Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

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.



Katie @ Loves of Life said...

I had no idea the alopecia was a break out type thing?! Never heard you talk about that. Crazy! Also, I think its good to realize the affair wasn't your fault, but like all things, the affair was the fruit of a root. I think that's what most people forget. You guys just took the time to figure out the roots, and are working through that. Which, ultimately changes the fruit. (Hello, EH, much? hehe). Anyway. I LOVE this song. Love love love.


ps: he punched his ticket to home wrecker paradise was clever. I'm enjoying reading your writing. you're very gifted!

Rachel said...

I know what you mean about him seeming like a different person and checking out. My husband would check out so that he didn't have to face anything he'd done, he would literally make himself not care about anything. The first year of our marriage was spent getting him to face everything and break those bad habits.

Katie A. said...

You definitely have a gift for words, and I want to thank you once again for sharing y'all's story. I know it's not easy to put it all out there for the world to read, but you are helping others (myself included). It's amazing how many similarities I see in myself and Jesse (being that I was the one who had the affair in our relationship). It's also been great to hear from someone on the other side to get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings from that perspective. Thank you again for taking us all through this journey!

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying reading these posts. Okay. . . enjoying is too strong of a word. I look forward to these daily posts, but at the same time, every single one is so painful to read.

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? I've heard people say trust your gut, but when a person is deceived, paranoia can set in, and sometimes the gut feeling is nothing more than paranoia. I've come out many times and asked my husband if he's been unfaithful, and time and time again, he says no. But how do I really know? I don't want to hire a private detective, or follow him, but I want to be at peace that I'm knowing the truth.

Jarod said...

Well this one definitely got the tears flowing. I know and remember so many of these same things ... the withdrawal, the conversations that haunt me, the suspicions and denial, the words that cut me so deeply, and the questions I still ask myself to this day. Thank you for opening your heart and life to God and now the rest of us through these posts. As I read each day I can feel Him slowly tearing down the walls I've put up in my own heart ... sometimes not even realizing they were there. And a 'thank you' to Jesse for not trying to talk you out of this and even for eventually sharing himself. Despite having never met either of you, y'all are in my prayers and I thank God for the work He was and is doing in your lives and marriage!

Unknown said...

The paragraph where you said you had to do a self check and YOU had to change.

I don't know if you rememmber but, when i posted on my blog about what you are doing, I said Aaron and I had problems, they didn't involve cheating, however that were small problems, which you know small problems are BIG problems that kept tearing our relationship apart. I read this book, "The best thing I ever did for my Marriage." Of course, we were married however we were living like it and I treated it as we were. Well, that was the BEST thing I ever did for our relationship because it brought closer to God in our relationship and opened me up to my issues. Fingers were always pointed at Aaron. The booked made me realize I was doing a lot .. A LOT wrong. When I changed myself in ways to help my relationship, is when our relationship became the strongest. Since then we've bought house, gotten engaged, grew so much closer, and fell harder in love then ever.

Again, what you ^ Jesse are doing here is amazing. I'm your biggest fan. Relationships CAN be fixed and they CAN survive anything.

You hit home on one of you posts when you said, I always thought I'd flee if I was cheated on, Cheating is BIG, well so is having kids. We have a lot of good in our relationship to just give up on ONE [major] bad thing" - It wasn't those words exactly, however It's so true. SOO SOO SOO true. I can relate to your experience, not exactly, but in so many ways.

What's worth it, if you don't make it through? TEAM YOU & JESSE!

Question for Jesse: What was it that made him unattrached to you?

Becca said...

Wow! I am left speechless!
I admire you for being able to share your story of the hardship you have had to face in your relationship. I hope and pray that someone who may be struggling with the same issue in their own marriage will come across these posts and look to your for help.

Megan Ashley said...

I heard those painful words and they hurt so deep that I can still feel the pain. I am almost sad that I can relate so well with all of this. I will email you, so that I do not fill your blog page with so many questions and thoughts. But again I want to thank you for your words and for you opening up to everyone! I am not strong enough to talk about this yet on my own blog, but someday I hope I can share as well.

Anonymous said...

You are such an amazing writer. If this was a book, I wouldn't put it down. Not because I am nosey, but because I happen to be a coworker at the time, and I know that this story 'ends' in triumph. That you don't yield to Satan and his plan for destruction, but you fight for God's plan. You do what is hardest. I have found admiration for you for your strength in an incredibly difficult situation. It takes a STRONG character to fight for something that you believe in. You're series has already encouraged me so much, and I am excited to see how I can apply the wisdom that you have learned in my own marriage.
-Brittney T.

Chicago Mom (Heather) said...

Those are the hardest words for a woman to hear. I've heard them too in a past relationship (that ended). Its devastating.

Bethany said...

Its eye opening as a "newly wed" (basically) to see that you were both going to Bible study regularly, but that you said your marriage wasn't focused on God. Its a good reminder that 'doing' isn't 'being' and in that is a danger that can be unforeseen. I was exhausted last night, but was determined to pick up my Bible and read before bed, which I haven't done in months. Thank you for a reminder of what I should be doing and being, dependent on God.

Anonymous said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how your blog is helping me become a stronger person. I felt like such a fool to find out that the person who I loved the most would be the person that hurt me the most. It is true that the more we have at stake, the more we have to lose.

I have not told a single person about my husband's affair. Mostly because I don't want people to feel sorry for me, and I don't want my family to think badly of my husband or make him feel uncomfortable. Keeping it to myself has been really difficult at times, because I sometimes feel that I carrying a burden that is too much for a person to bear.

Having this blog as an outlet and being able to learn from others who have gone through the same thing is leading me back to the strong person that I know I am. Thank you!!!

Ashley said...

Your strength and courage amazes me. Praise God for the continued healing of your marriage. You are such an inspiration to me and obviously many others! Thank you for sharing girl.

Annie said...

just wanted you to know i'm really enjoying reading these posts.
i'm hoping to learn and be a stronger person.
once you've been hurt it's so hard.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above...

Sheesh, I had to double check to be sure I hadn't posted something already. But no, it's just as if you wrote exactly what I'm feeling.

I too was devastated to find that my husband was having an affair. It's been less than 2 months since I found out and it still makes me nauseous. I constantly feel like it's more than I can handle on my own, but I've only told one person.

Just like you, I love my husband too much to tell my parents... that would not end well. And I feel like too much of a fool to tell anyone else. How could I not know this was happening??

UGH! It's a horrible place to be.

chelsea said...

my goodness, this certainly is touching, makes you think, and I'm sure is helpful to everyone reading in some way or another. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Lilly, Reid, Matt, and Sara said...

I know that God will use your openness for His glory! One of the things I am constantly amazed by Him is how he can use even our sin and mistakes for His glory in ways we never could imagine! Your boldness and courage are inspiring! Will be praying for you all and your testimony!

Michelle said...

Found your blog from Katie @ Loves of Life. Read through the entire series so far and just wanted to say I think this is something that isn't talked about enough. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

A friend is going through a very difficult time in her marriage right now and I sent her the link to your blog to read along too.

I am looking forward to the rest of your series.

Ashley said...

thanks for sharing your story. I am learning a lot from you.

Karissa Patterson said...

I am going through a VERY similar journey and have been blogging about it as well... it might help you and also your readers...

I don't specifically say that my husband had an affair on the blog because the blog is about MY journey...because at this early point my husband just isn't there yet for sharing...but it has been so helpful to me as a wife to blog and I have been contacted by many woman saying it has helped them!

Anonymous said...

Lyr, Congratulations on your new journey! I admire your attitude--it's NOT one of victimization and you respect your husband's dignity enough to abstain from sharing dirty details with the world. I have been in a similar situation, and I have learned from experience that a woman's big mouth can definitely sabotage her efforts at salvaging a marriage. You are providing a great example for your readers enduring the same trials.