Monday, January 26, 2015

What's So Difficult About Restoration?

That question is being answered every day in my marriage. Every day holds it's own difficulties. Each day holds new challenges. We might have a wonderfully romantic dinner, followed by incredible intimacy on a spiritual, emotional, and physical level. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, her eyes will begin to turn red. She'll get quiet. I'll notice tears forming in her beautifully deep blue eyes.

It's been quite a while since I've been unfaithful. Although "quite a while" is completely subjective to the person defining it.

Unfaithfulness is also subjective to many people. Although, if you use the definition given by the Ultimate Authority on everything, even looking at another woman and lusting counts as marital unfaithfulness.

I'm sure you've all heard some of the popular phrases, "You can look, but don't touch." "Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can't check out the menu." "I've got my celeb list - that's my list of celebs I'd make an exception spouse is okay with's never going to happen anyway."

These, and the many variations of these phrases are all lies. They are not okay. Your spouse is actually not okay with you thinking or speaking these things. These lies are the foundation of a path that leads to full-blown infidelity.

So what specifically is so difficult about the journey of my marital restoration?

I'm not being unfaithful. I'm not looking. In fact, my eyes bounce as the Every Man's Battle teaches.  
I'm doing everything in my power to demonstrate love, faithfulness, and commitment to my wife.
I get her a glass of water every night before bed. I turn the sheets down for her. I practically never take a shower alone - nearly every single shower I take is with her. In the shower, I wash her back and the backs of her legs every single time. I rub moisturizer/lotion on her after the shower. Occasionally I will brush her hair after the shower. I make tea for her, sometimes in the mornings, and sometimes in the evenings. I do dishes, and laundry. I put the lid down on the toilet. I send her random texts to let her know that I'm thinking about her & to tell her that I love her. I willingly and happily go out of my way for her. I consider her feelings and schedule, and I consult her whenever I make plans. There are so many things that I do, that many experts would find to be simply wonderful.

The problem? I should have been doing those things all along...all along without leaving an out in my mind. I should have been doing those things without keeping that deadly thought in the back of my mind, "If this doesn't work out, I can always find somebody else."

This is the person I married. This is the person I choose to be with, "...for better, or for good times, and in bad..." There is no exit plan. There is no "plan B." However, because of my terrible choices and lack of discernment along the way, I'm fighting desperately to prove and prove again and again and again my love and faithfulness to her - sometimes multiple times throughout the day.

She constantly second-guesses every action of mine. She is continually filled with doubt as to the true intent and integrity of my actions, understandably so.

LORD, I pray earnestly for You to work in the heart of my wife. You have changed my heart. You have given her your Grace and Forgiveness in order to restore our holy covenant of marriage. Please give her peace and comfort. Please restore her trust in my love once again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Forgiveness Can't Forget

Although at times I feel my wife and I have come amazingly far down the path of reconciliation, there are painful bumps in the road. Those bumps have the innate ability to transport us right back to the palpable and excruciatingly painful moments in the past.

My wife has truly forgiven me. I have truly repented of my marital unfaithfulness. We have worked together, sorting through our personal histories, delving deep beneath hidden scars to evaluate what brought us to the point we were when I made the decision to cheat. (On a side-note, the cliché: It just happened is a lie. There is a decision made deep within the heart of a person before actions are ever initiated. I'll address that subject in another post all to itself.)

There isn't anything in the Bible that commands us to forgive and forget. There are plenty of examples that instruct us to forgive - even to the point that if we don't forgive, we will not be forgiven (Matt 18:35, Matt 6:15, Mark 11:26). Forgetting is impossible. We are human beings. We have been given a brain. We are designed to experience, to learn, and to remember.

I don't like that part of my design - and at the same time, I am thankful. My memories keep me humble. My memories help whatever self-righteous, egotistical condemnation I'd be willing to cast onto another person for their choices, to remain in check. I used to look down my nose at so many people and think, "What an idiot. " "How disgusting." Now I simply remember that the same Christ Jesus who willingly laid down His life for my sins, did the same for every other person on this planet.

What are these bumps I mentioned?

It's like sense-memory (which most of us have experienced). You'll run across a scent randomly that will take you instantaneously back to a time and place long ago, like Grandma's kitchen - usually with wonderfully pleasant memories. Our bumps in the road are quite unpleasant to say the least. 

We might have a great morning. We'll wake up in each other's arms. We'll prepare breakfast together, read a devotional, smile, share a few laughs, and leave the house for an outing. Then, I'll notice that our outing has led us into a familiar part of town. This familiarity however is dark and foreboding. One of the several shes from the past lives in that area. It's too late for me to find an alternate route. Because at the moment of my own realization, my wife has already been a couple of steps ahead of me.

Then the dreaded questions begin.

"How many times did you say you went over to her house?"

"I really don't remember...that was so long ago."

[Long stretch of uncomfortable silence.]

That silence is filled with me beating myself up in my heart and in my head. Although that is not my wife's intention, I do tell myself I fully deserve it.

For my wife, that moment is filled with hundreds of additional questions that bring back stinging, dagger-like pain in her heart. Most of those questions will remain unanswered...not because I am unwilling to sort through the painful truth, but because I honestly can't remember all of the details. 

When the news of what I had done was fresh, the questions came at all hours and times. After many months had gone by, the space in between grew greater and greater.

Now, the bumps and questions are usually just triggered by certain things: a freeway entrance, a landmark, a street sign, a certain couple of neighborhoods and suburbs, the names of a couple of mutual friends, certain kinds of foods, and a handful of other things.

These bumps keep me humble. These bumps remind me of my sin. These bumps help me to deeply appreciate the Grace, Love, and Forgiveness my wife has given to me.

I don't know if forgiveness and forgetfulness is even a good idea. If we truly forgot our past mistakes, would growth and maturity really be a possibility? Would soul-deep relationships even exist?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Intro to Me - A Forgiven Cheater

Everyone hates a cheater, don't they?

That's the popular consensus anyway. You've got television shows like Cheaters, which sensationalize the act of catching someone in the act of cheating. There are also shows like Maury, and Springer that make a complete voyeuristic, carnival-esque, and humiliating display of revealing secrets such as cheating/affairs for the sickening entertainment of the masses.

What about the staggering numbers that seem to come out in popular statistics? An article in the Washington Post reveals numbers from a 1991 study - 1991 (before the internet was accessible - before cheating and hook-up apps were invented) - that claims over 70% of married people have cheated.

That number is heartbreaking.

Cheating is heartbreaking - not only for the person who has been cheated on, but also for the unfaithful person. There is a momentary thrill, followed by a lifetime of regret, sorrow, self-loathing, and disgust.

I know. I've been married for over 21 years. I've also cheated on my wife several times.

She knows.

I confessed everything to her in the office of a counselor.

My goal at the time? I wanted to crush her, wound her, hurt her, and cause her to hate me. I wanted her to give me the same kinds of reactions I'd seen on all of the aforementioned television shows. I didn't deserve grace. I didn't deserve forgiveness.

She forgave me. She prayed for me. She continued to love me.

We are a modern-day picture of the story of Hosea and Gomer.

This blog is my story. It will lead you through the history of how I became a person who forsake his marital vows, nearly destroyed his family, experienced grace and forgiveness, and now has a beautifully restored marriage.