Husband

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. 

 What?!  

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? 

 

  

 

 

In the Counselor's Office - Part 5 - Boundaries and Expectations

When making your list of boundaries and expectations after adultery, anything goes.

Anything. Goes.

Those were the heralding words our counselor graciously gave me for our next homework assignment.

I sat down to write a list, and here’s what I came up with;

1. Cancel personal iPhone account. 
2. Access to all email addresses.
3. Delete all social media accounts.
4. No passcode on his work iPhone.
5. No using iPhone in the bathroom. Ever. 
6. Must call me back within 5 minutes. (If he didn’t answer)
7. No cash withdrawals. Debit only. (For tracking purposes)
8. Access to any and all emails/texts between him and the other woman.   (Retrieve any deleted data)
9. No calling/texting females. (My friends, coworkers and the like)
10. I can ask any and all details of the affair as much and as often as   I choose.
11. Must tell me _anytime_ he has to communicate with a female coworker. 
12. Weekly counseling.

This list would serve to protect my heart, help to rebuild trust, reduce the amount of triggers (to a certain degree), and walk in the light.

What scared me the most was knowing that the list had zero power to change his heart. 

I would have to "trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding". (Proverbs 3:5)

And I also couldn’t help but wonder… 

Would he comply? 

After hearing the disclosure letter this is what I needed in order to take the steps toward healing. No matter how scared I felt about seeing his reaction to it, this had to happen. I’ll let him share with you how it felt to lose all privacy and what it would mean for our future…

Walking in the light in marriage is a must for real intimacy to take place (we learned that the hard way). What are some boundaries and expectations you have in place (or plan to have in place when you are married someday) with your spouse? Is there anything you would have added to this list?

In the Counselor's Office - Part 4 - Writing the Full Disclosure

Burris shares what it was like to write his full disclosure letter:

“Randy, this week I would like you to write out your entire sexual history from as far back as you can remember. When you come in with your wife next week, I will ask that you read it aloud to us and we will discuss what comes next. The more truthful you are with yourself and us, the better.”

I felt overwhelmed because I knew I had an extensive sexual history.

I felt skeptical about writing it, wondering if it would even help. But I was convinced I had nothing to lose, so on that fourth day I came home from work and plopped down on the couch to get busy writing. 

When I first began to write, the history poured out onto the computer screen quite easily. But something happened when I came to a particularly bad season in my life where I gained a ton of sexual knowledge. It started around the time I was nineteen years old and I couldn’t help but wonder, had those explorative years not happened, what might have I been spared?

I felt guilty for giving away all of my sexual curiosity when I could have saved it for my wife. Something I hadn’t thought about before.

Because I work full time, and wanted a chance to really sit and ponder every detail of my history, the letter took me three days to write. I felt thankful once I finished because I had this sense of being at rock bottom and hoped for a chance to start over. Of course, that feeling changed the day I was scheduled to read it aloud in the counselor’s office. 

As I sat down in the chair I felt scared as I began to read the letter aloud.

I was nervous, wondering if I was going to get an opportunity to make things right with my wife. In one aspect I reasoned that losing my marriage might be an easy out. But I couldn’t shake that losing her would not be easy because my wife and kids make up so much of who I am; losing them would mean losing half of myself. 

Despite the tears of sadness, shame, guilt and inferiority, I finished reading the letter. I glanced to see the look on my wife’s face, instinctively wanting to distance myself from the pain I caused. Instead, I leaned into the truth of who I really was. 

I hadn’t done that before.

It seems that in this moment (and possibly at the cost of my marriage) I was freed from living an exhausting double life. Everything was out in the open. Although this pain was not going to rewrite my history, it was going to drive me to repentance, and give me the choice to walk in the light of truth from here on forward. Now the scary question; would my wife decide to stay married to me? Could she ever forgive me for betraying her so badly? 

Could anyone possibly love me after knowing everything I had locked away?

The counselor turned to my wife, and declared;

“You have the right to know everything your husband is doing. The ball is in your court and I would like you to come up with a list of boundaries and expectations for your husband that will help you feel safe. Anything goes. Here is a list of ideas and you can add anything you want.” 

As we walked out the office that day with a homework assignment out of my control, I had this sense that walking in the light from here on forward was about to test me in ways I never knew possible.

And this is where I step back and let her share the list she came up with. 

”But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)



In the Counselor's Office - Part 3 - Receiving the Full Disclosure

It took all of my strength to get out of the van and into the counselor’s office that day. I knew that my husband had just spent three days sitting at his computer writing out his full disclosure letter. Much like the fear/wonder of getting on a rollercoaster for the first time, I wanted to hear it, but I felt so scared that I could have vomited. A thrill ride was going to pale in comparison to sitting in one of those office chairs, listening to my husband read aloud the details of his affair and then some. 

A full disclosure letter is more than a detailed summary of an affair.

It is a written timeline of a person’s entire sexual history as far back as they can remember. I couldn’t escape the wonder of why it took him three days to write it. Were there details he hadn’t told me about? Was there more than one woman? Were things about to get worse than I imagined? 

There was nothing I could do in that moment to ease my fear so I unbuckled and made my way into the office.

I sat in that chair, opposite corner from my husband, watching tears fall from his face and hearing his voice shake as he began to read the letter aloud. I am certain I held my breath the entire time.

Listening to a sobbing man is probably one of my least favorite things on this planet. This moment confirmed that for me. I will never in my life forget the war that raged in that office when he finished reading it. On one hand, I could see my heart laying on the floor quivering with a dagger stabbed through it. Hearing him explain all the encounters via phone/text/photo/email forced a pain in me that words cannot describe. On the other hand, hearing his entire sexual history from such a young age, I could sense a deep pain in his heart that made me swell with compassion.

He was incredibly brave in that office and I found myself liking the man who came forward. 

The counselor was tender with us and able to give us a big picture idea of what our marriage could look like in the future.  Both of us feeling simultaneously relieved and hopeless, that day God worked through our counselor in ways that (now looking back) seemed angelic.

My husband and I spent years in God’s word together learning scripture, but this catastrophe would provide a rubber-meets-the-road experience in the gospel.

From that day forward things would not be easier for us, but one thing was sure; I knew Jesus was for us our entire marriage up to that point and beyond. And for the first time…

I actually believed it.

”All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21