Christine Name: ChristineLocation: ArkansasOccupation: Home Health NurseSpouse Testimonial: Read Ryan's Story HereChildren: 4Discovery Date: July 2010Story: I was 19 years old when Ryan and I got married. I was young and didn’t have any idea what love and marriage was. Frankly, for me, at that time, it was a way out of my parent’s house. My childhood was full of emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual abuse. I had no idea what a healthy marriage or family looked like. We started our family right away and were caught up in babies, college, and life in general. A few years into our marriage, Ryan disclosed to me some sexual addiction problems he had battled most of his life. This was a shock to me but he seemed genuinely willing to work on the problems. He told me he had been in therapy before our marriage and thought he was ok but had started to have some problems again and wanted to get more help. We ended up doing a lot of therapy together which also led to me doing some extensive therapy to deal with all the abuse of my childhood. We came through this together and Ryan was able to get the proper help this time for the specific issues he had dealt with. So, life went on. Things were ok but life was really crazy at times. We had four children and were trying to build careers. As far as our marriage was concerned, we just survived. Sometimes it seemed like we were just partners and not spouses. I still struggled with my childhood issues some. Relationships became strained with my parents and siblings as I began the process of acknowledging and accepting the abuse and today I have no contact with my parents or siblings. I struggled with my concept of God, a lot. I was a very religious person but only because I knew everything about God intellectually. I did not feel His presence in my life. I believed that he loved me but had never felt His love. I knew this was because of the abuse from my father. I knew that this had skewed my ability to know what it felt like to be loved by a father. I always told myself that this was a limitation that I had because of the abuse and looked forward to Heaven where I could actually know what it felt like to be loved by God. In spite of the struggles, we continued to push forward. We went to church every Sunday, spent a lot of time serving in the church, and our careers were both finally going really well. Our marriage was ok but we didn’t have much closeness or connection. Struggle: On June 2, 2010, Ryan took our boys to a concert that was in the next town about 30 minutes away. I went to bed before they got home but was awakened during the night by a terrible thunderstorm. I discovered that Ryan was not home but the boys were. I instinctively knew that something wasn’t right. The next morning I searched his phone records and that was the beginning of my discovering the affair. It didn’t all come out right away. Ryan trickled information over the next few weeks. On July 6, 2010, he finally admitted that it he had been having an affair since March. The next few weeks were a blur. I felt like I was living in a bad dream and kept hoping I would wake up. The pain was so bad that I could barely function. I couldn’t eat or sleep and the physical pain was so bad that I thought I was going to die. I knew I didn’t have the strength to make the decisions I needed to make so I sought out people that could help me. I counseled with leaders at church who also sent me to see a therapist through our church. I was very hurt and confused but I was pretty sure that I couldn’t stay married to him. I just didn’t see how it could be possible to get over the hurt, pain, and anger that I was feeling. Course of Action: At one of my sessions the therapist told me about the EMS Weekend through Affair Recovery. He said that he had been doing some research on it and liked what he saw but had never actually sent anyone there. However, he said, he felt led to have us look into it. So we attended the August 2010 EMS Weekend. I was very cautious going into it. I believed very strongly in marriage, I just didn’t see how it was possible to get past the pain and hurt and lack of trust that I was feeling. My EMS experience was nothing short of miraculous. I believe now that our marriage was meant to be saved and we wound up there for that purpose. Lessons Learned: I learned a lot of things at our EMS session. I learned that no matter what happened to my marriage, I was going to be ok. This wasn’t something I had really internalized before. I would be ok, no matter what. I learned that I didn’t have to trust Ryan. In fact, I shouldn’t trust him. He is an imperfect human being and will make mistakes. So I don’t trust Ryan, but I do trust God with Ryan. I learned that it was possible to deal with the feelings that I had and was taught how to do just that. Rick had us go through an exercise where we pictured ourselves next to a river and then we allowed all the hurt and anger to float down the river. This was very effective for me. So much so that I now have a painting of a river hanging over our bed (painted for me by another member of our EMS group). The biggest miracle that happened for me at EMS was that for the first time in my life, I felt God’s love for me. I learned a new concept of God and I learned that healing was possible. For the first time in my life, I had lost all control of everything around me and had no choice but to let go. I did this at EMS and felt an overpowering freedom that has changed my life. I finally felt healed from all my childhood abuse. So, for me personally, EMS was miraculous but it also was for our marriage. I finally felt like Ryan got the magnitude of what he had done and how he had hurt me. I felt his true sorrow and desire to make things right. I learned how to deal with my feelings towards the affair partner and I learned what forgiveness meant. I learned that I needed to grieve my old marriage as I knew it because that would never be again. Either we would end up divorced or we would build a much better and different marriage than the one we had. And a better marriage was exactly what I wanted. We both went home committed to working hard to build a better marriage. We set aside time every evening to work on EMS follow up lessons and to work on communicating and connecting with each other. We did this daily for several months after EMS. We were seeing a marriage counselor after we got home that helped us with doing daily things to strengthen our marriage. We put other things aside to make the time to do this work. We began connecting in a way that we had never connected before. We became closer than we had ever been. Little did we know how important that was going to be for what was coming next. The strength of our marriage was tested and I know it wouldn’t have survived had it not been for the things we learned at EMS. Two months after we attended EMS we learned that the affair partner had changed her mind about there having been an affair and instead accused Ryan of raping, kidnapping, and drugging her. She was literally crazy. We spent the next two years fighting this and are still not free of her today. She still tries everything she can to disrupt our lives. She made something that should have been very private into something very public. The good thing is that most of our friends and fellow church members know she is unwelland she was not successful with the police. However, she was successful in destroying Ryan’s career. Since she had been a patient and he did not deny the affair, his license was suspended for five years. I became the primary financial support for the family as Ryan had to start a new career. This was a period of incredible stress on us and normally stress like this would have driven us apart. But this time it was different. We remained connected and continued working on our marriage in spite of the stress and today our marriage is better than I could have ever imagined it could be. Encouragement: I believe our marriage was meant to be saved and that there was a divine plan to help us do it. I needed the growth that could only come through the things we learned and the work we did. And I needed the close relationship with God that I gained as well as the connection and new found love with Ryan, because on August 9, 2012 (2 years after we attended EMS), I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And once again, we fought a battle together. I was never alone. I felt God with me the whole way and Ryan was by my side every step of the way. I had no way to know when I was contemplating ending my marriage that the work to save my marriage would ultimately give me the strength I needed to fight for my life. We still suffer from the effects of the affair. The obsessed affair partner still tries to cause problems, some of our children are still having problems dealing with the choices their father made, and we took a pretty big hit financially with the loss of Ryan's career. But we continue to move forward, together. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that I can do anything with God’s help and I know that His plan for my life is better than mine. He has changed my broken marriage and my broken life into something beautiful and for that I am grateful. It has definitely been the hardest thing I have ever done, but so worth it.