Our harshest critic aka most constructive Beta Reader gave the feedback that this preface was “good but too long…” So although some of what you’re about to read is in our final copy, this is the entire unedited version that didn’t make the cut. I hope you can take something of value away from it.
“When I began writing in March 2019, I thought we had reached our D-day, I finally learned the full extent of my husband’s double life. However, like most who walk this harrowing road, another grenade detonated demolishing my heart only weeks in.
Left wondering yet again, “Who the hell are you?”
A question we wondered when considering writing, do we need to wait until the end of a story before we start to write it or do we tell it from where we are at, right now…
We would like for readers to assume, at the time of writing this book, neither one of us have “arrived” anywhere.
We are both on a journey, in the process of and committed to our recovery and healing.
Infidelity is an uncommon conversation amongst our friends most of whom are married for 20 plus years.
To our knowledge, they’ve dodged this bullet.
Although aware of marriages ending after the discovery and fallout of an affair, when my reality imploded, the isolation experienced was staggering.
This wasn’t because I didn’t trust my friends, much of what I believed in came crashing down, preposterous.
Their marriages were solid, was mine a counterfeit?
Who would possibly understand?
And how could Dave, the person, claiming to love me, seem so hell-bent on destroying me?
I wondered “Was there any hope?”
Where does a couple turn for counsel from someone who genuinely knows what this heartache is like?
Professionals without personal experience of infidelity, or at least a couple of decades specialising in affair recovery, may be ill-equipped in guiding a couple to successful reconciliation, they may also unknowingly cause incredible harm.
The extent and depth of pain, the decimation of love and marriage, is horrendous.
No one gets away unscathed.
We hope in our story you’ll find insight and understanding as to how and why we are navigating through such soul-destroying circumstances.
If someone had told the Twenty-Five-year-old me this was my cross to bear, I would have told them they were out of their minds.
No way would I ever put up with an unfaithful partner. Their sorry butt would be kicked to the kerb.
Who in their right mind would put up with it?
If someone really loved me, they would never cheat!
Twenty-nine years later I’m here to tell the story of how wrong I was.
Infidelity is just one of the many injustices convinced I would never tolerate.
We’ve included sections through the book and at the end which we’ve titled ‘Lessons from Beyond’ they’re an abbreviated list of aha’s or learnings, some which we gleaned from our own experiences and some we’ve taken from the wisdom of others. We hope you may find one or two useful nuggets in these.
Any relationship can be a mixed bag of pleasure and pain, undoubtedly there is a myriad of reasons for this.
When two people unite in their mid to late twenties, they’ve most likely experienced at least one or more significant romantic attachments to another which will influence future relationships. The hurt and rejection experienced when discarded by a boyfriend at 16 had a disastrous effect on my sense of self-worth, governing my choices for years.
Many choices were detrimental not only to myself but also to those around me.
We progress through life impacted by the nature or nurture of our family of origin, the environment we develop in, and our circumstances.
Behavioural patterns become entrenched.
Like it or not, we mosey through life on autopilot not giving a second thought as to why we do things.
Results are both positive and negative.
Although heavily influenced by the above, naturally defaulting to ingrained learnt responses, none of us is condemned to a life sentence of repeating destructive cycles.
Our experiences didn’t make us the way we are, how we reacted to those experiences is what developed our character.
No one else is to blame for us being who or how we are, it just is. Three people can experience the same event yet share completely different perspectives.
Every choice we make carries a consequence and while we are free to make choices, we are never free from the consequences of those choices.
We have the capacity to change and relearn new ways of relating.
Once we feel the desire to change, take responsibility and are willing to explore options, our lives and futures can look vastly different from our past.
Although this is our story, it is not a story solely about us.
It is about enduring love, perseverance through trials and a love Dave nor I imagined possible when we met in 1990.
We were merely two people full of imperfection and masked brokenness, bearing scars from failed relationships.
Our journey of growth through unspeakable and unimaginable pain, to victory over adversity and into a deeper love and connection, has been worth every shattered dream and tear shed.
We don’t expect everyone will share our views, nor understand many of the decisions we’ve made along the way. We also respectfully acknowledge that not all marriages can or will be saved. Every situation is different, we hope our story will enlighten readers to greater empathy and understanding about infidelity.
Affairs will affect all of us in one way or another, being informed will help us to help those we love.
Approaching infidelity empathically rather than judgmentally can radically transform relational outcomes and though I maintain this truth, words flow easier than action.
The bible says the standard we use to judge others is the standard by which we will be judged. I’ve done plenty in my life I’m less than proud of, nothing within me desires to be the yardstick for measuring moral failure.
After giving a draft copy of this to one of our dearest and closest loved ones, I asked, “Any surprises?” This is the response I received;
“My honest opinion. Knowing how strong you are as a person I think it shows real weakness. I don’t think anyone would put up with all you have and nor, should they. Also, on Dave’s side gross — I don’t have anything to say about that. Just disgusting.”
Although taken back a little, we understand this response may be shared by others who’ve never found themselves in our shoes.
There is a story in the bible illustrating Jesus’ reaction to the scribes and Pharisees confronting him with a woman caught in adultery.
According to law, the punishment for this crime the culprit was to be stoned. The crowd wanted Jesus to enforce the law, instead, he showed mercy.
Crouching down He slowly began writing in the sand. Historically, the name of a guilty party was drawn in the sand.
Jesus may have written her name, he may have written the names of her accusers, he may have drawn a line separating himself and the woman from her accusers.
Whatever he wrote was powerful enough to spare her from condemnation.
He told them anyone who was without sin could cast the first stone, let the punishment begin.
One by one they walked away.
Perhaps the sin in our own lives is not public knowledge, perhaps it is still hidden, but I promise you none of us is without it.
One of my favourite definitions of sin is a snippet of wisdom from Oswald Chambers, he says sin is in fact, “every act of SELF will.”
Until we find ourselves in a situation, we can never say for certain how we will handle it.
When we did eventually discover affair specific resources in 2019, although abundantly helpful in the quality of information, the situations and examples we read about appeared neat, orderly and sensibly presented.
Whether written from a clinical perspective or sometime after the dust had settled, there was nothing that came close to what we were going through at the moment.
We didn’t know what it felt like to be in the throes of trauma like this and none of the books we read adequately described it.
Everything we experienced at the time appeared completely out of control.
In the midst of our trauma, there was nothing remotely neat, orderly or sensible about us.
It was messy, volatile and unlike anything, we were equipped to deal with.
I remember feeling like perhaps we might be too damaged to come back from this, maybe we’d damaged our children to the point of no return, we did so much so wrong, but then again, what is right about abuse and betrayal?
I entertained thoughts, am I just a little bit crazy or a whole lot crazy?
I mean how does someone like me get sucked into something like this? How?
Dave and I learn to roll with the emotion, opinion and feedback from others, we allow our skin not our hearts to grow tougher along the way.
The decisions and choices I made were based on the amount of information I had at any one time and the attempts Dave continually made to change. Even though progress laboured unfortunately clouded by years of lies; Dave always demonstrated a willingness to grow which kept me hanging on. Regardless of the limited transparency and knowledge I had, my decisions sit well with me.
Here’s a little food for thought;
What if perceived “weakness” was in fact strength?
Could we have an open informed dialogue about what constitutes an affair, how and why they happen? Or do we already know?
Let’s add to this the other behaviours outworking when an unfaithful partner must juggle so many secrets.
If the primary relationship is problematic, is an affair likely to make it less so?
Is it as simple as wanting to be with someone else?
Why wouldn’t a person just end one relationship before embarking on another?
What if we were all totally accountable for our own thoughts, words and actions?
What if this accountability was met with extended grace and not a critical spirit?
Do we realise that we are only responsible for decisions and choices we make throughout our lives and not responsible for the actions of others?
What if the shame surrounding infidelity became a bridge to healing rather than a barrier?
Could we not only accept our imperfect humanity but embrace the condition of brokenness and have greater compassion for one another?
Is this possible?
We all bring baggage to relationships. When we met we were no different, Dave brought with him his brokenness and I mine, I also came with an active 2-year-old boy plus my newfound commitment, love and relationship with Jesus……
And, yes, it has felt like a very very long road to our “happily ever after”. We are works in progress, but we’re not quitters.
Sometimes the heart simply sees what the mind cannot…
This story cannot be written without being completely authentic regarding the source of our enduring love. If you are of faith you will understand and if not, our desire is that you will take some hope and encouragement from our journey and believe, no matter how bleak your circumstances may appear at any given time, you too will know”
“all things truly are possible and will work together for good.”
Matt 19:26, Romans 8:28
If you’d like to read our story there is a free Ebook offer below. This offer is valid from 9 am AEDT 19/2/2022 and is only available for the Ebook version. (Kindle & Paperback excluded from offer)