Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Husband Chooses to Stop His Affair by "Turning off the Gas"

Posted by Michele Olson

This was a recent letter sent to The names have been changed, but you will find great encouragement from the content. It is a longer blog, but well worth the read. What do you think? Please blog your thoughts. *

I met my wife Jillian, we fell in love got engaged and married. I was a student, and worked in a restaurant. Jillian was working at home taking care of our son and getting ready to give birth to our next child. During that time, I entered into an inappropriate relationship, got too close and too personal with another student and found myself in the middle of an extra-marital affair. I was blinded by my own selfish “dreams” and listening to the lies that were being told by this woman who was not my wife. It was difficult for me to see Jillian’s suffering and needs while this other woman was feeding my ego.

Jillian had her suspicions – she even confronted me a number of times. But without any ‘evidence’ – it was just a matter of calling her crazy and insecure to get her ‘off my back’. Early in February, 3 months after our daughter was born, I had her on my chest. She was having a hard time falling asleep. Eventually she calmed down – by what I perceived to be my presence with her – and I prayed right there that God help me to get out of this lie. I couldn’t escape without His help – I didn’t want my children to know me as the man I was at the time.

Shortly thereafter; I had just arrived home from school, just minutes before planning an afternoon with this other woman. Jillian had spent most of the day on the phone with our pastor, Christian counselor and some friends who were aware of the situation. She had discovered a paper where I had been writing about my relationship with this other woman. She was advised by the counselor to remain committed to our marriage despite this evidence and to see where my commitment level was.

If you would’ve asked me a few weeks or months ago, I would’ve said zero. But on this particular day, at this moment in time, when Jillian asked me “Are you committed to this marriage,” I felt I had to think about it in great detail. After what felt like 15 minutes, I answered ‘yes’. I had ‘my chance’ – it was there in front of me but something else seemed to be driving the bus at the time. She replied “so am I”…

She then looked up from the table and asked – “and what is this?” She had placed the incriminating evidence on the table, and instantly I knew what it was. I asked where she found it. She was getting a baby swing ready to take back to a friend – she reached inside the box and found the notebook I had been writing my ideas in. Within it was a brief overview of a book I was thinking of writing with a stupid idea I came up with telling the “fortunate events” that brought me and this woman together. I knew that trying to lie about the contents, or come up with a lame excuse would not be worth it so I told the truth.

What a concept. Truth telling.

From then on, that’s what it became. Truth telling.

She asked me about the times when I stayed late at school to do research. What did we do? Where did we go? Was she in our house? Truth telling. For me it was release from my lies. For her it was excruciating pain. The liberation I was experiencing was her prison – she was dealing with the part I had already lived through lies. She had to go back through, all the times she had ‘believed’ what I had said about what I was doing, where I was – who I was. She had a journal she kept when she called me and where I said I was. We walked backwards together through the book. I gave every detail my mind allowed me to remember. She would get angry. She would cry. We would always sleep in the same bed though. That was the strange part. After all that infidelity, the lies – we needed each other badly.

The next day, I met with our pastor (he was at our house the night before and coached us through some things) and we talked about the journey I had, how I got there, what was next. One thing that stuck through the whole conversation that he said:

“You’ve got to turn off the gas.” “You can fight a fire all day long, but if the gas is still coming into the house, the fire will keep burning until there is nothing left”

That afternoon, Jillian and I shut off the gas – together. I called the woman, with Jillian on the other line. I told her Jillian was listening. I started to explain to her that I wouldn’t be coming over today, or any other day. She was not to contact me. Jillian and I will be getting help for our marriage. I started to tell her that she should get help too. Without saying a word, she hung up.

The gas had been shut off and Jillian and I began to sift through the rubble that was left. It was difficult at times. Reliving my lies and shining truth into them was painful. It’s hard sometimes to think about the kind of ‘man’ I was back then, what I said and did. The best part about it though was Jillian. She forged through every one of my retellings of the events that had happened. She would get angry, then we would ‘deal with it’ – together.

She didn’t trust me at all, and rightfully so. I surrounded myself with only those that I knew Jillian could trust. I immediately stopped working at the restaurant. I finished my classes at college. I got a new job and really started a new life.

Fortunately for me, that new life was started with the same wonderful woman who said “I do” when we go married. She is the model of true forgiveness – having NEVER brought back anything from my past to use against me or to hurt me. I know that our restoration has a lot to do with forgiveness – she gave it wholeheartedly and even asked for mine of her in return. We are like the patient that was told 10 years ago they had ‘only days to live’ – By the grace of God, look at us now! So much has changed in us and in our families since then. Since that time in our life, we have seen couples survive and fall. We have mentored a few and have even convinced a few to work it out. Because of the hopelessness we had– we see the greatest of potential in almost every “at risk” marriage we come across. We never feel that God has somehow given us “special spiritual powers” to reach into couples’ lives and miraculously make their marriage problems go away. I know that it’s our transparency about what we’ve been through – sharing the struggles of our marriage, and coaching and speaking truth into their lives – that’s helped most of the couples realize the similarities of their struggles. But also too, that God has given me a second chance – to share with other couples how I’ve been transformed by His grace. This has never been out of obligation or servitude… but because I’ve been released from that which had previously enslaved me and blinded me to what is the truth.

*Author's story contains faith based statements.


Anonymous said...

Hi--If you don't mind my asking, why the asterisk indicating that there are faith-based statements in the article? said...

We don't mind you asking! is a moral organization, however we take no relgious or political stand. As a the recipient of government grants, we let people of faith and people who do not describe themselves as people of faith know when there is some faith based content in a blog post.