My Affair. He said he loved me and I believed it. I fell hard and fast and I had never felt so seen or heard before. There was a passion and a connection between us that I had never felt before, but now that I had that, I didn’t know how to live without it.
Our souls are always whispering to us. The whispers of our lives tell us there’s more. The whispers of our souls speak of and point us toward the desires of our hearts. The whispers of our hearts appear all the time in our marriages. But we don’t always listen, do we?
When we don’t listen to the whispers, they don’t go away. They only become louder. If we continue to ignore the whispers in our lives, over time, they get louder and begin screaming.
My life had been whispering to me for a while, but I hadn’t been listening.
I met my first husband in graduate school and we married at 27 years old. He was (and still is) a good, kind man.
We lived in a four-bedroom home in a suburban golf community. We had nice cars. We took vacations. He worked in the technology field and I was in marketing at the time. We had investments, 401Ks, and pension plans. We had one dog and no children.
From the outside looking in, I had no reason to be unhappy; but I was. I was unhappy, lonely, and disconnected.
Most of that is mine to own.
I married my husband because he was safe. I knew he wouldn’t lie to me, cheat on me, or hurt me. We rarely fought, but we didn’t take the time to connect with each other either. Because he didn’t require me to share much of my soul with him, I could stay safe and hidden, but not necessarily in love.
What I didn’t know at that very tender age is that there’s very little passion in taking the safe approach.
I didn’t know about affection and connection.
I didn’t know about intimacy and vulnerability.
I didn’t know what it was I was missing, but I knew that something was missing.
I began noticing other couples that had a natural affection between them, the kind where a hand lands on a leg or a head gently rests on a shoulder. I would notice couples for whom conversation flowed easily and their eyes never left the other. There was a comfort, an ease, and a connectedness between those people that was so foreign to me, but that made my heart ache and made me long for more in my own relationship.
I didn’t know how to have that with someone, and neither did my husband.
If I could have created a checklist for my husband to do each day to make me feel loved and adored, he would have tried to check off every box dutifully. But I didn’t know how to ask for that, how to receive it, or how to return it.
The longing and loneliness I felt became increasingly present until it was a big, gaping hole in the center of my heart.
That’s when the whispers of my soul turned into screams.
And then I captured the attention of someone who was the polar opposite of everything I had ever known.
Michael was tall, broad-shouldered, strong, and confident. He had money, a career, and a personality that was magnetic, a little dangerous, and more than a little narcissistic. He was also younger than me and very used to getting his way.
He texted. He flirted. He leaned in hard. I didn’t resist.
I knew it was wrong. I knew it was destructive… and yet, I couldn’t or wouldn’t turn away.
I walked out of my marriage and ran into Michael’s arms.
He said he loved me and I believed it. I fell hard and fast and I had never felt so seen or heard before. When we couldn’t be together, sometimes we would fall asleep on the phone together so he could fall asleep to the sound of my breath. There was a passion and a connection between us that I had never felt before, but now that I had that, I didn’t know how to live without it.
Not surprisingly, this short, but intense relationship ended badly for me.
Michael became very secretive and manipulative and I felt suddenly unimportant in his life. He would make promises and dates he seemed to have no intention of keeping. He would lie to me or only tell half-truths and then make me believe there was something wrong with me when I doubted his sincerity. I probably would have forgiven him 100 times, but mercifully he did what I could not do: walk away.
I went through a dark period where I lost my confidence. I lost a lot of weight, I barely slept, I was on a cocktail of anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I drank more than I should have and cried more tears in the six months that followed than I had over my entire life up until then.
These were all just crutches to avoid all the unanswered questions that faced me: about my marriage, about letting someone like Michael into my heart, about who I was and what I was really wanting.
I knew I couldn’t go back to being the lonely and guarded woman I was when I was in my marriage, but I also didn’t know who this new woman was: the woman with all these emotions, all these desires, and all these dreams for myself that didn’t exist months ago. And I had to make peace with some of my choices. The only path through all that was through both truth and love because those are the only two things that have ever healed anything truly important.
That journey is the reason I now serve in the area of struggling marriages. Not because I did everything right and have the model for everyone else. But because I know what that longing for a deeper, more intimate connection feels like in a marriage. I know what it’s like to experience that kind of love and lose it; once you know what a deep, intimate connection feels like, you can’t un-know it. And I know what it’s like to heal, move forward and become a woman who can attract and sustain the kind of love we desire and deserve.
You might think the lesson embedded in this story is to stay in your safe, secure marriage because even though it makes you feel empty and alone, at least you’ll never experience deep heartbreak.
You might think the lesson embedded in this story is to not cheat with someone else because clearly that never works out with a happy ending.
It’s actually neither of those.
The lesson is that we need to pay attention to our longings, to the whispers on our hearts. When we have a longing for more…more connection…more meaning…more love, it’s time to wake-up and pay attention. Our lives are talking to us. We didn’t place those desires on our hearts so we’re not going to be able to get rid of them either; maybe it’s time to begin embracing them.