on his affair being my fault

by Alece

The conversation started with, “Why do you think he had an affair?”

Between a string of “I don’t know”s, I spoke of it not being the first time… of the strains of ministry leadership… of a pattern that had been modeled for him… of the hardships in our marriage… of the choices that, one by one, little by little, led down a slippery slope. Her pursed lips and nodding head let me know it wasn’t the answer she was looking for, even before she reworded her question.

“How do you think you contributed to his affair?”

I swallowed hard and blinked back tears, to no avail. They were quickly streaming down my face.

She leaned forward with an I-didn’t-mean-to-make-you-cry look in her eyes. “Oh, why are you getting upset? I know he made the choice to have an affair. But there had to be something that made him look outside the marriage. Why her? What was she offering him that you weren’t?”

I sat there, incredulous—and, not knowing what to do, I just started rambling through the sobs. I explained why I think he chose her… I hypothesized on the reasons our complicated, cross-cultural marriage was so challenging… I outlined a long list of my own flaws and failures… The conversation eventually ended, though I don’t think my responses ever fully satisfied her. Then again, I still don’t know exactly what she wanted out of me.

Looking back, that conversation was one of my lowest moments.

Because I was forced to defend what shouldn’t need defending. Because I allowed someone to treat me as though the affair was my fault. Oh, she said all the wrong things in all the “right” ways—making sure to avoid words like fault or cause or reason—yet that is still what she was implying. I felt trapped in a corner, trying to defend myself against a pointed finger and assigned blame.

Disappointingly, I believe her take-away from that dialogue was that I was resistant to taking a close look at my own heart and shortcomings—that I don’t allow friends to ask hard questions. And while I know that isn’t true of that conversation (or others like it), I was (am) frustrated and hurt at feeling so misunderstood and misrepresented.

Because I’ve owned my part of the challenges of our marriage. Soon after the news of the affair broke, I processed at length with my therapists about my own personal issues, faults, and sins, and how those impacted my relationship(s). I even had difficult, humbling discussions with my still-unrepentant husband in which I apologized for the ways I’d hurt him and our marriage.

I am extremely introspective, self-analyzing, self-critical. If anything’s gone wrong or anyone is upset, I automatically believe it must be my fault. So to assume I haven’t taken a hard look at myself throughout the journey of the past few years—the most grievous, painful, heartwrenching season of my life—would almost be laughable. If it wasn’t so hurtful.

Believe me. I blamed myself plenty, all on my own.

I waded through the blame my ex-husband heaped on me as well. I analyzed to death all the things that I could have done differently, wondering if it would have led to a different outcome. I assure you—regret, shame, and self-blame abounded.

Even in this, as with most everything—joy and grief, faith and uncertainty, pain and healing—I grapple in the ampersand arena. I live in the tension of two opposing truths I am forced to accept together: I am a co-contributor to the demise of my marriage relationship, and my husband’s decision to have an affair is not my fault, in whole or in part.

Both true. Both painfully hard for me to swallow. And both have caused me heartache enough for lifetimes.

You, my friend, need not add to it.

{photo credit}


182 Responses to “on his affair being my fault”

  1. Julia February 19, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    I was sexually assualted at my church, and the first thing my youth pastor asked was “well, why were you over there?”

    Words are so impacting, positive and negative… blame (self and otherwise) is debilitating.

    I appreciated this story, and it affirmed where I am now at. Thank you.

    • Elora Nicole February 19, 2013 at 6:51 am #

      I can’t even…

      This angers me on so many levels, Julia. I’m so sorry.

      • Julia February 19, 2013 at 8:40 am #

        It angered me for a long time too. But anger is a passing emotion… and I’m happy to say I’ve moved through that emotion to more productive ones about my experience.

        I am a better person now than I was before.

        • purejuice February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

          xxx

        • Jade Topp February 24, 2013 at 6:03 am #

          Julia, I am so grateful to God that you were able to get past the anger and and move past it to, hopefully a more peaceful & blameless state of Being. Knowing what you went through, albeit probably not as much as we think. I cannot abide any abuse, sexual, physical or emotional. I don’t care who does it unless it is coming from what is supposed to be a positive relationship with Jesus Christ your Lord & Savior.
          ALL of the “Blame” goes onto the perpetrator if these types of acts. You are not to blame for any of this.

          It is good that this story helped you heal to some extent, remember that Christ will defend you against that type of abuse he sends Angels to help carry you through the tough parts.

          You will remain in my prayers.

          Bod Bless you,
          Jade

          • Alece February 26, 2013 at 9:58 am #

            Thank you for your kind words to Julia…

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:10 am #

      oh julia… i am so so sorry.

      • Julia February 19, 2013 at 8:41 am #

        Thank you.

        Please know I’m in a great place now, and have worked through many of the issues this incident brought up. :)

    • Melissa February 19, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      So sorry Julia…

      • Julia February 21, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

        Don’t be. I am doing fantastically, and through many years of thoughtful soul searching, I’ve been able to integrate this experience into my life.

        Thank you for your kind words!

  2. Natalie Trust February 19, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    Alece, thank you for being vulnerable. I was just on a walk thinking about some of the “counsel” I had received after my own marriage crumbled. To find this post, right now, is a gift. Thank you.

    “Oh, she said all the wrong things in all the “right” ways—”

    Yes…a thousand tragic times, yes. I relate. What is most painful to me is this: I switched from a kind and wise male counselor to a female counselor, in the hope that there would be a connection that she and I could share, as women. It wasn’t a good choice to switch. She did more damage to my emotional and mental health than I ever thought possible.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:12 am #

      I hate that you had a damaging counseling experience in the midst of an already-painful time, Natalie. Hugging your heart from here.

    • Jen February 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      What *is it* with women and how cruel and hurtful they can be to other women?? Seriously. I don’t get it.

  3. idelette February 19, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    You are so brave and beautiful, friend. I look forward to the day when we’ll talk about South Africa over some rooibos tea or Pinotage. Meanwhile, I love hearing from your heart and cheer you on.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:35 am #

      Mmmm… Pinotage. I look forward to that day too, friend. Thank you.

  4. Martha February 19, 2013 at 1:03 am #

    Agreed. I especially hate the “What was she offering him that you weren’t?” question. While in some cases I’m sure it has a place, in lots it is not the relevant issue. There are tons of women willing to offer all sorts of things to husbands that their wives aren’t willing to offer–with good reason. My job is not to be the ultimate fulfillment of my husband’s every fantasy (and I mean emotional/spiritual/relational as well as the obvious type), nor is his to be mine. God has better goals in mind.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:37 am #

      I so appreciated hearing you say that. Thank you, Martha.

    • terri poss February 19, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      And often what is offered is freedom from responsibility, from the mundane, from the dailyness, from the hard work of marriage. And that’s something that, by definition, a spouse cannot offer. No matter what one spouse does or doesn’t do, it is never justification for choosing an affair. No one is responsible for the other person’s bad/wrong decisions.

      I have a girl in the Bible study I’m leading who’s dealing with this right now. And I feel so helpless having nothing to offer her but a soft place to fall.

      Love you, Alece! Praying always!

      • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:33 am #

        “Nothing to offer her but a soft place to fall”… that is probably exactly what she needs right now…

    • Brenda February 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

      Well said.

  5. Kristi Scott February 19, 2013 at 1:10 am #

    I was a part of a church that encouraged this type of thought – blaming the wife for marital problems. My old church and the ministry organization it belongs to would tell women in abusive or cheating marriages to just love the man and be patient with him. The almighty word “submit” was thrown around a lot. Little was done to monitor the men and keep them accountable. They’ve improved because of a big scandal that broke out in several of their churches, however this un-biblical mentality still rules their church culture. It is the saddest thing that this sexist attitude is so common among Christians.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. It’s so good that you realized she was wrong. It was not your fault no matter what you did. You were not responsible for his choices.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:34 am #

      YES. I’ve been in churches/ministries that fostered that type of “submission” mentality. It is dangerous in so many ways.

      Thank you for speaking truth to my heart, Kristi.

  6. Jen February 19, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    What a freaking bitch!!

    Yeah, I said it.

    I hate that for you, so much. It’s horrible, isn’t it, the way that not only do we apparently have to mind our own behaviour, but that of others? When Adam and I were having our troubles, our PASTOR said, in front of Adam mind you, that if I did not sleep with him more, then it would not be surprising if he looked elsewhere. Fortunately, my husband was incredulous at that, and afterwards (because he was too shocked at the time) assured me that he would NEVER. But the story is the same… Somehow, the spouse has to have some kind of blame for the DECISION and ACTION of the other. Simply not true.

    • Jen February 19, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      And, um, that should read “sleep with my husband/Adam more”… Not him as in the pastor. #awkwardgrammar

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:32 am #

      Ugh. I hate that your pastor made that awful statement, Jen. So not okay!

    • Larissa February 19, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

      Oh Grrr!! That pisses me off!! … Unfortunately, I can imagine who it might have been …

      Admittedly I *have been* a cheater in a past relationship (it was only a very brief relationship), but I can freely admit that it was a CHOICE that *I* made at the time. I knew it was wrong (as I’d been dating this other guy for a month by that time), and yet I CHOSE to do it anyway. It felt good at the time … not so much later … and I came to him not long afterwards, admitting to my sin, giving him opportunity to decide whether or not he could trust me to remain faithful – basically, whether he wanted to continue the relationship. He decided no, and though it hurt, I knew and understood why … Ironically, the man I cheated *with* is now the (absent) father of my daughter (though, as a result of an encounter 4 years later).

      It was, however, not a result of ANYTHING HE’D DONE … but rather, MY OWN insecurities and failings. Never in a million years would I even consider placing ANY of the blame upon him!!! … I am sooo

      • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

        I appreciate you sharing your own experiences and journey, Larissa. Thank you.

  7. Anita February 19, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    As I sat and read this – I just wanted to hug you – I know you don’t know me and maybe what I have say doens’t matter – but oh dear – how could this “friend” say anything like that. YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT AT ALL! yes. i am shouting this, cause it makes me quite angry. I also agree with Jen what a bitch! With friends like that who needs enemies?

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      What you have to say DOES matter. Thank you, Anita.

  8. Preston February 19, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Oh, Alece, I wish I could just have you round for homemade everything. You are sewing up wounds with the bravery of your voice.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:30 am #

      “You are sewing up wounds with the bravery of your voice.” That’s going to stick with me a long while. Thank you, Preston.

  9. Melissa February 19, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    Sadly, these conversations have happened to me and other women I know who have walked this same road. I am my worst critic and it took me years to work through some of these. Sadly, these wounds will always be there for us. I have realized that some of these people ask out of fear…. They live in uncertainty and fear of it happening to them. There are some who are also mean and some are gossips. It is just as difficult at times to go to church because often we are treated differently…divorce changes every aspect of our lives, friendships, Sunday school classes, our kids lives, our finances…every detail. Be mindful of that if you have a single friend. We struggle in areas that no one sees.

    I speak candidly to people now about the sacredness of marriage. I read one time a comment on how the Christian husband displays what he thinks of Christ by the way he treats his wife. This quote was an aha moment for me…and I try to apply that to my own life and teaching my children. When dealing with all this, it helps me keep my perspective on sin and Who we are to glorify.

    Praying for you today Alece…

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:29 am #

      I think you’re right, Melissa, about people asking or saying things like this out of fear…

      Thank you for your prayers.

      • faith hope & cherrytea February 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

        people that blame are aligning themselves with ‘the accuser’ in opposition to the very Christ who didn’t come to condemn or reject. who’s their daddy ? vs who is ours?

        we’ll know people by their actions. and as Maya Angelou says, when a person shows you who they are, believe them the 1st time!

        Who does God want to be for you now, in this part of your life journey? That’s the answer you’ll want to hear, look for and live by… blessings Alece. God is WITH you. H Sp sustaining , comforting, counselling.. Yeshua covering – Ps 91.

        • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:29 am #

          “people that blame are aligning themselves with ‘the accuser’” — dang, that’s powerful. and applies in every area.

    • Natalie Trust February 19, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Melissa, I stopped going to church altogether after my marriage ended. It only added to the pain. I truly appreciate the encouragement to be mindful of singles!

      • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:30 am #

        Church has been a hard and interesting journey for me the past few years as well…

      • Jennifer Hudson March 11, 2013 at 10:34 am #

        Were it not for my kids, I don’t think I’d be at church right now either. God is amazing… His followers, not so much at times. Apparently even a ‘hospital for the broken’ can’t have broken people around. Especially if they were on staff at the time.

        Thank you, Alece – as always – for putting into words what I’m feeling as I walk down this path. February is always especially challenging for me, and this year I’m having a harder-than-usual time pulling out of it.

        • Alece March 11, 2013 at 10:43 am #

          i know how hard it can be to shake the low-lying clouds after a heartsore month… praying for you this morning, jennifer.

  10. Annie February 19, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    Love what you said. Love what Preston (^^) said. Hate what ‘friend’ said. ‘Friend’ is probably dealing with a lot of self-blame herself, and projecting that on you. Still. Hate it. I’m sorry. <3

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:27 am #

      Sigh… Thank you, friend. Really.

  11. Laura February 19, 2013 at 5:18 am #

    All I can say is…wow….with friends like that, who needs enemies? Perhaps she meant well, but me thinks she needs to do some of her own soul searching to have even implied such a thing to you….God be with you, my His peace be yours.

  12. Amy Young February 19, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    May you continue to hear the voice that says: this, THIS, was not your fault.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      YES. I still need to be reminded of that often. Thank you, Amy.

  13. Danielle February 19, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    Wow. I have to say, you maybe able to take responsibility for the things that weren’t right in your marriage, but you cannot take responsibility for the sins of your x husband. Those were his choices, not yours. How many times have we seen a famous minister cheat on his wife and his wife stand up and take the blame for it. Crazy. Not your fault. Loved the book called “Hedges” by Jerry Jenkins that spends several chapters addressing this.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:25 am #

      I hadn’t heard of “Hedges” before… gonna check that out. Thanks, Danielle.

  14. Matt Appling February 19, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    Amen to all that. It sounds like if you are a naturally introspective person, and the takeaway was that you are not willing to be introspective, then the person who was asking the questions doesn’t know you very well.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      …and maybe that was what actually hurt the most.

  15. Ric February 19, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    The truth usually sucks, which is probably why were always trying to kill it. Ampersands help. They’re like the spoonful of sugar in written truths.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      Funny. Ampersand living is harder for me — choosing to live in the tension is so difficult at times. But you’re right. Truth dwells there. Thanks, Ric.

    • Brenda February 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      “The truth usually sucks, which is probably why were always trying to kill it.”

      LOVE THIS.

  16. Jazmin February 19, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    I hope you understand that your ex was just the type. The cheating type. Like my father. No matter what you would have done, he would of cheated. Even if you had been the “perfect” wife. I remember talking to one my dad’s old mistresses once and she told me he had been cheating on her. I realized, actually I think I always knew, that he was just the type. You could have been Betty freakin Crocker, looked like Kim Kardahian, and had Jenna Jameson’s libido, and he still would have cheated.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      It took months of my counselor reinforcing that message to me, for it to finally start sinking in. He told me over and over again: “Nothing you could have done would have yielded a different result because this is about his character and issues, not yours.” Even now, it’s a hard pill for me to swallow, but I know he is right. Thank you for echoing his voice today.

  17. Dani Kelley February 19, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    Oh, Alece. Tears and hugs for you. Thank you for your voice.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      Thank you, Dani. Truly.

  18. Kristin February 19, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    Thank you. Reading it was like looking in the mirror. Thank you for sharing.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:20 am #

      You are not alone, Kristin…

  19. Elora Nicole February 19, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    I love you. So much. Thank you for consistently taking us deeper.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      Thank you for strengthening my heart, friend.

  20. Cara February 19, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Wow! That’s what I call a southern “Bless her heart” moment. So blind to herself that she forgot the whole “do no harm” that comes along with the title of “Friend”. Unfortunately, I find this mentality more and more everyday where I am. I agree with others, in that, she was just addressing some of her own fears. Why is it we try to make ourselves better by stepping on the ones close to us!

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      Makes me realize how easily my well-intended words can hurt others… I need to stay mindful of this.

  21. Linda Stoll February 19, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Alece … as a pastoral counselor to women, I am grieved that you received such poor, insensitive, damaging counsel, whether from a professional or a friend.

    How I wish that you could have been sitting with someone who simply was present with you in your grief, who was safe and wise and still. Who heard you well, validated your very real emotions, and let you simply be.

    Yes, we counselors ask hard questions. But there’s a time and a place and a gentle sensitivity and a deep trust that must be present and active to do so. And it breaks my heart that you weren’t offered that healing gift …

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:17 am #

      Thank you, Linda. I am so thankful to have had friends who did just that—-simply be present with me in my heartache. And who at times gave loving and challenging counsel as well. I’m also really grateful for a counselor who got down and dirty with me for a very long time, helping me find myself and God in the bottomless pit I was in. I have so much respect and admiration for you and the work you do… Thank you…

  22. Ashley February 19, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Alece: This is beautifully painful to read – thank you for sharing your heart and hurt and the journey you’re travelling. I am encouraged and humbled by your pursuit of Jesus through it all.
    Grace & peace,
    Ashley

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      Thank you, Ashley. Really.

    • Casi February 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Yes, what she said. Thank you for your vulnerability. As you mentioned in previous comments, it helps me go back to the reminder that I need- words, even well-intentioned can cause harm. It is so important to try to be aware of this. Thank you again for being brave and honest.

      • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

        Thank you for saying that, Casi. It means a lot.

      • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:33 am #

        (And when are we all hanging again?!) ;)

  23. Rachel February 19, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Alece,

    I wish I could have been there in that moment to cry for you and lead you away from that conversation with an arm around your shoulder. Having been through the same experience, I know exactly what you mean with the words, “I live in the tension of two opposing truths I am forced to accept together: I am a co-contributor to the demise of my marriage relationship, and my husband’s decision to have an affair is not my fault, in whole or in part.” I know you already know this, but God’s redemptive love means not having to go back over all that, I’m preaching to the choir, because it’s been 3 1/2 years since the discovery and the separation, but I will say, God is amazing. So amazing in fact, to make what man intended for evil, He intended for good. Thank you for being so brave and honest.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      “God’s redemptive love means not having to go back over all that.” Thank you for that freeing and life-giving statement. Four years out from his admission of the affair, two years out from his decision for divorce being finalized, and I still yo-yo back to blaming myself at times. Sometimes (all too often) the lies are easier to believe than the truth…

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

  24. Jennifer Upton February 19, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I don’t have to tell you how I understand. You know this already. So, I will tell you that I love you once again as I always do.

    Adultery is tricky business isn’t it? Sigh….

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      indeed it is… thank you for your love and encouragement, friend.

  25. mongupp February 19, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. It’s the enemy wreaking havoc. Your friend probably didn’t mean ill, it just came out that way. I can identify with some of what you say, Alece. I do hope your friend realised how she hurt you. Our words and tones sometimes come out wrong. Thankyou for sharing, Alece, you have reminded me to be mindful of what i say and how I say it.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      I don’t think she was ill-intentioned. Which just helps remind me how often and easily I can wound unintentionally with my words. Watching my mouth today…

  26. Lisa Bartelt February 19, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    I’m so grateful you are talking about this. I have wrestled with questions like these. After my husband’s unfaithfulness, I got “I just can’t imagine” a lot from other women. Like that helps. We are still together, repairing the brokenness and working through recovery. We haven’t “gone public” with everything yet but we’re recognizing a need for the Church to talk about infidelity, sexual addiction, pornography and the like in helpful and healing ways, not just from a condemnation, don’t do that view. So again, thank you for sharing your struggles. You are loved.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      In our not knowing what to say, we tend to spit out trite platitudes or worse. People don’t realize the value of a listening ear, shared tears, and a tight hug.

      And I’m with you… the Church needs to be leading the discussion on these vital topics…

      You, Lisa, are loved.

  27. bethany February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    I think it’s important to be introspective and look for the ways that our behavior contributes to the brokenness of our relationships, but your “friend’s” reasoning is so far beyond that boundary. Because while we can “own our part” as you have done, our actions are NEVER an excuse for someone else’s bad behavior. There is so much overt sexism, misogyny and abuse perpetuating this idea that it is a wife’s responsibility to be desirable enough, happy enough, loving enough to keep her husband from looking elsewhere to satisfy his sexual appetite.

    I am so so sorry, friend, for all the pain and hurt that is compounded when people put the blame on you. We are here and listening and cheering you on for calling this out. You are known and loved.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:52 am #

      That kind of thinking is sadly so prevalent in the Church. It’s destructive and dangerous, for both genders.

      Thank you for your beautiful heart towards me, Bethany. I don’t take that lightly.

  28. Cheri Gregory February 19, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Alece — Thank you for sharing so honestly. When I finally wrenched myself away from a toxic work environment, the organizational culture dictated that there had to be a “bad guy” and it had to be me. I was made to feel disloyal, defective, dishonoring. It’s hard to move on when you’re battling every “de-” and “dis-” in the dictionary!

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Why do we so quickly look for someone to blame? Ugh. I’m sorry to hear how you were treated, Cheri.

  29. Hännah February 19, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    And this is why I’ve been so cautious about talking to the hyper-religious about struggles.

    Trying not to cry. Thanks for being a sister and opening up here.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Hugging your heart from here, Hännah…

  30. Jane Barlow February 19, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    My heart aches that you had to endure this experience. I pray that God will continue your healing so you can continue to help others through this process. In spite of the pain, hope you will continue to find your healing in Christ and stake your claim on His joy!

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      He definitely is… Thank you, Jane.

  31. Kelly @ Love Well February 19, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    I have come to believe that both spouses are usually at fault, to some degree, for a failed marriage.

    But only one spouse is ever to blame for an affair.

    They are related, but they are not the same.

    During the darkest days of our marriage, when I was desperately seeking to fix everything, a wise counselor leaned close to me and said, “Listen to me closely. You are not perfect. But this destruction: This is not about you. It is not about you. It is not about you.” And I wept.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:41 am #

      “Listen to me closely. You are not perfect. But this destruction: This is not about you. It is not about you. It is not about you.”

      I needed that, Kelly. Thank you.

  32. Nolan Bobbitt February 19, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Alece, you never cease to amaze me in your gift of writing pieces that are so vulnerable, authentic, and full of lessons for those willing to learn. I admire you and respect you deeply, friend. I know this journey has been so painful for you, but thank you for sharing an entry like this. As a husband, it reminds me to set high boundaries in my relationships with any woman who is not Alison. As a friend, it helps me to be reminded to be careful with my words and questions when talking to a person who is walking through this kind of heart ache– I might just need to shut up and listen to the person who has been hurt!

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      Thank you for being so encouraging, Nolan. And you’re right — this serves as a reminder to me as well, to be more careful with the hearts of others.

  33. Cheryl Summers February 19, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Can you hear that? It’s the sound of every betrayed wife (and husband) giving a standing ovation as they finish reading this post! Wow – how perfectly stated. This attitude is so prevalent. And so hurtful. For those of us who have experienced the betrayal of adultery, we are already asking ourselves how this disaster might have been averted. The list of if-onlys are endless. The church at large does not handle adultery well at all. We too often blame the victim and ostracize the offender. By doing so, we fail in our job description of ministers of reconciliation and ministers of comfort when reconciliation is not possible.

  34. Rebecca Trotter February 19, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I too had to learn to embrace the reality that as an introspective, self-critical person, I know my own faults better than anyone else. I don’t need help seeing them. And that people outside of myself, contrary to all their assumptions, can’t see me better than I can see myself. I tended to fixate on my tiniest faults, minimize everyone else’s responsibility and allow others to do the same. I suppose that a lot of people deny their own faults and responsibilities, but I’m not one of them. Unfortunately, I had to end up in a place much like yours to really see and accept that. There’s a good deal to be said for not playing the victim, but it’s not the whole story and sometimes I think people forget that.

    BTW, I’m not trying to be a shameless self-promoter here, but I happened to write something last night which I think might be for you: http://theupsidedownworld.com/2013/02/18/sometimes-youre-just-all-jacked-up/

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Such great thoughts, Rebecca — here and in your post. Thank you.

  35. annie February 19, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    You know, I want to say something. It is common practice (in Christian circles especially) to say that failed relationships usually (or always) have both partners at fault. I have to say I disagree. Successful relationships ALWAYS take two. Always. It is absolutely impossible in every degree for one person to create and sustain a successful relationship on their own. However failure? That can ABSOLUTELY be only one person’s fault. Saying that no one is perfect, therefore each party probably had a hand in it is ignorant and worthless. (Sorry, I like saying things bluntly.) So the argument is that because each party isn’t perfect probably they both contributed to the relationship failing? Well WELCOME TO THE WORLD, HUMAN. Not a single one of us is “perfect.” In fact, I think “perfect” is an illusion that doesn’t exist. SUCCESSFUL relationships are made up of two imperfect people … so how does imperfect equal anything? Of course you’re imperfect. Imperfect is quite perfect in terms of human nature. Imperfect people find a way to love, to exist, to give, to uphold, to sustain, to infuse with light and love and happiness. Imperfect people know what it means to forgive and be forgiven. Imperfect people understand that divots and bumps and lumps and sometimes craters just come with the territory of being human–and they can show you where all of their own are (not that they like to). Imperfect people don’t mind imperfections in others when their heart is to love anyway.

    Some people JUST DON’T WANT TO LOVE. And they live in darkness. In their own darkness they blame all of their own imperfections on others because they see no way to love themselves. They are incapable of simply loving.

    All of us have moments. Moments where we feel weak or inadequate or incapable. Moments where we see only ourselves. Yet for most humans these moments last but briefly: their lives are still filled with many moments of strength and love and giving. Sometimes, however, some people let those moments overtake them and consume them and there is no relief. It does not matter what the other person does–they can be an angel or a demon–it will not alter the path they have chosen.

    It is ABSOLUTELY possible for a relationship to fail due to only one person. I could never make a judgement myself about someone else’s relationship. Not only is it not my place, there are HUGE aspects to relationship that only those in it will ever see. But is it possible? Absolutely.

    And I just want to say, Alece, that …. you have many friends who are capable of loving imperfect you. Your imperfections do not disqualify you from their love. How and why should the “love” of a man be any different? I think if it exists in female form, it exists in male form too, because real love is LOVE. It is not a carefully balanced tight-rope act based on your ability to measure up. It is simply taking you for who you are and knowing you, and loving you for all of it. That is all.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

      I love the way you unpacked your thoughts, Annie. Thank you for this.

      Oh, and “you have many friends who are capable of loving imperfect you”…. YES! I am beyond grateful for the truth of that statement.

    • erin a. February 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      This is really good Annie! Thank you – “Successful relationships ALWAYS take two. Always. It is absolutely impossible in every degree for one person to create and sustain a successful relationship on their own. However failure? That can ABSOLUTELY be only one person’s fault.”

  36. Amanda Fultz February 19, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    I appreciate this post in so many ways. I’ve also been confronted with a harshness over parts of my life where I have been a victim. It’s painful and it’s wrong. From another perspective though, there’s this.

    My husband’s first wife had an affair and then ended her marriage to him. He was devastated at first. He had been trying to lead their family down a path to bring them closer to God. This didn’t match her vision of life and she sought comfort elsewhere. He never felt victimized by this. I still wrestle with that fact every time I think of his story. He felt there were obvious reasons she had looked outside their marriage and had an affair. There’s the obvious, they weren’t meeting each other’s needs. His own culpability in where he fell short in the marriage. The same things all of us grapple with – even in successful marriages. But more importantly, going through the exercise of understanding where his fault rested brought him to the epiphany that many here echo. The affair would have happened in this relationship no matter what had happened. He could have been the perfect husband and it still would have happened. The blame lay in her inability to ask for her needs to be met. Her inability to face her own realities as truths. Her inability to be HONEST. But there’s more to it than that. Because if there’s not, then he might have walked into the same situation again. He recognized he had to take ownership of the issue at another point in process in order to not be a repeat victim.

    He went back to the point where he made the decision to marry this woman. The priorities and commitments their young age of marrying never presented as necessary for discussion. He went back to the fact at the time he was choosing a mate, he wasn’t aligning his heart with his Christian priorities. He wasn’t confident enough to look for the important things in a lifelong partner. He made a poor choice from the outset which doomed his marriage, though it took 13 years to manifest.

    The reason this was important for him to get to, is because it changed his countenance. He became a man about God. He lived the life he wanted to live with his exwife. In doing so, we met and fell in love. I fell in love with the man who leads our family religiously, financially, spiritually, and literally because he was brave enough to understand what he wasn’t doing when he made the decision the first time.

    I’m not suggesting my husband’s story is your story, only that perhaps the “looking” at this situation from the therapist might be a gift. A gift to take stock of your life and trace the decline of your marriage to a specific point. The point at which it became a forgone conclusion of failure. To look at what made you make the decision to move forward, so that the next time you enter into a relationship, you’ll be more whole. More confident in who you are and what you need. So that you won’t be broken again.

    What your ex husband did was wrong. And he is completely to blame for making the decision to do what he did. What caused you to choose someone with that character flaw? That may be an interesting mental exercise.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      “To look at what made you make the decision to move forward, so that the next time you enter into a relationship, you’ll be more whole.” You’re right, Amanda. That has been a topic in therapy and in my own processing, and while I don’t know that I have conclusive answers yet, I’m asking questions I once never considered. And that is a start…

      • Jen February 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

        I’m not sure you could really be aware of someone’s character flaw though, when it’s bent in that direction but not outrightly exhibited? A friend of mine has recently gone through something similar, and it knocked EVERYONE they knew, not just her, for six when they found out. It was so not like him. She certainly didn’t choose to marry him knowing he had that character flaw.

        • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:36 am #

          I agree, Jen. While there may be signs of weakness in character (as we all are prone to have), there isn’t a way to foreshadow the choices they will make down the road. Not always. In my case, EVERYONE was shocked by his actions and decisions as well. He had fooled even those closest to him.

          Thus, why trust is even harder for me now… Ugh.

          • annie February 21, 2013 at 4:15 am #

            “This, why trust is even harder for me now…”

            Sigh … yes …

          • annie February 21, 2013 at 4:17 am #

            Thus*

    • Janice S. February 20, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Amanda, your thoughtful reply is very much appreciated. It gives me much to think on.

  37. Tracee Persiko February 19, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    I think about that long season(s) of having to endure people’s two and ten cents for you. Everyone always has something to say – some piece of opinion or half ass perspective to offer. What is it about us that feels the need to speak into the process of another’s life and heart. I wish people saw you more – then and now. I wish we would seek to understand and not to be understood. Why is it the people who know nothing about the experience have the most to say? Makes me mad.

    Relationships take work on both parts. They are built together and fall together. Niel and Niel alone made the choice to have an affair. He had many chances to make different choices, but he chose that one, not you. He had changes and choices to work it out with you, but he didn’t. You’ve owned your shiz, he’s made his choices. Not saying anything new. it’s just truth.

    • Jeremy Walker February 19, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      Wow…I completely agree with you, Tracee. Awesome thoughts!

    • Hännah February 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      “Why is it the people who know nothing about the experience have the most to say? Makes me mad.” This.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Thank you for consistently reaffirming this to me throughout my whole journey. I’m grateful for you.

  38. Jeremy Walker February 19, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    You know, I’ve been asked this same question…and I’ve been asked this question when I was the cheater and when I was cheated on. And honestly when I hear it now I have trouble controlling my sarcasm. “So what do you think he offered your ex-wife that you weren’t?” Hmmm…I don’t know, lets see…he offered her the chance to be unfaithful…end a marriage…tear apart a family…hurt the people who loved her.

    You see my sarcasm there? It just seems like a question that will never reap a lot of value. And trying to guess why your ex fell in lust (because that’s what happened) with another woman is like trying to knock down a concrete wall by punching it with your fists…you’re just not gonna get very far.

    Another thing that I think is not understood is that we’re assuming when our spouse has an affair that their thinking clearly about what this other person has to offer them…and I’m sorry…but that’s just not true. I know from experience that in the middle of an affair you’re making a majority of your decisions based on how you “feel” about the other person…not what you think they have to offer you. Affairs are fed by what we feel…not by logically thinking about what another person has to offer us over our spouse. Because if the latter was true, an affair would probably never had happened.

    Thanks for sharing your hear, Alece. God has huge things planned for you…huge.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      “Affairs are fed by what we feel…not by logically thinking about what another person has to offer us over our spouse.” That’s an eye-opening perspective for me, Jeremy. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thank you.

      • Jeremy Walker February 20, 2013 at 8:30 am #

        For sure!

        When I think about how much our feelings can influence our choices in the reality of having an affair, it makes me value what Jesus said in Matthew 5 about adultery on a whole different level.

        It seems He almost gives us this impossible situation by saying that anyone who looks on a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. I say it seems like an impossible situation because honestly, we all have looked at someone with lust.

        But I think we forget how dangerous it is to take that first initial look (because I don’t think it’s the first look that’s the sin…it’s the second, third…you get me I’m sure) to the next level and allow it to saturate our thoughts…It’s truly dangerous, especially when you’re married. I think that’s why Jesus gave us that difficult verse to follow…because He realized how influential lustful thoughts can be…and when we give over to them completely, there’s a good chance we’ll make the choice to be unfaithful.

        These are just my thoughts of course…the gospel according to, Jeremy :o)

  39. Janelle February 19, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    To me its like saying to a battered woman, well what did YOU do to contribute to the beating? We are not responsible for other people’s choices. If the person who had the affair wasn’t happy in the marriage, and had told the other person so, and nothing changed, then he or she still shouldn’t choose an affair.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Wow, Janelle. Such a good analogy.

  40. Jazmin February 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I would like how does one find a GOOD counselor? I remember years ago when I was going through a deep depression, I went to a Christian counselor who proceeded to tell me that my problem was pride. Sure. Way to tell a person who feels like shit, already hates herself, and is borderline suicidal, that it’s all her fault! I spoke to another Christian counselor who wasn’t much better. Luckily God did surround me with friends, family, and other resources who helped me overcome that dark period in my life. I feel like there should be a “Caveat Emptor” sign whenever you see an unknown counselor.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      I hate hearing about your awful counseling experiences — I am so sorry!

      {Confession: I had to Google “Caveat Emptor”.}

      • Jazmin February 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        Sorry. Just the high school History/English teacher in me.

        • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

          No apology needed! I learned a new term!

  41. Mary February 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    Beautiful post, and a good reminder of the importance of listening rather than insinuating.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Making me more mindful today of handling others’ hearts well with my words…

  42. Brenda February 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Girl. You have my sympathy and understanding. No one has ever directly asked me those questions, but I’ve felt them silently aimed at me many times. If not from individuals, then from The Church At Large. It’s hard to describe how hurtful, wrenching and enraging it can be.

    Thank you for having the guts to write about this. I feel more and more compelled to write about my own experiences with these things, but I guess I’m still too afraid. This helps.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      You’ll know when it’s time… Not because you’ll no longer be afraid, but because the compelling will start to outweigh the fear. And when you do, I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines, just as you’ve done with me.

  43. Andrea February 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Oh Alece…. how this broke my heart! :( After following your story for years, I’m just…. at a loss for words! We really can screw up being the church! I have been kicked out in a sort of way from my past two churches ( I guess I sure can get a rise out of people ;) ) even though things have semi-healed over, it’s painful the things that were said. Words impact us deeply and can never be taken back. Even the implications….

    I so wish I could sit and just chat with you. :) As a very far away friend I just love you, and I have for a long time. Many hugs from this heart to yours…. seriously. :) Thank you for always being so honest and raw. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and yet so incredibly beautiful. <33333.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

      I receive that wholeheartedly, Andrea. Thank you, friend!

  44. Wendy February 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart. I remember the times as a teenager that I witnessed my mom navigate these conversations that were really so very painful for her. I can’t imagine how many times she did so when I wasn’t around. She carried it with her for years. And so did I.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Wow, Wendy. To have witnessed that with your own mom at such a young age… That must have been so hard, for both of you.

      • Wendy February 19, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

        Yes definitely hard. Complicated even further by the fact that my father married his mistress. Add to that a small town and a church that didn’t love my mom through it all. Messed up my view of marriage and community and church for a long time.

        • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:37 am #

          Hugging your heart from here, Wendy.

  45. Diane February 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Sweet Alece…I wish you realised how much your ex simply did not measure up to you. That that chasm was not of your making. I wish I could cover your house with a million Post-It’s, all saying “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT”. He fell for the lie, the not-even-second-best. He gave up. He defaulted. You didn’t do that.

    You are not the instigator, nor are you the victim. You are Alece, and you don’t even realise half of how wonderful you are. Now, you hopefully know me well enough to know I don’t just, erm, blow smoke up someone’s posterior to make them feel better. :-)

    Your ex made a bad life choice. He chose to recklessly abandon what was right & go for what was easy. His departure, his decisions, his downfall. Not yours.

    I don’t know what else to add that’s any better than what’s been said by others already. :-)

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      Not the instigator and not the victim. Thank you for this, Diane.

    • Jen February 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      I wish there were “like” buttons here.

  46. Joyce February 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Got that t-shirt too. Still healing.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      Still healing right alongside you. Love you, Joj.

  47. Jeremiah Vik February 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    As if healing itself is not a painful enough process. Praying your story speaks truth into the lives of others who might be manipulated by the same lie.

    So sorry that every word you’ve heard since that moment was not laced with hope, affirmation, and kindness.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Your words mean a lot, Jeremiah. Thank you.

  48. Nisha February 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Hey Alece,

    Though I am currently single and had never been married but thank you very much for this post that you’ve so vulnerably yet honestly shared with us. Thank you my friend in Christ. I was in a relationship that was supposedly leading towards marriage yet the entire plan came to a halt when the same man who proposed told me indirectly that it was my fault that he had to call it off because I was not significantly slimmer than I ought to be and he did it over a phone call, it was heart wrenching beyond my known capacity for heartaches. I had two extremely painful years afterwards, constantly feeling defeated by those words, “it was my fault, this had to end” yet in those 2 years the Lord has been nothing but faithful in showing me otherwise – that I am beautiful beyond description simply because I am made in His image, although it was a really tough journey for me. God turned my utter brokenness into something affirmative and mind blowingly beautiful. He gave me courage to look to Him and no one else and He truly restored my heart.
    The brokenness in your ex requires his dealing with the Lord and has nothing to do with you because marriage is a display of God’s glory through a covenant you’ve both made with God not just to each other. You’re dealing beautifully, let whoever trying to take that peace you’ve been having away again, the other direction if I may so bluntly.
    Blessed day!

    Nisha – Malaysia

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      Oh Nisha… Hugging your heart.

  49. Brittany February 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Ugh. So sorry this happened to you. I could go on and on about similar situations but that is beside the point. In my experience, the people I trust most with my pain are not the ones who try to judge my pain or have all the answers. Rather the friends that simply listen and pray without an agenda, have offered the most comfort and healing. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded that God is WITH us, even in the dark places, especially so. And as I reflect on that I think we should model his behavior…and just be WITH each other in the pain.

    I read this a few months ago and it’s so poignant:

    “But for me personally, the real treasure in his (Daniel Walser, “To make a life”) writing is less the narrative of what has happened and much more the insider story of grief that follows. How we who stand outside often unintentionally fail those inside the ‘burning house’, how God does not, how we can help by being willing to enter into the flames rather than trying to simply extinguish them.” (Christa Wells)

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      Enter into the flames rather than trying to extinguish…. Dang, that is so good.

  50. Sharon February 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Oh my! My first thought is un-Christian…. the person who said that must have crawled out from under the same rock your ex-husband did!!! Hugs to the sky and back!

  51. mj February 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    ::Sigh::

    My heart aches for anyone having to go through that. Thank you for your transparency, yet again, and for the gentle reminder that sometimes, listening is all someone may need.

    Hugs to you.

    X

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Thank you, MJ. Hugging you back.

  52. Jason February 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I am SO glad you wrote this post. Those of us who are divorced at some point have to come to a place where we recognize the weaknesses in us that contributed to weaknesses in our marriages. BUT…you are not to blame for him making sinful choices. Until we get to that place we will believe and carry around words like those of this “friend.”

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

      Thank you for the ways you have me courage to post this, J.

  53. HopefulLeigh February 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    I hate that you received this response from anyone. Hate it! There’s a difference between speaking truth into a friend’s life and forcing our nosiness or uninformed opinion on someone. Your friend is definitely in the latter category. I’m often amazed by your grace and transparency, friend. This has not been an easy road for you, I know, but I see Jesus shining through as you unpack this one piece at a time. The “both/and’s” are tough. No easy answers but I’m always a listening ear and a glass of wine (or cuppa coffee) away.

    • Alece February 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      Thank you for being in my corner, friend. I appreciate you.

  54. suzannah | the smitten word February 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    oh mercy, people can really be The Worst. you, alece, are brave and beautiful, and your words are balm for so many.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      oh thank you, suzannah… truly…

  55. Thel February 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Hey sweetheart, I looked at your post this morning, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to treat it with the attention it needed. So after work and play rehearsal, I pulled your post back up. After reading it tonight, I have to agree with some of what the others have said…I really don’t think there was anything you could have done differently to make the outcome change. Some people (myself – IN THE PAST) are looking for someone else to make them feel like they are enough, or whatever it is they are expecting themselves to be. They (me) were expecting a person to fill the God sized hole in them (me). Fortunately, I cried out to God in my pain and inadequacy and He filled me with His love. Then, I no longer looked to my husband to fulfill a need that he couldn’t, I looked to my savior. You can’t fill the God sized hole in anyone, and you shouldn’t be expected to. Don’t worry about what you could have done differently…you loved him and you were committed to him. He was the one who couldn’t maintain, who was looking to find something out of the marriage that was more than God had ordained. Please don’t do the what if thing!! You were enough, and you did enough. He was expecting more from you than he should have. Love you sweet girl, thanks for your big open heart!!

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      Thank you for this, Thel. I so appreciate your heart for me.

  56. DebiDew February 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Alece, it truly does amaze me what we humans can do to each other. sad. and even though I know this, at times, and well-intentioned, I find myself doing some of the same- usually in areas outside my realm of experience, or where I have not healed. and then I cry a lot- because I know sooooo much better. I have heard similar. I have felt the same. and I am convinced that what she voiced, we go to first- ourselves. to have it confirmed by another is almost a new betrayal. but it’s wrong.
    I am glad you have had fellow truth-seekers lift your arms and heart.

    What blessing you seem to have come to know through and after- hallelujah!! And what a tenderness of heart I think I hear in your writing. I would love to hear more of your story- more of how God has revealed Himself, and watch your eyes respond to His work. You are so right. It is NOT your fault when another human chooses sin. And unfortunately, the good does not commute either… I’d like to be able to transfer freedom and salvation!!

    Thank you for being brave enough to share.
    I think that, because of a few I heard share before my pain, God had placed a few pieces of the healing path for me, and that helped the beginning of my healing. May your words also bless some with a few pieces to help on a journey to healing, so that they never feel the need to allow the hurt that is so carelessly hurled in those tender moments.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      That has been the one real area of redemption in all this for me, over the past few years — watching God take my brokenness and use it to create life and healing for others. Still blows my mind…

      Thank you for your encouraging and strengthening words…

  57. Diana February 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    I have no words for this breach of friendship, this nosy, unnecessary invasion of your heart. But I have to tell you that THIS crapola way of thinking was part of my upbringing. Always, always – if a marriage broke up due to infidelity, my mother and her friends asked exactly these ugly questions, made the same harmful and untruthful assumptions. “Well, if she hadn’t let herself go….” “She was just too busy with other activities and not adoring her husband….” Ad.Nauseum. And for many, many years, I lived in the middle of those ideas because that’s what I was taught. No more. Yes, self-examination is always an important part of assessing broken relationships. But. The choice to cheat was his. And his alone. Something in him was broken beyond repair for him to go down this road, both the road to infidelity and the road to blaming you for it and ultimately choosing to end the marriage rather than work toward reconciliation. I am so very sorry that this happened to you, Alece. And I salute you for writing about it so powerfully – a good reminder to be very careful what I say and how I say it when dealing with others in similar situations. You are a remarkable human being, brave and honest. He blew it, big-time.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      I remember hearing those same things, even being taught in an internship “how to keep your husband” — things like always having makeup on when he gets home from work, not wearing sweats around the house, etc. I cringed then, and I cringe now. Such destructive thinking, for women AND for men.

      Thank you for standing with me and for me, Diana. You strengthen me.

  58. Leslie February 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Alece, your story never ceases to painfully squeeze my heart, but at the same time give me so much hope for restoration in any and all situations. Sometimes in life I wonder if God lets us go through hell on earth just to show OTHERS that it’s possible to come out believing in Him. I often think our own pain and trials may not even be about us but about the lives our stories will touch. Sending you love, friend.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:45 am #

      … all the while showing ME that it’s possible to come out believing in Him too.

      Thank you, sweet Leslie.

  59. Marcia Ramirez February 20, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Alece,

    So sad to read this post…. I had a similar experience with a “bad counselor” which turned me off from ANY therapy/counseling for YEARS. Thankfully I finally found a GOOD counselor who restored my faith in therapy, but I have always told all my friends to be extra careful who they choose to seek council from. A bad therapist can actually do MORE damage, which is just heartbreaking. — I guess we need to be “careful who we seek council from” in ALL areas of our life. Not just in picking out a therapist. :-)

    Miss you girl… we need to schedule a coffee. A.S.A.P

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 8:47 am #

      YES! I had an awful counselor experience right in the throes of all this — and while I was leery of ever going back to a therapist, I eventually found one who was amazing for me. Kind, gentle, yet at the same time challenging. It was exactly what I needed.

      I miss you too, friend. Gonna text you now about getting together… I know you have had a rough few weeks (to say the least). You have been so strong on my heart. Love you.

  60. Mark Allman February 20, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Alece,
    While I am sure that with with the marriage relationship and any relationship for that matter we all do things that make the relationship stronger or weaker; for someone to claim that something other than the “exercise of one’s own free will” lead them to their choice is a cop out of the extreme. We have the responsibility and the right to make our choices outside of influences other than what is the right thing to do. To choose to allow yourself to be influenced in making decisions based not on what is right or according to your beliefs is choosing to let emotions and passions rule the day. It is a choice born of immaturity and weakness. Excuses and reasons are often given for decisions but if they are other than “it was the right thing to do” or “according to their beliefs” then they are delusional anchors seeking a bottom that will never be found.
    Alece, may you stand strong for I know your anchor has found a everlasting cinch point.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      So appreciate hearing your thoughts, Mark. Thank you.

  61. Tracey February 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Dear Alece, I love your raw emotions, introspection and vulnerability. As you already know… words can bring healing and words can wound. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this from some Christians who claimed they were just trying to tell me God’s “truth” in love; but in actuality, all they were doing was judging me.

    No one is perfect. No relationship is perfect. They are complicated and messy… and when we marry, we promise to love one another despite our flaws. Anyone can pick out a number of their spouse’s flaws to use as an excuse to cheat, but having an affair is always a CHOICE. One person CHOOSES to break their promise to their spouse. To play the blame game is pointless.

    • Alece February 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      I love that you chimed in here, Tracey. I always value your perspective. And I know you know all too well how hurtful words can be… Sigh… Love you, friend.

  62. Betty Draper February 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Alece, How precious of God to use your struggle to touch many hurting people. God waste nothing, He uses all to conform us into His Son image. The one sentence that stood out was in a comment. “Successful marriages usually take both partners.” Ones personal choice on how to handle a failing marriage is just that a personal choice. And I am so sorry he choice the adultry and divorce to end your marriage. I read somewhere that divorce is like the ripping of flesh, hurts worst then cut flesh. A scar is harder to rip or tear which is what all wounds must become to be use of God. We can talk about our scars, touch them but they do not hurt anymore. An open wound, not healed will bleed slightly each time it is touched. The only ointment that turns a wound into a scar if “forgiveness”. I can forgive because He forgave me. We forgive for our sake, not the person who wounds us. A scar is tough…it can give us wisdom for future hurts on how not to be wounded so deeply again. I would not trade my scars now for they give me discernment, understanding and wisdom and a love to help others put into practice the art of forgiveness…it’s a learned process. I am one of those betrayed years ago and decided to stay and continue to work on our marriage, which is a whole other story. Great post…blessings

    • Alece February 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

      I’m learning to see my scars as proof of life. Once something/someone is dead, wounds no longer scar over… So the fact that we bear scars is proof our hearts are alive (contrary to how we may feel at times). Even Jesus — in His all-powerful, all-healing perfection — still chose to bear scars after He was resurrected. He came back to life from DEATH — he could have easily “fixed” His scars so that he bore no trace of what had happened… But He chose not only to keep them, but also to show them. To allow them to bring healing and hope to others’ hearts. May I join Him in doing the same…

      Thank you for sharing some of your story and journey, Betty. I appreciate that so much.

  63. erin a. February 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Alece, This was hard to read. Not only because it is awful what your friend said to you, but because I know this thinking is so prevalent in a lot of the christian culture. And, I know that I have thought this way before. I hard to think that I may have been the uppity “friend” in the past, dispensing such {non}”wisdom”.
    It is all based on thinking that we have more control over our life and relationships than we really do. So often, we think we can have an answer and a solution to all our problems. Hence, this “fix-it” lady, coming in to tell you that you could’ve had it all be okay, if only you ….
    It is a lie. We do not have the kind of control. And there is not a fix-it solution to all the hard things. You know that. But, I think this lady wants to think she’s got a handle on all this stuff.

    I am learning, as I grow in my marriage, the health of unity, but not co-dependency. The whole blaming game is such a co-dependent problem. And it’s not pretty. It is not a Jesus-focused way to live.

    All this to say, Thank you for sharing this. I am sorry for the way you were treated, and blamed, and kicked around by friends. I am sorry for any of those attitudes still in me. Your post helps me take a better look at my own heart.

    Annie’s comment really helped me, too. This stuff – “Successful relationships ALWAYS take two. Always. It is absolutely impossible in every degree for one person to create and sustain a successful relationship on their own. However failure? That can ABSOLUTELY be only one person’s fault.”
    I think that is so right on! Some times, when a friend is talking about a failing relationship, I feel like their view of my happy marriage is, we just got lucky. I always have a hard time with that. Because we both work very hard to be united in forgiveness and love. It wasn’t just the luck of the draw. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can believe a friend of mine is at fault, if their spouse chooses to not work at the relationship. One person cannot create a successful relationship. Period. (duh. But, I needed that.)
    Thanks for being a part in me learning to love others better, with less talking, more grace. :)

    • Alece February 22, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      You are so right about control — such a mirage, isn’t it? The only thing we can truly control is how we personally respond to things. That’s it.

      I appreciate the way you’ve internalized and processed through all this. Challenges me to follow suit in “learning to love others better, with less talking, more grace.” Thank you, Erin.

  64. purejuice February 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    excuse me, but what she was offering to him that you weren’t is this: no obligation. period.

  65. Helen February 22, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing Aleece! I too am a wife, who’s ex-husband had a affair with someone within our church. Unfortunately, that woman was my cousin :( To make the blow even harder, my ex and her never admitted to the affair but when confronting her at one point, she told me straight to my face that she wasn’t going to give him up for me. He, being from one of the most powerful families in the church and her being from another, my predicament was sealed. People in the church preferred to gossip rather than confront or deal with the problem. Being the most talented musicians in the church at the time, no one wanted to upset them in case they decided to leave. At no time were either of them asked to step down from their positions or confronted about what was happening. (To make matters worse, they are now married.)

    I was completely invisible; left to try and hold things together and raise my two kids. To try and retain my sanity, I left that church and sort solace in another church. Its just a shame that when the marriage was definitely over, three of the churches ministers (yes the affair spanned 7 years) came and apologized for not dealing with the problem. It appeared that having appropriate music was more important that trying to save a marriage and a young family.

    I contemplated suicide (and attempted twice) because the road ahead seemed so very, very dark and the consequences of the breakdown was way too difficult to fully comprehend. At the time, I felt that I had brought so much shame on my family and that it was all my fault that my husband had looked elsewhere. My self esteem was absolutely shattered. I had given my everything to this marriage, to the point where I no longer existed allowing him to do whatever he wanted, whenever he want in an attempt to keep him married to me.

    But in amongst it all, my God stood by me! And there were many, many nights when I cried myself to sleep. At the time, I may not have fully realised it, but God was surrounding me with His people who would love me unconditionally and support me in ways I couldn’t have imagined or hoped for.God led me to an experienced Christian lady counsellor who’s wisdom, unconditional love and support helped me sort through the web of lies and deception to show me that I am a very precious child of God and that God had an amazing plan for me and he was taking every step with me. He had cried with me and at times I have literally felt the arms of God around me as I wept and wept.

    But I do have my miracle!! Just over 5 months ago I married a true man of God. He is everything and more that I could hope and dream for. From the very beginning of the relationship I knew that he was God’s chosen man for me.

    Even though its been four years for me, there are still triggers that appear and take me back to those dark places. Its then I call upon God and his strength to remember how far I have come and that his decision was not my fault but consequences of his choices.

    • Alece February 22, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      oh helen… i’m so sorry to hear about all you’ve been through. grateful for the restoration and grace you’ve experienced through it all. thank you for sharing openly…

      • Mark Allman February 23, 2013 at 11:57 am #

        OH Alece,Helen,
        That we do not ignore these people that feel invisible. We need to be sensitive to them and step in and offer support. Helen, I am glad you made it to the place you are at. A hurtful journey through the cold and bitter to a place of warmth.

  66. liz February 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    I really appreciate this article. I also tend to process things like you and place quite a bit of guilt on myself without others’ help. However, when I read this post, I saw it from a different angle. I heard my own voice directed at my 9yo daughter when there is a squabble between she and her younger sibling. I spend quite a bit of time asking them to reiterate to me what their role was in the squabble… I’m confused. How do I call my kids to repentance without laying on the guilt? I know my 9yo processes things like I do. She has a low self-esteem, and life is hard…

    • Alece February 26, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      There is definitely a time and place (especially as a parent) for calling out wrong-doing and providing accountability to own it. I think doing so in love and grace and gentleness, and explaining the right response/action to have in future situations, is healthy (and not shaming). Being quick to point out my own faults and apologizing for them sets a sound example as well…

      I would love to hear others’ input on this too, Liz, as I think you raise such a good question. I appreciate the way you are processing this for your own life as a mom…

  67. On the Same Page February 26, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Ugh, I feel like this attitude is so prevalent in the Christian community. I felt like I had to dig and dig to find any resources on dealing with affairs in marriage that didn’t start with what I had done wrong that forced him to make those choices. I think you said it best with, “I am a co-contributor to the demise of my marriage relationship, and my husband’s decision to have an affair is not my fault, in whole or in part.” We didn’t have the best relationship at the time, but that doesn’t make any of his decisions to go elsewhere my fault.
    Thank you for this.

    • Alece February 26, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      Exactly. Well-said. Thank you…

  68. Ayla February 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Oh Alece.

    I had to pray (and eat some chocolate) before I could respond to this.

    I’m so sorry that you were at the receiving end of such piercing words. Ill intentioned or not, all too often, we (yes I have been guilty of this too) use words without taking the time to think/pray about whether or not they will be beneficial, edifying and/or healing to those that are hurting.

    Is it just me or does the Universal Church have the tendency to point fingers at and ostracize women regardless of their circumstances? My ex-husband had an affair during our marriage, it was my fault for not meeting his needs. I started seeing someone during our separation, and all of a sudden it was my fault that we were getting a divorce (no mention of the fact that he was abusive and had a sexual addiction which led to our separation to begin with).

    My frustration is that one size does not fit all and every individual has unique circumstances that only they know what it’s felt like to walk in yet assumptions and judgments come so easily for outsiders. Jesus have mercy on us all because all of us are so capable of doing that to each other.

    And I just want to say that I so admire how you called her your friend with no sarcasm or malice, just understandable hurt. It takes a special measure of grace to be able to do that amidst such raw pain but it is so inspiring to me having been at the receiving end of hurtful words of a friend recently and not knowing how to proceed with the relationship/interaction especially since the words were never acknowledged or apologized for.

    Okay I’m done with my rambling. I love you!

    • alece March 1, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      I so appreciated every word of your comment, Ayla. Thank you, friend…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks:

  1. When “support” goes wrong | Journey Through the Chrysalis - February 19, 2013

    [...] powerful blog post tonight on A Deeper Story by Alece that tells a similar story. It’s called On his affair being my fault, and it’s a story that I recognize. Although I have not faced the exact circumstances she [...]

  2. in my head 02.24.13 | - February 25, 2013

    [...] On His Affair Being My Fault – Alece writes about her experience with the Christian culture that often asks women, “What did you do wrong that encouraged your husband to have an affair?” Just one example of how the “submission” mentality of the evangelical church is a slippery, and often dangerous, slope. The blog this was posted on, A Deeper Story, is also my new favorite blog. [...]

  3. my words around the web : Grit and Glory - April 4, 2013

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