Our counselor looked me square in the eye and said, “Leslie. You are not to blame for your husband’s adultery.”
I felt disconnected from the first session entirely.
Shock was having its perfect work and I felt like I was floating above the three of us in that room, looking down. I sat there replaying the images over and over of all the data that was collected in the prior two weeks of my being in that chair. Texts, phone records, the dark cloud that now hovered over any good memory from the last 18 months and the red flags that I had subconsciously ignored.
“Leslie, I will say it again. You are not to blame for your husband’s adultery.”
Wait. Was he talking to me?
The disconnection I was experiencing in that session was really just distraction. I was distracted by my thoughts. You see, while the counselor was telling me it wasn’t my fault, those two weeks post discovery I was busy thinking over everything I could have done to prevent this betrayal. Thoughts like:
“What if I had given him sex more frequently?”
“If only we had gone on more date nights.”
“What if I am not attractive enough for him?”
“If only I wasn’t pregnant at the time, maybe I could have been there for him more.”
Hundreds of dollars later, I found out that this distraction was not uncommon in grief. No, in fact, it was necessary and included in the cycle...
I was bargaining.
I wanted to go back and rewrite the history of my marriage in order to keep this pain from happening at all. I didn’t want to be in this seat. I didn’t want our marriage destroyed. I thought everything was fine up until…. Well, you get it.
I was already angry with God for not hanging my husband on that cross to pay for his sin, but I also would have done anything to go back in time and do things differently rather than start our marriage over from the ground up. The “what if’s” and “if only’s” were what I was clinging to as a coping mechanism for my grief. I didn’t want Jesus. I wanted a do-over.
Could I not get away from self-justification for just a moment!
No. I could not. Bargaining, while necessary and normal in any tragedy, was just another way that I was able to see utter dependence on myself to save our marriage rather than depending on Someone Else to make all things new.
There is only One Person who was unafraid of my bargaining. He sat with me while I was busy trying to assess the rubble and decide how I was going to fix it. And He let me do that. Not even one time did He tell me how wrong I was for wanting to fix everything myself . Nor did He stop me from entertaining the idea that if I could go back to do things again, I would be spared from all this pain.
In all our mess, Jesus sat with me.
And when I was ready to give up fixing my marriage (and if I’m honest, my husband), He would be there to whisper, “I love you. As if none of your self-salvation projects ever happened. You own my perfect record of obedience and so does Burris. I am willing to sit with you both and weep over this. I’ve got you.”
If only it hadn’t taken me so many months to listen to Him…but then again, that’s bargaining for you.