This is Day 21 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
In the weeks after my confession, all my relationships changed. At some level, I expected it to happen, but hadn’t anticipated the emotional loss it would add to my crisis. I’d never lacked for friends, and as a pastor’s wife, I was constantly surrounded by people. I also had a rich history of relationships—childhood friends, college friends, church acquaintances, and family. They loved and respected me very much.
But everything changed after they learned of my affair.
A few called me directly, and asked me, if what they heard was true. Others wrote letters and begged me to turn from my choices. Still others asked to meet with me—so they could share their own stories, anecdotes, scriptures, or resources.
But most people who knew me did nothing. They chose to have no contact with me after my confession. And sadly, I never heard from them again. There was no goodbye, and with most, there was no closure.
These were people I spent time with at park playdates, friends I would meet for lunch, and people I saw in passing in the church foyer every single week. But my life became a crazy mess, my behavior had been shocking and scary, and dealing with me became too much to handle. With the sudden news of my picuture-perfect life falling apart, I got dropped like a hot potato. And although it was understandable, it hurt.
Of the ones who did reach out to me, I responded to their calls, read their words, and met them to talk. All were well-intended, caring, and sincere. But each one was eager to recommend what I should do. Over time, most tried to hang in there and be supportive. But eventually, when I chose divorce, it was the obvious game-changer for them—it was their signal to give up on me. I became too messy to deal with. And the relationships ended.
With the exception of some immediate family, the history of all my relationships was erased. And for the next five years, all I had left was one friend.
Before an affair, you need to know, you will lose relationships.
At best they will change, at worst they will end forever. And this was never on my radar when I was making my decisions.
Losing relationships is painful, and over the years I’ve come to understand some of the reasons my relationships ended after my affair.
First, when we have an affair, we become liars to cover it up. And when people in your life discover you’ve lied to your spouse, they also assume you’ve lied to them. They see you as a fraud, even if you never lied directly to them.
Second, when someone respects and esteems you, and then you fail, it shatters their view of you. But beyond that, it also makes them uncomfortable with themselves, because they realize that if you were capable of an affair, then they might be too. And facing that fact is terrifying truth.
Third, in the aftermath of separation and divorce, people take sides. Regardless of what your relationship with them was, people don’t like to be in the middle. So they will do whatever they need to do to mitigate the awkward discomfort of the situation.
This sometimes includes making one of the divorcing spouses the “bad” one and the other spouse the “good” one. And then gravitating toward maintaining a relationship with the one who makes them feel best about themselves—the one who most conveniently accommodates their own baggage and prevents them from having to deal with it directly, which is usually the one they’ve deemed to be “good.”
There are so many more variables at play that contribute to the loss of relationships in these sort of situations. Just know that in the aftermath of an affair, you will lose relationships.
And although I lost all my friends but one, over the years God has been so good to me to allow for the growth of new friends in my life.
And I’ve learned that no relationship is perfect, much grace is required, and accepting grace from God for our own hearts is the best step toward being able to give it to others.
Has something you’ve done caused a loss of relationship in your life?
How did God work even that out for good?
Listen to Day 22 HERE
Throughout this series, if you have a question or a struggle and want me to address it or write on it in this series, please send me an email (jacque at jacquewatkins dot com) or a voicemail (green button on right sidebar) and I will do my best to incorporate it into this series. It will make me so happy to have feedback from you and to write what it is you might need. I can’t wait to hear from you.