My wife and I have experienced struggles in some of the same key areas for our entire marriage, even while we served in positions of leadership within the church. We attended the retreats and went to some of the lectures and had some of the date night ministries that churches offer for marriage enrichment, but nothing seemed to offer us much for the long term. We would have a great couple of weeks, but it would always return to the same level of misery sooner or later and every time it did, it felt more hopeless than the time before.
After a while I closed down from my wife and started pulling back. Not intentionally, but I always had another place I would rather be than with her - school, work, racquetball, movie with a friend…anything. I stopped picking fights with her and started feeling that any fight we may have would just be worthless and exhausting, so why bother. I stopped feeling pretty much all together when it came to my wife. I was numb.
Then I met someone else who made me feel admired and loved. In my mind I knew I would never cheat on my wife so I started finding reasons and excuses to spend time with this other woman believing myself to be beyond temptation. I knew I would never leave my children but I found myself constantly thinking of this other woman and felt tortured at the thought of not being able to spend my life with her in place of my wife who no longer created any spark at all within me. In short, I fell in love with someone else.
Finally one night after work I gave in and kissed the other woman. After kissing her I climbed into my car alone and drove home. I quit my job and the next day in a very calm unapologetic voice I told my wife about the other woman. I didn’t tell her because I was sorry or because I felt intense guilt for what I had done. I told her because I knew if I didn’t I would have given in completely to this other woman and lost my son, my daughter, my purpose in life and everything else of value to me, except for this other woman. I still had no feeling for my wife. My wife seemed completely surprised when I told her of how empty I felt in our marriage which in turn surprised me. She left me that night devastated that I could betray her in such a way. I knew in my mind I was wrong and should be ashamed, but I still felt too numb to feel any sincere guilt or repentance. Although I had severe doubt as to the good it would do for us, we ended up going to a class offered by Family Dynamics to try to repair the damage,. I no longer believed anything had the power to create long term change and happiness because too many things had already failed. In all honesty, I probably just went hoping to be able to justify the divorce I hoped would soon be coming.
I was shocked to find out I was wrong. It blew me away and God used it to completely save my marriage. Not everything was solved in the class, we still have issues we need to address. We still have to face issues of trust from the years we spent losing it, but we are absolutely in the marriage I had grown to believe was impossible. We not only have a strong commitment that enables us to tolerate each other through hard times. We also have a deep and sincere love. Not just the determined kind of love, but the romantic, intimate, and heart felt sacrificing love we had gone so long without feeling. We have something real and permanent, not something only inspirational and temporary. We had moments of tears and then laughter, followed by moments of realization and understanding that I can’t begin to describe. Above all, we found hope and we found change.
I haven’t contacted the other woman even once since the night I kissed her even though I still have a lot of guilt over the pain I caused her, all because I was too selfish to stop myself from getting close to her. I caused a lot of pain to people I care a great deal about because I felt hopeless and became convinced there was no hope