A Letter of Encouragement for Healing After an Affair - an Update

Beloved reader,

I wanted to continue my story and provide an update on our lives since the last blog entry, which was written about 3.5 years after D-day.

It's now been another 6 months (so 4 years after D-day) and so many thoughts of praise are coming to my mind I'm not sure where to begin. Though there is so much suffering around right now with the pandemic, I can't help but be thankful for God's provision during this time. Quarantine time (Spring 2020) - was well, chaotic and loud and crazy, and proved very hard to work; however, it was a blessing to have the kids home for such an extended time, as well as my husband being more available (with new restrictions in his job) and being able to spend more time with all of us. Certainly, God has been working for a long time, but it became humanly obvious to us that our hearts were opening and softening towards one another around the June timeframe. We took a divine-appointed vacation in June, (one that I actually protested even the thought of!) This began on a road trip to Eastern Oklahoma, the four of us, in our van, which was the best time we've had in about five years. God worked through the quiet woods, campfires, barbeques, miles on the road, and no Wi-Fi. Looking back, He planned that trip, not us.

My husband and I have been separated, living apart for over a year now. It was a rough beginning, but it has been the best thing for us over all of these months. A lot of people said that separation would be the beginning of the end, and I was scared that it only prolonged our requirement to make a decision. However, the Lord had a better plan for us. During this separation, the quality of the time that we have spent together and the conversations that we have been able to have are clearly God's handiwork (and not our own).

This summer - post-road trip - I reached a point where I was willing to mildly discuss "plans" and "options" for us as a family, which included my husband's timeline for the 4th year of his school program (happening now) and beyond. This was a big decision that we knew would have to be dealt with and loomed over us these last 4 years. Knowing we still had so much ground to cover in our reconciliation, I prayed for a soft heart and for us to be able to "hear" each other.

Much of my time with God over the summer (and prayers with friends and family) made me realize I was clinging to things - things and people that were clearly God-given during the hard season in our life. I was holding on so tightly - metaphorically clenching my fists - to not let go of anything I knew that was certain and good. One of those things was the location where we lived, the place where everyone had loved me so well in my time of crisis. I didn't want to leave, and I didn't want to follow my husband for his convenience, with no guarantees of our future together. One amazing day, my sweet friend Linda talked with me and gently spoke this truth - my grasp on these things was preventing my palms from being open to what God may have in store for us. I had to let go of "my plans" and open my palms to Him. God has given me peace about having or not having "future plans", and the capacity and willingness to embrace His plan. I feel like I've arrived at this anointed place, and have actually started looking forward to new things (not better, or different, but something greater than I can conceive).

That "closed vs open palm" realization provided a new perspective - for my heart and mind to be open to new possibilities, and to be expectant for what God was doing in our lives and in our marriage.

As most of my close friends know, over the last year I have felt like my husband and I are in a race against time, with his medical school timeline and application requirements for the next step, and yet I knew that we both needed the level of healing and reconciliation that only God could give, and on His time. The fears that were always under the surface in this "race against time" - I finally had to let go of those too.

Regarding our marriage - I have seen changes in my husband that can only be God's doing. The fact that there are miraculous things to see and that I have "eyes to see" them, are ALL God. Things that even in MAY of this year, I didn't see coming, nor could I even conceive as possible.

I see a reflective, more mindful, considerate, gentle person God is continuing to shape and heal right in front of me. I have heard things from his mouth that I never thought would come out. I have heard him speak of sorrow and hope in ways I never thought we'd share. I asked him, "why now?" (after all the time that had lapsed) - he said he has time now to think and process his feelings (now that his load at school has lightened.) He knows where he belongs, and that we all belong together. He said he was angry at God for a long time and has had to come to terms with that. He said "you aren't the only one who wasn't walking with God back then, Nicole. I made my mistakes and have a lot of regrets, too."

In recent months, he started to bring up God and how He is working, almost on a daily basis, when discussing his experiences with his patients and the doctors on his hospital rounds. When conflicts arise between us (that we have similarly dealt with for years), we both react to one another differently and handle it better. We talk about dreams and future plans again. We talk about money (something we have never done in 10 years of marriage), which is a good thing for us to start doing. We consult one another in plans and give considerations; again, something we didn't do for most of our marriage. He has led our prayers at dinnertime. No one asks him to; he just assumed the responsibility after seeing the other 3 of us doing it all this time. He now listens to Christian podcasts and radio and likes to discuss the topics. There are so many ways God is showing up and answering prayers - (my prayers, and the prayers others have prayed over us). Each one of these changes is huge, but all of them together are proof there is real divine change happening within us.

For me, I am still grieving "time lost" for us in these last few years, but I know this "time lost" isn't lost in God's timeline, He is shaping us, sanctifying us, as my counselor would say, and this is part of our testimony. So not "time lost"... but a lot more, gained...

Over the last 3 months, my husband and I have started to discuss his residency applications/process, and the uncertainty around the entire thing that has hovered over us like a dark cloud this whole time, now seems to be something that the Lord is using to bring us together. This is only possible with God working in many of the other areas between us - some of the most important of those areas being: trust, consideration, listening, unity, kindness, respect, sharing emotions and embracing new opportunities... and growing in faith… to name a few. Thanks be to God, who is blessing us so.

If anyone doubts the power of prayer, our story will prove it. This draft sat unfinished for a while... I almost wished not to speak of this out loud, for fear that I would wake up and be back to the old reality. But God is Good, always.

In Hope for Healing,

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Healing is a marathon

Good Morning Nicole, this is a great story, up lifting and real!!. One thing I have to say is now I know there are 2 guys that are the same , in your part 2 story you described me a lot on all actions about your husband, this is so very very hard for us. Reading your stories is helping me to understand this kind of mess. …….. I would like your opinion this subject, my wife tells me “ it’s not what you think it was” or say “ that’s not how it was “ so I want her to explain it then, so I don’t make up the story in my head, I would like your input Thank you Dennis. Oh I forgot thank you for your reply to your First part of your story 🙏

reply to Dennis

Dennis, thank you for continuing to read these posts. I hope to convey in detail what the process looked like for me, and what I have seen in my husband through my lens (my perspective). I know I will never EVER know what the pain for him was like.
At the beginning, after all was revealed, I was still in that mode of "self-preservation". I had a hard time truly owning that the things I did to betray my husband. It was out in the open, now in the spotlight, and I still tried so hard to keep it in the shadows. Like, okay it's all out in the open now let's move forward. That was so painful to my husband, I know now, but I was still so selfish and had so much work to do on my own heart. HOWEVER, I will say that I used the same exact words as your wife. When my husband would trigger, and come in angry and express his pain and say recount the relationship as HE THOUGHT IT WAS LIKE between the AP and myself, I was thinking "no, that's not how it was at all".

A marriage is two people who live in reality, who have the potential for real intimacy, have physical connection that was created and purposed by God.
An affair is two people who DO NOT live in reality, who do not have true intimacy and may have physical connection that is not coming from a substantive source. It's not reality, it's not deep, it's an escape. I thought my AP was filling in the roles that were being neglected (in my mind) by my husband. It wasn't about physical or sexual attraction, but a connection that might fill something missing. HOWEVER, IT DOESN'T. That is because the broken pieces inside someone can't be fixed by this alternative partner.
I still have a hard time explaining how I was capable of living a double life. Mine only lasted 3 months, but each day during that time I made a choice to be outside of my relationship. Escape. Escaping what I thought was wrong with my life and making it "right" with someone else. But the "wrong" was inside me. It took a lot of betrayal and destruction and pain to get to the bottom of it too. I wish is were different and that I hadn't caused that pain. I also wish I had a better explanation, something that my husband could wrap his head around and reconcile, but I don't.
I was full of pride and my heart was rotten and when my needs weren't being met (emotionally) I was in a vulnerable place to let someone else in which misled me to believe that was okay. I was not even initially physically attracted to the AP. I guess I am saying, the story my husband told himself about what was going on, was not the same as what was actually going on.
I know this isn't very helpful, and there is no consolation to you for your pain that she caused.
Has she given you any other statements that show that she is truly repentant and sorry for her actions?
I do think you deserve more than the explanation "it's not what you think it was".

I'm so sorry you're going through this.

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-D, Texas