Infidelity isn’t an automatic deal breaker for many people but it is a turning point, a wake-up call. For them, it means deciding if it’s acceptable and clearly communicating with their spouse their bottom line. Then when there’s evidence of another affair, it’s time to make a difficult decision.
That’s what happened to my current guest, Missy who was married for almost thirteen years,and had already told her husband that she needed kindness and faithfulness in their marriage. When she came across an explicit text from another woman, she left overnight. She needed time to think. Here’s Missy:
I told him at that time, I’m not leaving you and I’m not leaving this house right now, but I’m leaving overnight just to think about what I need to do, because this is obviously what I said I wouldn’t accept any longer.
I had met with a lawyer probably a year prior, just one of the upfront, “This is what it will take” type of meetings. The lawyer was the one who suggested I not leave the house, because that can be twisted around to look like you’re abandoning your rights to the home or something.
I went and stayed somewhere by myself. I just remember thinking, “If I don’t follow through with what I said I would do, he’ll never respect me or believe I will actually do what I say again.” Then, I got to thinking, “I won’t respect myself either if I just let this happen again.”
I don’t know that they were all full blown physical affairs, but there were definitely flirtations and things like that. There certainly were full blown affairs, but I don’t know that every time I discovered another person it was a full blown affair. I honestly don’t know at this point.
It was shocking. It probably shouldn’t have been looking back, but it was. As I was there that night I remember thinking, “OK, I have seen what my life will be like if I continue on this path. It will be like this. We’ll have some OK fun, but we’ll all be together and we’ll laugh and have fun sometimes, but every two to four months there’s probably going to be another woman. I don’t know if that will ever change. It probably will not, because he doesn’t have any reason to change that.”
I just decided that’s not the life I want. That’s not what I want my children to think marriage is like. I don’t want my boys to think that’s how you treat women. I don’t want my daughter to think this is what you accept from a man.
I don’t think God would’ve punished me for that choice. I think he would’ve given me full freedom and said, “That’s what you wanted. That’s what you got. I’ve shown what life’s going to be like this way or you can do something you never thought you would, that you hoped you would never have to do and just trust me for the outcome and see what happens.”
At this point my family knew already of the struggles we were having and that there had been infidelity, that he had issues with rage and verbal abuse, that he was not a pleasant person to live with. I didn’t call them that night, because he often accused me of letting my family influence me. That was one of his ways of keeping me isolated, because to prove that I didn’t, I just didn’t let them in on so many things. I wanted later to know that I made this decision by myself and I did.
The next day I went back and told him, “I’m going to file for divorce and I need you to move out within a week.” He hemmed and hawed about it for awhile, but it was the end of the month. I said, “This is the time to get a lease. You need to do it.”
The Divorce Coach Says
I think Missy’s perspective of seeing this new affair of her husband’s as a glimpse of her future is extremely helpful. Her husband knew that one of her bottom lines in marriage was faithfulness and for whatever reason, he was not able to honor that. Missy saw that there was little likelihood of her husband changing and she had a choice: accept her marriage as it was or end the marriage.
For me personally, it was also coming to the firm belief that my marriage wouldn’t change, and that it was not how I wanted to live the rest of my life, that led me to decide the marriage was over. I needed to be sure I wasn’t making a mistake.
If you’re weighing up whether to end your marriage, consider how would your relationship with your spouse need to change for you to be content? What would it take for this change to happen? How likely is this?
Missy blogs at Far From Flawless where she writes about leading a Christian life with a blended family hoping that sharing her journey will empower others to shun the mask of imperfection and open themselves to authentic living.