by Joy Henry (a pseudonym used to protect my loved ones from pain)
I was a young bride when it happened. The thrill of the honeymoon still brought smiles to my face in the middle of the day. Dreams of growing old with him grew grander with each rising sun. Everything was perfect until I saw him through the window of a coffee shop. There was something about the way he leaned towards her, something about the way their legs almost touched under the table.
He said he was sorry, but I couldn’t trust him again. I simply could not live with him after he cheated on me. With that my marriage ended even before I unwrapped my wedding gifts. Over time, I learned to forgive him. But I was always sure I made the right choice. Any way I looked at it, decision was justified.
Years went by and I finally allowed myself to trust again, to love again. And I met my husband, a wonderful Christian. This year we celebrated 10 years of a strong marriage and two wonderful little girls.
Everything was wonderful until a high school sweetheart found me on Facebook a few months ago. I hadn’t seen him in 30 years and we now lived on opposite sides of the world. What began as friendly emails got out of hand—I was making decisions that contradicted my principles, my beliefs and my life. I was even justifying every wrong turn I made. And eventually I created fake business trip to spend a week with him.
The week was simply bliss. I felt no regret or guilt. I did not think of my husband or my children. Instead, I began to dream of a new life—one more exciting than my stable home and loving family.
But when the week was over and it was time to go home, reality hit me. What had I done? How could I have forgotten the pain I felt standing outside the coffee shop? How could I inflict that same pain on my husband? Where was my sense of right and wrong? In the middle of the busy airport I sobbed uncontrollably. Filled with shame and regret, I prayed for forgiveness and courage to return home.
It’s been three months and I have not told my husband about that week—Not out of fear of losing him, but out of my desire never to cause him pain. Having walked out on my first husband when he cheated on me, I know I what I deserve. You may say my husband deserves to know the truth. But I ask you, Does he deserve to be hurt in the process?
I have taken this to God and feel His forgiveness. But forgiveness does not erase the memory of wrongdoing. I deal with the consequences of my choice every day. Every night I wonder if I should own up to my husband or keep that week just between God and me. I simply do not know.