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This morning, I checked my phone and saw that today’s word prompt on WordPress was “cheat”. I have never taken part in these word prompts as I usually have something to write about, but I have to admit, I’ve been running out of ideas lately. When I saw this word prompt, I knew I wouldn’t take part in it today as the word brings back some bad memories for me. However, throughout the day, I have been bombarded with reminders of this word, and I believe I am being called to write about this topic. So, I am giving in…haha!
The word “cheat” can refer to so many things – cheating on a test, cheating on taxes, cheating at a game. But for me, the word “cheat” brings back memories of a horrible time in my life – a time when I though my life was over. Almost five years ago, I found out that my spouse of almost twenty years was cheating on me.
Those few months right after I found out about the affair were some of the worst and most painful of my entire life. This man, who just months before the affair told me that I was the most wonderful wife in the world, was messing around with a co-worker. This is the same man who, for almost the entire length of the marriage, condemned anyone who stepped out on his/her spouse. This is also the same man who supposedly was a Christian and who clearly knew that infidelity was wrong.
I was stunned at his attempt to shirk responsibility for his actions. He blamed everyone else for his actions, including me. I have since learned all about narcissism and now realize that this played a role in how he failed to deal with his infidelity in a healthy manner. He refused counseling which is also a hallmark sign of narcissism. Through my own counseling, I began to realize that narcissism played a huge role in the demise of our marriage, but not just his narcissism. It was also quite prevalent in other members of his family as well – members that had a huge influence over the entire family dynamic.
I remember certain details about those terrible months. I remember how I found him at her townhouse ordering pizza on a Friday night. I remember walking up to the door and confronting him. I thought for sure that since I caught him, he would return home and talk to me about what had happened. I was, after all, his wife. I just caught him at another woman’s house. However, he didn’t return as I had expected. He didn’t come home for four hours. I remember crying myself to sleep. I remember waking up and looking at the clock, realizing he still wasn’t home, and knowing what was probably going on at her house. I remember feeling like someone was just stabbing right in my heart, feeling so sick to my stomach, and having a pounding headache. I remember never getting an apology for that behavior – instead all I heard were excuses and justifications.
I remember waking up one morning the week after finding out about the affair and walking down to the kitchen right after he left for work. The overwhelming scent of cologne just about knocked me down as I walked into the kitchen. It followed me throughout the house as I thought about the fact that he was probably with her on the train right at that moment – the train that took the two of them to work. He had never put on that much cologne before, but he was doing it for her.
I remember how thoughts haunted me day and night. What caused him to treat me like this? How could this happen? On those days when he left to play golf or go to the casino, was he with her? On the days he had to “work late”, was he with her? Did he lie to me the entire marriage? Did I ever truly know this person? Was she in my home when I was visiting my parents? A never ending stream of horrible confusion and terrorizing realizations kept me from sleeping for months.
I remember how, in a divorce support group at church, they described divorce as a “tearing of the flesh”. They explained that when a couple marries, God joins the two and they “become one”, so when a divorce occurs, it means that the two are being torn apart. Believe me, it felt like this. It was awful.
I remember how, within the time period of just about a month, he went from this loving husband who couldn’t seem to keep his hands off me to a complete stranger who didn’t seem to care about me at all. He didn’t care about all the hurt he was inflicting, not only on me, but my entire family. It didn’t seem to bother him one bit that he was walking out on almost twenty years of his life. It’s like he went to bed as one person and woke up as a complete stranger.
It was hell. A complete uprooting of everything I knew to be true. A time where I didn’t think I would make it. But I did make it, and I am so much better for it.
I went through years of counseling. In addition to learning all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned who I truly was – a knowledge of my own self. I realized that I had not been true to myself as I let others control what I did and thought. I became self-aware, and I learned to love myself and accept myself just as I am.
I also spent a lot of time with God – time in prayer, time in church, and time alone with Him. My spiritual life grew by leaps and bounds, and today I have the closest relationship of my life with God. I spend a lot of time reading the Bible and other spiritual books, and I have learned to lean on Him all the time, not just some of the time. But the biggest lesson of all is that I now know that He always has a plan for me – a purpose that at times I cannot see because of all the darkness on this earth. I thought I was surrounded by that darkness five years ago, but little did I know, the light was still shining. Today, I know that the light is always there no matter how bad the circumstances. God never leaves us.
Looking back to where I was five years ago, I can truly say that I am thankful that my husband had the affair. I actually want to thank him, believe it or not. If he hadn’t had the affair, I would still be stuck on a path that led nowhere. I do not believe in divorce, and I would have never left the marriage had he not had the affair. I have grown by leaps and bounds since the end of my marriage – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
I remember several years ago when my therapist suggested that the affair might have been a blessing – a good thing because it allowed me to grow. In fact, my own grandmother made this same remark several years ago. I didn’t want to accept it at the time. I wasn’t ready. But today, I can truly say that some great changes have occurred as a result of that affair. I recall how it has been said that God can take bad things and turn them to good if you trust in Him. This is so true, and it certainly happened in my case. I truly believe that He reached down, yanked me out of a terrible situation, and placed me on solid ground where I could grow. God sees everything. I believe He gave me the “out” that I needed so I would be able to reach new heights. I wouldn’t be at this place today if I hadn’t been released from this marriage. Being in that marriage and family was truly holding me back from my destiny – a destiny full of hope and happiness. A destiny centered around the one true God. A destiny of true self-awareness.
Although bad things do happen in this life, hold onto hope. There is always a reason that is bigger than any of us, and most of the time we can’t see it at the time. You just have to trust. Hold onto the hand of God. Get a good counselor. God will get you through it and will bring you out on the other side in such a better place. He has bigger plans for you. All you have to do is trust in Him.
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This morning, my mom read an article to me from Dear Abby. The discussion was about a woman whose husband was having an affair, and Abby gave her some excellent advice on how to protect herself. As my mom and I continued to talk about this article, I began to realize that I needed to write this blog for all those people out there who might be in a similar situation. About 3 1/2 years ago, I was a victim of an extramarital affair, and I somehow managed to do things right and received a great divorce settlement. Interestingly, I did exactly what Abby advised the young woman to do in her column!
In January, 2012, I was horrified to learn that my husband of almost 20 years was having an affair. Although I would have done a few minor things a bit differently, I was able to keep it together enough to handle the situation and divorce quite effectively. So, I would like to share some advice with those spouses who unfortunately are facing something similar today, especially with all the media coverage of the Ashley Madison controversy.
Before I begin, I would like to make it clear that I do strongly believe in reconciliation. If there is any chance that you will be able to reconcile with your spouse, by all means, do it. Divorce should only be an option when all other avenues have been exhausted. This advice is for those couples who are definitely headed for divorce as the result of an affair.
- As soon as you find out about the affair and upcoming divorce, CONTACT AN ATTORNEY! This is the first and most important step. Expect your spouse to be upset that you have done this. He/she will suddenly change into this person that you never knew. Lies will start to pour out of him/her like a faucet as he/she tries to justify his/her actions. Your attorney should do this, but make sure that all your assets are frozen. By doing this, your spouse will not be able to move any money around in the accounts and will not be able to remove any property from the marital residence without your consent. If possible, try to get this done within the first few days of learning about the affair/upcoming divorce.
- If you have evidence of the affair, be sure to make several copies and have at least one copy in an undisclosed location that cannot be accessed by your spouse. Be sure to give one copy to your attorney as soon as possible. If your spouse finds copies of the evidence in the marital home, you can be sure he/she will destroy them, so get them out of the house ASAP.
- DO NOT allow your spouse to intimidate you! He/she will try just about anything to get you to “calm down”, and may even try to get you to get rid of your attorney. DON’T EVER GET RID OF YOUR ATTORNEY! That would be the biggest mistake you could ever make. PROTECT YOURSELF – THAT IS YOUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN! Focus on that, and let the distorted words of your spouse roll right off your shoulders. Again, this is very difficult to do, but it is necessary and will be worth it in the end.
- Get into some kind of counseling as soon as possible. You will need a strong support group during this time. Check out your local church for Divorce Support groups, and search for a one-on-one counselor who specializes in family or divorce counseling. This is one of the most important steps of the process as you will learn that YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME even though it is highly likely that your spouse will try to tell you otherwise. Also, support from family and friends is incredibly important. Search out and talk to those family members and friends that you can truly trust.
- Do not move out of your house. Leaving the property may give your spouse ample opportunity to sell off items in the home or even sell the house itself if your name is not on the mortgage. Even if the attorney freezes everything, your spouse may still try to sell things, so do not trust him/her AT ALL! Unless you feel you are in immediate physical danger, stay in the house so you can keep a close eye on your property.
- You have more rights than you think you do, especially if you have been married for an extended period of time. Talking to an attorney will help you to realize that fact. Let your attorney do his/her job. I know they are expensive, but in the end, it will be worth it. Mediation is a viable alternative, but I strongly advise that you have your own attorney. If you move forward with a divorce through mediation without an attorney, you may not get everything that you are entitled to receive. Legal advice is imperative at this time.
- Give it all to your attorney. If your spouse harasses you during this time, don’t let it bother you. Forward all this information to your attorney and let him/her deal with it. You are paying them a lot of money, so let them deal with the problem. You have enough to get through on your own.
- Finally, lean on God. Prayer is one of the most invaluable gifts during this horrible time, and believe it or not, your faith can grow much stronger during this process as you learn to lean on God and trust him.
It is important to reiterate that your spouse will change in dramatic ways as he/she tries to justify his/her actions. You may come to question whether or not you knew this person at all. DO NOT beat yourself up for not seeing the signs. DO NOT blame yourself for not having better judgement. The affair is NOT YOUR FAULT. The responsibility lies solely on your spouse who had the affair. Make him/her take responsibility for his/her actions. Know that YOU ARE A WONDERFUL PERSON!
I hope this advice will help those who have to go through this now or in the future. My heart breaks for you as this is one of the worst things a person will have to go through. It is just like a death in the family. Just know that there IS light at the end of the tunnel!
May God bless all victims of affairs, and may he envelop you with His peace!
Are you interested in learning more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Are you looking for ways to effectively deal with a narcissistic individual in your life while enjoying a fictional story? My new book, Blinded by Deception: Life With a Narcissist might be just what you are looking for. This books delves into the life of Nikki Redding and her struggle to survive for twenty eight years in a narcissistic environment. It describes the life events that cause so much confusion and frustration for Nikki early in her life. Once she hits rock bottom, she begins to learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, and begins her long healing process. Through the support of her friends, both individual and group counseling, and her faith in God, she is able to pull herself out of the depths of distress and into a life full of love, hope, and joy. You will be cheering Nikki on as she travels this long road to her eventual healing! The book is available on Amazon and is available in print and on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope that it will bring healing to others who read it!
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