One Year After The Affair

Seven years ago today, everything changed. With four words, I cost my wife, family and so many around me what seemed like everything.

“I’m having an affair.”

With those words, my sin was exposed and life as we knew it came to an end. Over the next two days, God would crush my pride, give me a heart of repentance and lead me to an amazing Christian counselor.

It would be another two weeks before Trish and I would speak.

Two weeks after the affair came out, she called me on the phone. I don’t remember all that was said during that phone call, but I do remember how it ended.

“I hear you have been going to counseling,” Trisha said.

“I go every day but Friday.” I responded.

“I’m willing to go with you,” she offered.

For the next two and a half months we went to counseling every day but Friday. As we approached Christmas, we were confident we were in a place for me to move back home. We made a decision to renew our vows. We continued to go to counseling consistently over the next several months.

We moved to a new city, started a new life, and begged God to give us the grace needed to survive the damage of my choices. As we started over, our counselor gave us a statistic and a goal. He said, “80% of the couples that go through infidelity don’t make it through their first year. Work as hard as you can to get through year one. If you can make it through the first year, you will arrive at the starting line.”

Getting to October 9, 2006 became a huge goal. One year after the affair was a milestone we had in our minds. We wanted to do as much work as possible in that first year because we knew the decisions we made in year one of recovery would set the tone and depth of our ultimate healing.

Over the past few months, we have had several people find RefineUs by Googling “One year after the affair”.

We know that this blog post won’t apply to everyone, but we are praying it helps someone. Here are a few things that helped us get to “one year after the affair.”

1. Do the work.

The choices you make in the first year after the affair will determine the amount of healing you both experience. Tell the truth. Have tough conversations. Lead with grace. Begin to build trust. Don’t equate the absence of conflict with the presence of intimacy. Go to counseling consistently for the first year.  Fight for your spouse. Pursue Christ more than anything. Trust God to heal your heart.

2. Be Patient

Healing is a process not an event. You will have great days and horrible days. You will be okay one day and take three steps back the next. Give yourself permission to not be okay; but be determined to not stay where you are. You don’t have to take huge strides everyday, but commit to take one step.

3. Celebrate Big

On the one-year anniversary of the affair, Trish and I skipped church, we went downtown Indianapolis and scalped Colts tickets. We went out to dinner. We went shopping. We stayed in a hotel. We celebrated not arriving at the finish line…we celebrated making it to the starting line.

If you or someone you know has experienced infidelity, there is no doubt it is devastating. But there is also hope. Our prayer is that as we celebrate 7 years of God’s grace, love and healing our journey is an encouragement to you.

18 Responses to One Year After The Affair

  1. JJ

    Over the years I’ve read a slew of different articles regarding saving a marriage after an affair. I know from personal experience that it can be done but it’s by no means easy. It’s been nearly ten years since a string of affairs very nearly ended my marriage and even years later still affects how we go through life together. While you can continue to go through life together and things do get better when compared to the first year following the affair, there really is no way to “Make it like it was or better than before”. An affair is something you have to work at for the rest of your lives together because both parties are hurt by it and even old scars ache on rainy days.

    Should my daughter ever go through what I have with her spouse, I won’t tell her to go to counseling, I’ll tell her it’s better to part company because there’s someone out there that will never even consider doing that to her.

    Just because a murderer hasn’t killed anyone in the past year doesn’t mean they aren’t a murderer any longer and the same applies to infidelity.

  2. Dave

    I just need someone to pour out to. It’s been slightly over a year. And I’m feeling insecure and terrible about myself today. I wish to trust her more. I wish to not have these insecurities surface and then try so hard to contain these emotions while not making her feel bad or that she’s not making progress. Yet when the request comes to travel, I can’t help but struggle badly with the insecurities. I feel torn into “I want to trust to move on” with “I don’t think that’s a good idea, what if it happens all over again”. There are probably more feelings and thoughts swirling but I can’t seem to grasp them as the emotions are overwhelming. I feel tired suddenly.

  3. Jenny

    It took three and a half years before we were able to start working past the infidelity (caused by a manic episode I had) in our marriage, because for a long time my husband chose not to seek medical help for his depression that spanned quite a few years. So we were stuck in a horrid limbo where things never got better. Fortunately, he’s on medication now as well, and the depression and anger are things of the past. We could finally work on restoring our marriage, and now things are lovely. We both feel so blessed to have one another. He finally sees me for who I am.

  4. Tony Bright

    I think number one is END THE AFFAIR! Since my ex-wife refused to end her affair, all other items on the list never came up.

    I suspect the reason 80% don’t make it is because the cheating spouse refuses to end her affair, stop the divorce she filed, and remains out of the church, etc.

    If step 0, end the affair isn’t taken by the unfaithful spouse, the remaining steps are pointless.

  5. Marty Alexander

    To say that I am grateful for the two of you seems so inadequate. I am humbled and inspired by your willingness to not only own your brokenness but to use it as a platform to tell of God’s grace and redemption in your lives and in your marriage. Your lives and your story are not just changing marriages, they are changing generations. We are one of those marriages. Our children are some of those generations. So, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Love you both dearly!
    Marty

  6. Lisa T

    Thank you so much for sharing! Your transparency and honesty is both encouraging and uplifting. I really look forward to the insights you have to share.

    We just got to our one year on Oct 1. Some days are amazing. We are learning new things about each other and that’s good. Then there are the not so good days and they hurt. I wonder how we are going to get past it. But we do. Fortunately God’s grace is endless and his mercies are new every morning. So we hold on for the next day and what it might bring.

    And I am so glad/thankful to see you celebrate this event! I thought it was pretty awesome we made to a year. I wanted to celebrate it and make a big deal out of it. Dinner and a night out and all. I even made a video with pictures of us from the last year, with the new memories we have made. I thought maybe other people would think that this was a strange thing to celebrate. =] (Thanks for making me not feel so weird about it!)

  7. Dana

    Thank you so much for your ministry! I thank God for you guys! With your help our marriage is better than ever! Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You

  8. Keisha

    Thank you so much for your ministry to marriages. I have a very close friend who is going through this & I passed this post on to her. Again THANKS : )

  9. This brought tears to my eyes … such truth! Love your family and am constantly inspired by your path to healing and restoration.