Marriage Under Mercy Part 5
Not every story ends the same way, but each can have its own happy ending…
First of all, thank you for following and reading. I can’t believe over 8,000 of you have read Marriage Under Mercy. This will be one of my last posts for this series because I will be writing a book. (God willing) I had no clue when I took the leap to post my life how not alone I was. How not alone we are. I have heard so many of your stories and read your messages. My heart feels for you. Some of you are reading this story and are going through every emotion with me. Some of you are the ones in pain, and others have caused it. If you want to change, action is your first step. It took me 3 years to feel healed. That is 3 years of working on my marriage and myself. Yes, I had to change as well. I had to learn how to love myself and make healthy choices- like having boundaries for the first time ever. I had to eliminate the chaos and learn how to communicate without getting defensive. I had to be picky about who I allowed in my life and who I allowed in my home. Not every friend has your best intentions, and that was a lesson I don’t ever want to learn again. It was hard, and I have wanted to return to old habits many times. I don’t understand how anyone can do this life without God. Do you really heal without faith?
So many of us sweep our problems under the rug. What happens when you can’t hide it any longer? Where do you run to? What (or who) do you run to? This world is full of distractions. The topic of affairs is common in songs, TV shows, and movies. Social media has given us full access to our exes and our fantasies. We have to be aware of what we bring into our families and what we allow to surround us. If we don’t, it will come in quietly and slowly, hiding in the shadows unnoticed. Then one day, you will be surrounded by such darkness you will barely be able to see the light. That is how evil works, it uses your own voice to create confusion. Starting off with a whisper of desire, excitement, it turns quickly into shame, complacency, jealousy, and anger. For the past 3 years, I heard many voices battling for my heart. I had to take a stance, and once I made my decision, it didn’t just happen overnight. I would see something or hear a song, see a memory, have a dream- and it would bring back emotions as it had just happened. This process was a long and hard journey.
I had to take my own steps and actions to heal. As you have read in the previous posts, the most important thing was being careful about what I fed my soul. What you believe is what you think. Take your thoughts captive. You don’t have to think every thought. You can cast out the bad, the negative, the accusations, and the lust. It is hard at first, but then it gets easier. Remove everything that is toxic. If social media is your addiction, remove it. It will do you absolutely no good to stalk the ones who hurt you. You have to remove them completely from your life. This maybe means removing mutual friends. If it is causing you pain and to go backward, it is not for you. If it’s unhealthy food choices- Stop! For every bad choice, there is a healthy choice staring back at you screaming to not be ignored. There is nothing more beautiful than someone who should be broken picking up the pieces and growing and being empowered. Start moving, find a class, go on a walk. There is nothing shameful about changing bad habits. No one sees someone at the gym or in a class or running and says, “Wow look at that person working out trying to get fit? They should stop. Gross,” It’s just never said. It’s usually the opposite. High fives across the room. Women cheering you on. If you don't have this, let me know. I will help you find it. I understand being overweight and feeling the shame that comes with it. When the affair came, I had had knee surgery and two rounds of IVF all within the previous year. I had packed the weight on. I didn’t want to go to the gym, I didn’t want to eat healthy, and I definitely didn’t want to stop the daily drinking. I wanted to complain and cry and take a magic pill for it to all go away. You have to learn to love yourself before you can ever really love someone else. God-loving, healthy, passionate, kind, driven women are the sexiest type of woman on the planet. Stop making bad decisions and calling them mistakes. A pattern of bad choices is not a mistake, and excuses won’t help you. This life is short, and you get one chance to get it right. So start now.
I had to admit that I wasn’t perfect. That I had some work to do- and I had a part in this marriage falling apart. I made bad decisions early on and decided to get myself into a depression. I say decided to because it was a choice- a series of choices, actually. I didn’t finish school. I got pregnant before marriage. The choices I made created a dark cloud of insecurities hovering over my head. When I was working, I hustled; however, I felt like I wasn’t being the best mom or wife. When I stopped working and put 100% into my family, I then felt like I didn’t bring anything of value to the table. I know how unfair I was being to myself, but I had no clue how to create balance or where I should be, or what my purpose was. This is not how a marriage thrives. I traveled all the time to distract myself from my negative feelings and from being lonely in my marriage- leaving my husband for weeks home alone. There was no communication, and I felt as if he never cared so I might as well enjoy my life. He believed by me leaving all the time that I never cared and didn’t truly love him. I believed as long as I paid for it and didn’t ask him for money, I didn’t need to ask him if it was ok for me to just leave. I was selfish, and I wanted what I wanted at the cost of my marriage and his feelings. Money was always an issue. What was mine, and what was his. The control has to be relinquished, and you have to become a team. I have learned now that its ok for me to rely on my spouse, and if he wants a clean house and me home more then that’s what I do. I learned that our love languages are very different and that what makes me feel loved is not what makes my husband feel loved. I learned that there are two people in this marriage, and my husband has feelings, and they are valid and deserve to be heard. I learned that sex is not a bargaining tool. Sex is so important for a marriage. Let me say this again, sex in a marriage is important. If you are not connecting, talk. Be honest with one another. I see my husband from across the room, and I totally check him out. I think he’s the hottest thing ever. I desire him. I love him passionately. If you are struggling with this, you can always get this back. Don’t distract yourself with worldly desires. It won't even come close to the connection that God can give you with a marriage surrounded by faith. I was one of the lucky ones. I know this sounds weird after hearing so many details of this affair, but I was. We took this horrible situation and actually fell in love through it. He took action, fell to his knees, and worked every day to show me change. He could have walked away, he could have chosen A and his shame. He could have hidden in the shadows and let the darkness take over. He didn’t. He fought. He took responsibility, and he went to war with the voices that told him this wasn’t worth fighting for. When it got hard and I pushed him away with everything I had, he relied on God. This could have had a different ending. If he had not put in all the work he did and showed me change every day, this would have been different.
What a lot of you don’t know is that when I found out about my husband's affair, one of my best friends, Cassie, was going through the same thing. About 3 months before the knock on my door, she found out that her husband was having an affair with a woman he worked with. She was living in Europe with him and their three little babies, and she grew suspicious of her husband’s behavior. She confronted him. Instead of falling to his knees begging to be forgiven, he looked at her and told her he was no longer in love with her, and walked away. She had to pack what she could in a suitcase, take her three little children, the youngest only 6 months old, and drive to the airport where he just coldheartedly watched her break down. As she slammed her hands into the steering wheel, her babies crying, she had no choice but to go get on the plane and fly across the ocean, back home. I remember her telling me this and thinking, no way! This doesn’t just happen. I was sympathetic- trying to give her advice- having no clue that I would be joining her just a few months later.
At the time, I watched her break down in disbelief and the pain she was in. It was heartbreaking to see a friend hurt like that. He walked away from her, from their children. Just poof gone like he never existed. How does one walk away from their children like that? How do you just give up? Seeing her without any control of what was happening and trying to keep it together for her babies, I was mad for her! I didn’t understand, but I had so much advice. We always have the answer when emotion is not tied to it.
When the news of my husband’s affair hit the fan, she was as in disbelief as I was. We kind of just looked at one another like how? How did this happen to us? 1. were good people, 2. We were faithful, 3. We were good mothers, and 4. We had great physical relationships with our spouses. If you do what you’re “supposed to do,” men don’t just cheat, right? And they for sure don’t leave you stranded and abandon you? There we were, two friends, heart-broken, knowing exactly what the other’s heart felt like. It was horrible, and we both agreed- the pain is excruciating. It physically hurts, you question everything and your self-worth goes out the door.
We spent most of that summer talking every day, like ten times a day. We still do. We created a bond that you can only have through the kind of life-changing, soul-crushing adversity- like when your heart is ripped out of your chest. When I would call crying, she lifted me up. When she called me crying, I lifted her up. We encouraged without judgment. It was a safe place to be vulnerable. There was something I noticed that we do as humans. We want to put a timeline on someone's pain. You gave them a month or six months, but then they need to be over it, they need to let it go. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Thank the Lord for my best friends and the woman we surround ourselves with. They love me unconditionally and are my sisters through and through. They would do anything for me and they know I would do the same. Well, that summer one of her phone calls I could hear the hope in her voice. I was in Tahoe sitting on the balcony, and she was telling me that Sid had called. Sid is what we call him. Sid had finally called her after months of nothing. He was going to fly back to see her and the kids. She couldn’t help but get excited. She was nervously picking out outfits and sending me what ones to wear. She said she wanted to fight for her family, and he was finally acting as he cared. There was a catch though, she wasn’t allowed to bring “it” up. So even though he had ghosted their family to be with another woman- she was supposed to just say nothing. She told me she knew I would understand. I told her what I tell anyone going through this. “It’s ok to fight for your family.” That being said, I just had a weird feeling. See, my husband knew that if I needed to talk about “it,” it was being talked about. And part of building that trust back was an agreement that if I Face Timed him, he answered immediately. I couldn’t get mad and start yelling or rub his shame in his face, but I could ask for what I needed as long as it made me feel better. Sid wasn’t doing any apologizing. He wasn’t showing any action. My radar was going off, and I told her to FaceTime him. That's all it took- her asking where he was and to be a little more empathetic- and he was gone…again. For good.
When I got back to Arizona, she was on the health kick. She was working out with Eva doing a Mommy Boot Camp. It was full of amazing women. Some of whom are my dear friends today. Cassie looked amazing. I mean, this girl is gorgeous. You look at her and think “Sid, you are an idiot!” Well, she got me to sign up. So every day I would drive to Rancho with a coffee. I would drag her out of bed or her parent's couch and force her, even if she didn’t feel like it that day, to get her workout clothes on and go. She did the same for me. I had just found out I was pregnant, and my emotions were spinning. When I would regret staying, she would show me how lucky I was to have that option. I had to forgive and trust my husband again, and that decision came with its own trials. She had to completely raise her kids alone. She had to move in with her parents, sleep in a room with her youngest or on the couch. She felt lost and completely out of control. We were both spinning and trying to hold onto one another to keep from losing our minds.
I watched, as the years went by, my beautiful friend holds it together. She was the mother and the father. She did every bath, kissed every boo boo, wiped every tear. Those kids are her whole world. Did she want to curl up in a ball and scream and break down? Yes!! But she never gave up on her kids. She had been through the worst pain, and her faith in men was shot. I would see her go through her moments where she got extra quiet or start to hide. When I would see this, I knew it was time to get her out of the house. We would go to the pool, dinner, watch 48 Hours in our pajamas. We would cry when no one was watching, and we would express our anger when no one else could hear us. We asked questions, and I wanted to write Sid so bad. I wanted to scream at him and say everything to him that I had said to my own husband. I wanted him to wake up. We prayed for him to wake up and be a father. We still pray for him. One day, I pray he does want to be a good father, I just hope it’s not too late and his kids hate him.
It took Cass a long time to realize the gorgeous woman she is. I think she had to finally bury any hope of the man she married coming back. The life she had with a husband to help and the family as a whole was gone, forever. Sid had abandoned all responsibilities and eventually got married to his mistress- without anyone knowing, not even his children. She never got to confront him or scream at him. She got to see him once when the court made her be the chaperon for a supervised visit. He flew to see the kids once in three years. It was for a few hours and he left early. She did get to ask him why? The only thing she got was him telling her that she didn’t “try hard enough.” That she didn’t date him, and she spent way too much of her time focused on her young babies and not him. That he resented her. The audacity of this man. No responsibility and a victim. Not even a real apology.
She has her moments where I see the energy fade and anxiety come rushing in. I know she questions how she will do it sometimes. How she will pay the bills and do this all alone? I know she questions any man she dates and has a million walls up. She is finally dating and gaining the confidence she deserves. She is working a full-time job and is doing what she has to do for her kids. She tells us all the time how lucky she is to have us, and she wouldn’t have been able to get through it, and I feel the same.
She is fortunate enough to have a pretty remarkable family that has stepped up. Her Dad takes her daughter to the Father-daughter dances, spoils the kids with ice cream, and her Mother loves the kids like the second mother. They help out with drop-offs and pick-ups, sports, school, and without their support I am not sure she would have been as ok. Her youngest doesn’t even know Sid, she was a baby when Sid left. Now she is four. They may not have had a Father who stepped up, but they have extended family that has surrounded them with love and security. She knows that if they can’t help, we all will. That is what good girlfriends do. They help lift one another up- not tear them down.
I wanted to tell you my dear friend’s story because I understand that not every marriage ends up like mine after an affair. Sometimes you are not given a choice to fight, and you have to walk away. If they haven’t taken responsibility and have not shown action and change, do not let them back in. You will be ok. Not every marriage is worth saving. Both Cassie and I learned hard lessons. We have talked plenty of times about what we could have done differently. When I get angry or upset, she helps me communicate. Maybe even using her own lessons learned to help me. When she gets upset, I listen and try and support her where I can. She has had my back even when A literally came charging at me. Cassie stepped in front of me, and she took a drink and a punch to the face. She has been through so much and overcomes it every time. She still gets angry and frustrated at her situation, but she is no longer letting it affect her decision to live a full life. She is finding confidence and self-worth all on her own. We were two women with different outcomes. It doesn’t make one better than the other. I understand how easily I could have been a single mom. Questioning how I was going to get through every day.
I want to end with how proud of you I am, Cass. I’m proud of all of you that had to walk away, or were walked away from and still stand tall. Those who didn’t let it defeat you or make you feel insignificant. You grabbed life by the horns, you took back control in creating your own self-worth. No one was going to take it away from you again. You deserve the world, my loves. Just be patient with your heart. Don’t allow just anyone in. Remember to pray over your heart, and for God to bring someone you deserve into your life. Find who you are, what makes you, you. Read Girls With Swords and those books that empower you. Work out, eat healthy, feed your mind and soul with positivity. Surround yourself with a secure woman that respects you. That have your back and love you. You are worth loving and will be loved again. For those who are reading this and are just starting their journey with heartache, I am so sorry. I can tell you this- I have seen both endings, and we are both more than ok.