Where Trust Is

Two days after discovering my husband’s secret life, I took a drive to get away from home. I found a quiet place, parked my car, and pondered. I wasn’t prepared to write down my thoughts, so I had to improvise by jotting down notes on a small strip of card stock I found in my purse. My writing surface was no bigger than a 3×5 card, but the notes that fit on that small space made a big difference in the days ahead.

I finished my notes at my daughter’s house. She was the one who discovered my husband’s online dating emails. After sobbing for what seemed to be forever, I went through my notes with her and added a few more. I needed someone to confirm that I was being reasonable.

Those notes were things that I needed in order to feel ok about giving my marriage a chance. They came from somewhere deep within me. The list included things like using internet filters, taking another employee or family member on business trips, and having another individual take care of business and personal finances.

I presented my list to my husband soon after writing it. The list was still written in a rough format on my tiny card stock slip. I hadn’t read Melodie Beattie’s book, yet. And I hadn’t heard of “boundaries” in a marriage. I just followed my instincts that told me I needed to know things were going to change and they were going to change MY way.

My husband enthusiastically embraced my list when I first presented it, but when I started talking about boundaries, his response was a gruff, “You can’t control me!” He was right. I can’t control him nor can I control anybody else in my sphere of influence. I revised my boundaries so that my expectations were clear and the consequences were such that I could control them. For example, “If my husband lies, I will not sleep in the same bed with him until I feel safer.”   

As I worked on formalizing my boundaries, I constantly referred to my first list, which actually seemed to cover most everything I needed. I tried to write my boundaries without letting my emotions take over, so they ended up reading like a business document. I took advantage of that and made my boundaries into a contract and had my husband sign it.

But I wasn’t satisfied.

I wanted a short bulleted list so my husband could always remember our contractual agreement. Then it hit me. If my husband could just be honest and transparent about everything, I could feel safe. Honesty also coincides with many of my boundaries regarding reporting slip-ups and financial integrity. Honesty. That is the core of everything I need.

The Healing Through Christ workbook has a beautiful quote from Sister Barbara B. Smith:

“Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish.”

I need trust. I need love. I need honesty from my husband. I figured if my husband could remember those things, everything else would fall into place. So, I made him a small card that fits in his wallet with a message that has become our marriage foundation and pact:

Our marriage will be based upon a relationship in which there is transparency, honesty, and trust. These elements are the foundation for an enduring, eternal, and fulfilling relationship. “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish” (Sister Barbara B. Smith). I want our love to flourish.


My husband put the card in the front flap of his wallet because he wanted to see it often. Every time he opens his wallet, I can see the card and it reminds me that my husband is doing whatever it takes to work on his recovery.  This little card has become a nice gift for both of us.

Looking for Solid Narrative Ground

I’ve been robbed of my story.

I’ve always seen my life as a series of stories that collectively created the big story – my life. And now . . . I’m not sure how to find my stories. They don’t look the same anymore. They are tainted and tarnished. My life story has been stolen.


My married life story began when I was sealed for time and eternity to the man I adored. I prayed and prayed about my decision to marry. I never felt so confident about anything in my life. He was the guy for me. I had no doubts.


My husband was a returned missionary and a natural leader. Even before we were married, he spent a great deal of time fulfilling church callings and assignments. I knew before I married him, that he would always be busy in the church. And he was! He was in numerous church leadership positions. The good saints that he served loved him. He gave his all. Nothing was too good for the Lord. His church obligations often left me at home alone with the kids, but I knew that we would be blessed as a family as we both faithfully served.

People often complimented us. “You guys are such a cute couple!” “You have such a neat family.” “You are so lucky!” We certainly seemed to be the family that had everything together. By all appearances, our marriage was everything it should be. My husband opened my car door, bought me flowers, washed dishes, and treated me with kindness. We were happy. We laughed together and sometimes we cried together. We fought through financial difficulties and the loss of loved ones. We were asked to share our successful marriage tips with others at firesides and Relief Society meetings. We shared our life stories with humor and spiritual strength. We prayed together. We attended the temple together. We listened to scriptures together. We weren’t perfect, but I thought we had an excellent marriage relationship.

That’s my “before” story. D-day changed everything. And now, when I look at family photos and recall happy memories, there is another story that is running in the background. The other story is full of deceit and betrayal. It’s black tendrils slowly creep to the surface until all my stories are clouded and distorted.

Being robbed of knowing my past as I used to know it, is a painful thing. Equally painful is not being able to trust the story of my future. Nobody can predict the outcome of their life story, but in the past I felt that I could rely on the strength of my marriage to get through whatever life threw at me. I anticipated joys, hardships, achievements, struggles, and everything else typical in life. The starting point for all my stories would be my eternal marriage and family. My eternal marriage would be the one thing that could hold all the other story lines together. Now, I must find new solid narrative ground to begin my stories. This is a heavy loss and it makes me grieve.

“Moving forward in life is hard or even, at times impossible, without owning a narrative of one’s past. Isak Dinesan has been quoted as saying ‘all sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.’ Perhaps robbing someone of his or her story is the greatest betrayal of all” (Fels, Anna. “Great Betrayals.” New York Times. Oct. 5, 2013).