I had always said that if I was ever cheated on, I would run my husband over with my car, along with the other woman too. Of course, I never thought I’d be in the position where I would have to choose between taking the high road and prison time, but that’s exactly where I found myself a year ago.
I’ve had a lot of time to think and a lot of time to grieve. I still don’t have answers and I’ve accepted the fact that I never will. I’ve accepted that a marriage I committed my life to has ended and the world tells me that I should be mad about it – that I should out the person who invited herself into a marriage built for two; because maybe if I called her a homewrecker I’d feel better. Maybe if I pulled out my urban dictionary and called her every name in the book, it would change my circumstances. Maybe if she knew…or had a fraction of a clue about what I’ve been through, she would have some magical epiphany and change her ways because let’s face it, telling her where to pick it up and set it down will change nobody.
Believe me, I get that feeling of wanting to lash out but I also know that it comes from a place of pain and deep insecurity and I am not that person anymore. I was to my surprise, never that person. I am strong and I know my worth. I know that it was never about me and the qualities I lack, it was about my husband and the qualities he lacked and a woman who was so insecure that she went for a married man. That insecurity was birthed from some pain somewhere – at least that’s what I tell myself, and running her over in my car is exactly what a crazy woman who drove her husband to cheat would do, validating every single lie that was told.
No, my x-husband made his choice but maybe she’s still worth saving. Maybe if we could shelve our pain for 5-minutes and push beyond it, we could re-write the ending of whatever story was written. Maybe I’m completely wrong and if I am, then this was purely for me because “aint’ nobody carry want to carry around this anger and resentment for the rest of their life.”
So the night before my marriage ended I shelved the boxing gloves and reached out to “the other woman” – for my marriage, for my children, for all of the other women who are sitting where I’ve sat, for those struggling with finding the freedom I’ve somehow found, for every woman sitting at a bar drooling over a man with a ring on his finger, wondering if they should walk away (the answer is “yes”), and for me.
This is my letter to the other woman…
(Can we queue Adele’s “Hello?”)
I bet you are surprised to hear from me. I’m sure I’m the last person you thought you’d hear from and you’re wondering why I am reaching out to you. Rest assured, I wish you no harm. I’m simply asking that you hear me out and I think, at the very least, you owe me this.
As you walk down the aisle to your best friend, I’ll be officially saying goodbye to mine. On the day you sign your marriage license, a judge will be signing my divorce papers and the dreams I have poured into for the past decade will be over.
I loved my husband. I’ve known him since I was in the 2nd grade and though I said I would never get married, he woo’d me and made me believe that fairy tales really existed. I walked down that aisle in my white dress, just like you are about to do, and I never looked back. We survived law school, medical school, residency, multiple moves, health issues, multiple degrees, the birth of our children, the loss of others, the adoption of two children, and started a non-profit that focused on orphan care in Africa. It was hard but we were working towards our future…or so I thought.
When you get married, your dreams take a hit as two lives merge together and I sacrificed mine. I gave up my law career so he could have his and I stayed at home and devoted my time and my life to being his wife – the wife I thought I was supposed to be and the wife I thought he wanted. I was not perfect but I was loyal, loving, and faithful. I ran five miles a day so that I could stay in shape, made his meals, had his babies, and I accepted the long hours of a demanding profession. I was there at the end of every day, helped him study for every test, and supported every decision he made. I was the one who told him he had what it took to become a doctor and signed up for the long haul right along with him. I would have stepped in front of a round of bullets for that man…I just know now that he wouldn’t have done the same for me.
And then there was you. You came into his life like a perfect Proverbs 5 and I didn’t see it coming. It’s not like there were arguments at home or statements that might have tipped me off – and I consider myself to be quite perceptive. I was pregnant with #5 after all…a son. The night he cheated on me with you, I knew. I remember where I was and what I was doing. I remember the feeling in my gut when I called and he didn’t answer the phone for the first time in my lifetime of knowing him. I sent him an email and asked him the question no wife should ever have to ask her husband and he re-assured me that he was mine forever and was more committed to me than he was the day we were married.
When he came home from his five weeks of bliss, my hell on earth began. I guess it was harder to keep up the charade from a distance, because when you step outside of your marriage you suddenly become repulsed by the person whose still in it. Do you know how I found out about you? I was in church and I grabbed for his hand and he jerked it away like I had a disease. I walked out to the car – heart heavy – because I knew what I had to ask. And then I stopped breathing…at least it felt like it.
I had always said that if anyone ever cheated on me, I would run them over with my car and for the first time in my life, I was put to the test. I was in too much pain to cause pain though and I took myself to see War Room and set up my own where I prayed to God for over six hours a day to save my marriage instead. Despite the fact that my marriage was in pieces, that I was not the one who put it there, I took vows to God and I intended to fight for them.
Some people say it takes two to break a marriage but that simply isn’t true. It takes two to make a marriage but only one to break it and the damage had been done. The wife who had spent almost a decade pouring into him, his first everything, was no match for the woman he knew for five weeks and the stronghold of that sin. I wasn’t good enough for him…because I wasn’t you. Our dreams didn’t matter, because he had his own dreams and you were the person in them. Suddenly you were more important than his wife, our children, and the life we had built together. What you did that night and after, changed everything. It changed him – or maybe this is who he always was. It didn’t just destroy a marriage, it annihilated a family.
Leaving my husband was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I downgraded from the huge house with all the bedrooms – to a couch and then another couch and then a three bedroom apartment. I did my pregnancy by myself and brought our son into the world without him. On a day that was supposed to be filled with celebration, I was met with disgust and disappointment, because I wasn’t you and I was cut off by the people who promised to love me as a daughter because I wouldn’t accept the way I was being treated and wouldn’t settle for being second…to you. When you decided to move on, I was still no match for the fantasy that was left behind.
So I wrapped up my guts post c-section because I didn’t have the luxury of pain meds or honoring a weight restriction, took shallow breaths to combat the six weeks of pneumonia I had been fighting, and I hauled my kids to the store because we needed groceries and who else was going to do it for us?
Six weeks post baby the two children we adopted several years ago were finally released to come home, only he wasn’t there by my side to get them. I transitioned from a woman of two with a husband, to a single mom of two, three, and then five. I was told I couldn’t handle kids with special needs but I did it and I’m doing it and sometimes I don’t know how. My adopted children were torn apart by the rejection of the father they’d seen only a few months earlier – the one who had promised to love them and give them a home…but that was before you.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for them…to wait three years to come home only to realize that the pictures they had poured over for so long no longer existed and what that does to children who have already been rejected and abandoned too many times to count?
During this entire time, I worked no less than 50 hours a week from home because I had to have a job and wanted to be a present mom too. I took not one day of maternity leave because I couldn’t. I didn’t have a choice and I had to keep going. Someone had to think about the kids. Someone had to stand in front of five tiny children and protect them from the bullets. Someone had to answer the tough questions and try to shield little kids from big kid problems.
The last year of my life, has been absolute hell and I now understand why sexual sin is in a different category of it’s own because it is so incredibly destructive. I cannot begin to tell you how many lives have been hurt by this and there is probably nobody else in this entire country sitting in my circumstances single parenting five children under five, two sets of twin (via adoption), two adopted children, two who don’t speak English, two with special needs, and an infant, while working full-time, drilling wells in Africa, and being a full-time stay at home mom.
I am not telling you all of this to pile the guilt on you before your wedding day. (Believe me, this is but a chip at the surface of what I have had to endure.) I’m telling you this because you’re getting ready to walk down the aisle to the man you’re going to pledge your life to and I desperately want to plead with you to take your vows seriously. I want you to understand that what you did had consequences so that you never ever do anything like this again. I want you to understand so that you can spend the rest of your life pouring into your marriage so that nothing like this happens to it. I want you to view the wedding ring differently, not just because you’re getting ready to put one on your finger but because you will hopefully realize that there is another person wearing a wedding ring too.
Despite everything I have been through the past year, all of the hard days, sleepless nights, grief, birth, adoption, moves, and the loss of family, friends, and my husband, I want to tell you that I FORGIVE you. Though you have not sought my forgiveness, I didn’t seek it from Jesus before he died for me and I believe that God has plans for you and he wants to deal with the pain you’ve experienced in your life that led to this and use this situation for something good. He wants you to follow him and honor him with your life and I want you to feel the blessings that come with doing so. It is only because of him that I am not angry, resentful, and am still breathing.
I fought for my marriage and I lost, but when I walk out of that court room and you’re walking down the aisle, I’ll say a prayer for you – that you will never ever have to be in the position of fighting for your marriage like I have mine, that if and when you have children, they will have two present parents who love them and put them first, and that your years will be filled with nothing but love and happiness.