I wouldn’t end it, just yet.
My husband returned home two days later, late in the evening. I was sitting on the couch, reading my Bible and praying my guts out, desperate for answers. If ever I were a lazy Christian or missed some Bible time over the duration of my life, I was certainly making up for it now, in a few days’ time. God was all I had. I felt I couldn’t count on anyone else, and I needed direction and answers, fast.
I scrawled out verses in my now-worn prayer journal:
What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? ~Job 6:11
My tears have been my food day and night…why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God. ~Psalm 42:3
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~Psalm 51:12
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me into the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139:23
In addition, I screamed, “SPARE ME, LORD! RELEASE ME! HELP! HELP! HELP!” In due time those prayers would be answered. But all I believed at that time was that God wanted me to stay in my marriage. Marriage was good. Marriage was holy. God could, and would, redeem my marriage. God would change my husband. He’d see the light, the “scales” would fall off his eyes and he’d realize how great I was, repent of his stupidity and love me again.
As I sat on our custom-made blonde leather couch, finally feeling somewhat peaceful in my prayer time, I heard a noise at the back door. My heart started pounding as I entertained thoughts of someone breaking into my house and violently assaulting, then murdering me. Excited and terrified, I jumped up and ran straight to the back door to face the situation (and culprit) head-on. If I were going to die this way, I’d do it with dignity. I did not want my body to be found in the back bedroom, the most obvious hiding place. Cowards ran and hid. I was a badass. I also didn’t really care if I lived or died at that point. Maybe, just maybe, if something bad happened to me, my husband would finally notice me.
With purpose and determination, I opened the door. To my surprise/shock/disappointment/horror, my husband stood there, fumbling with the keys in his hand.
“I couldn’t see without the light on,” he murmured. “Can I come in?”
I glared at him, turned on my heels and marched back to the living room. He followed me. I re-assumed my position on the couch, crossed my legs up underneath one another, Indian-style, and folded my arms.
He carefully sat down on the black leather loveseat across from me. Our 14-year old cat eagerly greeted him. He dutifully patted her and then pushed her away. This moment felt all too familiar. Just weeks prior we were seated in this exact same position, as I listened to his guilt-free admission of a physical relationship with his 24-year old student. I swallowed hard and tried to ignore that fresh, painful memory. The sickening feeling of rejection welled up inside of me. It tasted like bile.
We stared at each other for a few moments until he finally asked, “Do you want me back?”
I couldn’t find the words. I honestly didn’t know. I gawked at the blue leather cover on my Bible. Engraved on the bottom right corner was my maiden name, Leslie Spencer. I shifted my cold feet further underneath my body as I searched my heart for an answer. I was hoping God would open up the heavens and angels would sing.
But the only thing that felt eternal was the silence. I finally looked up and said, “Yes.”
Without blinking, my husband immediately started to make demands on how the relationship was going to be, moving forward. I was not allowed to bring up the affair. He promised he would end it the very next day, and that would be that. It would remain as if it had never happened. I told him that someday we would have to address it, but I would let it alone for the time being.
I then asked him if he’d continue to accompany me to marriage counseling. I had nagged and dragged him to one session thus far. Our marriage counselor was, in fact, one of the two ministers who had married us, just one month short of ten years earlier. The session had lasted two hours, wherein my husband declared that the 24-year old “held the manual to his happiness”, and he didn’t believe that his affair was a fantasy, as our counselor had gently described. Exhausted, we all agreed to give him a week to figure out what he wanted — marriage or affair?
He chose both.
Yet, there he was, sitting before me, saying all the right things. He truly wanted to end the affair and be my husband. I started to hope again. Part Two.
I took a deep breath.
“Do you want to have children?”
He was no stranger to this question. In the wake of the crushing news, I had repeatedly asked him this one in particular. I had explained that I was 32 years old, looking to start my life over again, and I definitely wanted to have kids. His answers had run the gamut of, “Not with you!” to, “Yes, of course,” to, “Maybe just one…”
That night he stated, “I don’t know. You poisoned that ‘well’ a long time ago.”
How on earth was I supposed to respond to that? Furthermore, what was happening here? Nothing felt much different than before. Wasn’t the infidel supposed to express some sort of dramatic gesture of remorse? I actually did expect my husband to grovel at my feet, to have experienced a “come to Jesus moment” and see how amazing I was. I wanted him to realize that he couldn’t – and didn’t want to – live without me. I wanted him to choose a life with me, no matter what it looked like.
He was choosing me in that moment, and that was enough.
We continued to talk until we both grew tired. Almost on a handshake, we agreed to move forward in our lives together. After all, we loved each other, and we had a long history together. We both made mistakes. It wasn’t worth throwing everything away. I was willing to give my husband some more space to end his adulterous relationship once and for all, and he was willing to heal our heartbreak through counseling. It felt like a good place to start.
Yet, that night, I couldn’t sleep. I lay next to him, on the farthest edge of our California King bed. My husband slept noisily as I stared at the shadows on the ceiling, wondering what was going to become of my future. How long would it take to heal? When would I “feel” loved again? How would I forget this ever happened? I picked up my pillow and quietly slipped out of the bedroom, down the hall, and crawled into the tiny twin bed in the guest room. I curled up into a tight, little ball underneath the covers. My tears flowed freely.
I am so broken but I know You are here, Lord, I prayed. You are with me, every step of the way. I have to give it over to You. I trust You.
Within moments, I was fast asleep.