The last week has been a week of anniversaries.
Twenty eight years ago, in a small town in south Mississippi, I stood at the front of the only church I had ever attended, in front of almost every person I had ever known, and waited for my future wife to walk down the aisle. Standing with my nine (yes nine, it was the late 80’s) groomsmen, I watched my beautiful girl become my loving wife, all in 32 minutes flat. It was a Baptist wedding, so think three songs and you are done. I think we had the Bette Midler tribute with “Wind Beneath my Wings” and “The Rose.” Trust me, we were very hip and cool. The fact I used the words “hip” and “cool” are good indicators that we were not hip or cool!
One year ago, my marriage should have ended. My loving wife, my partner of over half my life, discovered that her faithful, honest husband was neither of those. That she couldn’t trust me. That I had continued to deceive her even after promising this time was the last time. The worst part of it was I didn’t even realize I was at the end. It took me getting an email from her counselor to explain the situation to me, that I had to meet certain conditions for her to continue to even speak to me. I hadn’t even started to comprehend where I truly was. I really didn’t have a good grasp on reality. I started to discover that maybe everything I had told myself…I was just born this way, every guy is like this, no one tells the full truth…wasn’t actually ok or true.
Reality hit when my wife (she was just barely still my wife at this time) and I were in a counseling appointment with both our counselors. My counselor, her counselor and my wife all compared notes about how screwed up I was and that it would take at least two years for me to get to where I needed to be through intense counseling and therapy. It was a very clinical discussion…like I wasn’t even there. And that is when I knew that I was not ok. That because I was not ok, my wife and our counselors had to plan out how to make me ok. An overwhelming realization.
One year later…we are still here. A couple. Not just in name only. We actually talk and spend time together, we share our thoughts and feelings and I understand when she hurts and is fighting to deal with the extensive damage my years of betrayal have inflicted upon her and her psyche. I am still not ok, but I am not the same either. My journey isn’t over. Recovery, accountability, and a true authentic relationship with Christ are all priorities in my life. Things that didn’t exist a year ago.
I discovered something else over this past year. Something that I denied and downplayed and even tried to dispute at times. My wife’s faith is strong. Way stronger than mine. Stronger than anyone else I know. And I missed it. I didn’t see her faith. Her knowledge that she couldn’t heal herself, that she couldn’t depend upon me for truth or stability. But she could depend upon God. So she does…despite the hurt and pain that sometimes is debilitating for her. She even lets me be a part of her healing. She chooses to stay married to me even though she doesn’t have to, even though she doesn’t trust me and has to verify what I say and do. She lets me stay in her life as her husband, daily seeking to rebuild trust one truthful verifiable act at a time.
Her act of faith isn’t faith in me. Its faith in God. That He will continue to change me and grow me. So that’s where we are this anniversary. I get to be a husband and father. A day at a time. Praying to reach the next anniversary…and the next.