Marriage is hard.
Most of us are not prepared for what it asks. Full of potential and hope, and dangerously frail, a relationship is often ill equipped for the challenges before it – vulnerable to being damaged, sometimes, beyond repair.
Infidelity destroyed our marriage. Love, which we were surprised by, healed us and created a new relationship better than the marriage damaged by an affair. Here’s our story…
We met on a bitter January night in 1997, warmed by the nearby fireplace and an instant spark of attraction. The evening at the Full Moon Café extended into a 2 a.m. conversation and a 10-year marriage. It was the last thing either of us expected, yet the magic was undeniable.
By all accounts, we were a model couple. Both well educated, successful, and upwardly mobile. Jay, a highly trained professional with a doctorate in psychology alongside an MBA with a national practice. Julie, a former Miss Oklahoma contestant and model, was a professional entertainer and sought after performance consultant.
It was a fairytale courtship, redefining the boundaries of reality. By December of that year, we exchanged vows. By September, ten years later, those vows would end in the aftermath of a devastating affair, life and death decisions and a painful divorce. Three children and a decade of marriage later, the fairytale was gone.
On the outside, the scene was still storybook. Success rewarded our family with a gorgeous home, comfortable lifestyle, and exotic vacations. Jay traveled the country as his practice and business boomed. Julie became a full-time stay-at-home mother to their three small children.
Ironically, the more “success” we achieved the less successful life became.
Behind the storybook appearances, however, the foundation of the marriage had cracked. The magic that drew us together was a casualty of the life we worked so hard to create.
When the affair was finally revealed, we had to face the ugly reality of infidelity. What had started as a beautiful romance ended in tremendous pain. Shortly afterward Julie was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. Divorce and a broken home followed.
I (Jay) chose an affair as a misguided solution to normal marital challenges driven by my ego, and inexplicably, ignorance about what it takes to actually love someone for a lifetime.
You see, love indeed has requirements and by definition it asks us to learn more about how to contribute to another’s needs, wants and aspirations than it does to seek acquiring those things from finding the “right” person to give them to us.
To succeed in love has more to do with becoming someone capable of loving than it is about finding that “soul mate” who will love us and meet all our needs effortlessly. That’s the fantasy, which fueled my infidelity. We later learned that “soul mates” are created, and not found, and the path to designing true love begins with growing up and evolving in ways that a good partner can’t do for us.
(To be continued… Subscribe and receive all our updates!)