Reconciling After Infidelity
Words by Hannah Lacy
We all experience love and loss. However, we usually aren't faced with the decision of choosing to love again. After choosing to stay in a marriage after an affair, I have learned that love becomes love when you choose it the 2nd time, 3rd time, and 100th time.
We all have stories we are afraid to share, but the world desperately needs to hear. I’ve heard that sharing stories is freeing and an act of integration. It is the way we connect all our experiences, emotions, pain, and hopes. We must each own our story - the good, bad, and ugly.
I wish I’d been told that good things take time in marriage. Love, forgiveness, intimacy, communication - they all take time. I entered my marriage naïve. I expected that after I put in the required steps it would yield instant results. I came from the generation that was told "you can be anything, you can do anything" but I wasn't prepared for disappointment or heartbreak.
I met my husband at a youth group in 8th grade. It took us a few years to start hanging out and become friends. After becoming friends we became something more. On our 16th birthdays, we knew we had been put in each other's lives for a God-given reason and that we both wanted to be married. We were engaged after graduation and a year later married.
I did everything I thought we were supposed to do. We saved ourselves for marriage, courted several years, and spoke with older couples. I read all the marriage books. I brought high expectations into my marriage which ended up creating a lot of pressure.
We were young newlyweds, living on our own, paying rent, and working full time for the first time. After being married 6 months, we found out I was pregnant. It seemed that all the newlyweds around us only experienced wedded bliss. All the marriage blogs and books did not help me when I was struggling. It seemed that I couldn't find many couples being honest about having challenges and disappointments.
Within church culture it often seems like taboo to speak of unresolved pain or hopelessness. I've learned while I, and those around me, may be uncomfortable with pain; God isn't. He came for the sick and hurting. When we are surprised by pain, He isn’t. My hope in the dark seasons of life is that God has a plan for pain. A plan to redeem, restore, bring us through, and help us overcome.
The knowledge that I was a sinner loving another sinner would have greatly helped me for what came next. We had just celebrated our 2nd anniversary, a promotion at work, 9 months with our son, and a new town home. During this time I received an e-mail with soul crushing news. It was an email with screenshots of texts and messages of an inappropriate nature between two people I deeply cared for - a childhood best friend and the person I had promised to spend a lifetime with.
It was the worst kind of betrayal. The e-mail came with no apology - just "I thought you should know". There are no words to describe how angry, hurt, and shattered I felt that day. It felt like a cruel joke had been played on me and I was falling down a dark hole.
After time to pray and a confrontation, I decided to quit my job, pack up, and move with my son to stay with family. I was also experiencing a crisis with my health at the time. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was too angry and hurt to stay, but also not ready to call it quits. So we separated for a year.
Some may think I should have stayed and others that I should have left for good. I can say with certainty 2 years later that I fully believe that period of separation saved our marriage. During this time we both worked, soul searched, cried, fought, prayed, and struggled. We had family and a close knit community in the process with us.
After a year apart, we moved to a new home and city to reconcile and start again. Healing is not one size fits all, and happens differently for each of us. For us, it was a combination of separating, counseling with others, praying, and talking that led to the choice to love again. It takes courage to stay, and it takes courage to leave. But no woman should feel shame for leaving or staying.
We recently celebrated 4 years of marriage and 2 years since the affair. We have been in our new home and city for a year and we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our second child. We love deeper, forgive easier, and communicate and support each other better. Healing and forgiveness is an ongoing process. We have learned the importance of addressing pain, as unspoken pain only breeds more pain. It is important to keep showing up and choosing love. When God transforms a story of pain into a story of hope, love is reborn and made new. It is my hope that those who hear our story will find hope for their own and the courage to share it.
Hannah Lacy is a wife to her high school sweetheart and mother to an energetic toddler boy with a baby on the way. She loves to tell stories through words and photos. She aspires to live a simple and conscious life after cancer in the beautiful state of Texas.