Karen Name: KarenLocation: TexasOccupation: MarketingSpouse Testimonial: Read Dave's Story HereChildren: 3Discovery Date: Fall, 1998Story: I met Dave when I was in college, and he was this good-looking, charming, successful guy. We both liked each other in this new, exciting way that just felt like it was going to last. We dated for two and then got married. When we first married, we lived a fantasy life. Everything was all about fun, fun, fun and we really had a great time together. Then Dave got an amazing job offer in Texas, so we moved, he got busy, we had some babies, and life changed dramatically. Don’t get me wrong- our kids are amazing, but life was all the sudden not about us anymore. As far as I knew, we still had a great marriage. We were in counseling together on and off for a few years, so I knew there were things we needed to work on. Dave would go through periods of being more detached, and I would pick up on things. Like I would see him look at other women, or when there were things on TV that just seemed a little off-color he would stick to those channels. It was just all of these little signs that I was seeing. So when he told me that he was going to see Rick to address these things, I was thinking, well that’s a good thing. After he had been in counseling for a few months, he asked me to come with him one day. I had seen subtle changes in him and knew he thought highly of Rick so I thought nothing of it. We’d been to counseling together countless time before. But I would have to say that when I sat in that office and when Dave shared about the molestation that happened to him when he was a child, I definitely had some empathy there at that point because that should never happen to anybody and I was surprised he never shared that with me because we were such good communicators (or so I thought at that time), but he didn’t share that with me and I had empathy at that point. Then when he started moving into all of the promiscuity that happened during our marriage, I would say that all that empathy, that feeling of my heart swelling and really feeling for him and caring for him, all of that was gone. I mean it just went out the window. At that time, we were married for 8 years. That time at office I just had to take it all in, I was like a sponge and took it all in. I didn’t know what to do with the millions of emotions that were going through my mind. So we left there and Dave said to me, “Go do whatever you need to do. Go tell whomever you need to tell. I just wanted you to know all of this.” So I left there and man I was devastated. I went home and I just sat there and didn’t know what to do with myself. I had a million thoughts running through my head. Should I just leave? Should I just walk away from the whole marriage? We had two little kids and I had a successful career. I could just pick up, go back to that and wash my hands clean of him be done and just go start over. I just needed to go take care of myself. The next day I called the pastor of the church we were going to and just said, “Hey, can I come to your house?” They welcomed me with open arms. They sat down with me, I told them the whole scenario and everything that had happened. They handed me the James Dobson book, Love Must Be Tough. They said, “read this book, sleep here, but I just do want to let you know that obviously you can walk away from this marriage. Biblically you have the right to walk away.” This was the pastor talking, and he went on to add, “But I can tell you that I have seen miracle after miracle. So just keep that in mind as well.” I went to bed that night and read that book cover to cover. Still I didn’t know what I was going to do. I ended up coming home, still flustered, still not even telling Dave at all if I’m out of this marriage or if I’m going to stay. How could I? I didn’t know myself. Both thoughts just sickened me. So I started doing this reading books, still in the unknown. We were in the same house, but we were pretty much not communicating at all. During this time as well, when I was having one of my down days, my phone rang. I was at the house and I answered and it was a good friend of mine. Just a little background on this, this was a girlfriend of mine whose marriage I admired and I had emulated it with my own marriage.. When I used to go to her house and we would sit in the backyard with our little ones, she would talk about how her husband would go off on a business trip. She’d say to me, “Oh Bill travels a lot too. When he travels don’t you miss him when he’s gone?” She’d say how she did all these neat little things while he goes off on trips and it sounded like they had the “perfect” marriage. So she calls me this day and she can just tell that I’m not sounding good. She asked what was wrong, so I pretty much vomited it all out to her and she says, “So what counselor are you going to see for this?” I said, “Rick Reynolds.” She said, “Oh, isn’t he just great? He is just awesome”. So I thought to myself, “Well how do you know who he is?” She goes on to explain to me that 4 years prior she and her husband had gone through infidelity and they went to him and followed the whole EMS program and now here they were. Now, this was a marriage that I was emulating thinking it was always perfect; thinking, “How could they ever get to that spot?” That was a glimmer of hope that I was able to see at that point. My other good friend that lived next door to me also knew that I was having a really hard time stepping forward and opening up to a relationship with my husband again. So, in a loving way, said lightly to me, “You know, I can even see some changes in Dave. Being a neighbor, when I see him there’s a different aura about him, something different.” She was just lovingly tapping me and as a friend gently shoving me to open my eyes and to start to see the changes that were in fact occurring. After a while, I started to realize that compassion is what I needed to have for Dave. I started to realize that he is God’s child too and that I needed to look at it in that way and I know that God wants me to have an honoring marriage if I’m in it. We pretty much started communication more and being more transparent towards one another. I was able to begin to reengage because I started to realize that I was better off knowing the truth and living in that truth than continuing to live a lie. Struggle: When I was doing the Bible study, the bigger part of me wanted to walk because I thought that life would be easier if I just walked away from this. Then I started to hear this whisper in my ear telling me, “You need to stick this out. You need to stay in this marriage. You need to stick this out.” I wanted to shout back, “No. I don’t want to hear that, I honestly don’t want to hear that. This is going to be too difficult. I’m leaving myself open to get hurt again.” I kept hearing this, so day after day I kept searching to see what could be in my marriage. What I think I did was start to really pay attention. I began to wonder, ”"If I walk from this marriage, will I have a chance to see what could be on other side of this? Do I want to miss that and walk away?” Who knows what is on the other side of that. Course of Action: So not knowing what to do after Dave told me about his infidelity, I just decided, “Well alright, I just have to get out of this house.” I left the house. He didn’t even know that I was leaving. I just left and went and got a hotel. After I got to the hotel I called in a friend. She came and spent the night with me and we talked about everything. Dave and I also started attending EMS Online with about 4 couples or so. Each couple went around and everyone would share their story. I sat there and after everyone shared their story, I was like “We’re the worst of everybody. There’s no way we’re going to get through this. We should just quit now.” Lessons Learned: I learned that my significance does not rely on my husband or my performance. I realized that I am no better and no worse than Dave, so it was time for me to stop punishing him. We would never rebuild a marriage if I was always making him pay. I learned that my response to my spouse can change over time from condemnation to one of compassion. As you begin to take responsibility for your own shortcomings, the failures of others will become less of a threat and we feel less of a desire to punish them. Even today I still ask myself sometimes, do I really trust Dave? Probably not 100% but I probably don’t trust anybody because we are human and we are all fallible. Do I want to be trustworthy to someone else, yeah of course I do but I pretty much learned that the only person that I can trust is Jesus. I learned that no matter what happens in our marriage, whether or not Dave goes back to his old ways, I know that I can get through any of that. Overall I learned that this is not usually something that happens overnight, it takes time and lots of prayer. Holding onto bitterness and un-forgiveness will never bring peace or joy. Encouragement: I’m not saying our marriage is perfect but I would have to say that if you were to ask me where I sit now, would I ever wish that this would have never happened? I can honestly say that I am grateful that we went through what we went through. We wouldn’t be where we are today with such an open and transparent marriage. We wouldn’t be able to share that little glimmer of hope that I had gotten years ago. We wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t do these things and be able to fall in love again with each other.