Sunday, February 28, 2016

Do I Actually Love My Wife?

I Love You

"Words, words, words" Hamlet (2.2)

The words are so easy to say. As Americans, we toss the word "love" around like it's as common as an article; a, an, the.

We exhaust the use of it, to the point that the word seems to hold no value at all. 

Ice cream? Love it. Tax refund? I love getting one. The new Star Wars films? LOVE them! Hanging up the phone with any given family member. Love you.

You already know the list goes on and on.

So, in essence, our loose and most common definition of 'love' is really nothing more than an intense fondness, or an upgraded liking of something.

I appreciate the ancient Greek language. There were different words for different kinds of love.

I'm not going to jump into a Greek lesson or sermon right now, but rather focus on the love I have for my wife, as well as her struggle to believe my English-language words, I love you.

Whenever I tell my wife that I love her these days, I don't just blurt out the words in a placating, meaningless, or dismissive way. I make efforts to be intentional with my tone and tenderness. I hold her hand, look her in the eyes, and I speak directly to her. 

Unfortunately, as I began to explain in my post, "What's So Difficult About Restoration?" this is truly challenging. I hurt my wife deeply. Trust was broken - not just the kind of trust when she wonders if I'm really going to the places I've told her I'm going. No. That kind of trust is easier to reestablish than the kind I'm working on rebuilding right now.

When I tell my wife that I love her, she usually responds like this, "I hope so." That kills me. I wish I could open my chest and show her the sincerity of my heart. 

I spent a long time constructing complex lies. I lied when I told myself, "I never really loved her to begin with." LIE. You might not believe how common it is for cheaters to speak those words. Honestly, you probably never really loved yourself very much, but you did love your spouse. Why else would you have spent so much time, and taken so much care to pursue your spouse in the first place? Why would you walk into a wedding ceremony, where the intent is to commit the rest of your life to this person, for better or for worse? You wouldn't. Not unless you were, or are completely insane. You've got to read this post, "In Case of Emergency." 

I might write a post about the lies cheaters tell their spouse, the lies they tell themself, the lies they tell their family and friends, and the lies they follow hook-line-and-sinker. It's not a laughing matter, but it's almost laughable the way cheaters believe their circumstance is unique and tell others, "You have no idea what it's like in my situation." The truth is, the stories, circumstances, and situations are so similar, it's sobering. The lies can be traced back to one source: "the Father of lies" (John 8:44).

"Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand" Hamlet (2.2).

Here are a couple of thoughts from the Bible on the subject of lying.

"The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy" (Proverbs 12:22).

"The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves" (Proverbs 13:5).

You see, the stench I've brought on myself are the very words I speak. My credibility is shaky at best. My wife wants to believe me, but out of the depths of self-preservation, she still needs to protect herself. 

She loves me. She stands by my side. I love her. I stand by her side. 

The only difference is that without a doubt, I know she fully loves me. 

I will remain by her side for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that my continued actions will give solid proof to my words. 

Honey, I love you with all of my heart!!! ALWAYS. FOREVER.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Totally Blew It

We've been under quite a bit of stress lately. 
(That's always a legitimate excuse, right?)

There are so many things on our plate right now, it feels like I can't even see the plate. Wait, is there a plate? I can't remember. It's been so long. Maybe we've never even had a plate. I do know that we received a set of four matching plates for our wedding over 20 years ago. Oh yeah, my grandma passed some really old "China" plates to us. So...yeah, we must have a plate somewhere.

What am I trying to say?

I'm searching for some kind of excuse, or justification for an 'incident' that happened the other morning.

Everything has been going along just fine now that we're around two years away from the affair and divorce paperwork. 

The alarm went off at 6AM. The kids were roused from sleep. The morning routine commenced: I helped our late-teen special-needs son get ready for the school bus. I checked on our two pre-teens to make sure they were out of bed & getting dressed. The oldest is required to get himself up & the youngest is allowed to sleep if he isn't woken up by the morning ruckus. My wife was up, dressed, and downstairs prepping breakfast for everyone.

Then I heard the call, "Breakfast is ready!"

I was already downstairs and heading for the bathroom. I only needed to take care of my sniffles, but alas there wasn't any toilet paper. I immediately headed back upstairs to retrieve a new roll of T.P. As I was midway up the stairs, she called again, "Honey, breakfast is on the table!" The boys were already seated (we're one of those strange families who sits down together for breakfast and dinner). I turned back and responded with my hoarse voice due to an illness I'd recently come down with, "I'll be right there." 

Around 30 seconds later, I had grabbed a new roll from our closet & I heard her call a third time, "Everybody's here! We're just waiting for you!" I tried to yell back downstairs, but when your voice is hoarse it comes out like a haggard whisper, "I'm coming!!" Kind of like when you're dreaming about running, but your legs don't work...that was my voice. 

As I was scurrying back downstairs, I heard my wife ask our boys, "Where is your father?" To me, her tone came across as indignant and a little rude.

Once I'd delivered the new roll downstairs, relieved my sniffles, washed my hands, and stepped out of the bathroom I heard her ask, "Where have you been? I made breakfast, put the food on the table, made lunches, and we're all sitting here waiting for you- we have to go in a few minutes." 

I snapped. In my most frustrated-hoarse-haggared-yelling-pitiful-whisper-voice, I responded, "DO YOU THINK I WANTED EVERYONE TO WAIT FOR ME?! DO YOU THINK I AVOIDED COMING DOWN HERE JUST TO IRRITATE YOU?? JUST SO YOU'RE AWARE - I WENT TO BLOW MY NOSE DOWN HERE AND SAW THAT NOBODY REPLACED THE TOILET PAPER, SO I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE NICE TO GO AND GET A NEW ROLL. NOT TO MENTION, I HAD SNOT COMING OUT OF MY NOSE. WASN'T THAT THOUGHTFUL OF ME NOT TO COME TO THE TABLE LIKE THAT AND RUIN EVERYONE'S APPETITES? (I think I took a breath at this point and simmered down a bit.) By the way, I also responded every time you called me. I apologize that my voice doesn't carry very well right now."

All five of our boys were silent. 

My wife was silent.

So, I did what any good Christian father would have done. Feeling terribly guilty and embarrassed by my outburst, I passed the prayer buck, "Who wants to pray for breakfast?"

Our 5-year-old took the reigns, "Dear Dod, pease bess da food for our bodies. An tank you for da beew-ta-ful day an pease hep my dad to feel not sit (sick) wis his sore froat anymore. Aye-men. 

We all sat silently, trying to simply eat our food, while the looming chill of my outburst took its affect on everyone in similar ways.

You see, outbursts like this were fairly common back when I was having an affair and contemplating divorce. But these days, outbursts like this are virtually extinct. So when it happens, it brings flashbacks and reminders to my dear family of a person named "Dad," who had the power to destroy our family at any given moment.

I noticed my wife silently wiping an occasional tear away from her cheek as she did her absolute best to keep her composure.

When my wife finished eating, she went back upstairs. I followed her. 

I won't transcribe the entire conversation, but the gist of it consisted of me apologizing, and my wife asking poignant questions like, "Are you just staying because it's the 'right' thing to do? Do you actually love me? Is there some new kind of 'surprise' I'm going to find out about?" She asked several other questions within the same realm.

I did my best to express my apologies, remorse, and affirmations of my true, committed, and undying love for her. 

Here's the main problem - history of affairs or not - 
I felt indignant that she would have been frustrated by me not showing up to the table when I was sick & trying to take care of a personal hygiene issue. BUT, the Bible tells me to love my wife in the same way that Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). 

When did Jesus ever respond rudely, out of frustration with people who were indignant with Him?

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." 

Honestly, all it would have taken from me for the situation to become a non-situation, would have been a quick trip to the kitchen to let my wife know what was happening. Or, once I arrived at the table I didn't need to respond with frustration. I could have answered her with kindness, even if I thought her tone wasn't nice.  

Good marriages take effort. Even if our stomachs feel full, we need to swallow our pride and indignation. A small sacrifice on my part, even if it means that I won't win an argument or prove some kind of point, will honor my wife in the long run.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Two Items To Announce

1. I've Been Published Elsewhere

A new audience has been introduced to this blog through the digital magazine and blog, "Ruby for Women."

Their blog states:
At Ruby for Women, we offer words of hope, inspiration, and encouragement to women everywhere. God has given a story to each one of us, and in the Ruby for Women community, we seek to hear the true and authentic voice of every Christian woman. We hope you will share your story with us!
Even though I am not a woman, they felt my story might touch and bless the lives of their readers.
Here is their February issue (my contribution is titled "Happily Never After"):

2. I'm Overcome With Grief

Emails continue to pour in from all over the world from spouses who don't know what to do because their marriage has been impacted by infidelity. When I started this blog, I knew it was bad, but it really hits home when you begin to hear personal stories firsthand.

Many of these people are ashamed and want to keep it a secret. I understand why they feel that way right now, but finding a solid support system is vital for the healing to take place. Look, my wife still isn't comfortable with our names being associated with this blog yet. I get it. However, finding a pastor or trusted friend who is mature in their faith to stand beside you and your spouse is so important. The Bible tells us to "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

What is the law of Christ? Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40)

These instructions tell us to love God first, and others second. We are to love others with as much care and compassion as we love ourselves. If I am hurting, I'm going to find a way to tend to my needs. If I am aware of someone else who is hurting, according to Jesus' command, I am to tend to their needs. Galatians 6:2 explains that in doing so, the law of Christ is then fulfilled.

Secondly, we should be praying for each other. James 5:16 says, "...pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective".

Here is my second piece of news. I am going to start a prayer chain through this blog. I am asking those of you who are willing, to send me an email with the subject line "Prayer Chain." I don't have to know your personal name or details. I simply want to share the blessing of praying for others.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - I am NOT going to release ANY personal or confidential information about anyone who wants prayer. My email will look something like this:

Dear prayer warrior,

Please pray for a couple in Maine who have 3 children, and the wife's affair has just been discovered. Please pray for an end to the affair. Pray for the protection and preservation of their children. Pray for a softened and gracious heart for the husband. Pray for healing and restoration.


God already knows their names. I'm just asking for people to pray alongside of me. If you're interested, email me here: forgiven