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Enlarge Our Souls
Broken, Loved and Changed by Ann Wilson

Grieving the Loss of Your Affair Partner by Ben and Ann

Grieving the Loss of Your Affair Partner

{Ben and Ann}

To save my marriage, I was called to challenge myself. I was called to allow my wife to grieve the loss of her affair partner.

It would have been cruel and unusual punishment for me to listen to all that she missed about him and the relationship. I did want to know enough about their affair. My questions involved the who, where, when and why. Thankfully, someone advised me to leave the what alone. I didn’t want any images about their sexual experiences in my brain. I suffered torture enough knowing they had been sexual. It felt important for me to know: who he was, where they met, if they ever met in our house or in our bed, and what she was receiving at an emotional or soul level from their relationship.

Yet, it was necessary for her to have someone with whom to share the particular loss of her affair partner. For the desire to see him lessen, she needed to voice that he touched something deep within her soul, wrong situation that it was, and that she would miss him and their relationship. By keeping her loss to herself the enemy would have access to twist her good desires much as he did during the affair. By bringing this into the light she could communicate to me aspects of her heart that she wanted me to move towards and touch.

I didn't like this part of the healing process at all. I wanted her to be able to yell, scream and call him a jerk. Even if I thought of him as a jerk at the time, I still had to acknowledge that my wife has exquisite taste and wouldn't choose a man without any redeeming qualities.

My part in this aspect of the grieving process focused on joining with Ann to develop a shared definition of her affair

Our shared definition of the affair included several aspects. Ann appreciated having fun. I had become Mr. Serious Christian, always seeking to be right and moral and forgetting about being dependent on God and having His life-giving grace flow through me. She also wanted to be pursued and romanced. I neglected her and chose not to do this for the most part. I wrongly believed that we needed to have only family time - not romantic time. Ann did not feel I valued her or appreciated her as a woman, as my lover. All of this is central to what she communicated to me by having the affair.

Knowing that she found these important aspects of marriage with another man angered me. I had a choice to make: let my anger become frozen and turn into bitterness or allow my anger to lead me to my hurt, to lead me to looking at my own failures in our marriage. I chose to grieve and repent of my failures, which gave me the freedom to truly pursue my beautiful, glorious bride in the midst of my pain, anger and my desire to forgive.

What was it like for me {Ann} to grieve the loss of Bob? Bob became more than my affair partner; he became a close friend. I looked forward to calls from him, especially when he said he knew he would feel better if he heard my voice. He seemed genuinely interested in my life and me.

But I had so much more to grieve than just the loss of Bob. Certainly, I missed him. I missed the fun we had. I missed the ways he made me feel wanted. But even more than that, I had to grieve what losing him surfaced in my heart.

I had to grieve how stupid I had been. How could I have been drawn in by this smooth-talking salesman? I was. How could I have not seen through all the sticky sweet words he used to build me up? I didn’t. I knew what we were doing was wrong from day one, yet I didn’t heed the screaming red lights, and I zoomed headlong into a crash just waiting to happen.

I had to grieve being taken advantage of yet again - a replay of my high school years. I would climb into the back seat of a guy’s car one night, hoping he might acknowledge me the next day in the halls. Well, that didn’t work. It only left me feeling used and lonelier than before.

And I became furious - angry at myself but more angry at Bob. It’s like he saw me as an easy mark so he went for it. I was angry that he didn’t seem to even care what our relationship did to my marriage or my kids or to his marriage or to his kids. He was just selfish, and I bore the weight of his selfishness.

In the midst of feeling stupidity, anger and loneliness, God began to whisper to my heart. He reminded me that I belong to Him, not Bob. He reminded me that I am beautiful, not ugly. He reminded me that I am loved, not stupid. He bore the weight of my sin. He drew me close with words of grace, love and mercy.

Texas-wildflowers

“You did it; you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers” (Psalms 30:11-12).

If you haven’t started, begin developing the message(s) of this affair. What are the themes, longings and ideas communicated about your marriage via the affair?

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