After Rita was fired I think we went to lunch once. I saw her in a different light. She was rather normal and not gussied up. I realized that I had made an idol of her. We talked briefly every few months once she landed another job.
Ann called out of the blue one day about getting a sales job with lots of perks. We were moving to another city. I decided to go to seminary. Everything seemed to be perfect.
At that time I decided to face the fact that any relationship with Rita was getting in the way of my relationship with Ann. I vowed to not have any more contact with her. I felt settled about it. Then Ann kept traveling with her male friend who was only supposed to show her around for a month. I found out later they were having an affair and had been having one off and on for about three years. At this time I suspected something, but wouldn’t allow myself to believe she was actually capable of having an affair.
Rita called. Her husband had filed for divorce. She was in pain. At first I tried to resist, but I rationalized it was ok since I wasn’t sure about Ann’s behavior either. It basically just felt good to talk to her again. The summer went on. Right after Labor Day I found out about Ann’s affair.
Remember, I had previous thoughts about thinking I had married the wrong woman. Rita was single now. My wife has been in an affair. I was feeling rejected and humiliated and betrayed by Ann. Maybe, I thought, maybe this is God working to arrange it so I can be with Rita. What a temptation.
I called Rita and told her about Ann’s affair. We commiserated in our misery. I dreamed of sneaking off for a weekend with her.
My life was total confusion. I was in seminary preparing to be a pastor, aching over my wife’s affair, and trying to justify it in my mind so I could have a sexual affair too.
I was in great pain one day. My chest felt like it was going to explode from all I felt. I called Rita. Instantly, I felt relief flooding from my head through my toes. Rita was a drug to me. Her voice was a darn sight better than Paxil too. My anxiety and pain would drop drastically at the first word I would hear her say. Looking back it is clear. I was a relationship addict. This wasn't really the first relationship like it. I had others though not as intense. It was that pseudo-intimacy with Rita that gave me relief. Actual chemicals were released in my body that brought comfort. That is why ‘addiction’ applies to areas like relationships, spending, gambling etc. The drug is just released from the inside and not ingested from the outside.
I went to her house for a few hours. I count it God’s grace today that we didn’t have sex. Not even a kiss. A passionate kiss is sex I don’t care what your definition of is is. I don’t know if Ann and I would be together today if Rita and I had. In my state of mind I may have just left my home. Even though many times I would ponder sex with Rita, thinking about telling my daughter kept me from actually pursuing it. I would imagine my daughter saying, “Daddy, how could you?!” That would sober me up.
In counseling over my wife’s affair I was able to call my relationship with Rita an emotional affair. Like any addict I gave up my drug begrudgingly. I wanted to rationalize we hadn’t had sex so it was still ok to have contact. But deeper in my heart I knew I had cheated on Ann by offering my heart to Rita. I had betrayed my wedding vows, my God and my wife.
We serve a faithful God. The day I found out about Ann’s affair was the worst day and the best day of my life. It was the worst day because I experienced more pain in my heart than I ever thought a human being could feel. It was the best day because Ann and I truly began to be honest with one another that day. I didn’t say we were ‘just good friends’ anymore about Rita. I began to say I had an emotional affair.
Our God is faithful. As he says suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope. It was a long battle through the suffering and perseverance, but it did and continues to build character and I do live with hope. I live with the hope of growing ever closer to my wife and my God. I live with the confident hope that God is bigger than my pain and my sin. He is a forgiving Father, full of incredible grace and kindness to us all. His mercy quiets my soul.