Today’s blog is not lighthearted nor perhaps even uplifting. It is also longer than the usual blog length. I write to those whom may be walking the same kind of difficult path as I. Having just begun Max Lucado’s book, “You’ll Get Through This,” it is a reminder that sometimes sorrows of life need to be shared; for through the sharing, God’s love shines through. As with pastors and Christian leaders that have stood before their congregation or their public to share the deepest sorrows of their heart, I now share mine. This is God’s story; how He will heal and use me for His glory and only in His time.
I’ve alluded to my heartache frequently but avoided sharing the real story; the ugly reality of marital betrayal. I’m going to share what it has been like to be the “other woman”, to not be what I believed was “the woman”, to my then husband, of 44 years, Charles. I believed he was going to love me until death parted us. Instead, I learned last year, I was the one that had been cast aside for his “chosen” woman, Debbie. I had to learn while among a room full of strangers the reason Charles abandoned me was for Debbie, whom he had been with for years.
Yes, I want to be like Max’s wife and “arm myself with honesty.” I want to address this matter and say like Max says (but paraphrasing it for me personally), “I’ll get through this. It will be painful. It won’t be quick, but God will use this mess for good. I won’t be foolish or naive, but I won’t despair either. With God’s help I’ll get through this.”
I’m weary of being in such great emotional pain, of being told to “move on and shake it off.” How very grateful I am for an insightful young lady on our church staff that encouraged me to lament, weep and grieve the loss of Charles, the only man I ever loved. I’m grateful she reminded me that for as long as I was married, the healing will take awhile. I tearfully said to her, “I gave my life to my husband. He had my all. I remained with Charles during some very difficult times, but he was the man I promised to love, honor and cherish for as long as I lived.” I did! I kept my vows.
For many years, I gave a minimum of 2 hours each Saturday morning watching Charles’ favorite car and home improvement television shows. I laid aside any interest I had to be with him, for that was our time together doing what he chose to do. One of the programs we watched weekly, was Chasing Classic Cars with Wayne Carini.
In 2012, when we realized Wayne would be in KS, a drive-able distance from our home in OK, we saved the date to be there for several days during the event which included Wayne’s appearance. A week before our departure, Charles informed me he was taking someone else. There was no discussion; no conversation. As he had done countless times during our marriage with decisions such as home purchases, without my knowledge, he had invited another to take my place aside him as he traveled to KS.
Devastated, astounded and perplexed, I did what I had done for the duration of our marriage during difficult times; I sought marital counseling. Why would the man whom I had given my entire life to, including time to spend with him doing something which was solely for him, now without my knowledge choose to take another on “our trip?”
During that counseling session, I realized this latest heartlessness toward me had been the culmination of the four previous years of Charles’ total abandonment of me physically and emotionally. Even with my pleas for an understanding of his actions and rationale for what he had done, he walked away refusing any form of communication or interaction with me.
It would be six years later before I learned the reality of Charles’ departure from my life. When I learned of Debbie from strangers, I desired not to accept hearsay about the man I had loved and been devoted to for over 51 years. Charles admitted he had been with Debbie while we were still married. He shared with me I was not the wife he desired and that he had not loved me for most of our marriage.
Like Joseph when his brothers cast him into the pit and sold him into slavery as in Genesis 42:21, “ we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear”, I pleaded with Charles in 2012 and countless times since for an understanding. I desired empathy as to why he was not honest with me when he walked away from me and all our years together.
I pleaded with him to keep our family intact for the sake of our children and grandchildren. I pleaded with Charles to at least find a way to be amiable toward me in the presence of our family. I pleaded for knowledge that when our marriage encountered problems, he was not willing to address them with me; to work them out, to seek help. I pleaded for understanding as to why it was easier to find a new love than to keep the woman, he had asked to be his wife for eternity.
Each and every time, my pleas have been rebuked. Charles was adamant, he had no desire to save his marriage or his family. He had determined that “starting over” in his 60’s, that leaving me alone to fend for myself and to remain alone during times of illness and medical challenges were what I deserved. He wanted me to know he had carried anger toward me for over 40 years; anger I never realized yet felt the “sting” from. As with my replacement for the trip, seven years prior, Charles had shared of his disdain and anger toward me with countless others, but never with me.
What I now share is not a secret; for it was Charles whom so proudly began introducing Debbie as his “new woman” while I was still his wife. It was Charles that introduced her to our children and grandchildren within months of leaving me and long before I knew of her. It was Charles that began traveling on out of town and out of state trips with Debbie days after he left me and long before I knew of her. It is Charles that brings Debbie to events which the three of us attend, so that I can see the love and devotion he has for her; the kind of devotion and love which he never had for me. It is Charles whom has touted repeatedly that I was not worthy to be his wife.
This has been a pain so deep, so real, so emotional that I have wondered at times how I would survive even one day, but I did. It is the kind of pain which Max addresses in his book, “In God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good.” Max reminds us, “you’ll get through this. You fear you won’t. We all do…the pain will never leave…will this gray sky ever brighten?” God doesn’t spare us of pain on this earth, but as Max notes, “He does plan to reweave your pain for a higher purpose.”
There will be a time when I see Charles and Debbie walk into a room arm in arm or with their hands upon one another, or hear his words that I was not the woman he desired and I will be free of the pain. I will get through this because even though Charles didn’t keep his promise to love me until death parted us, Max reminds me, “I am God’s child…my life is more than this life…more than this broken heart, this is God’s promise and God won’t break a promise.”
Like Max’s wife that openly and honestly shared her personal sorrow, “she found God’s presence among God’s people” and so too will I. My story is God’s story; of my entire life given to a man I loved. That love was not returned but given to another.
God has not abandoned me. His promises are forever. My story of betrayal, pain and sorrow will be used for God’s glory. I look forward to sharing my journey of healing. It’s been long, but it would never have been this long had I known the truth of Charles’ abandonment in 2012. As I shared with someone only days ago, considering how far I’ve come since learning the truth of Charles betrayal on April 29, 2018, I’ve traveled a long distance on this path God has placed me on. Genesis 28:15 NIV, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”