“I can’t believe you’ve been hiding this from me!” Melanie shouted at the top of her lungs. She doesn’t remember feeling more angry and violent than in that moment.
On a Sunday two weeks after their second child was born, Seth was wrestling with a difficult decision. He had been hooked on porn for a long time and hiding it from his wife. He hated the heavy weight of shame and guilt, and wanted to change. Taking a deep breath, he told himself that today was going to be the day he’d quit for good. He mustered all the courage he had to confess to his wife he loved dearly. He was penitent. He approached his wife, seeking support, help, and forgiveness.
Instead he got a black eye!
Ironically, Seth was in graduate school at the time studying to become a marriage and family therapist. Although their marriage teetered on the edge of divorce as they went through hell over the following months, they never gave up on each other. And then things got better—a whole lot better!
Sound familiar? Are you or someone you know dealing with a major trust crisis in your marriage? You’re not alone. I want to assure you that there’s always hope if you don’t give up.
I asked Seth and Melanie Studley, founders of the Anatomy of Marriage podcast, how they got through their crisis 8 years ago. Besides never giving up on each other, they shared three specific things that helped them through the struggle.
Have A Clear Mind
Our brain’s higher level thinking doesn’t function well when it’s emotionally stimulated. Slowing things down leads to better and clearer solutions. Voice-recording drafts of what you’re thinking about saying to your spouse and playing it back to yourself helped Melanie clarify her thinking.
Melanie and Seth also created the popular Clearing Structure, a step-by-step process to getting at the root of problems using the thinking part of your brain. You can use a digital version of the Clearing Structure for free in the Get Your Marriage On! app.
True healing won’t come without forgiveness. Taking responsibility for your own actions while giving grace to others that have hurt you takes courage and isn’t always comfortable.
A major turning point in their healing came when Melanie stopped playing the victim. She was reading in the Bible with the intent to find scriptures to convince Seth how terrible of a person he was, but in that moment could only find verses about loving and forgiving. Through tears she realized that she needed to let go and love again.
“I’m not the one with the problem, you are” turned into “Oh my gosh, I’ve been so awful and hurtful to Seth. I’m sorry for the way I reacted and treated you.”
Embrace The New Reality
When major trust-breaking incidents such as the one Seth & Melanie experienced slams into a relationship, things will never be like they once were. Acknowledging that things are going to be forever different going forward is an important part of moving on and healing.
There’s Always Hope
Seth & Melanie are now sharing their story and the things they wish they knew during their crisis via their Podcast, Anatomy of Marriage. Along with their podcast, they’re the co-creators of the Get Your Marriage On! App. They also facilitate masterminds, coaching, and offer other resources for couples. They’ll also be speaking at the Get Your Marriage On! 2019 Live Event next week.