Personal Stories from the Martins and the Browns
Throughout the course of this course, we will follow two couples who have been through affairs and who have repaired their relationships using the program in this course. I have changed their names and some identifying details to ensure their privacy. I will refer to them as the Martins and the Browns. You already met one of the Browns in the first paragraph of this introduction.
I will expand on these stories throughout the course as a way to illustrate certain sections of the text and to give you some context for what I am saying. Consider the Browns and the Martins as friends and models for your own relationship.
What has happened for these couples can happen for you too. An affair is a terrible thing. It isn’t to be underestimated. But you can use this tragedy to draw your relationship closer than it has ever been before. Sometimes it takes the most upsetting event, like an affair, to wake us up to the reality around us.
Christine and Craig Brown had a wonderful life together. Infidelity interrupted that for a short time, but they were able to regain their footing and make their relationship better than ever with a little help and a little effort. But let’s let them tell that story.
“We had this perfect life; the life I had always dreamt of as a little girl. I remember when Craig first asked me to marry him. It was like a fairy tale. He took me out for a lovely candlelit dinner at our favorite restaurant. Afterward we went for a carriage ride in the park. He asked the driver to stop for a few moments and hold the carriage. “We went for a short walk in a beautifully wooded area of the park and there, under the full moon and starlight, he knelt down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I cried. We kissed. For the rest of the carriage ride he was shouting at the top of his lungs that I had made him the luckiest man in the world. It was perfect”
Two children and a beautiful home later, I was still totally fulfilled. We had our tough times. Marriage and children aren’t easy no matter how you look at it. But we had it pretty good, and I knew it. I mean I really knew it. He was the one. I was lucky. I couldn’t ask for more.
“Then it happened. I’ll never forget the night Craig came home and told me he was having an affair. The minute he walked through the door I knew something was wrong. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I was worried, but I put my worry aside until the kids went to bed. Craig was pale, and he couldn’t breath. It was horrible.
“Then the bomb fell. When Craig first told me, my head was spinning. I didn’t know what to do. It was like I was in a nightmare. I kept closing my eyes and rubbing them, thinking I would wake up and this horrible thing would never have happened. But every time I opened my eyes, there he was, standing before me with that pale, pleading face. When I realized it wasn’t going to go away, I slapped him – hard.
“Then I started crying and screaming at him. I don’t even remember what I said. I’m not sure I was saying anything at all. I’m sure the kids heard. I wanted them to hear. I wanted everyone in the world to know what a pig he was. I wanted to kill him. Then I just wanted to be alone. I ran to the bathroom, locked the door, and sort of passed out in there. When I woke, I was freezing on the bathroom floor.
“After a while, I got up and crawled into bed. Thankfully, Craig was bright enough not to be there. I didn’t even get out of bed for two days. My kids were terrified. Craig tried to console them, but to little effect. I didn’t even care anymore. I mean about anything. I felt dead. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t feel. I kept imaging myself as a zombie. I wanted to lie there until the world ended.
“But I have learned that all things pass, no matter how bad they are. Eventually I managed the strength to get out of bed. I didn’t talk to Craig for a while. When I did I told him we were going to therapy. He didn’t argue. He wasn’t in much of a position to argue. I think he kind of wanted that anyway.
“It took time. Longer than I thought, But with the help of Dr. Ellis, we were able to overcome the problems the affair caused us and renew our relationship. I never thought I would be saying that. After he told me, I thought the idyllic life I lived before was forever gone to me. It wasn’t. I was lucky. Or maybe I was just resourceful.
We did the work and now, to tell you the truth, our relationship is better than it’s ever been.”
– Christine Brown
“When we were young, Christine was my life force. I loved her more than I loved my own life. I would have given her anything she wanted. Whatever I did, I did for her. I succeeded at work because she was behind me. I was a good dad because she wanted me to be. I was who I was because of her. “But life changes you. I can’t tell you why. I wish I knew. For the first ten years it was great. But then I came to this point where I started thinking, “Is this really going to be my whole life?” I know it sounds selfish. It is selfish. But I was tired of living for someone else. I started thinking, “Where the hell am I in all this? What about my needs?”
I had it all set up in my mind that she didn’t care about what I needed and was only interested in what I could give to her.
“It was about then that I met Tracy. Tracy was a young, cute girl they just hired at the office. She was quick-witted and hot-tempered and ready to try anything. I was starting to feel like a tired old man, but when I was around Tracy I felt young and alive again. I know, I know, it’s the classic story. But there’s something in it. There really is.
“I never really meant for it to go as far as it did. I asked her out to lunch a couple times as a “friend.” I just wanted some excitement. So when she asked me to go dancing one night with her and her friends I thought, “What the hell, I haven’t done something for me in ten years.”
“That night was the start of what was the biggest mistake of my life. I slept with her that night. After I got away with it the first time, I thought, “Man, I can do this whenever
I want.” I started scheduling “business trips” on a regular basis. Of course, I never went anywhere other than Tracy’s place. “I’m not going to say it was terrible with Tracy; it wasn’t. But it wasn’t that great either. I kept looking at myself and thinking, “What am I doing?”
“After two years of going over to Tracy’s this way, I came to a place where enough was enough. Somewhere underneath all my selfish needs, I knew that I was just lying to myself. I mean, I knew I should take care of myself, but I also knew the way I was going about it was all wrong. I was hurting everyone around me, including myself.
“Honestly, I expected it to be a lot worse when I told Christine. The slap was nothing. In some ways I wanted her to beat me up. I would have let her if she tried. “I couldn’t show much emotion when I told her, but when it was over and she locked herself in the bathroom, I laid on the couch in the living room and cried. I couldn’t stop. I cried like a baby.
“When she finally talked to me again and told me she wanted to go to therapy, I was so relieved. I was sure she would want a divorce. I would have. At least, I think I would have.
“I guess I’m a lucky man. Christine let me back into her life after I screwed things up so badly. Getting through it wasn’t easy. But whether or not it was easy doesn’t matter. I would have done anything to get my wife back. I was sure I had lost her forever. Now I know I can spend the rest of my life with this woman and be happy. I’ve learned that’s what I really want, and after all we’ve been through, I get to have it”.
– Craig Brown
Now let’s hear from a couple whose experience with infidelity happened in reverse. The Martins are similar, but the difference here is that it was Susan who cheated.
“Bilal is a sweetheart. He’s been my best friend my whole life. I’ve known him since before I knew myself. When we got together it was natural. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, who would make a better partner than your best friend, right? “The problem was that it just wasn’t that hot. I’m not a sex addict, but I do like to have romance and torrid encounters from time to time. I want to be swept off my feet, taken on a Caribbean cruise, and made love to all night long to the sound of jazz music on a bed of roses. I want to walk down the beach in a bikini and have my man look at me luridly.
What girl doesn’t want that?
“Bilal is more the backyard swimming pool, one piece bathing suit kind of guy. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time. When we went out, I would dress kind of sexy and he would barely look at me. Or so I thought. When we were in bed, I felt like he was just doing it to please me.
“So when this hunky guy Aaron started coming on to meat work, I kind of got into it. I almost thought there would be something romantic about sneaking away with another man. So I pursued it. I started flirting back. I was hoping he would make a move.
“Then one night at a business dinner he did. He asked me to dance. I accepted. He told me I was beautiful. I blushed. He leaned in to kiss me. I kissed back. We went back to his place and had the best sex I’d had in ages. To this day, I still don’t know why I did it. I knew it was wrong, but somehow I just couldn’t stop myself.
“The night wore on, and eventually I had to go home. I had to go home to my sweet Bilal. That night when Igot home, I looked in his eyes, and I could tell he knew something had happened. I confessed immediately. He just stared at me in disbelief, turned around, and walked out of the house. I was sure he wasn’t coming back.
“When he did come back very early the next morning, he stared at me for a moment and said, ‘What the hell were you thinking? Why’d you do it? I love you. Don’t you know I love you?’ When he said that I started to cry. Of course I knew. I loved him too. I couldn’t believe I had done what I had done.
“The saddest part of the whole thing for me was when I learned that Bilal had always wanted to be more sexual and romantic but thought I didn’t like that stuff. I could have talked to him about it, but I didn’t. I never even gave him the benefit of talking to him about what I needed. That killed me more than the guilt of one night spent with Aaron.
“Things are different now. Imagine a man who is your best friend and who looks at you with that lurid eye when you’re on the beach. That’s right. I have the whole package now. I had to walk through the hell of a nearly destroyed relationship to get there. But here we are, and it’s better than I could have dreamed.”
– Susan Martin
“Susan’s the only girl I have ever loved. She’s the only girl I have ever wanted to be with. I’ve known her my whole life and I’ve loved her my whole life. She’s the girl next door.“Back in high school, I remember she was dating this guy who was kind of a creep. I always thought she was attracted to the wrong kind of guys. But then any guy was the wrong kind of guy as far as I was concerned.
“Anyway, she came home one night and threw a rock up at my window. I knew who it was and stuck my head out. She was crying and begging me to come down. I did. And she told me this guy had “octopus hands”; he just wouldn’t stop touching her no matter what she did. In the end, she barely got out of his car and ran home before he forced himself on her.
“The next day I went to school and beat that punk to a pulp. Perhaps not the best course of action, but I was a teenager at the time. I think that was the first time Susan really saw how much I cared about her. Of course, it wasn’t until years later that we actually got together.
“Basically, I never ever wanted her to see me the way she saw that guy. I never wanted her to think I was pushy with sex. Sex is important to me. I love it like everyone else does. But, for me, it really is second to love and commitment. Maybe that’s not too normal for a guy, but it’s the way I feel.
“I never had any idea that Susan wanted more out of me that way. I wish so badly she would have told me. I thought she liked the backyard barbecues more than she would like a trip to Hawaii. Maybe I was naive. I guess I was. But I really thought she wanted that house in the burbs and the dog and the neighbors over on the weekends to swim in the pool. I wanted to give her that life because I thought that was what she wanted.
“The night she came home after she slept with Aaron, I knew something was up. I knew her too well not to know. But I hadn’t the foggiest idea it would be that. I thought she was committed to me the way I was committed to her.
“When she told me I felt all the things you might expect: anger, humiliation, a big dose of betrayal, shock, fear, hatred. It was such a shock that all I could do was walk out of the house. It was either that or hit her and find Aaron and kill him. I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do so I just left.
“I walked for hours that night. I thought about just getting on a train and never coming back. But in the end, I knew that my life wouldn’t be the life I wanted unless I had Susan with me. I love her.
“So I went back. Eventually we went to therapy. I’m not sure if I was more upset about the affair or about the realization that she had spent so many years seeing me as a nonsexual person. That was tough. Especially because I felt like I had restrained myself for her sake. On the other hand, how many men have their wives say, “I wish you made love to me more often.” I mean, that’s a boon, right? Every man’s dream.
“Of course, I wish it never happened. But that feels a little childish to me. It happened, and we have been able to make it work to our advantage. Our relationship is more intimate and more passionate because of the infidelity.”
– Bilal Martin