Seven years ago today, everything changed. With four words, I cost my wife, family and so many around me what seemed like everything.
“I’m having an affair.”
With those words, my sin was exposed and life as we knew it came to an end. Over the next two days, God would crush my pride, give me a heart of repentance and lead me to an amazing Christian counselor.
It would be another two weeks before Trish and I would speak.
Two weeks after the affair came out, she called me on the phone. I don’t remember all that was said during that phone call, but I do remember how it ended.
“I hear you have been going to counseling,” Trisha said.
“I go every day but Friday.” I responded.
“I’m willing to go with you,” she offered.
For the next two and a half months we went to counseling every day but Friday. As we approached Christmas, we were confident we were in a place for me to move back home. We made a decision to renew our vows. We continued to go to counseling consistently over the next several months.
We moved to a new city, started a new life, and begged God to give us the grace needed to survive the damage of my choices. As we started over, our counselor gave us a statistic and a goal. He said, “80% of the couples that go through infidelity don’t make it through their first year. Work as hard as you can to get through year one. If you can make it through the first year, you will arrive at the starting line.”
Getting to October 9, 2006 became a huge goal. One year after the affair was a milestone we had in our minds. We wanted to do as much work as possible in that first year because we knew the decisions we made in year one of recovery would set the tone and depth of our ultimate healing.
Over the past few months, we have had several people find RefineUs by Googling “One year after the affair”.
We know that this blog post won’t apply to everyone, but we are praying it helps someone. Here are a few things that helped us get to “one year after the affair.”
1. Do the work.
The choices you make in the first year after the affair will determine the amount of healing you both experience. Tell the truth. Have tough conversations. Lead with grace. Begin to build trust. Don’t equate the absence of conflict with the presence of intimacy. Go to counseling consistently for the first year. Fight for your spouse. Pursue Christ more than anything. Trust God to heal your heart.
2. Be Patient
Healing is a process not an event. You will have great days and horrible days. You will be okay one day and take three steps back the next. Give yourself permission to not be okay; but be determined to not stay where you are. You don’t have to take huge strides everyday, but commit to take one step.
3. Celebrate Big
On the one-year anniversary of the affair, Trish and I skipped church, we went downtown Indianapolis and scalped Colts tickets. We went out to dinner. We went shopping. We stayed in a hotel. We celebrated not arriving at the finish line…we celebrated making it to the starting line.
If you or someone you know has experienced infidelity, there is no doubt it is devastating. But there is also hope. Our prayer is that as we celebrate 7 years of God’s grace, love and healing our journey is an encouragement to you.