It's hard to believe that next week will be four years since the fateful D-Day. Some aspects of the ordeal that was to follow are still very fresh in my mind and others have started to fade. It’s still a long story…
Events Leading up to D-Day
We had been married for 10 years and after several years of trying to get pregnant, we finally did! We were extremely happy and my husband was super sweet and kind to me. Unfortunately, six weeks in- we discovered I had had a miscarriage. My body did not recognize the miscarriage and two more weeks followed until I had to have a procedure to remove all the tissue from my uterus. We were both devastated and agreed to take a break from trying to conceive so I could heal physically and we could both heal emotionally. The first few months I felt very connected to him and he was very supportive. About 2 months in, though, I noticed he started distancing himself from me. He was withdrawn and tired all the time and started working longer hours than usual. I would ask him what was wrong and he would say "nothing, I'm just tired." I let it pass, and thought that it was just a phase and he needed some space.
About 4 months post miscarriage, I felt emotionally ready to start trying again. I approached my husband with the idea and he reacted in the most bizarre fashion. He started crying inconsolably and told me he wasn't sure he could give me what I wanted and that he did not deserve me. Then he kept saying he didn't want to hurt me or my family. I was so confused. When I kept asking him to explain what he was talking about he would just talk in circles and not really clarify. I felt so lost. I felt scared to see the strength of his emotions. But, I had no idea what was behind it and he offered no explanations.
As the months went by, I noticed more distancing. He never initiated sex with me. When I would try to initiate something, he would tell me he was tired or had a headache. He was working late and not sleeping well. I attributed all of his weird behavior to work stress. I also noticed that he started sleeping on the couch. When I was ready for bed he would tell me he wasn't sleepy and would be staying in the living room to watch TV. However, when I would wake up in the morning, he was still on the couch asleep. Many times, with the TV on and his phone by his side. I figured he had been playing games on his phone.
He started being rude and condescending towards me. Something I have NEVER experienced in our marriage. He was always irritable and short tempered and would criticize me for little things. I was hurt by and didn't understand it. I kept asking what was wrong and would get no answers from him. I thought to myself 'he must be under a lot of stress at work.' He would come home late and when I would confront him about the reasons, he would claim that he had told me about it and that I had forgotten. This happened so many times that I really started to question my memory/recall.
As our 11 year anniversary approached, I was hoping that we could spark our relationship once more. I made an effort to dress well and always look pretty for him. He never noticed. Or, if he did, he never acknowledged it. We always go to a nice restaurant for our anniversary and he always gets me a bouquet of my favorite flowers. This time around, it was already 6pm and he had not arrived from work. We had dinner reservations for 7pm. I was a little annoyed, but kept thinking he probably just got caught up in a last minute meeting or something, although I thought it was strange he did not call or return any of my text messages.
When he got home from work, he had a bouquet of flowers which he hastily threw on the table and the sourest look on his face. He seemed annoyed. I tried my best to be cheerful and excited about our anniversary, but was very hurt inside. We got to the restaurant just in time and he seemed very distracted. He was texting throughout the whole meal and didn't make much conversation. When I asked who was texting, he said it was his boss. When I suggested he put away the phone, he glared at me. That evening was horrible. I was hoping we would make love (it had been about a month since we had last been intimate) and I tried to initiate something. For the first time in our marriage, he couldn't get an erection no matter what I tried. I told him it was okay, got up and went to take a shower and cried the whole time. This is when the possibility that he might be having an affair first dawned on me. When I came to bed, he was asleep.
As the days went by, I kept thinking about everything that had happened over the next few months and decided to ask him if he was having an affair. He looked me in the eye and said 'no.' I said, 'are you sure? You can tell me anything. We can work through whatever is going on.' He insisted there was no one else and that nothing was wrong. I believed him. I had no reason to doubt him, I thought. Sometime during this period, my husband came home one day with a brand new cell phone and an enhanced text messaging plan. I thought it strange that he had not told me about it beforehand. We had always discussed financial decisions together. And, this was a joint cell phone plan! I was annoyed, but let it go.
Fast forward a month. It was a Saturday, and I was finishing up work on a work-project that was due Monday. As I was working in our home office, I could hear a suitcase zipper opening, drawers being opened and closed. In my head, I thought logically that he must be packing. However, it never dawned on me to go investigate or find out WHY. The next thing I know, he is in the doorway saying he is leaving. I ask him where he is going and he says to visit his mom who lives several states away. I ask him how he is getting there and he says he is driving. I ask when are you coming back and he says, 'I don't know.' Looking back, I think I was in shock because I reacted very matter-of-fact and said 'Ok. Call me when you get there.' He gave me a kiss on the forehead and left. I ran to look out the window as he drove off. When I could no longer see his car, I collapsed to the ground and cried (actually, more like wailed).
Two days went by before I heard from him. He said he arrived ok and had spotty cell phone service, so not to expect a lot of communication. I kept trying to ask what was going on, why he left, what I had done and he would offer no answers. I had no idea if or when I would see him again. Something was wrong, but I just couldn't figure out what had happened to the husband I knew. When my mother found out through my mother-in-law that my husband was away, she asked me about it. I told her he had taken some time off to spend time with his mom whom he hadn’t seen for a while. I could tell she wasn’t buying the story, but she didn’t press me for more.
Two weeks into my husband’s roadtrip, he calls to tell me he is coming home. I’m excited and looking forward to us working together to finally fix whatever was ailing our marriage. We were together for about a month (with nothing changing) when he tells me he is moving out. I keep pressing him for answers, anything to help me understand why my world is falling apart, but he offers none. He says he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him and that he needs a break from me. I suggest marital counseling and he says he is willing to go, but could not make any promises. For the first time in a long time, I felt hope.
My husband moved in with his brother and we would meet up for counseling once a week. Throughout the week I barely heard from him, and I didn’t chase him so as to give him the space he was asking for. The counseling didn’t go anywhere and he finally told me he didn’t want to go anymore and that he wanted to separate from me for a year. This is when I lost it. I sobbed and sobbed. He told me it wasn’t my fault and that he needed time alone to think about his future and what he wanted to do. He said he was going to get an apartment.
We discussed how we would handle our finances during this time and I brought up the point about not dating anyone during this time. I noticed his expression change a little and he questioned the need for that. I pressed the point, and he said he agreed that we would both not date anyone. I kept trying to broach the subject of reconciliation, but he was dead set against it and asked me to not pressure him.
Weeks went by and I hardly heard from my husband. I began losing weight and getting anxiety attacks. I still hadn’t told anyone what was going on and was going through this alone. I finally told my parents when it became obvious that my husband wasn’t around. The first thing my mother said was “He’s having an affair.” I immediately got defensive and told her he would never do that to me and that I had asked him point blank and he looked me in the eye and told me there was no one else. However, the seed had been planted. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Could my husband really be cheating me? I finally got up the courage to snoop.
I started with the cell phone records and was SHOCKED. There were thousands of text messages, all to the same phone number, and at all hours of the day and night. My heart started beating so fast that I could hear it booming in my ears. My mouth went dry and my breathing got shallow. I decided to try logging into his email account. I prayed that he hadn’t changed his password. Password accepted. My eyes are so watery that I cannot see the computer screen. Email after email after email from the same woman (a co-worker he had spoken of months earlier). Suggestive subject lines. Dozens of pictures of the same woman, fully dressed at first, then more provocative, then little clothing, then no clothing, then suggestive poses showing her genitalia. I couldn’t breathe. There were about two months worth of emails (the previous ones had been deleted).
My first thought was to print all of the evidence because I knew he would deny and delete everything once he found out I discovered the affair. The next thing I did was to ask him to meet me somewhere. My plan was to give him another opportunity to come clean and if he denied it, I would produce the evidence.
We met and I confronted him. He denied it again. I took out all of the printouts and flung them on the table. He turned away and said I’m sorry. I cried and asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted to do the right thing. I told him the right thing was to end his relationship with his co-worker and to come home and work on our marriage. I demanded that he call the woman at that moment in my presence, but he refused and said he would talk to her on Monday. I asked him to spend that night in our home, and he did. That weekend, we discussed reconciling. He kept saying he wanted to do the right thing and didn’t want to hurt me, but, he was scared it wasn’t going to work out.
On Monday, he left for work and I was hopeful that he would end this affair once and for all. When he got home, I asked him about it. He said he didn’t want to talk about it. That evening, he said he couldn’t stay with me and that he would be going back to his brother’s house. He was choosing her. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He left me, yet again. I collapsed on the floor and cried for hours.
Days went by and I continued to lose weight, reaching the weight I was in middle school. I slept 3 to 4 hours a night and had multiple panic attacks throughout the day. All this time I kept working and I threw myself into my work as a distraction. I shared what was happening with my boss, and she was wonderfully supportive. I also told my parents and immediate family, but no one else.
I started going to a psychiatrist and a counselor. I read every book and website related to affairs and infidelity. I started going to the gym regularly and seeking out girlfriends to go out with and ease some of the loneliness and despair.
By now, my husband had gotten his own apartment with the other woman. They had shacked up! I couldn’t believe how quickly my husband had moved on. I rarely heard from him. He would only stop by to pick up some of his things. I tried to move on, but couldn’t. During all this time, I knew I wanted to save my marriage. I was not going to give up hope.
One day, my husband stopped by to mow the lawn. (We had agreed he would help me maintain the house while we were separated). I told him to teach me how to do it; I would handle it myself in the future. And I asked him to stay away. I told him it hurt me to know he was with another woman and that until he ended his relationship with her, we could not have a friendship (as he had requested). I started thinking about suicide. Sometimes, I would fantasize about showing up at their place of employment and shooting the other woman and then myself. Thinking about the hurt I would cause my parents always kept me from actually acting on any of this.
Through my brother-in-law, I found out that my husband was having problems with the other woman and had moved out and found his own apartment. I began reaching out periodically. He rarely responded or acted annoyed when he did pick up the phone and found excuses to hang up. Three months went by and slowly, I began to hear from my husband. We met a few times to eat or hang out, but it wasn’t the same. Whenever I would try to bring up the subject of reconciliation, he would shut down.
It was now 4 months since D-Day. I began to realize I couldn’t wait around forever and had a life to live. I planned to go on vacation by myself. He was shocked (and a little hurt, I think) when he found out. My plan was to cut-off all communication with him upon my return and wait for him to initiate talk of reconciliation. I would wait a year from D-Day. If nothing happened, I would file for divorce.
When I came back from vacation, he was a changed man. He was kind and affectionate. He began reaching out to me and inviting me to go places. We discussed the idea of him coming back home. During this time, I found Tim Tedder and asked my husband about going to counseling. He agreed. I felt hopeful once more. We began our counseling sessions and had our truth telling session with Tim. That was very painful, but I felt we were finally on our road to recovery.
My husband expressed dislike for Tim’s counseling methods. I attributed it to personality differences. I shared with Tim that my husband and I had talked about him moving back home. Tim told me to be careful and that he felt I wouldn’t be safe (emotionally) with him. He needed to earn my trust, and so far he had done very little to earn it and was opposing the idea of transparency and sharing email passwords, account info, etc. He moved in anyway- and I was overjoyed.
My love and hope for saving my marriage made me blind all the warning signs that we weren’t quite ready to mend our relationship. At first, everything was great. I felt like a newlywed. As the weeks went by, however, old patterns emerged. My husband started withdrawing again, he avoided visiting my parents with me, he started coming home late from work. About a month into him moving back with me, he told me he felt like it wasn’t working out. I asked him how he could expect a different result if he wasn’t doing anything differently.
During this time I put in all my effort into being the perfect wife. All the things he had complained about, I genuinely took to heart and made the changes to address them. However, I didn’t feel like he was doing much at all. I wasn’t going to give up. Not after everything we had been through.
We had been back together two months, when I received an email. It was from the other woman’s husband. He told me that I deserved to know that my husband and his wife had resumed their affair and that they were fooling both of us. He shared some ‘proof’. This time I was angry. I was ready to end my 12 year marriage that I had fought so hard for all this time. I waited for my husband to come home to confront him.
I asked him about the other woman and he admitted to talking to her, but that nothing had happened between them. I told him to stop lying – I had evidence and I had spoken to her husband. His face fell. I had learned through the other woman’s husband that he had created a new email address. I demanded that he give me the password. He hesitated, but upon his insistence, he did. I went off to the computer and he left the house.
As I logged into his email, it was dejavu all over again. Emails upon emails from the other woman. Dozens of pictures of the woman in racy lingerie and naked poses. To my dismay, I discovered that the affair had started back up again only a month after he had moved back in to our home. To add insult to injury, I realized that while I had been away on a business trip a couple of weeks earlier, they had taken advantage of this time to have lots of sex. The same day he picked me up from the airport, he had had sex with her just hours earlier. Now, it made sense why he had been late to pick me up from the airport and was freshly bathed. I was such an idiot!
My husband was gone for a couple of hours. This was good because it allowed me to clear my thoughts and figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I still loved him and wanted to save our marriage, but, I needed him to be on board. To REALLY be on board. To do everything necessary to rebuild my trust and make me feel safe (as Tim had suggested).
When my husband returned that evening, we cried and cried. He cried like I had never seen him cry in all of our years of marriage. He begged me to take him back. This is something he had never done before. He said he would do whatever I asked and needed from him. I had never heard that from him either. I demanded transparency and access to all his accounts. He agreed without hesitation. I demanded he write an email to the other woman, ending the relationship once and for all and letting me read it before he sent it. He agreed. I asked that he begin looking for another job and never see or talk to this woman again. He agreed to that too.
I could tell I was talking to a different man. One who finally woke up from the fog, realized all he had to lose, and chose to fight for his marriage, too. Despite all of his assurances, I was hesitant. I told him I needed to sleep on it. That night we slept in different bedrooms. I decided that our marriage was worth saving, and this time I had a willing partner.
Things can’t get any worse, right?
The next few months were difficult. There were ups and downs. A few months into our reconciliation, we hit a bump in the road. A friend of his started reaching out to him and flirting with him on Facebook and email. I brought it to his attention, and he dismissed it, saying he had no feelings for her. However, I became suspicious.
I started tracking his movements and one day I noticed that he had been in the general geographic area where this friend lived. The next day, GPS showed he was in that general vicinity and he was not yet home from work. On a hunch, I decided to drive over to her house. As I was turning in to her subdivision, he was coming out. I continued driving towards her house. He made a U-Turn and followed me. He parked behind me in front of her house.
I came out of the car and started yelling and screaming at him. The people out in their yards were staring. When did my life become a soap opera? My husband told me to calm down. I yelled louder. He said it’s not what you think. He finally convinced me to get inside the car to talk.
He admitted he had been in her house the day before and had just left now. He said he had come by to tell her to stop contacting him and that he was back with me and wanted to work on our marriage. He felt that he had not been clear or forceful enough with her the previous day and so had come back today to make it clear that he wanted no further contact with her and to ask her to stop interfering in the marriage. I laughed in his face. I told him he was a liar.
He insisted he was telling the truth and would tell me anything I wanted to know. He admitted to sleeping with her during the time he and the other woman had broken up. I told him we had agreed to total transparency, extraordinary precautions, being open and honest, etc. He said he wasn’t thinking and was trying to spare me more hurt and so wanted to handle the situation on his own. I asked if they had had sex that day or the day before. He said no, but that she had tried to kiss him. I was skeptical.
I asked him if he would be willing to go to her house with me at that moment and tell her in her face what he had told me about not wanting anything to do with her and not loving her. He said he would. We knocked on her door and a few minutes later, she peeked her head out. I chewed her out and called her every name in the book. My husband told me to calm down.
I asked her tons of questions which she answered. Her answers seemed to align with what my husband was telling me. I then asked her if she loved him. She said yes. I asked my husband to tell her how he felt about her. He took a deep breath and told her he did not love her, did not want to ever see her again and that he loved me and asked that she not interfere in our marriage. She started crying. We left.
Road to Recovery
It has been two years since the incident I just described. Against all odds, we just celebrated our 15 year anniversary. We have grown closer as a couple and have learned a great deal from our experiences. We both think and act differently as a result of what we have been through and we appreciate each other a lot more.
We also finally became parents. We feel that our child arrived at the perfect time. Our marriage has been tested to the brink of extinction and now we can offer our child a stable and loving home with two committed parents who love each other deeply. God is good.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope it brings hope or comfort to someone who needs it.