John Name: JohnLocation: TexasSpouse Testimonial: Read Marie's Story HereChildren: 1Discovery Date: Summer 2012Story: My wife and I met in college almost 8 years ago. We dated for two years and went to graduate school together. After I finished graduate school 2 years later, I moved to another town while she finished her last year at graduate school. We got engaged and I moved back once she got her degree. The relationship had been good for the first 4 years we were dating, and in the fifth year (we got married on our 5 year anniversary) the relationship started to get stale. We both began to get really “comfortable.” This continued into our first year of marriage. I began to focus on other things outside of the marriage (work, sports, anything else really) and she began to resent me for it. We began to fight quite a bit. She had just finished graduate school and was still looking for full time work, all the while I was really busy with work and studying for a certification test. When I wasn’t doing that, I was focusing my attention elsewhere, and not on our marriage. Meanwhile, she was working part time and doing most of the work around the house and then doing not much at all until I got off work. To make matters worse, we weren’t attending church, and God was nowhere to be found in our marriage. The stability of our marriage rested on our own very unstable shoulders. Well, just days before our 1st anniversary, I went out of town for a few days with family while she stayed at home. One night, her parents called and asked if I knew where she was, because they couldn’t get a hold of her. I didn’t know where she was, and became worried. The more I tried to call her with no response, my worry for her increased. We (her parents, my family, and I) tried getting a hold of her all night until the wee hours of the morning. It was very odd for her to be not accessible and we began to fear the worst. I decided to fly home early, only to get a call from her at 8 am, crying. I was so happy that she was alive. But when I got home, my emotions turned to anger as she told me a pitiful excuse resembling what a teenager would tell her parents after a late night drinking. Struggle: I knew what she had done, but it wasn’t until a month later that she finally admitted to it, after much prodding by me. I kicked her out of the house while I cleared my head. She went to a friend’s house and stayed for a week. In the meantime, I read a few books and looked online for information about extramarital affairs. I decided I wanted her to come back and that we could make it work, although at this point she was no longer sure she wanted to come back. She was staying with a “destructive” friend at the time, and was partying and was not living in the reality of the situation. Now, I was angry and hurt because I thought she should be groveling to come back to me after hurting me so badly. Instead she wasn’t so sure she even wanted to make up. We went to a counselor, who we thought at the time helped a little. After about 9 days away, she decided to come back. I made several demands of her concerning what she had to do in order for me to trust her again (stay accessible, let me check her email, etc). She reluctantly did these things at the time, but I could tell she wasn’t interested in doing this stuff for long. We agreed after seeing the counselor that all we really needed to do was pay more attention to each other, that we didn’t need to see the counselor, and that we could handle everything on our own. God still had no presence in our marriage, and at the time he was not invited. We had it figured out, after all. We lived in this “pretend normal” world for another 9 months thinking we had turned the corner somewhat. During that time, she had accepted a job with a large company in another town making almost double our salaries combined (which we both were excited about). She was supposed to start the new job in January, still several months away. In October, my wife was a bridesmaid in the “destructive” friend’s wedding. I was unable to make it because of work, and my wife assured me everything would be ok. We agreed that she would stay at the reception only for a while and then go stay with her parents. I was leery of the friend and the company that she kept but trusted her to be careful. The night progressed, and my wife called me to tell me that she was going to stay at the reception and spend the night with some of the girls in the wedding. Of course we got into a huge fight about it, and the fight ended up with her hanging up on me and not answering her phone the rest of the night. The next day, of course, she blamed me for being a jealous husband and not trusting her. The next 2 months were pretty much awful. We fought all the time, and she was the most hateful person, and would say the most awful things to me, often unprovoked. I could tell she had changed. One night in late November, while looking on the computer, I noticed a new e-mail address when logging into my account. After a few anxious trial and error password attempts, I was able to log in to the account and saw that she had been emailing to a guy in another town, and had planned on meeting up with him on a business trip. The emails were very suggestive, and suggested only one thing. I printed out the email and met her for lunch. When I confronted her about it, there was no explaining away what she did. This time it seemed to completely break her, whereas before she only felt bad because I was so upset. She admitted that after she had affair number one, she slept with another man while staying at the destructive friend’s house. She again slept with the man the night of the destructive friend’s wedding, and was planning to meet him again before I stumbled upon the email. I was numb at this point and was done with the relationship. I coolly walked away. I went straight home, moved out of our house, and moved in with my sister. She probably called me 1000 times over the next week, and I didn’t pick up once. How could I be so foolish? How could this happen again? Did she think I was just going to stick around and let her do this again and again? What was I going to do over the next month? We had given notice at our old apartment, given notice at both of our jobs (I hadn’t found a new job), and were moving in less than a month! To make matters worse, Christmas was only a month away! How would I tell my parents? What if I wanted to get back with her at some point in the future? What would I say? What would I do if I didn’t get back with her? How could I ever be the same person, and how could I ever trust anyone again and be able to have a good relationship with a caring woman? I think every terrible feeling rained down on me both times that I found out about the affairs. Fear, pain (physical and emotional), hurt, emasculation, embarrassment, sadness; the whole gamut. During those next days, I prayed for the first time with any frequency, but heard no answer.Course of Action: My wife stayed with her parents for a week and took off work, because she was a basket case. Marie called around to counselors in the area and left messages. She decided that the first one to call her back would be the person that she would go see and the one that she would ask me to see in hopes that we could eventually do couples counseling. I had pretty much decided that I couldn’t stick around any more to find out how I could be wronged again. That’s when a person from Affair Recovery called Marie. She told Marie that she was praying for her and that God was with us. Marie went to go see Rick the next day, and emailed me his office number so that I could set up an appointment. Reluctantly, I decided to go, because I needed to talk to someone anyway. I had a session with Rick, and he was able to give me a small glimmer of hope (very small) where there had been none. He told me that there was an EMS Online meeting with some other couples that night and that I should call in (Marie could not be there). I really didn’t want to go, but I decided to go anyway, because the very small shred of hope was still hanging on. I attended the group meeting, and we all told our stories: 4 couples and me, solo. I was floored at the emotions that came out of these people, and that they were going through the exact same thing that I was going through. I even actually had some sympathy for the unfaithful spouses! My small glimmer got a little bigger that night. I emailed Marie and told her that I went and that I would be going again the next week. Later that week I called Marie. I softened up even more after the meetings. Marie and I began to talk and she wanted so much to come back. Eventually, I agreed, but only on the condition that she not accept the job that she was about to start and that we stay put and go through the Affair Recovery programs. Giving up the job would be difficult for her, because it was the opportunity of a lifetime. We met for lunch, and it was then that she saw me and told me that she would give up her career opportunity and do whatever it would take to get me back. I moved back in 3 days later. Lessons Learned: We went through the EMS Online course with Affair Recovery. Some weeks were very hard, and some were really great. We followed all the assignments, and really focused on our marriage. We began to pay more attention to our spirituality and our relationship with God as we worked on our marriage. During the 12 weeks, so many doors began to open week by week and everything got easier and easier. We made new friends through our group and even started going to a new church. Working through our marriage didn’t feel like it was an obligation anymore. With the success we were enjoying from EMS Online, we joined Harboring Hope and Hope for Healing as well, and began to grow in our marriage at an astounding rate. Marie completely changed. It was no longer all about her, it was about us. I softened as well and began really trying to enjoy her, to respond out of love, and to seek to understand her instead of just trying to be understood. EMS Online taught us empathy and forgiveness as a couple, and our individual courses pointed us down specific and lasting paths to recovery.Encouragement: We are now past our one year anniversary of when we went into that first counseling session, and while there have been some rough spots, and there will be more along the way, we have made profound progress in every facet of our relationship. And I can say with 100% certainty that we owe everything that has been accomplished in this past year all to the expert care and community of support we received at Affair Recovery. Ultimately, we know God’s love is beyond our comprehension and we’re awed by his never-ending compassion for us. He stuck with us when we didn’t stick by him, and he offered us a way.