I just wanted to remind you that Ann and I are available to help if you are dealing with difficult issues in your relationship. We can meet over several days for an intensive or counsel via phone or skype. Let us know if we can help. A big desire in our lives is to pass on the help and hope we received from others when our marriage was on the line.
Back in Post 45 I shared these words
Last summer when I pondered my first MS ride, and my longest ride to that point was about 20 miles, my friend Gary told me, "You don't have to ride 100 miles. You only have to ride 10 miles 10 times."
He was right. Every 10 miles or so there was a rest stop with all sorts of clif bars, pb and j sandwiches, gatorade, water, bananas, orange juice and to prevent cramping plenty of pickle juice (I know, it's a little different).
After those first couple of tens it still felt like a long way home at times. If I thought about the entire ride I wasn't sure I would get there. I'd refocus. I would bring my mind back to the present. "Just ride the next ten," I'd tell myself. One talks to himself a lot on long bike rides. :)
Congratulations, you've made it to the first rest stop. Seriously, congratulations. Many many couples don't make it this far. One may not want to try. One may not be willing to end the affair. One may get lost in the pain never really to return. But you, you are here. Enjoy some refreshment, take in some nourishment. Exhale. You've done good work so far.
Watch out ahead. There are potholes, rain storms, loose gravel, texting car drivers and giant hills. The cool thing about those hills...when you get to the top...the ride down is a fun, exciting, thrill ride. You'll just have to trust me. I've made the ride. It's worth the risk for the thrills you'll get the rest of your life.
It's time to head out again. 44 posts to the next rest stop.
You made it. 2nd rest stop. 2 down and 8 to go so to speak. You've made it three months and that is terrific. Seriously, it is. This is hard hard hard stuff to go through.
Here are some practical markers to have hit by now. If not keep moving towards them.
- All contact with the affair partner has stopped. All.
- Many in depth conversations with your spouse about the marriage as a whole are taking place. There are still conversations about the affair, but the overall relationship is talked about more.
- A shared definition of the meaning of the affair should be in process. The affair was a bad way to communicate to your spouse but still you were trying to say something. Ann was telling me that she wanted to be cherished and have more fun in our relationship. I was treating her more as a co-parent than a life long lover and companion. I had gotten too serious as a Christian.
- Have a couple or 2 couples or so that are for your marriage and point you towards God that you can hang out with and talk about the hard stuff or laugh and have fun. You can be a mess around these folks and it is ok.
- Have a counselor or pastor that is helping you process your losses. This is as a couple and individually.
- My friend Tom Varney told me about three actions that help all couples. I've reworded them in alliterative form like a good Southern Baptist. Lay down your sword (do your best to express your anger in a way that doesn't do more harm to the relationship), look at your own stuff (what did you contribute to the problems in the marriage) and listen (be curious about your spouse's soul). Be intentional about these 3 'L's'.
- Be obedient in blessing your spouse even if you don't feel like it. It's not fake it til you make it. It's I'm hurt and my soul is bloody but there is something deeper in me still that I choose to live from to love my spouse as I hang onto the hope of God transforming my heart and our relationship into one that delights him and us.
I'm glad you made it this far. I know it's hard and painful, but you can do this. It's time to get out for another tenth of the trip.