Is there anything worse than a season in limbo? Especially when it comes to your marriage, something you’ve deemed unwavering and permanent. The post-affair waiting game is a suffocating time of uncertainty. There’s no real way around it. However, there are ways of handling it wisely. I spent a lot of time reading, praying, and strategizing my next steps during this period of separation. Chapter 5 will let you in on what I discovered. As with all of the teasers, please read the previous chapters if you haven’t already.
5. WHEN IN LIMBO
“‘Death itself would be easier to tolerate than being tossed aside like an old shoe. Those who have experienced such a loss tell me that the most painful aspect is their own loneliness- knowing that their unfaithful partner is comforted in the embrace of another.’-James Dobson
During the time we were separated, the emotions I experienced ranged from the pits of hell to the most hopeful of optimists. Allow yourself both. You ARE going through hell. There’s nothing worse. Don’t pretend otherwise, but get through each moment, one by one. Moments of joy will come that have nothing to do with the state of your marriage. This is good! Take the happiness when it comes. Do what you can to take care of your soul and be proactive about keeping yourself in a healthy state of mind. Keep your mind in check, focused on all that is right and just. Wondering what or who your husband is doing will not help anyone. Focus on what will help the healing of your CURRENT heart and mind. Don’t get too ahead of yourself. It’s all a lot to take in.
What helps the empty bed and lonely nights? Well, there are many ways to fill that void. Ones that don’t include other men in that empty bed. Stay super busy, make dinner plans, find a new favorite TV show (a comedy), go outside, bask in the sunshine, surround yourself with encouraging people, be honest with yourself about what you need, and communicate those needs to loved ones.
Think about yourself and maintain self-respect, BUT make the decision to be a fighter. Your husband has been taken from you! Nothing about this was your doing. Will you sit back and play the victim or will you pull out the big guns and give your marriage the 110% you agreed to on your wedding day? Fight like hell to keep your marriage and family together. That is the way it was intended to be. Some seasons of marriage are light-hearted, all full of laughter and joy. Others bring us to dark and desperate places. These seasons are only meant for the strong of heart. The ones who won’t give up on the vows they took.
When you’ve been hurt in unimaginable ways, it is time to fight with unimaginable might. And this doesn’t have to be made known to your husband necessarily. Actually, if he’s left you, I recommend you sharing very little about where you stand in terms of the marriage. It may seem childish, but it is how they operate (like children). Tough love at its finest. James Dobson wrote a wonderful book called, Love Must Be Tough. Here are a few of my favorite and most helpful excerpts …
‘Some especially immature people absolutely have to feel there is a challenge in the relationship to be satisfied with it. Such individuals might even need to hear the door starting to close on the marriage before wanting to hustle back inside.
‘Ridiculous!’ you say. Of course it is. We only have one life to live so why spend it testing our loved ones and measuring the limits of their endurance. I don’t know. But that’s the way we are made. Why else will a toddler or a five-year-old or a teenager deliberately disobey his parents for no other reason than to determine how far Mom and Dad can be pushed? That same urge to test the limits causes students to harass teachers, employees to challenge bosses, privates to disobey sergeants, and so on. And regrettably it leads some husbands and wives to test the ones they love, too. What is required in each instance is discipline and self-respect by the one on trial.’
‘Instead of begging, pleading, wringing your hands, and whimpering like an abused puppy, you as the vulnerable partner must appear strangely calm and assured. The key word is confidence, and it is of maximum importance. Your manner should say, ‘I believe in me. I’m no longer afraid. I can cope, regardless of the outcome. I know something I’m not talking about. I’ve had my day of sorrow and I’m through crying. God and I can handle whatever life puts in the path.’ …
Love Must Be Tough was a hard pill to swallow for me as I shifting out of the role of loving and devoted wife. One day it hit me though. That phrase, “Have your cake and eat it too.” BD was having endless helpings of cake. He had his wife, his baby, and his house in one hand and the homewrecking girlfriend in the other. Livin’ the cheater’s dream. This scenario takes much more strategy than the loving and devoted wife had up her sleeve.
He has left you for her (barf). You’ve been wronged. Really wronged. But!, as long as there’s still hope for your marriage, continue protecting whatever character your husband has left. If your marriage is restored and all works out happily ever after (with a shit ton of work), you won’t want to justify to people why you stayed and why you’re still married. Not everyone NEEDS to know. Sharing with people who will show the support you need is crucial, but be mindful. You have more grace for your husband than your girlfriends or your parents do. You don’t want a million awkward dinners in the future.
Come up with a standard and succinct response for anyone who asks where your spouse is or how you two are doing. This will keep you from telling unnecessary details to unimportant people. I laughed out loud one night while watching Sex and the City. One of the main characters, Charlotte, was recently separated from her husband. She was at a party and when someone asked her about the separation she said this, ‘We’re separated – not legally separated, nothing legal, oh God no!’ It gets real awkward real fast and it’s easy to ramble. I am not proud to admit how many conversations I found myself in with people who simply wanted a one word answer as to how I was doing, and were given the latest episode of Jerry Springer. Practice your responses. It will save you from that conversation at the party when you’re ranting to a stranger when they simply ask how you are. ‘Oh, I’m fine, well, not really fine. My husband and I aren’t really ‘together’ right now. But nothing is final and no, we haven’t talked to lawyers!’
Keep your head up, keep fighting, and stay true to all of the wonderful things that make you who you are.”