separation story starts like so many others - hearing the words
from my wife "I don't love you anymoreIt's over. Now
what do I do? We have three boyshow can I take care of them
alone? How can we afford to keep the house? How can you do this?
These questions and thousands of others rushed through my mind when
the bomb was dropped on me.
was two weeks later when my wife admitted to me that she was having
an affair that I knew I needed helpI just didn't know where
to turn. I had no real friends, I knew I shouldn't be talking to
her family about it (even though I was), and my family was 2000
miles away in Ohio.
In desperation I was searching for divorce support
resources on the internet when I came across a group for separated
men at Saddleback Church. A church? How could I? I had turned my
back on the Catholic Church as a teenagerwhy would a church
want to help me? I called the group leader and talked a while all
the while thinking, "If this just a bunch of whining guys praying
that their wives will come back, it's not for me". Nevertheless
I figured it couldn't hurt to check it outlittle did I know
that my life was about to change forever.
To describe my first group meeting as intense
would be a huge understatement-I spilled my guts out and cried more
than I can ever remember crying. I saw a room full of guys at various
levels in the separation processone had been separated over
4 years! How can anyone deal with this for that long, I thought.
Several group members shared their faith with
me and told me that God loved me and that if I would turn my life
over to Him He would get me through this. One member gave me a book
Must be Tough" by James Dobson. I left the group that night
very unsure about what to do or where to go, but I also was relieved
to find people who understood what I was going through. Driving
to work the next day it hit meI was at a crossroads. Either
I believed what these guys told me about God's love or I didn't.
I made the decision to follow God's direction in how to deal with
That night I started reading "Love Must be Tough".
I devoured it in two days. This was abnormal for me because I normally
don't read books. Reading the book gave me a perspective on why
my wife was doing the things she was doing and how I should react
to them. The core concepts of the bookletting my wife go,
not allowing her to control my behavior, drawing a "line in the
sand," cut right to my heart.
The next few months were a contrast-I was headed
in the direction I thought God was pointing me, while my wife was
pursuing her outside relationship. Friday was her night out with
her "friends"as she described them to our oldest son. I had
to watch this happen and remain a steady influence for the boys.
Only with God's help and the support of my new friends in the men's
group was I able to hold it together. I started attending church
services every week, rarely missed a Tuesday men's group, and even
started reading the Bible.
Sometimes I even brought the boys to church with
me. I actually started to believe that I could take care of the
boys alone and that I was going to be okay God was growing
Reading the bible was a comfort to me. Some verses
seemed to jump off the page at me. Philippians 4:6-8 told me not
to worry and be thankful for what I did have. Proverbs 3:5-6 told
me to trust God, obey him and he would take care of me. The weekend
sermons at Saddleback seemed to be tailor-made for me. I had no
idea that being a Christian could be practical and even fun. My
prior ways of copingnegativity, yelling, alcohol, preoccupation
with sex, were being replaced. Even my wife was noticing the changes
Over the next several months I continued to growI
became a member at Saddleback, and was baptized. Not only could
I see and feel the changes in myself, but I was amazed at the growth
that I was seeing in the other members of the group. My wife was
still involved in her affair, but that was her business. I started
taking the boys over to friends' houses, going to the beach, anything
to avoid sitting at home while she was away. I knew that no matter
what happened in my marriage that I was doing the right things for
myself, my boys, and everyone I came into contact with. There's
unbelievable power in that.
As I write this, the clock is ticking on my divorce
becoming final. I look back at the last 18 months and have very
mixed emotions-the pain of Friday nights, the anxiety of the weeks
before moving, (after we sold our house) contrast with the comfort
of fellowship with group members and the peace of finding God's
purpose for my life. It seems ridiculous to say this, but as much
as it has hurt, I'm glad that I've gone through it all. I look at
life much differently now. I'm thankful for my healthy children
who I get to see whenever I want, I'm thankful that my wife and
I can be in the same room without fighting. But most of all, I'm
thankful for the peace of mind and clear direction that comes from
turning my life over to Jesus Christ-I give him all the credit.
If you are reading this now and are where I was 18 months ago, I
feel for you. I can't take the pain away, but I can share what God
has done for me. Trust God, and he will do the same for youHe