My husband and I had decided to renew our vows at our 25th anniversary party the year we had reached that milestone. I was so proud. Half the marriages these days never get that far, and we were in the middle or towards the tail end of raising three wonderful children and sending them out into the adult world.
The pastor from our church was more than happy to attend the party and honestly, the kiss my husband gave me when the pastor said “you may kiss the bride” was more delightful than the one he had given me 25 years prior.
So, how could it be that about seven or eight months later I caught him throwing his cell phone under the sheets of our bed as I came into the bedroom?
For all the grisly details, feel free to get a copy of Stronger Than Broken and see why my world was forever changed.
I found out that only one short month after our exciting anniversary party he had started a relationship with a woman that turned into a tryst that went on for about 6 months before I saw the revealing texts he had sent to her the night he tried to conceal his phone.
Fast forward to today.
More than a decade later, we are best friends. We laugh together. We snuggle up on the couch to watch chick flicks, documentaries, Science fiction movies, comedies and Christmas movies. Don’t even get me started on how many Christmas movies we watch from November through December! You might think we live on the couch.
We attend political events together even though for about the first 30 years of our marriage, our votes at the polls would cancel each other out!
We ride bikes, kayak and run together.
He tills the garden and I grow it.
But wait! What happened during the in between time?
Were there tears? Counseling? How often did the “D” word (divorce) come into the conversation?
Did the children find out? Did we separate for a time?
And, most women I coach will ask “How were you able to forgive him and move on?”
I all started with a man who was born in 1926, and grew up to be the greatest father any little girl could ever have. My father was a Christian like no other. He loved Jesus with all of his heart and soul and yet was accepting of every faith, every race, and everyone.
He adored his wife of 53 years, my wonderful mom. He never judged anyone or their lifestyle and always looked at the most trying events in life with his favorite saying, “Oh well.”
Most important, he always taught the four children he and my mother raised to look at the big picture.
When I found out that my husband’s indiscretion took up six months of our 25 year marriage, I stepped back and thought that perhaps 6 months vs. 300 months was not the end of the story.
What if we lasted another 25 years? What would 6 months be out of a 50 year marriage? It would be a page in a book, nothing more. Maybe it would only be a paragraph in the book of life.
Was I willing to forgive him?
Daddy always indoctrinated the family with how Jesus always forgives us. It made so much sense. If one man (Jesus) was willing to die for the horrible things I have done in my life then I need to forgive others too.
It was about this time that I became convinced that God always has a way of bringing beauty from ashes.
I found my husband hiding his cell phone on a Tuesday and that very Sunday the sermon at church was all about forgiveness!
I learned that I had to forgive three people.
I needed to forgive myself, the other woman, and my husband.
The process of overhauling our marriage took almost a full year.
Visits with our pastor, reading relationship books, private discussions when the kids were not around and even completing little assignments to help us communicate more effectively were how we finally brought to light issues we up to that point had never resolved.
When we became best friends instead of room mates with benefits, our lives changed and there became a resurgence of love that I never knew possible. I knew I had to tell our story and try to save other marriages in distress.
What legacy or example will you and your partner leave? If you are struggling in any area of your own marriage, please contact me.