Jodie and Erik had been married twenty years and had two beautiful children. Life felt pretty typical. However, knowing that the news of his infidelity would be breaking on the 5:00 news, Erik admitted his affair with a co-worker to Jodie. Jodie’s heart raced, she couldn’t breathe, she lost sense of truth. She no longer knew who she was married to for never once did Jodie think Erik capable of having an affair.
Knowing their most private, painful moments were to be broadcast, Jodie and Erik knew they had to prepare their 13- and 15-year old children. Erik explained his choice to their children and the impact it would have on his job and their family. It was excruciating; their children were blindsided, and their world was forever changed.
Being thrust into the public spotlight was surreal. It was inescapable; news of Erik’s affair flooded the TV, internet, radio, newspapers, social media. “How did we end up here? Why is this considered news?” Jodie’s course forward was altered by Eric’s public outing. Others were telling their story poorly, inaccurately, and one-sided. Though embarrassing and painful, this was Jodie’s blessing. It forced Jodie to tell their story, their truth. And this began to set Jodie and Erik free.
There was never a doubt that Jodie would stay with Erik. Although she initially felt weak for this choice, she came to see how courageous and strong she was for trying to save her marriage. Her family. There is nothing weak about looking at an individual not as their mistake but what they do after. Learning to forgive the unthinkable and recovering from infidelity require strength, courage, and hope. No-one journeying through infidelity – whether they choose to stay or not – is weak.
While Jodie isn’t certain that she can trust Erik again, she trusts her ability to endure anything life gives her. Trust in yourself begins with hindsight, learning to listen to your intuition. Living through moments that you think are not survivable. Learning to use our trauma for good. Jodie has immense hope in Erik. That he won’t be unfaithful again. And right now, hope is enough for Jodie.
Raised without a father, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Jodie is no stranger to adversity. Jodie’s strength comes from God. She knew her path forward was through love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. About a year into couple’s counseling, Jodie felt stuck. Focused on healing her marriage, Jodie wasn’t healing herself. After reading “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle, something clicked; she became inspired forward by hearing her story echoed in someone else’s. Jodie began to write, to share her story. Esther Perel, a psychotherapist who specializes in infidelity, was another source of inspiration and momentum.
Jodie’s first published post felt exhilarating. Right. True. Necessary. Erik has been supportive of Jodie’s writing from the beginning, encouraging her to write. To share. To express herself openly and honestly. Jodie, though afraid, asked their children how they view her sharing their story. Their feelings include confusion, discomfort, and gratitude. Jodie is listening and creating space for their feelings. She hopes in time that their children come to understand why she’s writing and sharing and realize that this trauma did not define or destroy Jodie. Writing has been the vehicle to release her story and her pain.
Friendships and a new sense of community are the gifts of Jodie’s journey. Jodie provides a safe community for others to share their stories. Through this community and helping others find their way forward from trauma, Jodie has discovered self-healing. Finding authentic, relatable voices are instrumental to healing.
“We are not our mistakes; we are what we do after.”
Jodie and Erik love without reason, without conditions. They give each other their first and their best every day. Jodie and Erik have worked hard – on themselves, their marriage, their family.
“We are a stronger family because of my husband’s infidelity not in spite of it.”
Dear Sugars by Cheryl Strayed
Marriage and Martinis Podcast
Thank you for listening!
May our stories help forge your path forward. I hope you’ll stay tuned for our next episode and in the meantime, learn more about my story on my blog.