I know this is a little bit different than our usual programming, but this particular scene from What Happens in Vegas with Tipper and Mason went through my head today as I was reading other’s infidelity stories. Not gonna lie, this scene makes me smirk and chuckle every time.
Now, I’m by no means advocating that you go out and pull a junk punch on anyone. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a very good chance that a fantasy like this scene has probably crossed your mind once or twice after you found out about your spouse’s adultery. Maybe you even had a friend/family member offer to pull a Tipper and do the dirty work for you (keep that friend!).
Don’t worry, you’re normal. We’ve said it again and again and I will continue repeating it. It’s OK to be angry when you’re going through the hell of infidelity. In the video clip from yesterday’s post about William Paul Young’s story of adultery, he mentions some key things with anger that I want to revisit.
1) He attributes not only the survival of his marriage but the fact that he didn’t kill himself to the fury of his wife. Her fury. He comments that his wife was not some meek, passive, just forgive it already and move on type of woman. She let out it out on him holding nothing back. He knew he deserved all of it too. DM and I have a 4+ hour long audio CD of Young talking at the church DM attended during his first marriage. In that audio he mentions that she had made it known in his office how angry she was. She had already taken a lashing out on the material things in his office by the time he got there after her call.
2) The angry period lasted two years. TWO years. And I’m willing to bet that anger surfaced again in the nine years that followed. Those first two years out of the 11 that it took to find healing were the ones filled with the most anger. Not once in Young’s story do you ever hear him question his wife’s anger at what he’d done. Not once. Yet how many pastors/counselors/friends/family nowadays would have told his wife exactly the opposite? How many of you when you were in counseling were told you had no right to be angry? That you should just get over it already and move on? That you had done the one time, “peel-the-bandaid-off” counseling session so you should be good, right? How many of you, when you did get angry, were then labeled as “abusive” for showing that you were angry?
3) His wife Kim had a friend Mary Kay who saved her life and kept her as sane as she could be throughout the ordeal. Mary Kay would walk with Kim two, sometimes three times a day and let her vent. Kim would swear, yell, cry, lash out, whatever it was that she needed to do she was given the freedom to do it. We need Mary Kays in our lives. The faithful spouse absolutely needs a Mary Kay for their own sanity and survival. I wouldn’t be opposed to a Tipper either to be quite honest.
4) Through his own counseling, Paul Young says that part of his own healing was allowing himself to be angry at the sexual violations that had happened to him growing up. Why on earth would a sexual abuse victim be allowed to be angry at the violation that happened to them, but the faithful spouse isn’t allowed to be angry at the violation the cheating spouse did to them and their family by sleeping around with Lord knows how many other people?? We need to allow ourselves to be angry at the violations that happen to us. It’s essential to our own healing. Cheating spouses, I’m speaking to you too. When you get to a point where you’re actually willing to do the heavy lifting in your own healing, and you’ve got some sort of trauma in your past like Young’s, you need to allow yourself to be angry about that.
5) Young talks about how his wife told him she’d never believe another word out of his mouth ever again. After his counseling sessions he would call his wife to let her know what had happened and every time, for two years, she’d say “yea, right, whatever.” Does he ever say she’s out of line? No. What he does say is that he deserves all of it. He knows he can’t heal himself and he can’t heal her. What do you think she would have been told today? Probably something like “come on, give him a chance. Trust him again.” Yea. Like it’s that easy.
I do want to mention another important part of his story that isn’t on the video clip from the post, but Paul Young said it in our audio CD and I bet he says it again in another interview. There is a point where the anger needs to back off just a little bit. It’s not that it needs to go away completely, but it just gets pulled back a little bit. Sometime in their healing process, I think it was probably during those first two years (he doesn’t specify a time point in the CD), he saw himself inching closer and closer to the edge of a cliff. He hit a low point in his healing process and he felt like one more punch would have done him in, sent him off the cliff, ending his life.
At that same time a mutual friend of theirs, (who was himself in a recovery group of some kind for his own transgressions), approached Kim on Paul’s behalf. That friend told Kim that she was absolutely justified in her anger, she had been put through the hell hole, her anger was righteous anger. He apologized that she had to be so rudely awakened to the mess, destruction and havoc that people like him can wreak in the lives of the people they care most about. He apologized that she had to take the fall for people like him. After clearly stating that, he said he had the feeling that if Paul got one more punch they were going to lose him. He feared that Paul was on the edge of a cliff and one more blow would be the death blow. He asked Kim if she could pull back from the punches just a little, just enough so that Paul could have enough space to do the rest of the work needed. She did. Paul was then able to get far enough away from the cliff’s edge to continue doing the heavy lifting he’d started and needed to do. God intervened on his behalf at precisely the moment he needed it.
Paul clearly states that Kim didn’t just stop being angry about it. She was still angry and was still allowed to be angry. She just backed off a little from the heavy blows, which allowed Paul to be in a place to take further anger that surfaced during the healing process. Backing off does not mean you stifle your anger, shove it under the rug. Sometimes it just means taking it down from a level 9 to a level 6 for a little while. Another key part about Kim backing off is that it came after her own anger had been validated. If that friend had approached her saying she had no right to be angry, do you really think she would have backed off? I doubt it.
So know that you can be angry. Know that you can pull back when needed and that you can ask God to send someone on your behalf. That you can ask him to give you the wisdom to know if/when to back off and how much so. Know that you can let your friend curse up a storm in your presence as they heal from their spouse’s adultery. Know that you have a right to curse up a storm if you’re healing from your spouse’s adultery. Know that it’s okay to smirk from ear to ear when you watch the video clip above. Know that while it’s a hard, hellish road, healing does come. Know that God is with you.