My biggest mistake in marriage was the decision to cheat on my husband, not once, but twice. I live everyday with my decision, but I also found it is possible to rebuild the trust and reignite the fire that made the marriage work in the first place.
When my husband and I married we really had no idea how to have a healthy relationship because we both come from divorced families. Divorce was all we really knew, but we were determined that we would not let our marriage end if we could help it. We wanted to do everything in our power to avoid putting ourselves and our children through the things that we went through growing up, like having to spend weekends with the “other” parent and splitting up holidays and birthdays. We wanted to give our children a home with two parents. Little did we know the journey that this decision would take us on.
A year after our wedding, my husband’s best friend started staying with us and that’s when things really took a turn. This friend and I started to talk more and more. At first, it was just innocent conversation and then it rapidly became less innocent and more intimate. We would stay up and talk for hours on end and eventually he told me that he had feelings for me.
I was hooked. I wanted both men because they both told me that they loved me and love was what I wanted. For a little while, it worked. I was able to convince my husband that I wanted to be with him while forming another relationship behind his back.
Eventually, after the friend moved out, I was left with the guilt and shame of what I had done. I decided that I needed to tell my husband what had happened. I really expected him to leave right then and there, but much to my surprise, he didn’t. We sat down together and talked, and we decided that we weren’t ready to give up. In that same month, we found out that we were going to have a second child.
When affairs happen, trust is broken. That is the reality. I knew that in order to regain the trust that I had lost, I had to take some serious measures. I gave my husband access to everything in my life that I could possibly keep private, and when I say everything, I mean everything! He had access to both of my email addresses, my Facebook account, my cell phone calls, my text messages. I did not want to give him any reason to think that I was hiding something from him.
After a little while, our marriage started to improve and the trust that I had once lost, was regained. We were invited to attend a friend’s baptism at a local church. Little did I know how much this church was going to change my life and my marriage. It was there that I found supportive friends and a recovery program.
For the next three years, things went well. But then complacency set in. I wasn’t enjoying life, I wasn’t enjoying my husband, I was just doing the same things over and over. I was struggling with the idea of being in a monogamous, monotonous relationship for the rest of my life.
Around that time a guy at work was going through his first real break up and asked me for advice on how to deal with it. I wanted to be a good friend, so I sat down and we talked for a little while. We had so much fun together at work, and soon we started to talk outside of work. The longer we talked, the more I wanted to see him. I found myself dropping my oldest son off at school and then stopping at work to see him before heading back home.
I knew the old patterns were creeping back into my life, but I was in denial. I isolated myself in hopes that no one would find out what was going on. I stopped going to meetings at church and I found myself lying to my husband. I let anger and resentment towards him fuel my excuses for engaging with this other person who I thought I loved and wanted to be with.
Soon, I was in full on relationship mode with this other guy. All I could think about was leaving my husband. Eventually, I sat down with my husband to have the one conversation that I never wanted to have. We were officially talking about a separation.
But sitting there together made me realize that I couldn’t bear losing everything that we had worked so hard to build and maintain. I realized that I wanted my newest child, my youngest son, to have the father and family that he deserved. It took this conversation for me to realize what I had really known all along: I really did love my husband and I really did want to see us work.
After a long talk, again my husband and I decided that we wanted to work things out, but we still hadn’t dealt with the other unintended consequence of this affair: my pregnancy. I knew in my heart that my child did not biologically belong to my husband, so we decided to offer an opportunity to the other person to take part in my son’s life. He opted out. So, together we decided that my husband would be my youngest son’s father.
That moment was when the healing really started for us.
We started talking about doing marriage counseling together, we talked with our pastor, and I opened up all my emails and social media to my husband without question. I had to start back at square one, rebuilding lost trust. I also had to fall in love with my husband all over again so that we could rebuild our now shattered marriage.
I started going back to the recovery program, found God again, found supportive people, did a lot of praying, and started to really work the steps for the first time. It was during this process that I really got to the root of why I made the poor decisions. The more I worked the steps of the recovery program, the more I changed as a person. I became a better mother and a better wife, and the more that I worked on myself, the better my marriage became.
Today, I am so thankful that my husband and I are still together. I will never be able to take back the decisions that I have made, but I can choose to move past them and not let them define who I am as a person or define my marriage as failed. Infidelity does not mean that your marriage is doomed to fail. With a little faith and perseverance, your marriage can be saved and it is worth trying everything in your power to keep it together.
Keeping our family intact was not easy by any means, but we are doing it together, which was what we wanted and the promise that we made to each other from the start.
Flickr/ M I S C H E L L E
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