There are 365 days in a year. Every year, there are a few unique dates in everyone’s life that have special meaning or significance.
Sometimes those unique dates are joyous, like a birth or adoption, or a wedding anniversary.
Then there are other dates set aside with memories of sadness, loss, and despair. A date that marks a significant life change to be remembered year after year….even when you wish you didn’t remember.
What would you tell your younger self in preparation for that day?
Knowing what you know now…is there something that could have been said to prepare your younger self for the feelings and emotions and life experiences that would follow?
For me, the date was June 6, 2000.
That was the beginning of the end of a life I had envisioned for myself and my family.
It was a Tuesday.
My husband woke me up from a deep sleep. It was already morning, but I knew I could sleep in a few minutes more because my son was visiting his grandparents.
He shook me again to get me up.
He looked very upset and immediately I thought that something happened to my baby.
My husband assured me that nothing was wrong with my son but he had something he needed to tell me.
He then shared that he had been having an affair.
And he was in love with this woman!
He confessed that he cheated many times in our two-year marriage, with someone who wasn’t the one he was in love with.
He tried to explain what happened and how it wasn’t my fault but I couldn’t hear his words.
My world was spinning around me and I became disoriented. (It was just how it was in the movies.) I could hear him speaking but I couldn’t make out the words.
I moved from the bedroom to the bathroom and I just wanted to lock myself in. To close him out!
This had to be a bad dream!! I need to wake up…Wake Up!! Wake UP!!
I couldn’t stay in the apartment. Couldn’t be near him. Couldn’t breathe the same air…
Those first few days were a blurred. I called out of work for the rest of the week.
I didn’t know what to do…besides, hold my baby and cry!
Weeks later, I decided that I wanted to honor my wedding vows and the covenant I made to God.
So, despite my initial inclination to leave the marriage, I stayed.
We went to counseling. I prayed to God to show me how to forgive.
We began to work past the situation. I think I even began to forgive.
But he continued to see her.
(It’s easier to forgive the indiscretion when he is not in love with her.)
The feelings of hurt and betrayal ran so deep I often felt like I was drowning!
There was no one I could turn to. There was no one who could help me find my way.
I was consumed with despair over my broken marriage; engulfed in shame of being another statistic…and I was scared at the prospect of being alone!
It’s been 17 years since that fateful day.
My husband made a choice not to recommit to his marriage vows.
So, I filed for divorce.
I never wanted to be an unwed mother. I knew how challenging it would be.
And oh boy, were there a multitude of challenges; some at the hands of my ex.
I have grown stronger because of those challenges, but I would have preferred not to have gone through the heartache.
I would have preferred if June 6, 2000, held no significance for me. Or better yet, if he had chosen not to have adulterous affairs and simply said he no longer wanted to be married.
We all make choices. Our choices have consequences. Very rarely is a choice made which only affects the person making the choice.
My husband made choices which created a scenario where I chose to make certain choices and those choices changed the trajectory of all our lives.
I don’t think about that fateful day throughout the year. But like clockwork, at the beginning of every June, my mind flashes back to that time.
And I wonder, what my life (and that of my son) would have been like if I had made different choices.
If given the opportunity to speak to my younger self on May 6, 2000 (thirty days before his confession), I would have told myself:
There is strength in staying
- Trust your instincts. If you think something is going on, confront him.
- Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice. Be willing to do your part to keep your marriage. Do everything within your power to save your marriage.
- Be true to yourself…own your stuff. Confess to him that you are fully aware of your shortcomings as a young wife. The constant fighting and issues in your marriage are not all his fault. Tell him that you suspect he is being emotionally (and/or physically) unfaithful.
- Ask him to go to counseling and commit to saving your marriage.
- Know that your shortcomings are not an excuse or justification for his indiscretions.
There is strength in leaving
- Marriage is a commitment between two people and God. Marriage requires both parties to be invested in creating the desired outcome.
- If he chooses her, Do Not Make It About You! It hurts like hell that he didn’t choose you…his wife; but it’s better to know his truth now than years later. What his choice should communicate to you is that he believes that she is the right one for him. Don’t get caught up in the emotion. Ask yourself how many guys did you not choose to date/marry for whatever reason. It doesn’t mean that those guys are bad…they were just not right for you. He is saying that you are not right for him. That is his truth…let him have it! Do not seek any underlying meaning to the statement beyond just that.
- You are not alone. As a Christian woman, God is always with you! Rest in the peace He provides and trusts that He will see you through this difficult time. There will be better days!
- Forgive early and often! Forgive yourself for responsibility or fault you may have in the outcome. Try to forgive him for not knowing what he wanted (when you got married) or at least for not being honest with himself and you to speak his truth sooner.
- Love yourself. Cherish yourself. Do not allow this experience to define you. You are much more than the sum of the events which became known on June 6, 2000, and those which led to your divorce 16 months later. You are worthy of someone who will love, respect, and cherish you. Wait for him.
What message would you send your younger self in preparation for receiving unwelcomed news?