Triggers, Triggers, Everywhere Triggers - Part 1 - Death By Carwash

I winced when I saw all the bugs that had collected on the front of my black Honda Odyssey. It didn’t come as a shock, since traveling 1300 miles from CO to MI will do that, but having to wash my car doesn’t come easy for me these days.

I remember 10 years past when cleaning my Plymouth Neon brought me great joy. There really is nothing like driving a freshly washed and detailed vehicle. Holding the pressure washer without falling, racing the clock with the shampoo brush, and even better is the automatic car wash that allows you sit back and relax. I have fond memories of the days when I was hopeful for the future, cruising around in my little car.

Now when I wash my car, all I think about is how my husband cheated.

You see, my husband was working as a manager at a local car wash when he began his affair. At first I figured managing a car wash seemed like it a silly job, but with all the technology these days, most of the equipment is controlled by computer. That being said, there always seemed to be an emergency happening at that place. Managing the car was was easily a 60+hr/week position.

This is how he met her. She was assigned as a tech specifically to him, in order that all things be documented in one place. What began as casual flirty comments, turned into full blown emotional work affair. And now I hate getting my car washed.

When I pulled Vanna Black (Yes, I named my car) into the bay to give her front-end a good pre scrub before parking her in the automatic wash, I became another person. Feelings of anger and insignificance began pouring over me, as I asked myself how and why they could do this to me. I wanted to vandalize that place!

It was as if I was finding out about the affair for the first time all over again.

This is the nature of the beast, also known as a trigger. Moments that remind us of our most painful event(s) in life and get us to face them all over again. While I have heard (from seasoned wives who have been in long time recovery from sexual betrayal) that triggers will ebb and flow in intensity depending on the season of life, I have also heard they may never go away.

I grieve the fact that a simple act, like washing my car, will forever make me wince and, for the time being, bring me a kind of rage that frightens me.

I can learn to deal with triggers in a healthy way, but riding them out authentically is a necessary start.

Over the next few posts I’m going to share some triggers that I regularly have and what I have learned through them. An important part of dealing with a trigger is being real about how it makes you feel. Authenticity and being honest with yourself is going to be difficult in the beginning, but denying your feelings and shoving them away will only make the healing process longer, and its a recipe for futility.

As someone who is in the thick of processing everything, I can tell you that my darkest hours of suffering through sexual betrayal have been the most honest with the Good Lord. As I talk about triggers, we must remember that we have hope. Hope in Christ who knows what is like to suffer greatly. You are not alone.

And PS. I didn’t end up vandalizing the car wash. In case you’re wondering...

How do you know when it is healthy to avoid something that triggers you, and when it is healthy to face it head on?

In The Counselor's Office - Part 6 - My Husband's Reaction

I began to well up with regret as I put down the list of boundaries and expectations. The consequences for my actions were not something I wanted to do.

“How could she be so strict”, I thought to myself.

I am not the kind of guy who likes rules and boundaries, but despite my irritation and frustration with my wife as she laid them before me, I knew I had no other option. This was not her fault.

Abusing my freedom to betray her, was most definitely my fault.

I wasn’t even sure that I could live up to these newly enforced standards, but worse than the doubt, was the anger I felt.

Everything was being stripped from me! She cut off my personal phone line and it felt like a limb was being torn from my body. All of my social media accounts were deleted, contacts were lost, and I now had zero privacy in my marriage. Surely she was on a mission to punish me and get her revenge! 

It only got worse.

I sat there listening to her read the phone records aloud, each one revealing all the minutes I had spoken to the other woman in totality (24,615 to be exact). Everything that I was hiding was being dragged into the light, and the “casual conversations” I told myself I was having, proved to be much more severe than I realized. 

Here she stood, exposing me for the man I was. 

Those beginning days after receiving the list were intensely hard for me.

She kept my phone and restored many texts and emails that I am ashamed of. It wasn’t pretty.

But there was also this other part of me that felt, hope. As nervous as I was about her having access to everything, I knew that safety laid in the boundaries. I sensed that true freedom would be had by being completely open and honest with her from here on forward. I wanted that opportunity, and she deserved that from me.

Looking back, I can see how enslaved I was to the things that were being taken away from me.

I was addicted to social media and addicted to privacy in my marriage (social media is not bad in and of itself). These boundaries exposed so much hurt within me, and today I am thankful I get to address it. 

Who knows how long these “rules” may be enforced, but as someone who has had a taste of what our marriage could be like someday, I’d be fine having them in place for the rest of our lives. 

”they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8)

From One Love to Another: Just Say NO to Smileys/Emojis!

In our most recent post I shared my list of boundaries and expectations for my husband in light of his affair, but forgot to mention one; No using smiley faces/emojis when texting/emailing other women. 


Yeah. No. Not allowed.

Sure, we have access to one another's devices at all times, but aren't able to get away from communicating with people altogether. Especially when it comes to being in the workforce. Therefore this one had to be discussed;

Is using a smiley face or emoji with the opposite sex cultivating grounds for secrecy and shame or love and safety in our marriage?

For us, it creates the former, so we are stearing clear from it entirely. This may feel extreme, because it is. But I cannot deny the truth;  I don't feel safe or cherished when my husband uses smiley faces or emojis with any other woman but me. 

Our culture celebrates being fun/flirty/kind with one another (myself included), but have we crossed the line by choosing the thrill of being flirty/friendly rather than creating safety and loyalty with our significant other? 

These are the kind of conversations we are having these days. We decided that individually we are too easily tempted to reach out for affirmation to/from others (especially in a difficult marital season) rather than going Jesus and one another in candid discussion.  

While this boundary has no power to change our heart, it provides a type of security for our marriage and healing.

Also, it just plain ol' feels good to invest in one another. 

 What says you? How do you feel about your spouse using  :) ;) 😏😉☺️😍😊😇 with the opposite sex via text or email? 





Grief in the Discovery - Part 1 - Anger

There were two types of anger present after I found out about the other woman.

One was anger due to the violation that occurred. The other was one that laid dormant in my heart for years unbeknownst to me. Either way, anger is something I have felt the most in the process of grieving, and more explosively in the beginning.

The first anger is what I consider “easy”. It’s the reactive anger that roused me to pack up our small children and drive across the country to get away. The kind that led me to say things like, “Now you’re free to pursue her the way you wanted!” or “You will never see your children again!”. When betrayal happens in marriage, it’s a deep pain. Reactive anger to deep pain is dangerous in word and deed. It flows without a thought.

His pseudo-confession proved that he knew that my anger was not only coming, but it was warranted.

The fact that he was caught made me wonder if he had ever planned to tell me in the first place. It also occurred to me that this may have gone on for years had he not been exposed.

The second kind of anger is not so easy for me to admit. I live my life as a heralding Christian and devote myself to living a “gospel centered” life. What I mean by that is I will say without hesitation that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. (My favorite chapter of the bible is Romans 7 for crying out loud! “Oh wretched man that I am” vs 24) Yet we all know that saying something out loud doesn’t necessarily mean it is true.

Adultery proved that my faith and reliance on the finished work of Jesus alone was mostly smoke-in-mirrors.

Seeing that for the first time, quite frankly, pissed me off.

The anger lying dormant in my heart came alive as I watched mercy pour over my husband in a tangible way. God exposed his sin instead of letting him continue in it. He was breaking his legs and heart over what he had done, and He had every intention to heal and restore him in Christ. My husband truly KNEW he was a sinner in need. Me on the other hand, I was more than ok with leg breaking part. But mercy? Oh no. I was the victim and he deserved to be punished. I did not believe I was a sinner in need, I only claimed to be.

I was (and if I’m honest still am) angry with God for punishing His Son instead of my husband. The God that I proclaim to worship was actually the One I was at war with. In no way did I feel merciful or have a desire to pray that God would allow me to feel merciful toward my husband. I wanted to stand in front of God, scream at Him, and tell him what an awesome person I am. For the next three months, that is exactly what I did.

The anger I felt when I first discovered the adultery was part of the foundation to restoration of my heart.

I couldn’t see it then, but now I do. God wasn’t just breaking my husband’s legs, but mine as well. We would be new people in Christ and the resurrected body that is our marriage would glorify God in ways that the previous one wasn’t.

The best part? God wasn’t afraid of my anger. He was poised and ready for it.