Laverne Name: LaverneLocation: GeorgiaOccupation: DoctorSpouse Testimonial: Read Lishcia's Story hereChildren: 2, ages 16 and 20Discovery Date: Spring 2009Story: Looking back, the warning signs were there before I even got married. My quest for the next exciting thrill was very much alive during my college years. Sure, I had multiple 1 night stands with single/divorced women, along with a brief affair with a married woman, but I thought that was just the thing to do, sow as many oats possible before settling down and becoming a responsible husband. The problem was that I was doing all this while dating my future wife. When I did get married, right after graduating from college, and 2 weeks before heading to medical school, I got busy immediately with my training to be a doctor. For the next 8 years, I was faithful to my wife. Life was very busy, being a medical student and resident, I didn’t have much time for anything else (well, we did have time to become the proud parents of 2 beautiful daughters). I thought our marriage was going to be just fine. After moving to a new town, joining a medical group, and finally getting settled into a lifestyle, the old feelings of searching for the next thrill, the next conquest, started to return. I thought I had overcome all that by getting married, but all I had done was suppress it. I poured all my efforts into my practice, while my wife became busy with the raising of our daughters and being involved as a volunteer at their school. We slowly drifted apart. Having erratic, long work hours and getting called back to the hospital at any time during the night didn’t do wonders for quality time. The affirmation I received elsewhere, being the alpha-male doctor in a stressful work environment composed mostly of women, only fed my ego. Within a year I had my first physical affair. I soon became involved in several physical affairs. No problem there, I thought, until I became emotionally involved with one of these affair partners. That ended quickly and badly when that partner confessed to her husband. My wife was very upset, I was remorseful. We went to a marriage counselor, who did help us reconnect again. Things were better in our marriage for at least the next few years. Something was still missing, but I remained faithful. But then we slowly drifted apart again. Lust and the thrill of pursuing the next young female reared its ugly head. I had not learned from my past mistakes, and I was going to satisfy my selfish desires. I would be discreet; I would keep it purely physical, not get emotionally involved. I would have my cake and eat it too. It worked, for awhile.Struggle: Soon the inevitable happened. I got emotionally involved again with another affair partner (AP). She was a nurse, and I worked with her a lot. What started out as friendship, confiding personal and marital issues with each other, became a physical relationship, and this time I fell hard. This time I fell in love. She understood me. She was fun. She was hot. She was mature. She and I enjoyed the same things. She completed my sentences. She completed me. She was also 16 years younger than me, married, and with 2 kids. I had found my soul mate. This affair continued for a full year before my wife found out. She had heard rumors, confronted me, and I confessed. My wife was devastated. I was thinking, now what do I do? I told my wife I would end it, but I didn’t. I attempted to convince her that it was over, but all I did was tell more lies. I moved out after 4 months. It was horrible to have to tell my daughters and then walk out. It tore me up inside, a most sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. While I was living in a rented apartment, I attempted to get individual counseling from a psychiatrist. It didn’t work out, as I was basically just going through the motions and still seeing my AP, who in the meantime, had moved out of her own house and was divorced. My wife and I tried counselors, couples counseling, even went to a marriage seminar on the west coast. It was not infidelity based and didn’t really address our issues. I broke it off with my affair partner, and moved back in with my wife and family. It felt warm, comfortable, and reassuring to be back home, but within 3 or 4 days, I felt like I was going crazy, wondering what I was missing, and texted my AP. Six weeks later, I moved out a second time. This time, I moved into a condo two doors down from my AP. It was during this time that I began to sink into despair, depression. I was slowly killing my wife. I was losing the respect of my girls. I did not know what to do. I knew that deep down I still had a love for my wife that had not yet been completely extinguished. We were still talking, yet I could not let go of my AP. It was during this time that my wife, in desperation, told me about Affair Recovery. She said that it had programs geared specifically for couples like us, who had been affected by marital infidelity. Surprisingly, I actually said yes, I would be willing to go to a weekend session in Austin. I had tried it on my own, tried it with numerous counselors, and still failed, so what did I have to lose? I’m convinced this was a God-send.Course of Action: We went to EMS weekend, not knowing what the result would be, but hey, at least we gave it one more shot, right? It was the beginning of a journey that did not end once the weekend was over. Although it was an emotional weekend, I felt very comfortable, accepted, understood, and safe. I didn’t feel like I was being judged. Everyone was there for the same reason. It was an intense weekend, with time to discuss how I got into the destructive cycle of an affair, how to end it, how to heal, and how to protect myself from future affairs. I also got a better understanding of the pain and agony that my betrayed spouse endured, and that it was a not a quick recovery process. We were among couples who were going through the same issues and emotions as we were. Not only that, Rick and Leslie had experienced the same trials as we had, so they knew where we were coming from. They were the right people at the right time. My wife and I left the EMS weekend feeling more optimistic than we had in a long time. We had a plan in place, and I was going to break it off with my AP, which I did. After moving back home, I thought it was going to work out, but within a few days, I started to get restless again. I felt as if there was something missing in my life. Yes, I had closed off the usual means of communication – emails, texts, even got a new cell phone. But when I allowed these feelings to get so intense, it’s like an addiction, it’s like I was a man possessed. Nothing could stop me, and within 2 weeks, I relapsed. I moved out for the 3rd time, this time to another house that, fortunately, was not near my AP. I once again disappointed my wife, my daughters, my friends, and the many people who had been praying and encouraging me. It seemed hopeless, that I was never going to change. This back and forth, indecisiveness was so unlike the other parts of my life. I usually made wise, intelligent decisions, and stuck with them. But not when it concerned intimate relations. I could not break this cycle. Yes, I knew what was right, what needed to be done, but I felt powerless to follow through and stick with it. I did continue phone counseling with Rick and with another mentor recommended by Rick to work on my personal and spiritual issues. I am so glad that God, through his many talented and caring servants, did not give up on me. I continued to go to church intermittently, sometimes with my wife. It was during this tumultuous period that our oldest daughter was leaving home to begin college, while our youngest was beginning high school. That fall, we reached an all time low. My wife became so depressed, that she made plans to take pills and put an end to her misery. Fortunately, that never happened. My wife met with an attorney and began the divorce process. I was still seeing my AP, but the affair was beginning to show signs of strain, the newness was wearing off, and my AP was getting impatient. I felt very guilty that my AP had made that leap, gotten a divorce, and was now a single mother. As for me, I just couldn’t. Sometimes my wife and I would go for weeks without much communication, but then we would start talking again. There was definitely still something there between my wife and me. There was a bond, there was something still holding us together. I still loved her, even though I had a strange way of demonstrating that to her. As we talked more, and our fondness for each other began to grow again, she suggested that we call a truce for a month during the holidays and spend one more time together as a family during the Christmas season. I readily agreed. My AP was not too thrilled with that idea but allowed me my space. This was the beginning of the end. It was during this time that my AP began seeing another man. It all came to a head when I discovered that my AP had jetted off to a Caribbean island to spend New Year’s with this man. We never saw each other after that. Our affair had finally come to an end. I felt betrayed, and yet I felt like I had been freed. I was shocked that I would be “cheated” on. Ok, so this was just a tiny glimpse of what it must have been like for my wife. This was poetic justice. I got a taste of my own medicine. I understood. I got the message. I finally got it.Lessons Learned: God works in mysterious ways. He knew I had to experience some things for myself. He also demonstrated through my wife the meaning of true love, love that is long suffering, love that endures, love that survives betrayal, love that sacrifices self for another, love that forgives. Now that my eyes were opened, I knew that I had to make changes. But how? I had tried many times before. I had the knowledge, the tools, Rick, and EMS. What was the one thing I needed to incorporate all that into a new life-long fulfilling relationship with my wife? I realized I was powerless; I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew I had to submit, to surrender myself, my life to the One who is love. I had to let go of my pride, my selfishness, and give it all to God. God is what I had been missing in my life. God is what I had been searching for all this time. All these desires, all this searching for excitement, all these feelings of hopelessness, all these repeated failures, I simply had to give to God. That was the only way. For me, it was a process, one that began even while still in the affair, not an instantaneous Saul to Paul conversion. I officially moved back in with my wife within a couple of weeks. We had to make sure that this time the move (and the changes within me) was permanent. This time, we decided to put God at the center of our marriage. We prayed together, and we had devotions together. I began to study the Bible daily, first thing in the morning (something I had never done before, even though I had grown up as a preacher’s kid). We continued our phone counseling with Rick and Leslie. A few months later, we decided to go back to EMS for a “refresher” weekend. This time it was different, even though it was the same. I came with a different perspective. It was emotional to retell the events of the infidelity, but there was also rejoicing.Encouragement: This past July 23, we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary by renewing our vows on the beach in the presence of our daughters. It has been over 2 years since the affair ended. My wife and I are much closer than we’ve ever been. Mutual respect and admiration for each other are a big part of our relationship, as is the ability to just enjoy each other and have fun together. We are experiencing a new kind of love that continues to grow.