This is the third part of our story of a marriage that was ripped apart by sin and restored by God's mighty hand (you can read part 1 here and part 2 here).
When Scott came back home, instead of things getting easier they got harder. We both felt like we were doing the tremendous work of digging ourselves out of a great hole. He came home with a deep desire to work things out, but as the days wore on and he still shared a work environment with her, he began to doubt. Thankfully (and strategically ordained by God, I am certain), he continued to meet weekly with the friend of ours who he met with the day he came back home. Those regular meetings were like a boost of strength and conviction for Scott every time he went. I began the difficult work of facing what had happened, and was trying to find my way to the top of the deep deep hurt that I had experienced. We both continued to see our marriage counselor, but this time it was different. The counselor knew what had happened, since while we were separated I continued to go to him by myself, and when we went we were able to start moving forward from the very beginning. We read a lot of books together and separately (I would be happy to share titles if anyone is interested), we talked A LOT about what we had gone through even prior to the affair, we decided on some things we were going to do differently, and, most importantly, we spent a lot of time beseeching God on behalf of ourselves and our marriage.
One of the things that our counselor told Scott in one of the early sessions after we got back together was that he was going to have to realize that I was going to need to talk through what happened. I was going to need to talk, to cry, to say mean things about the other woman if I felt like it (without him defending her), to be affirmed by him, and to process through what happened, over and over and over again. I am so thankful that he told Scott this, because that is exactly what I needed. And through it all, Scott remained patient with me, he answered questions for me (sometimes very difficult questions), he was honest with me (even when the honesty hurt me), and he didn't try to deny anything that happened. I have heard of several situations where a couple was trying to work their way through the hurt of an affair and the person who had the affair was very intolerant of talking about what happened and just expected their spouse to get over what happened as soon as possible. I am SO thankful that Scott was not that way. I think the reason why he was able to do this, aside from our counselor warning him that it would be coming, was because he could see in me a change from the woman I once was. I treated him differently, with respect and dignity, no matter how I was feeling. I could also see a change in him. As God worked in his heart, I could see a different man emerge. The man he was becoming was one of dignity, of honor, of a genuine desire to know and love God. We both, in our own ways, had spent some time in the refining fires of God. Those fires were very hot and painful, but they had done (and continue to do) the necessary job of refining us both.
The journey to recovery we were on was not a short one. It was, however, one that had the very hand of God on it every step of the way. Instead of being a constant upward line of healing, the recovery line after an affair looks more like a roller coaster, with ups and downs. We would have good days and we would have bad days. Sometimes our day would start out good, turn bad in the middle, then end up good. Satan was not happy that our marriage had overcome the destruction he had planned for it, and he did not give up easily. Thankfully, God continued to carry and lead us through, even in the times that we didn't even have the strength to lift up our eyes to Him. I struggled with forgiveness, with pain that hurt to the very core of my being, with trusting him again, and at times with even being unsure that I had the strength or desire to continue on in our journey. He struggled with guilt, with rebuilding a character that he had destroyed with his choices, and with regaining my trust. Beyond the first couple of really tough weeks, his loyalty and desire for me and our family has never waivered. God opened Scott's eyes to what he almost lost, and he has never looked back. I struggled through, and it it has been very helpful for me to have his strong arms to depend on during the times when all I could do was cry.
Our healing process has been just that, a process. One of the things that our marriage counselor said to us early on was that our experience was like a deep deep wound. When tending to a deep deep wound, you can't just put a Band-Aid over it or it will get infected. You have to get in there and clean it out, as deep down as the cut goes. Then you will have to wait for the pain to stop, and for healing to occur. Finally, two full years later, I can say that we are there. Two years may seem like a long time to someone who is just going through what we went through, but at the time I felt like the pain would NEVER stop, that I would NEVER forgive, that we would NEVER make it out of the hole. The memories will never leave us, and the affair is something that will always be a part of our past. But, the pain stays away (for the most part), and through our experience God has made a ministry for us. We are both passionate about marriage, and we are always telling couples to take care of each other. We would encourage a couple that the best thing they can do for their spouse is to have a great relationship with God, and the best thing they can do for their children if they have them is to have a great marriage with each other. Divorce is never easy, never clean, and it never happens without the children and spouses being destroyed. I don't care what anyone may tell you about their own supposed happiness post-divorce, it never ever works out well. That is a lie straight from Satan himself. Because he wants to destroy you.
I can honestly say that our marriage now is better and more fulfilling than it ever was before the affair. I have seen Christ, have experienced His wonderful, grace-filled hands around me. I will never go back. He has opened my eyes to see my husband for who he was created to be: my husband, not the sole source of my happiness. God has opened Scott's eyes to see the role of leader that God created him to be. These are things that we both struggled with before. Although it was the most painful thing Scott and I have ever experienced, we would both say that we can look back on it and be happy that it happened. If not for the affair, our marriage would possibly still be the train wreck that it was. That is a tricky thing to say, because I don't ever want to come across as saying that I think someone should have an affair to make their marriage better. You do have the choice to make your marriage better before it ever leads to something like a divorce or affair. Trust me, do the hard work of cultivating a healthy marriage. It does take work, and it will take work every single day, but it is so much easier than dealing with the aftermath of a divorce or affair.