Two years ago, almost to the day, I discovered my husband of almost ten years was having an affair.
I will never forget that feeling. How do I describe it? Vomit. Blackness. Horror. Shock. Loss of appetite. Murderous rage. Immobility. Violence. Death.
I knew something was terribly wrong months earlier; he had become extremely withdrawn and essentially blamed me for the slow, stinking death of our marriage. I was living in New York at the time, working off-Broadway, and had left him in Los Angeles, thinking our marriage was solid. Thinking our enduring marriage would last because we had been faithful thus far; we loved each other; we had prayed together about the decision for me to go to New York – to pursue my dreams – for at least the length of my six-month contract.
I remember getting off the subway one evening about two months after I had gone, and suspiciously yet playfully texted my husband.
“What’s her name?”
His response, of which I later became far too familiar: “What are you talking about?”
What is so weird is that I knew. Even then. But I didn’t want to believe it. My whole body — my entire soul — did not want to accept the fact that a person I loved so much was so capable of such selfishness and careless cruelty.
All this is beside the point.
A few days after returning back home to a (literally) burning Los Angeles, I found enough evidence (flirty Skype conversations with a girl from Australia, and one specific dialogue between my husband and his best friend regarding his love for “UKR”) to confront him.
He confessed that he loved her, but he had not slept with her. Then he had to go figure out what he wanted to do. He disappeared for days.
I waited. I prayed. I called upon all of my Christian friends – the ones that I trusted most. My small group – a circle of all pastors, who, to this day, have remained close to me. I cried out in anguish to my friend Jenny, also part of that close-knit group, immediately after discovering the evidence.
“I THINK HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR!” I sobbed, in utter disbelief.
I clutched my heart but it was nowhere to be found. The emptiness ached inside of my body. I writhed on the white shag rug in our living room, screaming at the single wedding picture displayed almost mockingly on the bookshelf. That lovely wedding picture, which depicted two young lovers in their early twenties, hopelessly in love and devoted to one another.
A few days later, he returned and confessed he had, indeed, engaged in a full-fledged affair.
He blamed me, and said he wasn’t sorry. He wanted to leave me for her. I wanted to fight to save our marriage.
How did this HAPPEN? How could it happen? We had done everything right. We were Christians. We loved Jesus. We went to church. We had church friends. We had saved ourselves for each other. We even were virgins when we got married. We always had a lot of sex throughout our marriage. We were a month away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We had been an example of marriage to other friends and family. People looked up to us. We were the attractive “power” couple, pursuing our dreams and able to maintain a strong marriage.
Yeah, right. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re actually a Christian.
I have wanted to write about my journey for quite some time. I have written many things down, mostly in my personal journal. I have talked, prayed and sobbed with my close friends, I have gone to marriage counseling and personal therapy. All the while, I have hoped that my story can help others — that my personal hell could serve as a portal to someone else’s freedom. Because, all in all, I have experienced full freedom. Besides the obvious freedom from the marriage that my husband willfully and proudly chose to desecrate, the new freedom I have found is my identity. I have found my identity apart from the once-happy marriage; who I am apart from the deceit and shackles of ugly sin, of terrible choices. I have found my identity apart from grief, shame and sorrow. I have found who I am apart from my old ideas of what a Christian, and a Christian marriage, should be.
Best of all, I’m continuing to find my true identity in Christ.
My journey is one full of searing pain, unbelievable grief and sorrow. Yet that is not all. It is mostly filled with amazing grace, love, tenderness, kindness, laughter and tears of joy. It is full of God’s goodness.
This is the Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.
I realize you prayed about it but did you really think that your marriage would endure the distance? I can’t honestly say that’s rational
Why isn’t it rational? If two people want something to work, they make it happen. Distance, or not.
Dear Leslie, Thank you for continuing to stick up for Marriage and for giving hope of reconciliation even after an affair. If God wants something to work (and we know He wants Marriage to work!) AND two people don’t use their free will against His desires, it will happen. Some of the pain remains after an affair, but, through my blogging and other work, I have personally seen healed Marriages. Those who survive affairs know the pain is less than the pain of divorce. Saving a Marriage with God’s help is totally rational!
You said it best. If two people. We can only control ourselves. Regardless of what someone else might say or do, people change.
I think it’s completely rational. Love endures all. How do people think some of our service members have successful marriages?
Some. The statistics on military marriages are dismal.
What beauty you put into these words. What a blessing this painful experience turns out to be!
I too was left by my husband and identified with a line you wrote that I will paraphrase as, “being a Christian does not mean you are a Christian.”
My ex reconnected with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook, told me on Mother’s Day 2009, and left a week later. I had no idea. We had held hands and prayed as a family before dinner every night. We had attended church together every Sunday. We had renewed our vows that Valentine’s Day.
And I was 5 months pregnant with our 5th little boy.
That baby was the greatest gift my boys and I have ever been given other than Jesus Himself and I truly hope you experience motherhood in whatever way God presents you with the opportunity.
The years since my ex’s abandonment have been filled with incredible strife. I was a stay at home mom. We lost our home in foreclosure due to lack of child support. There is so much to what my boys and I faced.
I have never experienced such incredible pain.
I have never experienced such incredible outpouring of love and support from those around us or such incredible growth in my faith in God and in His plans for us!
I now have a faith-based blog with a bit of our story and where I try to offer hope to others. It needs a bit of work, but I hope you come visit me! 🙂
Dear Single Mom Smiling,
Thank you for sharing this with me. I am glad you are offering hope to others in a place and time where it may seem hopeless! I am so sorry for what you have endured. (Side note: what is WRONG with men who abandon their pregnant wives!?!? AUGHH!!)
Truly God has given you the strength to endure, and your story will, indeed be a testament to His faithfulness. He will NEVER abandon you.
Many blessings, and keep on smiling, friend! 🙂
I too can relate to your whole entire story. My journey thru this hell has just begun, unfortunately. There are so many similarities here and I can completely understand the statement about being a Christian. Our lives are so much alike!!!!! Your blog will help me to make it thru, thank you for being so vulnerable and raw
I’ve been going through a incredibly similar situation in my marriage. My wife betrayed me while she was away and doesn’t want to stay in the marriage now. We have young children. Your words in this post could easily be used to describe my experience. It is all so very sad. Thank you so much for sharing.
This is my situation as well: “… he returned and confessed he had, indeed, engaged in a full-fledged affair. He blamed me, and said he wasn’t sorry. He wanted to leave me for her. I wanted to fight to save our marriage.”
I am still fighting. I am still pleading for God to intervene and soften her heart. I can’t believe she would do this to me and to our children.
I’ll be praying for you! I am so sorry for what you are enduring.
Almost to a tee.. This first few pages that I just stumbled upon rings in my head like the last 2 months events have .. Bless you for writing it so beautifully for anyone who has felt the exact same thing.. For me it is fresh, but I have hope
There is always hope!
I just found your blog. Our stories are so similar! However, I just found out two days ago that he wants a divorce. I am going to read this entire blog in the next few days! I’ve never felt the presence of God more closely in my life…such a blessing.
Leslie, thank you. Thank you for your bravery and honesty and vulnerability. For making this available to others.
God’s grace is amazing and He WILL complete His perfect work in and through you effortlessly and naturally. Just continue to be you! Love ya sis.
Beautiful Leslie. What a crazy time that was 2 years ago. You have grown into a beautiful woman!
Your words are breathtaking; you are an inspiration. I love you.
I am speechless. I’m amazed at your talent. You are so beautiful and it is a priviledge to know you and I feel special because we are friends.