What if?

I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t even taken the time to read through my blog feed, but today I’m sitting idle waiting for other things to finish. I particularly like something Bee wrote the other day, a post titled Love Is a Four Letter Word. I started to write a reply, but then I thought it probably needs its own blog post as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

Affairs tend to bring up these what if kind of questions for everyone involved. Both the betrayed and the cheater might wonder “did I marry the wrong person?” or “am I making the right decision to stay (or go)?” Both might wonder, “is there something better out there for me?” Both would be a bit daft if they didn’t wonder “would I have been better off now without this affair?”

Early on in my recovery, I would have sworn that I’d be better off without ever even meeting the other woman. The pain was so great and the damage so devastating, that there didn’t seem to be any question that we’d all be better off if I’d have never started down the road to infidelity. I’d still say there’s so truth to that – my wife and I would both have a lot less pain in our lives if I hadn’t done that.

But that’s not how the world works. Every choice we make and every experience we have changes us. Some things change us in big ways, others in small ways, good ways, or bad ways. I’d be a different man than I am now if I hadn’t had an affair.  Who is to say that everything would have worked out well if I had turned away from the other woman? There are other women. There are other ways to hurt my wife or myself. For example, I remember very clearly thinking just a month before the affair began that I needed to kill myself. This was not a single idle thought, either. Who is to say that I wouldn’t have killed myself?

It’s not all negative things either. I have learned more about grace and forgiveness in the last three years than I would have learned in 30 years if I hadn’t betrayed my wife. It’s easy to say the price wasn’t worth it, but not learning those lessons have consequences, too – consequences I can’t see now but can only imagine. How happy would my wife and I be if I had continued living in an ungracious and unforgiving manner? Who is to say she wouldn’t have despaired of our marriage and sought the love of another man? How many people that I’ve helped since the affair would not have received the help they needed (and I’m not just talking about this blog either)?

Now if I listen very carefully, I can almost hear the sounds of angry replies being pounded out on keyboards across the globe, people saying “you’re just trying to justify what you did.”

I’m not, because there is no justification for what I did. My point is not to justify or ameliorate the effects of my poor choices. What I’m trying to say is that insofar as closure is a real thing to be seen and experienced, it comes at least in part from recognizing that it all makes sense even when we can’t see it.

I have to make peace with what I’ve done, just as everyone else has to make peace with their choice of spouse, their choice to have an affair, even their choice of what to have for breakfast. You cannot live your life constantly comparing your current existence to what you think it would be if only you’d chosen something else. You don’t know what would be. You don’t know what part of yourself you would lose if you’d have done things differently.

Call it faith if you want, but I believe that good can, does, and has come from my bad experiences and wrong choices. I have hope that as badly as I’ve fucked up, I’m a better person now in spite of having taken the wrong path to get here. The scars I bear are a reminder of what I’ve done but also of how I’ve survived and learned from it. As much as I want to change the things I’ve done and the things I’ve seen, I can’t and I’m better for it.

That’s acceptance. It’s hard and it sucks, but I am who I am meant to be. I just pray that my next lessons don’t come by my own sinful hands.

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About Anonyman

Recovering adulterer and husband of an awesome wife who has given me a second chance. Sinner and Christian, saved by grace alone. I cuss a lot
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10 Responses to What if?

  1. Foreverchanged says:

    Even as a BS I have often had these same thoughts. GODs ways are higher than ours. All things work together for the good of those who are called according to HIS purpose. HIS purpose not ours. Even so, it is so hard not to ask why and what if. In this life I will never be able to say that the affair was the best thing that ever happened for our marriage. I will never be grateful for it. I too have learned a lot and am a different person, more wise and of deeper reliance upon Gid but The hurt is too deep and too much a part of me now to feel gratefulness in this life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Moi says:

    I have read that many people get past their guilt, are forgiven, and admit that although they are sorry they hurt their spouses they don’t regret the affair. It was exciting and great sex. So, I put this to you. Suppose your wife, due to feelings of inadequacy from your affair, began one of her own. She says to you that he gave her back her sense of self worth and the sex was great. Would she be given the pass you have given yourself?

    Like

    • Anonyman says:

      Let me start by saying, I do regret the affair. Yes, it was exciting and I did love her, but those are reasons I regret the affair. Second, I haven’t given myself a pass. As for what I would do if she had an affair, I hope I never have to find out, but I do have faith that whatever happens I won’t have to go it alone.

      Like

  3. Moi says:

    Sorry, I hit “post” too soon. A man had a blog for a while about trying to get his marriage back on track. He had had an affair. During her pain his wife reached out, on line, for support and a man responded. According to the blogger it morphed into an emotional affair but the marriage was improving. At some point he found that she had stepped over the line and it became physical. He was sad and concerned whether the marriage could survive this latest blow I have no idea if he is still blogging but the repercussions of affairs are seldom positive.

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    • Anonyman says:

      I feel sorry for him. He is not responsible for his wife’s affair anymore than she was responsible for his, but it probably doesn’t feel that way to him.
      I feel sorry for her because she has compounded her pain and suffering by having an affair.
      Now they both know how the other feels and they are both hurting. Good can come from that, even though it is a bad, sad situation.

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  4. julesedison says:

    As a betrayed spouse, I am glad that I now know the truth about my life. His betrayal, not so much. Good post Isle.-Jules

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I often think the same things myself. The pain my affair with B caused to me, to him, to ex was indescribable. What would our lives look like had it not happened? It’s impossible to say, because it did happen and nothing can take that away.

    I can only speak for me. I learned that I was a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I learned about grace, for myself and for others. I picked myself up from the depths of hell and marched forward.

    Sometimes I think if I could change it, even now, I would. But I can’t, so I have to focus on the healing still.

    Like

  6. Angi says:

    I was just thinking today how I wish I could go back to the days before I ran into my A.P. I’ve known him all my life and yet he was a memory at that point. Standing where I stand right this minute, I would trade everything for the bliss of ignorance. I preferred the emptiness inside of me when I didn’t know it was there

    Like

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