I am middle-aged now. Fifteen years ago, I had an affair after three decades of monogamous marriage. After five tumultuous years of trying to reconcile and salvage our marriage, my wife and I should have divorced. But we were afraid. Of what our children, our families, and our (mostly Evangelical) friends would think.
The Christian life coach from our church was trained just enough to do “surgery” on our relationship but had no idea how to do “chemotherapy”. And so, during those five endless years, our marriage continued to decay, a slow and miserable death.
Unbearably lonely, the personification of a person in the fragmentation of mid-life, I found a deep emotional connection with a long-time friend who had recently gone through her own separation and divorce after a monogamous marriage of thirty-five years. For two needy and loving souls, emotional penetration inevitably led to physical penetration.
My wife had repeatedly warned me that another affair meant divorce. She kept her word. I was devastated. I wanted to die. Not so much at the end of the marriage (it had been dead for five years) but at the loss of my family, friends, and home.
Why do I recount this story once again?
Because I now realize she did me a favor. The divorce forced me to deal with my anger, my fear of abandonment. It forced me to deal with myself. Nietzsche says it best, “What does not destroy us may make us stronger.” I still have work to do, but I am experiencing catharsis.
And just as in the Bible myth when David found Bathsheba, the love of his life, through an adulterous affair, I’ll be damned if the archetypal story did not repeat itself. At least for me. I have finally found a person who champions who I really am over the rules and restrictions of family, religion, and culture.
It’s hard to believe that Gina and I have been together for ten years, but this week marks a decade of life together. She has restored my belief in true and intimate communion. I wouldn’t want to repeat many things that happened from 2006-2018, but I would not trade them for anything. And the past three years have been sheer bliss. I’m grateful.