Your marriage does not have to be over. One theme that runs throughout my book, “My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” is It ain’t over ‘til it’s over! Separation after an affair is always an option - but it does not have to be the road you choose to go down.
Here is a quote from the original version of the book, (which was deleted during the painstaking editing process. The book is 330 pages as it is … I simply could not leave all these nuggets in there.)
During the leadership conference we attended that February, I had been particularly inspired by a talk on never giving up. Brian seemed down, mood wise, during most of the conference and on the evening of this particular talk, he was feeling sick and decided to stay back and rest in our hotel room.
The title of the talk was “It ain’t over 'til it’s over”, and the speaker discussed how often times in life it may seem as though it’s over, all is lost, there is no hope for a situation, no turning back. But it ain’t over 'til it’s over.
He drew an analogy from some historic English soccer tournament, where the English team had apparently lost, a goal behind, with only two minutes left in the game. An impossible situation and the disgruntled fans were already leaving the packed stadium, having given up all hope. Miraculously, the British team had scored not one, but two goals during the final moments of the game and the crowds in the stands had literally gone wild.
The announcers had already been discussing the defeat, before these two amazing goals were scored, and the speaker related it to our lives. It ain’t over 'til it’s over. Many times when things look the bleakest, we are actually on the verge of one of our greatest personal victories.
I believe I heard that message that night by divine appointment, although at the moment it was just an encouraging message, for I was unaware of the storm that was brewing in my life, as I raced along on my seemingly quiet, boring treadmill, unable to see the danger that lay in the path ahead.
End of quote.
Your marriage is not over until the divorce papers have been signed. Most places require six months to a year of separation before this can happen. This is a time to fight for your marriage, not fighting against your spouse, but against evil forces that are attempting to destroy your life.
During separation after an affair you are likely to experience a wide range of emotions, everything from love and hate, relief and pain, anger and concern. I encourage you to join countless others who have dared to pursue the high road to reconciliation. Not all succeed, but all mature. Decide to deal responsibly with failure, and rise to face your future with confidence.
Be warned: There is no microwave solution for a marriage diseased to the point of separation after an affair.
Do not assume that your separation will lead to divorce. It can, just as easily lead to a stronger, happier, more fulfilling marriage than you even imagine possible.
An ancient sage once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Your job: Take the first step.
Separation after an affair can lead to restoration, and the pain you are presently feeling can be likened to labor pains that give birth to a new life. Where your separation leads you depends on what you (and your spouse) think, do, say and believe over the coming days, weeks and months.
These actions, these thoughts, these words will determine the quality of your future life.
If you believe in God, be assured he is very concerned about the outcome. This is a time when you can count on supernatural help. Just ask for it.
“You have not because you ask not. Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full.” John 16:24
Remember the dream you had when you first got married, how much you loved and adored your spouse (or at least you thought you loved and adored them). Well, it’s time to rekindle that dream. I have seen the most unhopeful cases of marriages restored and built into something passionate, (even after divorce!)
Your dream can live again, but not without work – work that will demand listening, understanding, and change – work that can result in the joy of a dream come true.
Your spouse may be saying, “I’m through. It’s finished. I don’t want to talk about it!” That can change in a few weeks or months. At some point every person misses their spouse and seeks reconciliation. All too often, the other spouse has given up at that stage. Your job is to work on yourself and keep an open heart while you wait.
Some of you are saying, “I already tried and it didn’t work.” When we have tried again and again without success, we often lose our desire and give up altogether. We often give up just before the finish line because we cannot see how close it is.
I once nearly gave up climbing a steep mountain near the top. I’d been climbing up steep rock for hours. The top always looked close, but I never seemed to be there. I told my climbing companions to go ahead without me. I was exhausted and gave up. But as I sat alone on that mountain, I changed my mind. I thought, “What if I can actually make it? I can try a few more steps.” In ten minutes I reached the top and was rewarded with the most spectacular views. To think … after all the energy I’d put into that climb, I nearly gave up right before the top.
What about the energy you've put into your marriage?
Do you know that every night it is always darkest just before the dawn?
Be true to yourself, to your values, to your commitments and to your dreams. You cannot experience victory in life, if you are unwilling to engage in the battle. You cannot experience victory if you give up.
Brian left me and told me our wedding vows didn’t count anymore. I am where I am today because I refused to give up. Some of you read my book quickly in one day, and think “she was lucky because everything worked out for her.”
Don’t forget it took me 2.5 years to live through the events, which transpired in that book, and while I was in the middle of my story, I did not know what the ending would be! But I decided it was going to end good for me - no matter what!
The ideal for a separated couple is reconciliation. You may not feel like reconciling. You may see no hope for reunion. (I certainly didn’t see any hope for my marriage when Brian left me, and the other woman phoned to tell me of her wedding plans with my husband and she hoped that it could go “as smoothly as possible.”)
Accept the challenge of separation and make the most of that challenge.
Action step: If you are the one left behind ask yourself, “What do you think are the reasons your spouse has left?”
Write it down on a piece of paper. “I think he/she left because …”
Which of these could be corrected if you or your mate chose to do so?
A word of advice: If your spouse has left and decided that separation after an affair was the best choice, do not tell them what to do and how bad it is that they have left. Do not tell them they should come home. Just listen. Respect their decision. Work on you.
*Some ideas in this article are taken from “Hope for the Separated” by Gary Chapman.
©Copyright 2010 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.
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