Now What? Life is funny. I’m not talking about laughing till you cry funny, although there are plenty of times I’ve laughed till my cheeks ached and my belly hurt. I’m talking about ironic, where the heck did that come from, turn your life upside down kind of funny. I’m talking about crazy, way out in left field, life changing kind of funny. I’m talking about a funny that never causes you to laugh. Long before I married my husband, if the subject ever came up I would boldly and firmly declare to whoever was listening that I would never take back a man who cheated on me. Not only would I never take him back but I would cut off his manly parts before marching out of his life so he could never cheat again. This was an absolute for me. I warned my husband many times that his masculinity was at stake if he ever cheated. As if I could scare faithfulness into his brain. There was no doubt about it, I would absolutely never, not ever, forgive such an unforgivable act. That just wasn’t ever going to happen. Then the unthinkable occurred and out of the blue I was confronted with my own words, my own line in the sand that had been crossed, my absolute resolve to never, not ever, stay with a man who betrayed. Life is funny that way. My first instinct was to leave. It was evening when the betrayal was discovered. I told my husband that my daughter and I would leave in the morning. He said it was his fault and he should be the one to go. I told him he had to leave right then and there. He did. He packed his bags and with nowhere else to go he ended up at her house. Now what? This was Saturday night. Monday morning I see an attorney and start divorce proceedings. She gets a judge to grant me temporary custody of our daughter. He comes over to talk. It will never work he says. He comes over to talk again. Can he come home? He’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. He changes his mind, it will never work. I’ve had days to cry, rant, and ponder. I’m bewildered, numb, paralyzed. I’m full of fear, hate, confusion, denial. Ultimately, I’m confronted with my own words, I will never… My line in the sand is blurring. We’ve been married almost 25 years at this point but we’ve known each other over 35 years, since high school. That’s a long time. After I’ve had eleven agonizing days and even longer nights, now what do I do? I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the sorry state of our marriage. I hate him. I love him. I miss him. I never want to see him again. I want to chop off his manly parts. I want to throw my arms around him and never let go. Now what? The decision to stay in the marriage or end it is complicated, scary, exhilarating, thoughtful, and so much more. Samuel, another blogger with Affair Recovery, years ago wrote “The Courage to Stay.” It takes courage either way. I asked myself, do I have the courage to stay in this marriage? Do I have the courage to face the pain? Almost more importantly, do I have the courage to leave? Do I have the courage to start over? The reasons to stay are many, the reasons to go are profound. Now what? The decision is made. I will eat my words. Bottom line, I’m not willing to give up without a fight. I must be able to look at myself in the mirror five years from now and know without a doubt that I did everything I could to heal, grow and learn from this agony. How will I know my marriage was unsalvageable if I don’t try? My husband comes home and we begin recovery. When it came down to whether to stay or go I just couldn’t give up on the years we had shared. He deserves a second chance. Our marriage deserves a second chance. We deserve to find out if we can have the type of marriage that everyone on the outside thinks we already have. He deserves the chance to make amends. I deserve the chance to forgive. We both deserved the chance to learn and grow. Is it safe to stay in my marriage? Affair Recovery is replete with information on safety. Rick has an article, several actually, addressing this very topic. "Is My Mate Safe?" This one is straightforward and to the point. The answer is yes, my husband is safe. This was nearly two years ago. My line in the sand was erased. We have fought for our marriage in ways I never thought possible. He has changed in ways I never dreamed achievable. We have come a long way. We have a long way still to go. Now what? I’ve learned that when it comes to absolutes, never say never. But there is one absolute I can positively say, I will never regret giving my husband a second chance. There is still much work to do on our marriage. What’s next? A future that is stronger, healthier, honest, respectful and so much more. A future together.