MCF interviews Baby Happy

Greetings, marriage fans! This is MCF.
Your regular host, The
Happy Husband
, graciously allowed me to interview that most reclusive of
celebrities, his own offspring, Tater Happy. I had more than a few questions
for the precocious young fellow, and he had some fascinating responses:

You’ve dabbled in writing, even before you were born. Would you consider
following in your father’s footsteps? Would you like to be an artist like
your mother? The world wants to know: what does Tater want to be when he
grows up?

Whatever vocation I eventually pursue, the manner of my pursuit will surely bear the indelible stamp of both my parents. How their influence will manifest itself, I cannot say. Undoubtedly, I will develop many interests that mirror theirs and form numerous attitudes and opinions based on the ones they demonstrate daily. I will also, I am sure, inject a unique perspective into their lives as well as my own as I make my way in the world. Mama will teach me to draw, Daddy will teach me to write, and I will manage and invest my money in such a way that I will have several hundred thousand dollars to my name before I graduate high school. I will then put myself through college in three years on a football scholarship, then restore the Dallas Cowboys to their former glory by dominating every offense in the NFL from the position of linebacker. When I retire at the age of 28, I will return to medical school and devote myself to curing diseases previously impervious to all treatments. After I turn 50, I will write and illustrate my memoirs, which will receive honors from literary and artistic organizations worldwide and be dedicated to my loving parents.

How do you like living with Mr. and Mrs. Happy?

I know of no other way to live. That being said, let me also say that in all the exercises of my waking and unconscious imaginings I have conjured far worse situations but none even nominally better.

Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

When Daddy read this question to me, he commented on it with some words I had not heard before and, says Mama, I should never hear again. It seems he has heard this question from every prospective employer with whom he has spoken, implying that every professional position in the marketplace has as a prerequisite certain powers of prophecy concerning one’s own life. In answer to a previous question, I laid out a tentative plan for my life, but I am currently focusing all my energy on eating and exploring myself and the world around me.

What’s your favorite kind of music? Least favorite?

My favorite kind of music is the kind Daddy sings to me. His songs never fail to calm me in my fear or delight me in my comfort or inspire laughter in my happiness. I suppose, then, that my least favorite kind of music is all the others that I have heard, though the notion of “least favorite music” is akin to “least favorite soft blanket.” I have not yet heard a song nor felt a soft blanket that offended me in any way.

With your whole life ahead of you, what sort of action plan do you have in
place to avoid having any regrets in your elder years? Is this even a
realistic goal?

I know nothing of regret, even in the abstract. If it is something to be avoided, like a bath, perhaps I would do well to keep myself clean and stay away from any container of water larger than a drinking glass, but perhaps not. I have so far found myself wholly unable to avoid baths; I hope to do better with regret. In any case, I trust my parents to guide me through this and all the other perils of growing up.

You’ve already seen quite a bit of our great country at a young age, having
lived in New York and Texas and enjoying a road trip between the two. Do you
have any travel plans in the future, places you’d specifically like to see?

As of yet I have not studied the possibilities, so I cannot give a definitive answer. Daddy speaks quite fondly of a place called “our very own house,” and it sounds wonderful, so I think I should like to see it some day.

Who is the last person on Earth you’d want to be stranded in an elevator or
on a desert island with? Who is the first?

Approximately a week after my two-month birthday, a woman in a white canvas jacket stuck me in the leg three times with a needle. If I never see the wretched beast again, I’ll be glad of it. On the other hand, I would count myself the king of an infinite domain were I locked in an elevator with Mama. No matter where I might find myself, her arms are the safest place in the world.

Cats, dogs or other? What would be your ideal pet?

From what I have observed of animals, I believe I would enjoy living with a dog. They possess a contagious exuberance for life that I admire and hope to emulate.

A cow says….? A dog says…? A cat says…? A duck says…?

The nearest approximation I can form of a dog’s word is “woof.” The others are beyond my ken.

If a train is traveling toward you at 95 MPH from a distance of 2.75 miles,
what is your favorite diaper brand?

I have never worn any diaper other than Pampers, and I have no complaints. Daddy informs me, however, that when a train bears down on a person at a speed of 95 MPH, diapers are of little consequence.

Are you offended when people attempt to take your nose without asking, fail,
and then make false claims that what’s clearly their thumb is, in fact, your
detached proboscis?

What a bizarre question or, giving you the benefit of the doubt, absurd sort of practice. Do adults really do that? I think I would definitely take offense. Grown-ups can behave so strangely sometimes.

If a man had a hat, and the hat was tan, what is the biggest word you can
spell, and what does it mean to you?

One of the delicious ironies of my literary life is that I can neither read nor spell. The metaphysics involved in communicating my thoughts to Daddy so that he might adequately express them in writing are best left unexplored. I would like to point out, however, that I have spoken several words aloud: bahgo (a chemical compound consisting of barium, mercury, and oxygen), apple, and ding. They of course meant nothing to me when I uttered them, but I uttered them nonetheless.

What would you consider the most important facet of life known to your
generation but forgotten by many adults?

I often stare intently at apparently empty space and either smile or laugh. Daddy is enamored of the possibility that I smile not at the air but rather at an angel visible only to me. I do believe the possibility intrigues him more than the fact would, so I will neither confirm nor deny his hypothesis. I will say simply that my actions and motivations in those situations are things forgotten by adults, to their detriment.

What’s the one thing about being an adult that you’re most looking forward to?

Walking. It is my fondest, deepest desire to stand right now and walk wherever I would.


The conclusion of this interview will be posted tomorrow (Feb. 23) at MCF’s Nexus of Improbability. I will post the link once it appears.—Curt

An interview with Julie Anne Fidler

I wrote yesterday about Julie Anne Fidler’s new book, Adventures in Holy
Matrimony
.
I submitted a few questions to Julie in an e-mail after reading the book. Here’s
what she had to say:

Why did you write this book?

When I was approached about writing
a book, my marriage was the dominant topic in my life. My husband and
I were going through a period of great healing, and we both felt like God was
telling us that He wanted to use that to minister to others. So it seemed
like it was "meant to be".

Why do you blog?
Honestly, when
I started blogging back in 2002, I did it because I wanted to work on my writing
skills, but now I’d have to say
it’s just because it’s my favorite hobby. Why do some people knit? It’s
relaxing, it’s their thing. That’s how I feel about blogging.

Why did
you and Scott decide to marry?
My husband and I had a really
passionate romance. I knew we were soul mates by the second date. We
probably really nauseated our friends, because we didn’t like to be apart and
nothing seemed as cool or as fun if we weren’t together. We COULDN’T
be apart. One thing I can honestly say about my life is that I married
for love — nothing more, nothing less.

Why did the two of you decide to
stay together when the seemingly insurmountable obstacles arose?

We didn’t
believe divorce was an option, deep down. We WANTED to get a divorce,
but there was something in us, emotionally, that kept us from doing that. We
have always believed that God hates divorce. We’ve also always believed
that God does not put a couple together, just to let them fall apart while
he steps back and watches
it happen. Even though it would have been easier to just split up and
go our separate ways, we knew that if we submitted ourselves fully to God,
and did the things He wanted us to do, we really had no excuse.

If you could
rewind time and be 18 again, what would you do differently?


I’d go to
college, and I’d work really, really hard! I
went to college, and partied hard, instead. Who doesn’t? But my
partying burned me out and I dropped out after a year. It’s my biggest
regret in life.

You talk in your book about how you plan to use your experiences
to minister to other couples experiencing difficulties. Does your husband support
that idea?

Absolutely. Now it’s just a matter of figuring
out what that means. My husband’s best buddy is a pastor, and he’s in
the emerging church movement, and he keeps talking to us about moving to the
Gettysburg area to work with the young adult/marriage ministry. We’ve
been praying about it, to see if we feel led.

What is your hope for the future
of your marriage?
I used to hope
that my husband’s health would drastically improve, and that we’d buy a nice
house, and have two kids, and drive a minivan, and it was this really aesthetic
dream. I still hope for my husband’s healing, obviously, but now I realize
it’s not about those things. My hope is that my husband and I will fully
develop into the people God has created us to be, and that our marriage will
do the same. I want to be people who reach out and help others, and inspire
them.

An interview with Todd, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my interview with Todd. If you haven’t yet, go read Part
1
.


Since you confessed your
sins and struggles to your wife, have things been harder for you or for her?

Her.
No question. This has caused her to doubt everything from God’s existence to
my truthfulness even now, 2-1/2 years later. I wasn’t lying to her about
everything in my life, but I might as well have been. When you take something
as foundational
as sexual orientation and infidelity and keep it a secret for 8+ years, how
could she ever trust me again?

The beautiful thing is…and I give GOD all credit and glory for this…we
are in a sweet place in our relationship right now. I have been free from
compulsive sexual behavior for a good, long time now…and I’m growing in my
love for-and
even my attraction to-her. We are laughing again. We are enjoying one another’s
company. It’s like we can breathe again after a long, anxious period of gasping
for air. Depression has lifted like a fog, and the sun is peeking through
the clouds.

What is your hope for the future of your marriage?

I want to grow old with my
wife, to parent our children well, to live a life of integrity and faithfulness.
I want to be used by God-TOGETHER-to help others
who find themselves in similar situations. I want to live out God’s design
for us. To love each other well in all circumstances. It’s like we’ve been
given
a new lease on life, a new marriage to cultivate. We get a fresh start to do
things right. Thank God for His grace. Thank God for a wife who stuck with
me when I failed her deeply. Thank God that we see a bright future together.

Have
you told your children anything about this experience?

No. Only very vague references
to the fact that "sometimes we hurt people
we love" and "we need to learn how to love and forgive one another
even when it’s hard." Things like that.

When and what will you tell them?

This whole season of life has taught me to
place a high value on honesty. As my kids grow, I am sure they will have questions
about homosexuality, adultery
and all kinds of other sensitive topics. I am committed to answering those
questions honestly. But I am equally committed to answering them in an age-appropriate
way. Honesty doesn’t always mean full disclosure.

On the other hand, I know that one day my kids will all know this story.
They don’t have to know all details, but they’ll know about my battle with
same-sex
attraction and my infidelity. More importantly, they’ll know about the amazing
journey of healing that I’ve walked and how God rescued me from the bondage
of sexual addiction and the hell of a double life. They’ll know how their mother
honored God through the process and learned to forgive and love in new, bold
ways.

I’ve said before that one of the biggest motivations for my "coming
out" was
to give my kids a chance at freedom from sexual bondage. I think this whole
process has given us an amazing opportunity to walk in openness and boldly
proclaim,
in word AND in our day-to-day lives, the truth and beauty of God’s design for
marriage, sexuality and wholeness. We have already had some awesome discussions
about sex with our oldest, and they were very natural. No shame or awkwardness.
Praise God!

What would you tell someone else in a situation similar to yours?

God loves
you. Through and through. There’s NOTHING you can do, nothing you have done
that could ever stop Him from loving you.

God can heal you. It might take a long, long time. It might be the most painful
journey you’re ever taken. But it’s worth every difficult step. Nothing
is impossible with God.

Tell someone. If you’re living in the darkness and
isolation that I found myself in for so many years, it’s going to be difficult.
It’s going to
feel like death,
and in a sense it is death. Dying to yourself so that you can really
live. In the weeks prior to telling my good friend and then my wife,
I wrote
these lyrics…

So I’m finally on the road
That will lead to my confession
And I’m frightened and relieved at the same time
But I’m never turning back
I have finally learned my lesson
I must break the chains of silence and of pride
And the telling feels like dying
And I guess that’s what it is
Cause I’m dying to myself
So that I can really live

It’s true. Now I’m free to live the life of Christ.
It’s crazy. I didn’t know what that meant until I broke the silence. Now
I’m alive. Praise
God!

Can people still contact you at todd-AT-atimelikethis-DOT-net?

Sure! I look
forward to hearing from them!

An interview with Todd, Part 1

If you haven’t read about my friend Todd on this blog, please take some time
to read his story (from his
perspective
and
from mine).
Basically, he confessed to me a year or two ago that he had been struggling
with homosexuality and an addiction to pornography for most of his life. He
had also
confessed this to his wife, and they were doing their best to work through
the overwhelming feelings of pain and betrayal. They are still on a journey
of recovery,
but the very fact that they decided to begin that journey at all fills me with
a sense of awe and thankfulness that they love God’s gift of marriage enough
to honor the vows they made and continue to love each other. I recently interviewed
Todd via e-mail.


We once had a conversation in which I used the word "gay" to
describe
you. You corrected me, saying that you’re not "gay" but rather that
you "struggle with homosexuality." Can you explain the difference?

I
think it’s a matter of identity and design. I have come to understand that
God’s original design for me (indeed, for all men) is to be authentically male.
That includes the intended design of heterosexuality. Many factors went into
making me have broken, same-sex attraction, from genetic and emotional tendencies
to early childhood experiences and deficiencies. The MAJOR part of my healing
has been coming to first understand, then internalize and live out the truth
of who I was created to be.

To say I’m "gay" is to make my brokenness
my primary identity. It was so interesting when the governor of New Jersey
came out. In one sentence, he
really pointed out the issue I’m talking about. "I am a gay American." Wow.
Before he’s a man, a husband, a father, a governor…even an American!…he’s "gay." How
sad that at the very core of his identity, he is defined by his sickness.

I
am a child of God. I am a follower of Jesus. I am a man. I am a husband and
father. I am a pastor. Yes, I have struggles…deep-rooted, life-defining struggles.
But I’m not "gay."

(A really interesting aside: You can see where
this is all going, can’t you? A "Gay American" sounds suspiciously
like a "Hispanic American" or
an "African American." I sincerely believe that his statement was
scrupulously crafted…and that it advanced the idea of homosexuals as a political
minority
group.)

You were raised in a highly conservative, church-going Christian family,
and you’ve known about your tendencies for most of your life. I’m sure that
caused
quite a bit of internal conflict for you. How did you deal with it?

Well, I
didn’t. I lived as two people. On the outside, I was a perfect church boy,
excelling in many things…especially "Christian" things. I
was a leader in my youth group, I sang and led in worship all the time, I even
preached
a sermon one Sunday night. I excelled academically as well, and I was a gifted
musician and actor. Oh yeah, and I fantasized about sex with other boys all
the time, masturbated at least once a day, wrote my own porn literature and
regularly
checked out the men’s underwear section of the Sears Catalog.

Of course I was
terribly conflicted, but I had absolutely no language to express it and no
place to go for help. My parents had a clue, but I think they were
in denial about it, and subconsciously I just knew they couldn’t handle the
reality of my life…so I buried it deeper, hid it further. My addiction was
fostered
by the solitude.

I know that you love your wife as much as any husband does,
and the fact that you married her shows that you value traditional marriage.
Has that produced
any sort of dichotomy in your psyche?

Sure it has. And I hope that now…especially
as I’m walking in the light of healing and recovery…I love her even MORE
than most husbands love their wives.
There has been a seismic change in my thinking and world view between the day
I married my wife a decade ago and now, though.

Back then, I valued marriage
for what it could do for me. I wanted a life that was acceptable to God, my
family and my community. I wanted children. (I always
loved children.) I wanted a best friend. When my wife came along, I thought
to myself, "If I can make a life with any woman, it’s with her." I
really DID love her, in my sick, broken way. I really DID want to spend the
rest of
my life with her. I just believed that she would never know the broken part
of me. I separated my "gay" self from the rest of me and kept him
hidden from her and everyone.

Now, as I’ve come into a deeper understanding
of God and the freedom that comes from His plan, I value marriage because He
does. I value marriage because I
see it for what it is…a beautiful picture of His love for us, and an amazing
covenant
between two people who promise, with God’s help, to love each other until death
separates them. I see, again, God’s DESIGN for men and women in marriage, and
I see that ANY sexuality outside of marriage between a man and a woman is a
violation of God’s intentions.

This is a pretty elementary statement, but it
bears repeating: God’s laws are not to restrict our pleasure. They exist to
protect us and help us grow into
who He created us to be. We can only experience REAL pleasure when were living
in His plan. Everything else is temporary or illusory.


I’ll post the rest of the interview tomorrow.

Interview with Ben Wilson, part 3

This is the third and final installment in my interview with Ben Wilson. If you haven’t read part one and part two, please do. I hope this has been as much of a blessing to those reading it as it was to me. Thanks, Ben.


What would you say to someone who holds the opinion that infidelity is man’s
natural state and that marriage is an antiquated institution ready to be dismantled?

I
read a book by Zig Ziglar once. If he wasn’t selling pans he was talking
about "The
Redhead.:)" He said, and I agree, that we all have excess sexual energy.
Our culture certainly shows that. He said that what we do with that excess
sexual energy determines many aspects of our marriage. There are plenty of
women that
on first glance I find attractive and would like to have sex with. In a bigger
picture I take that energy and place it into areas of my life—like blog
interviews—that produce a different kind of valuable fruit than sex does.

I
like naked women and I’m glad God made me that way. But I also know that
looking at any others besides my wife in the long run isn’t good for my soul
or hers.
There is something about the exclusivity of monogamy that combined with time
and focused energy on the relationship produces an intimacy and joy that
goes
beyond anything else on the planet.

As far as sex, people that have sex with
lots of others generally are the most unhappy, self-hating people in the
world. Sex addicts become sex addicts
because
they have a deep-seated belief they are a piece of crap, the underside
of the piece of crap, and sex is a drug that masks that for a bit. When the
sex is
over their insides feel darker than before.

Also, every marriage will go
through difficult times. During those difficult times our fallen nature is
going to look at the options to take the discomfort
away instead of really dealing with the stressors. Pretty persons of
the opposite sex can seem like the answer. ‘If only I’d married her life would
have been
easier and happier’ is the lie. Sometimes we fall for it.
How do you help couples to recover from infidelity in their own marriages?
What steps do they need to take?

First off is to cut the third party out
of your marriage. One quick call and be done. It is a brutally painful time
but the best in the long run.
Every
decision needs to go through the lens of how will this impact our marriage.
If there is
a chance it will hurt your marriage then don’t do it. Sometimes that
means changing jobs, changing churches, moving or driving out of the
way an extra
fifteen minutes
to work to protect the relationship.

Make a decision to be brutally
honest with one another. There really isn’t anything to lose at this point.
Don’t hide or conceal any secrets.
Get
the whole explosion
out in the beginning. Secrets coming out later throw a couple back
months and inflict great damage to restoring trust. The infidel is
in the habit
of lying
and it may take a bit to break that. If he can begin to catch himself
and tell the truth that is a good sign.

Along with this, what does
the betrayed spouse need to rebuild trust. At first that is accounting for
all the time in the day 24/7. I can
tell you
that following
the trauma of the revelation Ann being 5 minutes late could feel
like two hours of torture. We are much more considerate of each
other in
this area
even today.
Ask the spouse what else he/she needs to restore trust?

Learn to
do conflict in a way that promotes your relationship and doesn’t tear it
down. Most couples get plenty of practice in this
situation.
:)

Cloud and Townsend list four areas of growth in Changes That
Heal. Learn to be apart (boundaries or saying no), learn to
be close
(true intimacy
or saying
yes),
learn to deal with your dignity and depravity (we all are glorious
and horrible), be an adult (take care of your responsibilities
in life). Be on the grow.
I know it is kind of a cheesy phrase but whether the marriage
survives or not
a person
will be better off seeking to live an abundant life of depth
in relationships of all kind.
Other areas we touch on are: godly design by gender, anger,
shame and guilt, becoming best friends, sexuality and grieving
your
losses.

Why did you start blogging?

We started blogging to continue telling our story
to provide hope for those in troubled marriages. My tech guy told me
about blogging.
It’s
great to
be able
to ‘update our site’ without me knowing html code.

I’ve
‘met’ many terrific people like you through this.

Blogging is a great avenue
for others to hear our story. By linking and updating often my traffic has
steadily
increased.

We have shared our story around the Denver area in several
churches. A few of those times we’ve had a second
day leading couples through
the beginnings
of
many important conversations. Imagine sitting knee
to knee with your spouse and talking about important matters
for
7 hours.
We’ve also
led several
12-week
groups
for couples recovering from infidelity.

We are open
to going out of town and speaking. Just get us there, house and feed us.
If you want to give
us something
on top, that’s
ok too.
The principles
to
recovering from infidelity strengthen any marriage.

Interview with Ben Wilson, part 2

This is part two of my interview with Ben Wilson. Also check out part one and part three.


Most Christians believe divorce is a sin, except in certain cases.
Adultery is often cited (and supported with Matthew
5:31–32
) as one of those
cases in
which
divorce is allowed. Do you think an affair is an acceptable reason for the
offended party to ask for a divorce?

It can be but that usually isn’t the best
question to ask. I think with Jesus’ words we often want to make it into a
final list when I just don’t think he
did that much. He was speaking to men who were treating women in horrible ways
through
often divorcing for no significant reason. So the core of his teaching to me
is directed at each man in something like, "Husbands love your wife intentionally
with tenderness and respect." Often times the passage is used the exact
opposite of what he intended. By that I mean pastors sometimes guilt women
to staying in a marriage with a man who is being a total buffoon or even evil
in
beating her. To me he was seeking to protect women and that is often missed.

The
better question to ask is, "What are the possibilities for our relationship
in this marriage?" At times, some Christians pray for their spouse to
have an affair so they’ll have a ‘legal’ way out. That is a coward’s prayer.
Humility,
suffering, perseverance, character are all words that are neglected in that
prayer.

To sum up, I would say that it is generally worth putting all you have
into rebuilding your marriage and seeking to move through the pain and trauma
of
an affair to
restore it even after an affair. A divorce should still be sought in light
of the question, "What does it mean to love my spouse well?" A divorce
could be sought at some level as a last ditch effort to help the spouse have
an encounter with God. The Greek word for adultery doesn’t usually mean just
one affair but sexual betrayal over and over. So I don’t think one affair is
a good reason to divorce. But to be fair, every situation is different and
I am sure there are some situations where it is the best way to love the other.

If
a married couple who had been through an affair told you they wanted to divorce,
would you encourage them to stay together?

I encourage a couple to make a decision
to work through the process of the betrayal and to worry about making a final
decision about the marriage down
the road.
There is so much pain, trauma and upheaval just after the revelation that neither
will be thinking and feeling clearly enough to make that decision. I do believe
that if two people commit to being honest, place a high value on their relationship
and a high value on God that going through the process will lead them to a
better marriage than they had before the affair.

Why did you and your wife decide
to stay together after the infidelities were brought to light?

For me there
were two main reasons. The first was that I couldn’t stand the thought of another
man tucking my kids into bed at night. If we divorced Ann
would remarry
and I didn’t know who that man would be in relationship with my kids. I hated
that thought. My kids and I rubbed noses like Eskimos and it was great. They
are teens now and don’t do that. :)

The second was out of gratitude to God for entering my life and literally saving
me from suicidal thoughts. I called out one day and said, "God this can’t
be what you intended for my life. Either take me back or show me the way." The
Spirit came in me that day and I began to listen and make different choices
in my life.

I read that it took about as long to get over the affair as it went
on. It went on sporadically for three years. So I gave God three years to
save my
marriage.
In the meantime I committed to face all of the pain I could each day. I didn’t
commit to the marriage but I did commit to the process of rebuilding. Our
biggest leap of forgiveness came after fourteen months.
Ann says part of it was she didn’t want to fail at marriage. All of our siblings
but one has been divorced and she didn’t want to join them. Also Ann is a
very loyal person (yeah we see the paradox). She knew at her core that she
really
loved me. Kids were also a reason for her too. That’s it in a nutshell.

We
both also have a certain degree of pertinacity. I was a state champion at
golf and she was an all-district basketball player in high school. We
both
knew what it was to work hard with a goal in mind. Short term suffering
for long term
gain so to speak.

It has been ten years since the infidelity in your marriage,
and you appear to have come a long way since then. Do you feel that your
marriage is fully
restored?
Are the wounds all healed and trust regained?

Yes I feel our marriage
is fully restored and waaaaaaayyyyyy beyond what it was before the affair.
We talked the other day and we have both grown
so much
the
last ten years. We were 30 year old adolescents (I was 33. I can’t
tell you how many people I see whose lives are turned upside down at 33) then
and
really are
adults now.

We read, reflect, seek to discern, challenge each other
and ourselves and offer grace to one another. We want to be ‘on the grow’
(Charlie Tremendous
Jones
phrase) the rest of our lives.

Yes, the wounds are healed. We touch
our scars a little more often than the average couple because of this strange
calling we have.
We want to
be present
with the
emotions we felt ten years ago when we share our story so it doesn’t
feel like we are talking in a third person manner.

I trust Ann and
vice versa. We are also both much more aware of our fallen nature and don’t
pretend it doesn’t exist. She is capable
of heinous
sin and me too.
Oswald Chambers said an unguarded strength is a double weakness.
Being aware of our capacity for sin helps to keep us ‘on the
grow’ and moving
closer
to one another. That is the best guarantee against another affair
occurring.

Interview with Ben Wilson, part 1

Ben Wilson is the blogger behind Marriages
Restored
. He and his wife Ann have
a ministry for couples who want to rebuild their marriages after infidelity.
This ministry grew out of their own experiences recovering from infidelity in
their own marriage. You can read the stories of Ann’s
affair
and of Ben’s
emotional
affair
on the Marriages Restored site. I recently interviewed Ben via e-mail.


You’ve said on your blog that sex outside of a marriage is not the only kind
of infidelity. What other kinds are there?

In reality one can have an affair
with anything or anybody. Think of things you are passionate about and give
your heart to. If one begins to give aspects
of
his/her soul that is reserved for marriage over to this person, thing or activity
an affair is taking place.

A classic example is a man whose passion goes into
his work. His wife feels that she isn’t getting the most alive parts of his
heart but doesn’t know how
to address
it or attempts to and is greeted with, "I’m working as hard as I can and
making money so we can have a better life and all you can do is complain." Something
in her says, "Fine. I’ll just pour my energy into the kids." He is
successful at work so that looks good. She is at all the school functions and
involved as a volunteer there and at church too. That looks good, but both
are giving a big piece of their soul elsewhere that was intended for their
marriage.

On your blog, you mention your emotional affair at least as much as
you mention your wife’s physical affair, if not more. Do you think the two
kinds of affairs
are equal in their destructiveness?

I mention my emotional affair sometimes
just to give my failures and being a mess equal airtime. :) Affairs generally
don’t happen in a vacuum.

Emotional and physical affairs are both destructive.
I would use different instead of equal or less than etc.

When a couple gets
married they usually vow to forsake all others as long as they both shall live.
I believe that includes both emotionally and physically.

Emotional affairs can
be more difficult to end because the couple rationalizes that since they resisted
having sex they really haven’t done anything wrong.
This is wrong.

In my case, and many people use this language, the other person
and the emotional entanglement works like a drug. There were times following
the revelation of
Ann’s affair that I would talk to my emotional affair partner over the phone.
With the first syllable out of her mouth I would physically feel a chemical
release throughout my body better than any anti-depressant. I instantly felt
pain evaporate.
I felt her acceptance and not Ann’s rejection. That’s powerful stuff.

Soon,
a counselor helped me to see the damage I was doing to all three of us in
the relationship. He also helped me to admit that if my partner pursued
me
aggressively in a physical way I could easily have been right where Ann was.
The damage of emotional affairs seems to be minimized and rationalized away
easier than physical affairs but they are causing incredible damage.

Christians
often make the mistake of praying with the other person and denying the physical
attraction. Prayer is more intimate than sex in some ways and
that really deepens the bond.

When ending it, just end it. People tend to try
to want to end it ‘nice.’ When the line is crossed, the line is crossed and
the lingering feelings will stay
in the way of the marriage.


Come back tomorrow to read about Ben’s views on divorce.