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She Said/He Said
A dialogue on hurt, betrayal, restoration and rekindled love

Amy*: At different times in our marriage, John and I had emptied our love banks, so to speak. As time went on, our love relationship had turned into more of a business relationship—we ran a good household, but there was no intimacy or passion in our marriage.

John*: Amy and I met when we were 16-we were high school sweethearts. As we matured, our communication skills never really developed. In the professional realm, I was an excellent communicator. But in the emotional world of family, I failed.

I found out later through counseling that my love language (how I communicate love and caring) is "to do." I worked hard and excelled to provide financially for my family. Doing something for Amy meant I loved her in my book. Little did I know, Amy's love language is "time and communicating." She just wanted me to listen.

Everyone thought we had the perfect marriage. We didn't fight or argue, per se. But there was something missing in our souls. Then one morning I got in the car and the next thing I remember was 5 ½ weeks later. I had been in a massive car accident.

Amy: For me, John's accident peeled away so many layers of hurt. Whatever past grievances I had weren't nearly as important as my husband's life.

Something amazing happened in that hospital. For the first time, John was completely vulnerable and he let me take care of him. Before, I was never his helpmate, but now he needed me. He would cry openly and share his hopes and dreams for the future. We prayed together and talked of a loving, awesome God. My love bank began to fill up and I felt an enormous love for John. This is the kind of relationship I had always wanted.

John: God made great things come from that accident. The only thing I clearly remember during my hospital stay is what God said to me. I couldn't wait to share it all with Amy. God spoke to me about four areas of my life: family, finances, home and emotions. He would take care of my family, finances and home, but my emotions were my responsibility—I could follow the world or Him.

Amy: Slowly, as John gained strength and healing, he began to slip into his old behaviors. He didn't communicate as much and held in his feelings, to the point he totally closed up. I couldn't stand the thought of going back to the marriage we had—not after almost 6 weeks of John being so open with me.

Then I started noticing additional changes in John and naturally I suspected he was having an affair. For months John would tell me he wanted to leave, but wanted me to be the one to end our marriage. I would not. I told him, "John, there's the front door, go if you need to." He responded, "I'm not going anywhere." So I got a lot of mixed messages.

John: I was so self-absorbed I didn't want to take responsibility for my actions. I wanted to put all the blame on Amy.

Amy: John told me he left because his car accident brought back memories of my past he had never dealt with. Not only was my husband walking out on me, he was blaming me for something I had done so many years ago. I wanted to believe that my husband loved me and wouldn't leave me. But I was wrong.

John and I had been in counseling with Gene Schrader for a few months before John walked out. From the very first time he stepped foot in Gene's office, I knew he had already made up his mind. This was all for appearance's sake.

Then John left counseling and I decided to continue alone. I knew I needed to be different. The guilt of John's blame was choking me. Gene helped me deal with my past, which felt like a dirty coat I had been wearing all these years, which kept getting heavier and heavier.

Some days I hurt so deeply I could barely take a deep breath. I really didn't know what the grieving process was until John left me. At first, I cried tears of unbelie—-I couldn't believe he left me—then I cried tears of anger. Many times I was so weary I wanted to give up.

Gene helped me deal with my hurt and anger. I had the right to be angry, but I had a choice to be bitter. I could hold on to the anger and become bitter or I could give it all to God and become whole.

I remember when John left I wanted my marriage restored. Period. But…if he was cheating, it was over. With that exception, I was placing conditions on John and on God. As God began working on my heart, I had to deal with my past and with the conditions I was placing on John. My prayers changed to the revelation of truth.

The year John was gone was the most difficult one I have ever gone through. I cried more tears than I ever thought I could. I prayed and really got to know God. He became real to me and my children.

My prayers changed from begging and pleading for God to bring John home to asking God to bring John back to Him. I trusted God enough to let go of John, even if God never brought him back into my life. If John did not return to God, he would be losing out because he would have nothing. I continued to pray for the truth to be revealed because truth sets us free.

John: When I left the hospital, I concentrated on getting my skills and professional life back but neglected the emotional aspects of my life. I didn't want to take the blame for my part of the problems in our relationship. I was pointing my finger at Amy's past, not at mine.

I avoided conflict and I constantly pushed truth away. I knew God, but to face Him, I'd have to admit I was wrong. So I pushed Him away. I pushed Amy and the kids away. I pushed my parents and sisters away. Facing them would mean I would have to face the truth.

The truth was I left to go with somebody else to fill the emptiness I felt. Satan's deception is to get us to go to something or someone else to meet that need. But only God can fill that void. It didn't take long before I hit the bottom of the pit.

I had no idea what God was doing in Amy's life, but when I would see her and the kids, they had a Christ-like love. I wanted them to be angry, yet they were so loving. I couldn't stand it and ran. At times I wouldn't talk to Amy and the children for weeks, if not months, at a time.

In actuality, I was often lonely, though I wouldn't admit it. I kept pushing the emotions down. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. As soon as I called out for God's help and admitted I was wrong, He started to reveal His love and the love of my family. Their love gave me the desire to return home.

For about a month, I wrestled with God's conviction. I still didn't want to admit to my failure and the truth of where I had been. After having to face piercing love and answer my family's questions, I walked back out the door again. This separation didn't last long and I returned and started the counseling process again.

Amy: When John came home this time, he was very different. He said, "Amy, I told God 'I surrender' and would do whatever it takes—even if that means losing you." There was true repentance in John's heart. He was so sorry for what he had done and that began the healing of our marriage.

John: Repentance requires restoration and change. I admitted my failures and then quickly wanted to move on with the rest of our lives. But restoring our relationship took time. We had to learn to communicate and handle conflict. I learned that I could face Amy's anger (and she had every right) and not go into my shell. We had to break down the walls both of us had built. And we had to rebuild a foundation on God.

Amy: I had always loved John and he didn't have to work his way back into my heart. While I didn't do everything right, I didn't quit either. In persevering, I found out what God wanted for my life. It was not His choice for us to go through all of this. We had many opportunities to deal with our past and choose not to.

I don't want anyone to think that what John and I have gone through has been easy. There's a saying that goes something like: "I wouldn't do it again in a million years, but I wouldn't trade what I've got for a million dollars." That is how I feel. I have a more romantic, passionate, communicative relationship with John and God than ever before. So I wouldn't give you what I've got, but I wouldn't go back and do it again.

John: People look at us now and think we are high school sweethearts. We are. I am so excited to spend time with Amy, even going shopping with her. We are one. Actually, I'd say we are really a threesome—John, Amy and God. We listen to each other and God. We stay open to what God wants us to do. And we do it together.

*not their real names

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