I managed to keep Linda at bay for a few months while I continued my affair with Tanya. Sure, Linda suspected something was amiss, but basically through advanced Steve-like tactics of gaslighting and stonewalling, I was able to make her believe that she was crazy and imagining things.
Meanwhile, she was on edge and in panic mode because she thought our marriage was sinking fast.
One day, during the process of purchasing a new iPhone at Best Buy, the sales person asked for access to our AT&T account to analyze our cell usage. He required our security code to login. Linda was right there next to me and saw the look of terror on my face.
I quickly asked Linda to run and get me something elsewhere in the store, and while she was gone, I provided the sales person with the code.
Luckily, I made it through that experience unscathed. That was short lived. The next morning, Linda confronted me and demanded that I give her the code so she could login to our AT&T account and look at the cell phone account for herself.
I stalled as best that I could but eventually I admitted the jig was up.
What happened next changed the course of everything!
Linda took a few minutes to review the calls and texts that surely numbered in the high-hundreds – if not more.
Then she quickly went upstairs.
There she was on our bed in tears in the fetal position and basically having a panic attack.
We had a very difficult discussion that ended with Linda saying. “You're free to leave.”
But I didn’t want to leave. Though I was treating Linda like crap in so many ways, I really did love her and didn’t want to lose her or our family.
That moment was the wake up call I needed to end the affair.
But I managed to screw that up as well in fine Steve-like fashion…
Rather than immediately ending the affair with Tanya, I let it drag out for a few weeks until finally mustering the courage to just do it.
And there’s been no contact of any kind with Tanya since that day.
But that surely wasn’t the end of my destructive behavior.
The Call to Transformation
For the next several months we went through the typical roller coaster that is the affair recovery process.
There were some good times, but lots of not-so-good times as well. It seemed like every time we took a nice step forward, we took a couple bad steps back. Typically, I was to blame for that.
As any Steve would do, I didn’t want to talk about the affair at all. When I did, I dripped information over time. This trickle truth was quite destructive and certainly slowed our recovery.
When Linda wanted to talk about the affair my fight or flight instincts would come out and I’d do my best to shut Linda down by showing anger, frustration and more gaslighting.
I made every mistake in the book and was the main cause of our being stuck.
On the positive side of things, I was pretty good at acts of service to show Linda I was remorseful, loved her and wanted to make things up to her.
These acts were all well and good, but were not what she needed at the time. And one day she informed of this.
She said that she appreciated what I was doing but it wasn’t the right things that she needed. So she was “done.” (That word scared the crap out of me!)
She was done doing all the work. The ball was now in my court. And Linda was going to focus on her own self-care and healing, while I needed to figure out what the heck I was going to do.
So, there it was. I had to make a choice.
Do I continue as is and surely lose my marriage, or do I transform myself into a healer?
And it is a choice.
Do it or don’t do it.
A decision. Like Paul Arden explains in, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite:
Not everyone will make the right decision that can propel a marriage towards reconciliation and healing.
It can be risky. The work required can be daunting. Scary. Uncomfortable.
You might fail. Your marriage might not make it.
If your choice is to commit to your spouse and your marriage and do whatever it takes to heal from this mess you created, then you need to embrace it.
Lean into it.
If this is for you, time to meet our first archetype, Steve.
Steve is likely to represent you (or your spouse) right now; if not entirely, certainly a close enough match to make you a little uncomfortable as you read this.