Saturday, August 31, 2013

There are no new beginnings.

    Recently a reader requested that I share some of the practical ways that Hannah and I have dealt with my affair.  In this post, I will share some applicable methods and thoughts on how to make progress and grow in the light of infidelity. Please understand that every couple is different and the needs for each situation may vary. Examine your marriage and act accordingly.  I hope this helps, and I'd love to hear what others have done to overcome this heavy burden.

    This week, I began employment at a new workplace.  It's been nearly three years since I changed jobs, and this whole "new guy" thing is very uncomfortable for me.  I can say, however, that it has been a milestone for my marriage considering all that my past workplace represented and all of the wickedness that took place there.

    I basically ruined my workplace experience for Hannah.  Because of my unfaithfulness with a coworker, I made the entire concept of being away from home a toxic and anxiety-ridden idea for her, and it still weighs heavy on her at times.  In the beginning, after I first confessed to my sins, we wrestled with one enormous question:

   How could she ever be comfortable with me going to work again?

     The necessity of earning a paycheck certainly kept me going, but that doesn't mean it was easy.  There was a lot of checking in, a lot of questions, and a lot of suspicion on her part, to be very honest.  I was expecting this, and I often told her "until you can trust me again... we will accommodate."
 
     Sometimes I would send her photos of me at work to prove I was there.  Often, we would talk non-stop via text for hours, and I would call during breaks.  I also established a secret blog (good luck finding it!) for her eyes only, where I could correspond at length even when work kept us apart.  Instead of despising the vacuum of trust, we embraced it as a challenge. It was an obstacle between us and a joyful, enriched marriage. Of course, the specter of my workplace indiscretion hasn't simply disappeared since I've changed offices.

   There's no doubt that many men struggle with communicating in their marriage, and this can be aggravated even further during serious turbulence in the home.  I've learned the hard way that I should basically over-communicate with Hannah in my eyes in order to bring healing to these wounds. I must also learn and adapt to her style of communicating, denying my own preferences. If she wanted details, I gave them.  If she wanted to re-hash the events and timeframes to make sense of my actions,  we talked late into the night, sometimes into the early morning.  In the wake of a disaster is not the time to shut down emotionally or verbally.

    So often, my spirit would cry out for a do-over.... If only we could just start fresh, everything would be wonderful from here, I promise. I suppose that's easy for me to say, since I was not the one shouldering the greatest load of baggage.  Waking up as a new couple was never an option... We are learning to recognize our scars and to press forward, keeping them always in our periphery as a sobering reminder.

     There's really no such thing as a clean break. There are no new beginnings, there is only the methodical daily journey that places distance between us and our torment more over time. We accept the road before us, hazards and all.  Each day, when we look behind us, the sorrows of yesterday are farther on the horizon, and I thank God for that sight.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eroding Monuments.

                  This city is a vast landscape of dreadful reminders.


Affairs do not occur in a vacuum.  They are a cruel organism all their own, roaming familiar streets and leaving painful memories in their wake. Infidelity erects its own landmarks, like monuments to the wicked deeds done behind a veil of dishonesty.


As Hannah and I have journeyed on this path to recovery, we have confronted the harsh sting of these reminders.  There are roads, buildings and entire sections of our hometown that taunt my wife as we are forced to pass near them.  Perhaps the easiest way out would be avoidance, but we cannot forfeit more territory to the darkness of my past actions.


           This week, I received a call that cemented a tremendous step in this voyage -- I was offered a new job.  I will finally be departing from the ground zero of my life’s worst mistakes, never to return.  This is cause for celebration in so many ways. No longer will my wife have to be haunted by the reminder of my betrayal each day as I leave for work; no longer will the financial sustenance of our home be entangled with our marriage’s greatest struggle.


I cannot describe the strength my spouse conceals within, radiating from deep down in her soul.  Many women would crumble at the advances of these evil specters, unable to overcome the mental imagery of all that I’ve done wrong.  Fleeing is not an option in her heart; she refuses to allow this city to be surrendered to my affair.


Instead of bowing to the defeats of the past, we have established new memories throughout this process.  We have undoubtedly been on more dates in the past year than in the prior four years of our marriage combined, for better or worse.  This proactive approach to developing our relationship has been so valuable as we wrestle with the wounds that still remain.


We are reclaiming lost ground, both emotionally and physically.  It’s been a difficult path, but over time God has strengthened us to face down the demons that lurk around these bleak places.  The past cannot declare ownership over our community. This city’s horizon is filled with monuments, but they are eroding over time as we remain unified in our desire to preserve this marriage.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cursed.

   This is a lamentation for the fallen state of man.


    As I survey my surroundings, I cannot help but sometimes feel that men, in particular, are cursed.  It seems that so many marriages suffer at the hands of men. Men are the faltering spouses, the cheaters, the abusers.  We have grown so weak.


    I turn my gaze to the world instead, and I discover much of the same.  Men perpetrate most crimes, initiate and wage all the wars.  The bloodletting that this world has witnessed throughout history has mostly been the product of the male population’s conquests. Around 99% of sex crimes are committed by males.  With all of this in mind, I cannot help but conclude that we are fundamentally more flawed than our female counterparts.


   There was a time when men held the world in their hands.  Now, women are rapidly rising to the occasion and matching us in so many ways – professionally, spiritually, and politically.  This progress is worth celebrating for the females of our society, but it also highlights the clear stagnation of men.  We have grown apathetic, fattened and handicapped by our familiar sense of power and authority.


   This observation seems dismal, I know.  I ponder these ideas in hopes of finding some greater understanding of this pervasive pattern.  There’s an illness spreading through the men of our society and it’s reaching epidemic proportions.  We have fallen so far from our callings. 


    I suppose you could blame this devolution of man on many factors, both personal and cultural.  Men have been weakened by their own indulgences and by the two-edged sword of society’s expectations.  The media embraces a depiction of the married man as aloof, useless and clueless, and then scratch their hands in confusion when men become this very stereotype.  This world rallies against men and cries out in surprise when they finally fall.  


    The notion of true masculinity has been warped to a nearly unrecognizable state.  Where you find a deep flaw in the fabric of modern manhood, you also find a profound perversion of true manliness. Men are called to be defenders of justice and innocence, and instead we celebrate wanton and meaningless violence.  Men are meant to be fierce and devoted lovers, and we have been transformed into sex-crazed beasts, both heartless and mindless in our pursuits.  Fathers are supposed to be both loving and firm, and yet so many have grown silent in the face of family strife. This shade of true masculinity has overtaken our knowledge of the real thing.


This is not, however, an attempt to divert blame from the individual. No matter the cause, now is the time for every man to wake up from our collective daze, review ourselves thoroughly, and press forward to a higher goal than the vapid shell of masculinity that this dark world has placed before us.  There is a greater role for men to play in our culture, and it’s time we embrace it, daunting as it may be. I simply pray that I could have the boldness to do this myself.