triggers that I haven't completely healed from yet.

What, if anything, do you think you could have done to help stop the “disaster”?
Lyryn -- Communicating is a key.  If you are left alone with your demons and struggles, they can torment you.  I think it's hysterical, the devil does everything in his power to make you have sex before and outside of your marriage and within a marriage does everything in his power to STOP sex and intimacy.  Ugh!  He is a sneaky little devil.  Likes to destroy lives, I tell you.
Jesse -- Talked, communicated to another man of integrity.  Telling yourself you don't have any struggles is a lie, we all do and have different methods of trying to "cope," but communicating your struggles with another trustworthy man is paramount.  I think it is very important to note something I believe very strongly.  God has a plan of where he wants us to be.  We decide whether it's the easy, short route or the difficult, long route.

If you see red flags or your “wife radar” goes off, what should you do?
Lyryn -- Trust your INSTINCT!!!! I believe that God gave us the discernment to know when something is wrong in our marriage and family. When you see that red flag, start praying hard!!!!!!! I mean hard!!!!!! Get help from a pastor or counselor and nip it in the bud before it gets too bad. Also listen to the Holy Spirit, He will never guide you wrong.

How did you handle your feelings toward the "other woman"? 
Lyryn -- I think I'm still working on that.  I  would love to tell you I'm over her and don't think about her, but that's simply is not true.  My feelings about her have subsided A LOT, but it was extremely hard at first.  Every where I went I thought I saw her. The mere mention of her name or meeting someone with her name made me sick. I always compared myself with her, ALWAYS. But it has gotten easier and less of those thoughts pop into my head now.

My biggest thing is that I still struggle with just letting her go and forgiving her. I'm not sure what is holding me back, I mean if I can forgive my husband why can't I forgive her? I REALLY want to!  I know that I'm only hurting myself by holding on to all the hurt and unanswered questions I still have (yes, even after three years). What I try to do is be completely open about my feelings with Jesse. If I talk about them, I find they are more likely to go away.

This is my life. It's the only life I have. I don't get to start over when this one is finished. How do I move forward and enjoy the life that I've been given? I love my husband so much, even though he has hurt me (what seems like) beyond repair. 
Lyryn -- It seems unrepairable in the beginning, I know, I've been there.  You feel like everything has been a lie, that your life is sham.  There were plenty of times I wanted to give up and just walk away. There were plenty of time I tried to test Jesse's loyalty to me or his feelings for me in ways that could have just about split us up forever.  Take everything before Jesus, He will give you comfort if you are trusting him with your relationship.  You will see, month by month you'll start enjoying your life again.
Jesse -- It takes two.  One thing many hurt-partners struggle with is accepting anything the unfaithful partner does as genuine.  This can be a difficult thing to overcome, but is one of things that deserves a large amount of focus in the beginning of the recovery.  While the hurt-partner is still working this out the unfaithful partner needs to make sure they are investing more heavily than ever into their spouse even when they may not feel like it.

Did you confront "the other woman"? Ask her what she was thinking in all of this? Why/how could she be a part of this when you had tried to befriend her? 
Lyryn -- I will be touching on this in the next few weeks.  I will not speak for her or her feelings at the time, because I simply just don't know her heart.  I think that is a big thing I still struggle with.  I did confront her and had a conversation face to face.  Personally, I thought it was a bad idea to do it so close to having found out because I was unable to process much of anything.  And for the other two questions, I talk about this in the upcoming weeks when I talk about the day the affair came out.  But I do think it's important to confront the person who wronged you.  I would just do it differently because of all the unanswered questions.

My husband and I have been going through a difficult "season" ever since our child's birth in the past few months. He did a couple of things to hurt me, although he claims he didn't cheat, but my question for you is, how do you really know?
Lyryn -- The hard thing this is that you don't.  After having a baby it's hard to handle all the emotions coming at you and decipher what is what.  But he should be a support system for you and if he's not and is withdrawing, that would be a red flag for me.  I can't tell you there is this magic thing that someone does to set this feeling off in you.  I knew the second my husband told me he was not attracted to me anymore, I knew it.  It's about knowing your spouse and who they are.  If he wasn't attracted to me, that means he was attracted to someone else.  But I'm sticking to what I said above - TRUST YOUR INSTINCT!   If you know there is something going on in your marriage that does not seem right mentally and spiritually, more than likely you are dead on. 
Jesse -- Just like Lyryn said, you won't really know.  I would talk to a man with maturity that he respects and ask them if they would talk to him in confidence.  You're doing this not to get them to tell you the dirty secrets after he talks to them, but rather to start the process of getting him to open up to anyone.  I will say that if he's already begun walking down a path of selfish fulfillment than it will be difficult to get anyone to reason with him.  Ultimately it is vital that you and others you trust are faithfully praying for him.

Question for Jesse: What was it that made him unattracted to you?
Jesse -- I had become so disillusioned with my life and unhappy with where I was compared to where I thought I could/should be.  I thought my life should have turned out differently.  And since the biggest decision in my life was marrying Lyryn and then having a child together, I largely turned my blame towards her.  This frustration with my life turned into a frustration with my wife and then came out verbally, "I'm just not attracted to you anymore." A more honest statement would have been, "I'm not happy with who I am right now."  But I wasn't so introspective. I wanted to blame it on someone else.  Eventually, because I was pouring all my time and energy into someone else, I did lose interest in Lyryn and forgot all the things that I had once found attractive about her.

After Jesse told you what he had done, did you ever feel like you weren't good enough? By that I mean not pretty enough, skinny etc. (and you totally are!) 
Lyryn -- Yes, I felt inadequate in every way.  Though I felt like I kept myself looking good all the time, it didn't change the way I was feeling inside and how rejected I was.  All I wanted was for Jesse to smile, love and look at me like he looked at her.  I thought I was ugly because I no longer had perky boobs and a hot flat tummy after having HIS BABY!  (sorry... emotions sometimes still come up)  I did think I was not thin enough so I went through a period of my life after it came out where I struggled with not eating.  It was something I could control in my life when everything else was out of control.  Some would say I was anorexic, I don't think I was that extreme but I did lose 15 lbs in a matter of weeks. I still struggle with comparing myself to her, but not nearly as much as I use to.  It also helps that my husband is very intentional and always tells me how beautiful and sexy I am.  Guys... if you have done this... BE INTENTIONAL!  I use to think that he was just saying it, but I truly believe it now.  And I wouldn't have told you that three years ago.
Jesse -- I just want to second one of the last things Lyryn said there.  If there is any intention of recovering after an affair then the person who was unfaithful must go out of their way to let the other person know how much they mean to them.  Just think about it like a bank account.  All the bad things that you did are $10 withdrawls with $35 service draft charges and the good things are $5 deposits... You've got a lot of catching up to do!

First, is "Lauren" still a part of your lives in any way? And have you discussed hard and fast boundaries that apply not only to her but any woman ... and not only to Jesse but to both of you?
Lyryn -- I have to say that in some ways we were quite lucky.  After this came out she stopped working with Jesse and went back to her hometown in a matter of weeks.  Not many people are as lucky. I didn't have to see her around or fear that I would accidentally run into her.  She was gone physically, though not entirely gone from our lives.
But I do have a VERY close friend and mentor, Kerstin (who has given me permission to use her name and her thoughts with you) that had her best friend have an affair with her husband.  It was not so easy for her.  They went to the same church, they had the same friends; so it was inevitable that they might run into one another or worse... have her husband run into her "accidentally." It was hard for her at first, devastating.  Not only was she betrayed, but she also lost her best friend all at once.  And since they shared the same friends they would see each other at weddings and baby showers.  I can tell you that she was a champ!  I wanna be just like her; she is my inspiration!!!  She says it's much easier to see her now, but it doesn't stop the feelings from sometimes flooding back.
Jesse -- Boundaries...  Every man who claims to be a Christian and wants to lead his life with integrity needs to read Everyman's Battle by Steve Arterburn. It's challenging and will push many men in ways that they might not like at first.  Transparency is more important than it's ever been.  Running late?  Let her know.  Change of plans? Let her know.  Email from another woman? Let her know.  You really can't be too honest in those ways.  I am not being oppressive about it, but being informative and forthcoming is where it begins.
I don't think that we ever really came up with "all-encompassing" rules to dictate relationships in general.

Was it an emotional affair? Physical? Both? What did you find harder to accept? Is Jesse now completely open with you? Do you have access to his cell phones and emails? Is he transparent?
Lyryn -- It was both.  Honestly I cannot answer which is harder to accept.  I think no matter what, when someone strays from a marriage it's hard to handle.  I hated that they talked intimately about me and my life.  I hated that she knew my husband the way I should only know him . Both ways just suck... Lets just put it that way.
Jesse IS completely open and honest with me.  Because he has always been a pretty transparent person, he could jump back into it very well.  Sometimes he was a little too transparent... Maybe I shouldn't have asked the questions because he was pretty darn (excuse me while I throw up in my mouth) honest.  If I have a question he will tell me.  Now more than ever it's him asking me to open up more.  He has come a LONG way!  And yes, I do have access to his email.  Honestly, they are on my phone so I can see every email coming in to him.  But I rarely check them anymore.  As for the phone I do.  If I want to see it he will give it to me... I can't check his phone records anymore though because the company he works for pays for his phone.  But... I would not hesitate to ask his boss for the records if I felt I had anything to worry about.  I know his boss and he is a Christian and I don't believe he would have any problem letting me check Jesse's records.
Jesse -- For the unfaithful partner it's more difficult to overcome the internal struggles left behind from an emotional affair.  This is caused by two things.  One is that generally emotional affairs are a more prolonged event.  Secondly, emotional affairs require that you invest yourself heavily in every way. That baggage can be a struggle to let go of.
Another thing to consider is the gender roles.  Men generally have a harder time mending when their wife has been physically unfaithful.  Women will struggle with both elements of the affair, but often struggle longer with the emotional aspects of a husband's infidelity.

Why do you take responsibility for your husband's affair?  I don't think that you should at all.
Lyryn -- I'm sorry if it may have seemed as though I was taking responsibility for the affair.  In no way am I taking responsibility for that.  In my post, Where did it all go wrong?, I even stated that, "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."  He made his choice... I did not MAKE him do it.  But FOR ME, I can see where I wasn't where I needed to be for my husband.  Please hear my heart on this.  Remember that every situation is different I am merely telling you OUR story.
Jesse -- There are cases where one partner is simply unfaithful.  I have not seen any research in this regard, but am fairly confident in saying that in cases where a partner is unfaithful despite the tranquility of their marriage that the unfaithful partner will probably have been struggling with things of a similar nature long before the affair happened.  Ultimately an affair, regardless of situation, is one person's selfish act and only they can be responsible for it.

How did you get to where you are today?
Lyryn -- JESUS... Plain and simple. He was my rock, my forever faithful husband, my sanity and my guiding light.  I would not be standing here today, happy and more in love than ever with this man, if it weren't for the love and mercy of my God. I just trusted God (though at times it was hard) and He taught me how to surrender all and love my husband again...
Jesse -- Humility.  Both of us had to admit to ourselves that we weren't perfect, that we had failed each other in different ways.  I also know that I had to be extra intentional in all the things that I did to display my love for my wife.


LeAnna said...

I've been waiting all week to comment,! Christ has seen you through so much. Your honesty and openness is so refreshing, and I have been praying so much good would come from this. It has really made me think about what we can do NOW to prevent this in our own marriages. God bless you guys!
(I was really intrigued about the bi-polar mentions -- I really think that is what my BIL had, described him to a "t" -- unfortunately he committed suicide.)

Katie said...

This is really good. So many people live such fake lives that it seems that they never struggle when in fact we all do. Thank you for being transparent. Another good book is Point Man, your husband would really like that. My husband has had to work with woman before and be their boss and I did not like it at times. We have some boundries in place now because I had red flags from one of the girls. This could happen to the best of chrisitians thats why it is important to stay in prayer and keep accounts short with each other if there are problems.
Katie (:

Sassytimes said...

Lyryn- I admire and respect you for being so open and honest about your story. It sounds like you are helping out so many other people going through the same circumstances. What a wonderful gift to give those people - to have someone to talk to and someone who has overcome it. I'm proud of you.

Brittney Galloway said...

Beautiful post- thanks for being so transparent and open with us!

Unknown said...

Lyr I love the question on who is taking responsibility for this. I love that you are sending out the message that while you did not make Jesse's choices, a marriage takes TWO. It seems that you are communicating that you BOTH contributed to a struggle in your marriage, and the affair was Jesse's way of handling the struggle. I'm proud of you for NOT blaming him for everything, and only blaming for his part of the situation.

Jesse, I'm proud of you for stepping up as well and taking responsibility for your part and saying that only you are responsible for the actual action.

By doing this, I feel like you are sending out a wonderful message that while the affair was an excruciating period for the both of you, one of the big pieces to this story is to take accountability in your marriage for your part and your part only. Admit your wrong doings, communicate them, and stop playing the blame game. This is the lesson that every couple needs to hear, and I am so glad that you are sending that out.

Tonja said...

Thank you so much for being so honest in your answers. It helps me understand more and more what my husband may be feeling or thinking.

When Jesse said 'emotional affairs require that you invest yourself heavily in every way and that baggage can be a struggle to let go of.' That could never be more true. Mine was both physical and emotional, and I still carry the baggage around everyday.

You guys are a true inspiration!

Megan Ashley said...

This was so eye opening, hearing a few things from Jesse. I never really understood part of Scott's feelings ( I still don't at times). I never realized that the emotional affair was hard to end for him(Scott), I had assumed it was probably no big deal. Thank you for shedding some light on that. Lyr, you amaze me with how open and true your heart is through all of this!!

Shannon said...

Great post! Thank yall so much for putting your feelings out there - this helps me reaffirm my feelings and why I felt/feel the way I do!

Unknown said...

yay you answered my question :)
I think it's great you two are answering them. so brave.

Chicago Mom (Heather) said...

You are beautiful inside and out Lyr! Thank you for sharing your story... I'll be back every day. :-) God Bless!

Cara S. said...

This is awesome, hope you do Q and A every Friday!! I got a few up my sleeve ;)

More Than Words said... and your husband answered the questions so openly and honestly. I just keep thinking of what a blessing this week has been for so many couples!!!!! Praise God!

very married said...

i'm so glad the questioners feel so comfortable asking these questions bluntly. i think it takes a little of the edge off. if that makes any sense.

Michelle said...

Great Q & A!

I think for any marriage, the boundaries are important. Even in a happy, Christ-centered marriage there are temptations. Both partners have to be aware of what boundaries they should have with the opposite sex and always be transparent.

My husband and I were both previously married. In both our first marriages we both married young, for the wrong reasons, and neither other partner was a Christ follower. Both of us had kids right away and were cheated on and betrayed time and time again by our exes. Both of us were divorced by the time we were 22 years old.

When I met my husband he was not a devout Christian but I have seen the ways the Lord is working in him. He is still working through his faith and his doubts but our small group at church we attend has been such a blessing in our life. He is even more excited about it then me. It is for stepfamilies and we study stepfamily issues, marriage issues, and parenting issues. A huge blessing in our lives!

A few months back a former classmate of his was private messaging him on FB (a woman). He was totally open and honest about it but when it continued over a few months I told him I didn't think it was appropriate and it needed to stop. I know it was a totally innocent thing and he had no bad intentions in it but these sort of things can totally spiral out of control, even if in the beginning both parties don't have any bad intentions. We both have each others passwords for email, FB, cell phone, etc. It is so important to keep yourself accountable.

Some may disagree but as a happily married woman I do not believe me or my husband should have any close friends of the opposite sex. All my friends husbands are my "friends" and we all hang out in a group setting but I do not call them up and discuss personal things, email privately or meet up one-on-one. All those things cross the line. Being primarily a SAHM it does worry me a little since my husband is in the workforce and a lot of affairs happen in a work setting. I pray for both of us daily and hope he is guarding his heart against anything that could develop into something it shouldn't.

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

I think what Jessie posted about transparacy is SO important. I never really thought about it in that term, but that is something I really agree with. Thanks as always for being so open and sharing all this with us. I know that your story is helping so many people!

Anonymous said...

I find this all very interesting, though I can't quite explain why. I suppose to some extent it is to see whether anything is applicable to my own life. I just found your blog today (through the Nato's blog) so I don't know what your state your marriage was in before everything came out, but the promises to be a better wife are very familiar. I don't believe my husband is having an affair, but we are not happy where we are and there is a large part of me that is ready to give up and start a new life. I believe that there are certain blogs that draw me in purely to show that worse can be overcome. I am intrigued to explore more.