It’s been a crazy week after our story was featured in the Daily Mail.
We’ve had quite a lot of feedback. The story was presented not in quite the way we expected and we just wanted to confirm our position to all those who support Toucan.
Yes, our marriage survived a string of affairs and now we are stronger than ever, but this is not because of the affairs, but because of the hard work we put into rebuilding the relationship (more on that later). For the last 18 years we have been using our experiences to help other couples through our work and resources like Toucan Together.
For those who are in relationships, an affair would often be seen as the non-negotiable end to a relationship.
For the wronged partner, an affair is a terrible betrayal.
For us, the discovery of the affairs was like a bomb going off in our marriage. It was terribly destructive, and the fallout was painful and long lasting.
Our marriage got off to a rocky start but instead of tackling issues while they were relatively small, we did the typical British thing and tried to ‘sweep them under the carpet’. We muddled along but if you’ve ever tried to avoid or ignore issues, you’ll know they don’t go away, and eventually we hit rock bottom during a period of postnatal depression and sought help in the form of counselling.
The counselling helped us to start talking again and we started to work on our relationship, but we didn’t admit the affairs to each other until many years after they happened. By that point, our marriage of 17 years was strong and we had done a lot of growing and maturing as people.
We both felt incredibly hurt, angry and betrayed at these revelations. But here we were, 17 years into our marriage. We had two wonderful children and like most couples we had our joys and challenges, mostly we were happy.
We both regretted those early years pre children and the choices we made. The unresolved conflicts. The affairs. The lack of open, honest communication.
We made heartfelt apologies. Apology is perhaps not the right word. We were deeply remorseful.
We decided to forgive.
We learned that forgiveness is a conscious decision followed by an emotional journey of gradual healing and recovery. We occasionally found ourselves feeling trapped by bitterness and would need to forgive all over again.
For many people an affair would be an unforgivable breach of love and trust. We knew we had a mountain to climb but decided to make a go of it and developed new levels of intimacy and trust as we worked on our relationship. One of the things that helped us was discovering faith in our 30s and as followers of Jesus we found strength to forgive and freedom to love anew.
We had to be very intentional in our relationship to strengthen it and rebuild trust. We had to learn to do things differently, which was sometimes challenging but helped us grow as people as well as grow our marriage.
Over the years we’ve worked alongside other inspirational couples to bring hope and help to others. Toucan Together is a resource and safe place for any couple to grow and strengthen their relationship. You don’t need to be in crisis! We would say whether you are flourishing or fighting it’s important to put time into building good communication; resolving arguments in healthy ways and expressing love in ways you each need it. Toucan will give you insights, inspiration and lifelong skills to grow a happier healthier relationship.
Here we are after 36 years of marriage, we may have had a very messy start, but we’re proof that you can grow through tough times and come out stronger than ever.