Starting Over As a real estate and small business attorney, I have always been drawn to the processes that emerge during real estate and business deals. Emotions run high at the hope of future opportunity in the early stages. As particulars are investigated, uncertainties become clearer and some risks become calculable. There is always a gap between what is known and what can only be projected. Ultimately, the constraints of resources and time merge to force a decision. It is in that moment that instincts prevail and the process becomes poetic. It is also in that moment that the uneasy feelings of uncertainty rise and the warm sense of hope and safety take a back seat. Much like standing on the edge of a cliff and looking over, the greater the stakes, the greater the "pucker factor." Lately, I find myself in that spot in my marriage. I am a little over 20 months out from D-day. My wife and I have committed ourselves to tons of work through various resources. She is leading her 4th Hope for Healing Class, I've completed a couple of my own classes, we attended EMS Weekend, as well as countless hours of individual therapy for me, her, and our children. Early on, I grasped onto the promise of an opportunity for a "better marriage." Somewhere in the process I allowed myself to interpret that idea as hope for transformation in a way that erased the pain of the infidelity and reversed the clock back to a place in my marriage where the hurts from being betrayed no longer clouded my views of my wife and marriage. Now, I see that was really fantasy. A better marriage is not one that "feels" better. If I have learned anything, it is that feelings are fickle and unreliable. They can indicate all kinds of things both real and imagined. They can enhance a moment or crush a spirit. They can entice, and they can lie. I accept that I am forever changed by this process; vulnerability and trust are not as easy. I still trigger at times and experience that empty panic that my perspective of security may not be real. I carry shame for being here, trying to find a way to make this work. However, these times are becoming much more infrequent, and my perspective on His truth shines through this darkness, when I give it space to. I understand what has happened to me, I believe my wife when she tells me she is also disgusted by the person she had become during her affairs and has no desire to be that person again. My individual work has allowed me to see my codependence and begin to carry a confidence defined by how God sees me, instead of the world around me. I am comfortable that I am capable of experiencing a good life whether I stay married or not. I have worked through forgiveness, am continuing the journey of acceptance, and have reached a point where I've realized how sitting on the fence not only holds me back, but others around me who I hold dear. My daughters need stability from their parents. My grandchild needs me engaged. My work has a chance to prosper again if I return my focus to it. And my wife and I need to be grounded in what we believe. Immediately following discovery, I chose to love my wife by providing whatever resources I could to assist her in healing individually. Over time she fully submerged herself in the process. Obviously, we are both still broken people in a fallen world. That will never change. What has changed is our perspective of who we are, what we want to be, and how better to pursue those intentions. I am willing to take the leap of faith needed to trust my understanding that this shared perspective is true and reliable, but it is not without effort. I am willing to once again take a risk on her and see what a life in marriage, after so much work by us both, may be like. It will truly be unique, and certainly more authentic, than what we previously had. So . . . I guess what I am trying to say is "I'm in. . . I'm staying." Those words are hard to write. This doesn't necessarily feel "good," but it feels right. I am still deeply disappointed to be here. I want to admire and respect my wife as I once did, but my eyes are now open to just how self-absorbed and hurtful she can be. I fight the shame of being betrayed, but I realize this fight will likely follow me regardless of my future path. Early on I fantasized this moment would be filled with celebration, perhaps new vows and another honeymoon. Now that it is here, I can only describe it as somber and sobering. It is an authentic perspective on just how fragile the things we should value most in this world really are. The old marriage was one I took for granted and often used to fill in my weak spots. I now see this marriage as an opportunity to grow, to come closer to His will for my life. I hope my wife will continue to share in a commitment to the same intentions and that we both use this experience as a catalyst to wisdom, authenticity, and a greater purpose in our life. In that regard, I do hope for a "better" marriage. I sense she will join me in this commitment but. . . nothing is certain. . . Is this as good as it gets or is it simply where we are now? Regardless of my future path, there will be times of joy and pain, support and hurt. My hope is that my marriage now will be one valued and respected for its fragility. That we both seek to guard against the influence of friends and family who have proven toxic in the past. That we seek to understand each other instead of being understood. That we never forget that love is our individual choice. It is one of the few things in our lives we truly have control over. I'm sure it will "feel" great at times, just as I'm sure it will not as well. In the end, perhaps this will be a union of two broken people. That journey through infidelity is but one of the many tools that brought us slowly into His path. Perhaps our transformation through this process may even serve as some small witness for a few bystanders of just how incredibly God can use pain for His good. I have come to a point where I want to see what is on the other side of the door but cannot do so unless I open it. A true marriage, one worthy of desiring, requires commitment from both parties. There is no way to safely experience this goal from the sidelines. She has not only told me, but shown me repeatedly she wants to humble herself to do whatever she can to never be that person again and to help me heal. Occasionally, she has asked what recommitment would mean to me if I chose that path. It has been hard to answer as it was simply something I never thought I'd contemplate – it simply shouldn't be a part of marriage. But for us it is and we have to make the most of the hand we have been dealt.