When I took my vows, I meant every word of them. The problem was somewhere along the line, my husband forgot his and chose to have an affair. I had several options: I could divorce him and become a statistic, fall apart and attack him in the same manner, or remember the vows we took and be there for him when the time came.
Many called me stupid for choosing the latter. However, I knew the man I married. He was not a perpetual cheater. I knew his heart well enough to know he was going through a crisis, that he loved our son and me, and that he would need us.
So yes, I stood by my husband while he cheated on me, but according to my vows and faith, it was the right thing do. I had a very strong support system to help me with my decision. Still, it was not easy. I cried many tears and dealt with a lot of negativity and abuse from him. It was his way of pushing me away. He was ashamed of who he had become.
Some days were harder than others for me to handle, but I just stood strong and knew in my heart he would be coming home soon. The toughest part for me was not the other woman, but seeing the gentle soul of a man that I married turning into an empty shell of a man. Again, he knew he had done wrong, yet he did not know how to get out of it.
Then the day came when the phone rang. He wanted me to come get him. Without judgment or emotions, I asked where he was and brought him home.
Road to Recovery
There was marriage counseling, individual counseling, and the entire mambo jumbo that the professionals recommend for repairing a marriage. However, what they did not prepare my husband for was how to handle the pain he saw in my eyes.
Yes, we were back together and used many tools to help build a stronger union. Nonetheless, I was hurting, and the pain was visible every time he looked into my eyes.
I knew our marriage could be restored, the trust rebuilt, but I needed his help to reassure me our marriage was safe. No matter how many times he apologized, or how humbled he was, it did not matter. I had been through a devastating event and could not handle it. Healing would take time, and his affair had left me with scarred.
The professionals did not have the answers for the pain and hurt I felt. Therefore, we were on our own. What we learned on our own is what saved our marriage and took the sadness from my eyes.
1. Déjà vu – is a very common emotion and would happen when you least expect it. Your wife will forgive you and as the years pass, they do forget. But, occasionally something will trigger a memory from that period, and an overwhelming fear will overcome her. She will begin to think it is happening all again. And, that you are in contact with the other woman, or you have another woman.
Do not ignore her feelings; what she is feeling is real. Accept them and talk her through them. Reassure her that what she is feeling is false and if you know what triggered that Déjà vu moment, remove yourselves from the situation immediately.
2. Trust – it will return, but you need to be patient and understand that a bond between the two of you has been broken, and it needs rebuilding. DO NOT LIE or HIDE anything from her. Be open about everything–papers, cell phone, receipts, etc. If you are going to be late, call and let her know.
DO NOT give her a reason to go back down that disturbing memory lane. Yes, it may seem like you are getting the third degree, but remember you put yourself in that position. The more open and honest you are, the faster the trust is rebuilt.
3. Woo Her Again – just as you did when you first starting dating, you need to sweep her off her feet and make new memories. Those new memories will cover up the bad memories. Set aside one night a week for date night. Be spontaneous and surprise her with flowers or something she enjoys just because.
4. Love Letters – yes, send her a note, card or a just a sticky note expressing how much you love her. Writing those feelings down for her to read makes her feel good, but also reminds you why she is the woman you love.
5. Appreciate Her – remember, this woman stood by your side, during one of the lowest periods of your lives, so be thankful and appreciate her. Let her know she is appreciated. It takes a very special type of woman to believe so firmly in her man and marriage that she’s willing to go through a situation like this.
Last but not least:
6. Renew Your Wedding Vows – unbeknownst to me one Sunday, my husband with the help from the pastor and friends, surprised me with a ceremony to renew our wedding vows. It was at that moment I realized an affair could not destroy our bond or love. Everything was going to be okay.
I am not saying this is for everyone, but marriage is a lifetime commitment. Making rash decisions because we are hurt does not solve anything. An affair does not have to end your marriage. With the help of professionals and the items listed above, our marriage survived. Today our love is deeper than ever, the trust rebuilt, and our bond is stronger than ever.
Photo: Flickr/ smile_kerry
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