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.