Transformative Love and Respect After Betrayal: Part 2

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“If I get pregnant, I’ll just have an abortion.” When asked if she was safe

Threatening to have me arrested for child abuse

Using kids’ social media accounts to contact and stalk men

Sleeping with a man she met two hours earlier on Facebook….. unprotected

Setting up dating apps while in the parking lot waiting for our therapy appointment

Wearing different clothes and hairstyles

Sneaking off to the bathroom to text APs while at Disneyland with the family

These and many others are examples of my wife’s behavior while still in her multiple affairs. It made me physically sick. I could not wrap my head around how my sweet, innocent, God-fearing wife had become the monster in front of me. I wanted to lash out at her. I wanted her to hurt as much as I was hurting. In fact, I wanted to see her in a gutter with a needle in her arm (A direct quote from my journal at the time).

In Transformative Love and Respect After Betrayal Part 1, I wrote about how my thinking changed while in recovery and how God’s Word had helped me see things differently. We are told to love “anyway” and not “because.” How could I love my wife with everything she was doing at the time? This began a journey of discovery.

Drug addicts will steal, injure, or even sometimes prostitute themselves to get the next hit of drugs.

Dopamine and other brain pleasure chemicals are dumped into our bodies in abundance during “lust” and “infatuation.” Both are powerful drugs and addicting. God designed us that way to assist with the “bonding” process. Today, we are seeing numerous negative effects of these chemicals in people who are addicted to “likes'' on Instagram or other platforms. There are also many reports of higher suicide rates for those in withdrawal from the chemical hits. My wife was madly in “lust,” “limerence,” and “infatuation” with these guys, and her body was being flooded with these pleasure chemicals with every text or thought. She didn’t want that feeling to end and would do just about anything to make it continue.

Recognizing some of the realities of my situation allowed me to rationalize some of my behaviors. If my wife was instead addicted to painkillers and had drained our bank account to pay for them, how would I react? Would I divorce her immediately? Would I leave her in a gutter with a needle in her arm? Or would I do anything in my power to help her recover? Not to be a doormat or excuse her behavior but to provide support, love, and care wherever I could. Making sure she stays accountable and can see the effects of her behavior but hoping and praying for the best and, being there when the guy inevitably leaves and holding her close when the withdrawal begins, and the weight of her actions hit.

I’m not a saint. It took me a long time to work through this. Why would God ask me to do this? Did he want me to suffer? Did I deserve the pain? Even Jesus struggled with this.

In Matthew 26, verse 39, Jesus fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)

After some time, I began to realize that God was trying to teach me a new type of love—a love that He shows us daily.

Jesus chose to love us “anyway”. I chose to love my wife “anyway”.

I chose to love my wife by finding and insisting on personal and individual counseling for us both.

I chose to love by searching out help from Affair Recovery (EMS Weekend, Harboring Hope, Hope for Healing).

I chose to love her by working on myself and not trying to control her.

I chose to love her by doing my best to keep her safe while she was in the depth of her affairs.

I chose to love her by trying to keep her in contact with our Small Group and other women who could help navigate the withdrawals.

I chose to love her by giving her time to recover. I couldn’t expect an immediate change of heart. I gave her a year to begin the process of recovery and committed to no long term decisions for that time period.

I chose to love her by committing to working on myself and my relationship with God. A healthy marriage requires two healthy individuals and I definitely had my own demons to address (codependency, porn addictions).

I chose to love her by removing the burden for her recovery from myself and allowing God to work his miracles.

I chose to love her by being that soft, safe spot she could land when the world fell out beneath her.

That was 15 years ago and we just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary.

And please know, regardless of my story, the pain is real. It is raw. There may be no recovery. You may choose to distance yourself from the addiction and pain. Loving your spouse may mean loving them from a distance. There is no one correct answer. For those who divorce, remember that is a very valid decision in some cases. All I can ask is to step back and try to change your perspective. Don’t rush or make long-term decisions based on short-term circumstances. Our recovery took over a year and continues to this day as we learn and discover more about ourselves and that no matter where you are on the road, you are still only three feet from the ditch.

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Wow! This really hit home

Wow! This really hit home today. Thank you for sharing.

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-D, Texas