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I knew something was terribly wrong months earlier; he had become extremely withdrawn and essentially blamed me for the slow, stinking death of our marriage.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.