Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Has it been 4 years or five? I asked myself this question at a recent book signing. The woman purchasing my book was asking how long it had been since I discovered my husband texting another woman. I chuckled to myself as I realized that I could not remember if it was four years or five.
If I really want to, I can still dredge up the memory of when the pain was so fresh, so raw, so real. Each day brought a song on the radio that made me sad. I may be innocently walking through the grocery store and see the back of someone’s head that had the same color or style hair that she had. Maybe I was just cooking dinner and my husband was late getting home from work. There went my mind, wandering again and thinking of a dozen inappropriate reasons why he might be late.
If you are the recovering spouse of an affair, do not think that forgiveness will make all of those hurt feelings simply go away. Forgiveness is just the beginning of what may take up to a full year to get through, and a lifetime to fully understand. With my situation, it felt similar to the loss of a loved one. It was in fact, a loss of trust which can be just as painful. As with the loss of someone dear to you, that first year seems so difficult. The first Christmas without them, the first time their (or your) birthday comes around you are tempted to feel that loss. It is the same thing for the recovery process in getting through the affair. I remember the first Chrismas after the infidelity thinking about what a crummy gift I had received the year before when he was giving her a much nicer present. The first birthday after the affair I lamented how the last year he had snuck out to see her after giving me a 99 cent card and a cake from the grocery store.
If you and your partner have decided to rebuild the marriage, think of it as reconstructing a house. You may have to start from the foundation and work your way up. If that is the case, then expect some sawdust, splinters, and drywall dust as you work on this new and improved “house”. Expect that you will have days where you hardly think of the infidelity at all, and other days when all you can do is feel like a failure. Be strong. Good times do come if you are faithful in your commitment to continue to love this person.
The best advice I can give is to avoid the huge temptation to play the guilt card. For about a year or two after the affair, when I felt that I was not getting the kind of attention, love, or time I felt I deserved, I would work into the conversation that she got the texts in the middle of the day or the lunch at a restaurant on a weekday and I didn’t. I felt it really set us back as a couple, as Jimmy was truly trying to put this behind him, and there I was, throwing it in his face again. Why? Was it just to get a little more attention? Did I think making him feel guilty would make him drop everything that was going on in his life and fawn over me like a lovesick teenager? It was a bitter pill I had to swallow to step back and realize that he was trying his best and still is trying to be the best man he can for me. Am I doing the same to be the best woman I can for him? I think of Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Continue to love, respect, honor, enjoy and laugh with your spouse. Keep the lines of communication open and honest, and eventually, you too will be scratching your head saying “Hmmm, has it been four years, or five?”