Freedom The day my husband’s AP showed up at our house and told me that I needed to know “what kind of man I had married” one of my first thoughts was that our marriage was over. How can a marriage survive this type of destruction? I had always said that if my husband cheated I would leave. Some things are simply unforgivable. After screaming, crying hysterically, and begging for answers my husband moved out of our home and into hers. That was on a Saturday. On Monday I contacted a lawyer about divorce and filled out paperwork to get temporary custody of our 15 year old daughter. A judge granted my request on Tuesday. Then after eleven days of heartbreaking ups and downs my husband moved back home and we began the slow, sometimes excruciating process of recovery. During those eleven days I “knew” that after nearly 25 years of marriage I would have to start over. My husband has always been the financial supporter of our family. For 20 years I was a stay-at-home mom. I gave up a career to raise my kids. On D-day I was working but for barely over minimum wage, certainly not enough to support myself and our one child still at home. One day when my husband came to the house to bring me money I screamed at him that he had forced his daughter and me into poverty with his selfish actions. My family pressured me to make decisions. I should move near one of them. I should go back to school. I should stay in the state so we could share custody. I know they were well intentioned but I could barely survive one day, one hour, one minute. How could I make decisions that would impact the rest of my life? I was petrified of starting over. Then my husband moved home. A couple of months later we sold our house and moved to a different town for a fresh start. I started a new job making more money but still not nearly enough to be on my own. You can’t imagine how many times I asked myself in those first few months of recovery if I stayed with my husband out of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear to start over. Fear of living in poverty. Did I really want to save my marriage or was I too afraid to start over at my age and limited income. Some family members encouraged me to start fresh. Others told me to stick it out. But always in the back of my mind was the question, if I was financially independent would I have made a different decision? If I won the lottery, would I choose freedom? EMS Online convinced me to wait at least 18 months to two years before making any long-term decisions. I threw myself into not only marriage recovery but marriage renewal. I would have a better marriage, a more honest marriage, a thriving marriage. At the two year mark my husband had made great progress in personal growth. Our marriage was stronger and more fulfilling than it had been in years. Yet still the nagging question, if I was financially independent what would I do? We’re just past the 2 ½ year mark and recently I received a promotion that came with a nice raise. Suddenly I’m in a position that if I wanted to I could live on my own. It would be tight but I could get a small place and call it mine. I could have freedom. Freedom from living with my betrayer. Freedom from working on marriage recovery. Freedom to put the last 2 ½ years behind me and start fresh. Then I realized, I didn’t want this ‘freedom’ that I kept hearing about. I’ve put a lot of effort, shed a lot of tears to make my marriage work. So had my husband. And now that I have the means to free myself from this new normal and new marriage I was now in, I just didn’t want to. I can’t imagine throwing the hard work and determination away. When my husband and I started affair recovery I couldn’t imagine that more than two years letter we would have a better marriage. Yet today the ties that bind us are stronger than at any time in our 27 plus years together. Our love is more honest. Our marriage is based on a foundation built of respect and openness we never truly had before. I think back at the desolate wasteland we once called our marriage and can’t believe we ever lived that way. It shouldn’t have taken the shock of betrayal to wake us up to what we could have had together. But it did. I’m glad I didn’t have the financial means to walk away 2 ½ years ago. I’m grateful, whether it was fear or actually hope, that kept me in my marriage. I’m glad my husband truly changed. Our relationship changed and yes, even I changed. I’m grateful Rick and the Affair Recovery team are here to guide us every step of the way.