Everything in me was turning inside out. I couldn't handle it, manage it or live with it. I really only had one option - tell my husband. So I told him everything. His name, our connection, our encounter and all of the following conversations we'd had. I told him that I was sad and grieving, that I felt a strong physical connection - the whole 9. Joe was calm. So calm and gentle. His first comment was "I completely understand how we ended up here." That night we left nothing unsaid. The end result of that night was that I told Joe I didn't know what I was going to do or not do. We spent days existing in an awkward, dark space. Every few days we would have another long talk - checking pulses so-to-speak. My conversations with Code-Red continued. I was in more agony. I had told Joe in my anger toward him that I wasn't even going to pray about it - that if he wanted a miracle so-be-it but I didn't even want one.
Again, every few nights he might ask "have you talked to him?". Me "yes". And that just went on for a bit. We never saw each other (again, thank God for long distance). One night after a particularly long and healthy talk with Joe, he asked me for a hug. I quite literally could have punted him to Mars - I did not want a hug. It was about 12 years too late for that. Day after day I watched as his heart broke more and more.
One evening he came home from work and I was in the laundry room. He walked past me and gave me a very heavy sideways smile. He told me he had been fasting and praying - he looked like he was about to fall over. He fasted for several days and I hadn't even noticed. I think I had cried most of that day.
Here's the thing.... I was either going to have an affair and not start seminary, or I was going to start seminary and not have an affair - and I had a deadline, literally, with the seminary end of things.... and it was coming up on that Friday. We stood there in the laundry room - he looked so broken. I hugged him. It was the boldest move either one of us had made in years. When that hug ended, I looked him in the eyes and told him, "I'm trying", and he replied "me too". The first tear I had ever seen in his eyes just rolled down his cheek. Joe finally cried. And it pierced me.
Friday came - and I chose seminary, sent Code-Red an email and let him know that I was backing out. I registered for school and paid tuition.
You wanna know something interesting about temptation from a biblical perspective? When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days - guess who led Him there? I always thought it was Satan, but it wasn't. Matthew 4:1 says, 1"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted a by the devil." Do you see that? The Spirit LED JESUS into the wilderness TO BE TEMPTED by the devil. Ironically, in my spiritual formations class we studied this quite a bit - that we are always at war with our flesh. I will believe until the day that I die that I went through something that literally had to be "fleshed out". I believe fully that this was part of God's plan (not Satan's) - to get Joe and me where we needed to be so that I can be more effective in ministry to others, and so that he and I can be united the way husband and wife are meant to be.
Friday afternoon Joe came home from work. He had made it a practice every day to lean down and kiss my forehead while I was sitting in my favorite chair. I knew he was trying to show his commitment to us. I allowed it even though it felt so awkward to me. But on this day, when he leaned forward to kiss my forehead, I gave him my lips. And we made out for about 45 minutes.
It has been more than a year now. A very hot and heavy, smokin' sexy reunification that I would never have believed. We've been completely restored, but better. I wish I could sit here and write out all the ways we've changed, all the ways that we are better than before. But the best of all is that our children are seeing all of this love - they catch us kissing constantly. We hide nothing from the kids..... we are vocal and flirty. We are finally modeling unity and affection. It is sweeter than anything I have ever known.
We just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow we fly to Belize for a long weekend. Joe and I haven't been on a plane together in 18 years. We haven't traveled alone. In discussing our packing, Asher said - "You know you guys aren't even going to need clothes!" And he's probably right. I love this - not just that we are modeling a loving relationship in front of them but that we are also exposing them to healthy and positive views about marital sex. We are brand new people.
Joe and I have made a commitment to speak out every day about our love for each other, and we will kiss at least once per day. That may sound silly, but we don't want to lose what we have nor become lazy. We have pet names - and we wear them out. We have code words for our text messages. We hold hands. But my favorite thing .... my favorite thing is when I tell him I love him, he simply says "I know." Because he does... he really knows.
*** Are you and your spouse harboring hurts? Has it formed a gulf between you? Is your marriage as dead as mine was, or is your heart as frozen? I beg you to see the hope that there is for you and to take some bold steps. You loved him or her before - actively pursue those memories. I believe in this sort of resurrection and I hope you will too. If you want to - send me a private message and I will pray for you. I've received so many messages already..... and that is why - the only reason to bring this public. This is my public praise for the One who restores. Our story is a miracle, friends. I praise God for His mercy and grace and love. I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit leading me to flesh out the muck. And I'm thankful He specifically used Mr. Code-Red, because while I cannot go into it more, it was special circumstances, and I'm grateful for the part he played. He was used to save my marriage. I'm praying for his marriage too.