What I want you to know about being the "other woman"

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Grace.

There are so many things I want you to know…but I’ve learned from experience that people simply don’t care. It doesn’t matter to anyone that I was a virgin, someone who’d been a missionary and in ministry for many years. It doesn’t matter that I was vulnerable to his declarations of love because I was reeling from a sexual assault by a stranger, because I had experienced a number of unimaginable losses, because I was alone and afraid I always would be. It doesn’t matter that he said he’d been in love with me since long before his marriage, or that his church job had kept him legally married to a woman he hadn’t shared a house with for three years. It doesn’t matter that I loved and trusted him. It doesn’t matter that I believed everything he said, right down to part where he claimed God had created us to be together. It doesn’t matter that I miscarried his child and that I finally saw who he was when he rejoiced while I grieved.

None of this matters and no one wants to hear it. “Nothing more than excuses,” they say. And maybe they’re right.


All of those things you call “excuses” are nothing more than the truth. They’re my story. They’re how I got here. And every story is important to God, if not always to those of us who serve Him.

When you have been the other woman, especially a single other woman, society doesn’t know what to do with you. Your story is one it’s uncomfortable with, one it would much rather push under the rug than hear. Go to any bookstore, for example, and you’ll find books about holding a marriage together after an affair. Go to support groups and you’ll find a place for people whose spouses have cheated. What you won’t find is a safe place for the other woman to voice her hurt, her pain, her grief. The attitude seems to be that we deserve what suffering we endure.

In theory, I understand that attitude. Acknowledging that marriages aren’t always great is scary. Admitting that people who are in positions of authority, especially in churches and parachurch ministries, are capable of affairs threatens the way we look at our leaders, and potentially, ourselves. It’s easier to assign people to categories: those who could do X or Y and those who couldn’t. The problem is, it’s pretty hard to decide ahead of time who belongs to which group. After all, I never thought I was capable of having an affair; I would never have believed the man I had the affair with was, either.

Navigating society’s often sexist waters for help can be tricky. The (male) pastors I went to for counsel after the affair ended talked to me about how I must have “tempted” him. The idea that he could have seduced me or that we could have been equally culpable apparently never occurred to them—it must have been the single woman “going after” the married man.

The pastors also warned me extensively about keeping the affair a secret. For one, it was advice designed to protect me: “The Church doesn’t deal with this well,” he admitted. But for most of them, it was all about protecting my lover and his position. “He’d lose his job if anyone found out,” was the consensus. His job was far more important than my healing.

God’s forgiveness is freely given and inexhaustible. Not so society’s. What I want you to know is that I’m struggling. I’m grieving over a love I believed in. I’m grieving over a child. I’m grieving over a future I thought I was going to have. And I’m trying very hard to forgive both my lover and myself. Members of my family have said they’ll never speak to me again. I may deserve the pain; I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that God called David, an adulterer, “a man after [His] own heart.” I know that God loves me, that sins can be forgiven, and that there need to be places, especially in the Church, where the wounded could come to be supported in their journey toward wholeness.

I want you to know I’m in counseling. I’ve never stopped seeking God or praying. I’m holding to the promise that He’ll bring something good out of even this experience; I’m trusting that one day, I will meet my child in Heaven.

And I want you to know one last thing: I pray for his marriage. I pray both he and his wife can find some happiness, whether that be truly together or completely apart. Sometimes those prayers are said through tears, but they are said.

I am the other woman. I long for your compassion, for you to say, as Jesus did, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” As much as that, though, I long for you to see me. To admit that I exist, to acknowledge my story. And then, maybe, to give me a hug."

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Wednesday's Child: Lexi

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.

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What I want you to know about being a step-parent

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted bLauren.

I want you to know that being a step-parent isn’t for everyone. A step-parent is a special someone with a hidden strength unmatched by any other. They are one who must exude grace and love and loyalty all neatly bundled together in a compact box of humility.

If you think being a step-parent is going to be a walk in the park – you’re right. It’s the kind of park they film in a scene from a scary movie. The kind of park that you creep through slowly until you hear a noise – then you hide, run, and scream like hell. It’s the kind of adventure that will give you one of the most fulfilling rides of your life.

Being a step-parent has MANY add-on perks.

1. Be ready for the anger and resentment.
And get ready to love them through it, because love is the only way you will get through to them. It’s a fierce kind of love that says – I will never give up on you. You can push and push, but you’ll never be strong enough to push me away.

2. It can require giving respect when you may not be receiving it.
Lord knows, they will try every trick in the book to get you to break. Divorce and separation are traumatic events on children no matter their age or gender. Even the best of parents can’t escape the fact that new relationships will be difficult adjustments. It requires a certain level of resilience and love by a step-parent.

3. It’s a full-time position with no pay, no holidays, and no time off.
Maybe you are entering the family situation when the child/children are at an early age and they’ve won you over with their adorable smiles. Or maybe you’ve come into the picture during the peak of their hormonal teenage years. Either way – learning your role is going to be hard work. It can require more attention and nurturing than you ever had to give to your own biological children.

I want you to know that there are no right answers. Every family situation is diverse and unique. The rules and boundaries look differently in every home. Perhaps the children have a strong relationship with both of their parents, in which case you might have to take a backseat as authoritarian. Maybe one parent is completely out of the picture and you have become their main role model as mom/dad. Millions of families do it, yet each scenario is exclusive in its own way. The lack of any hard and fast guidelines can leave you feeling confused and frustrated. Are you over-stepping your limits? Are you doing enough? As you navigate, you will find that children are funny and most situations will feel like you’ve taken two baby steps forward and one giant leap backwards.

You learn a lot about someone’s character watching them step-parent. Some do amazing jobs at showing their love and readily take their step-children into their hearts while others struggle to make the connection. I want you to know that everything you go through in this journey will be worth it – not only for the children – but for you as well.

As a young child, I had a stepfather that I despised (for no apparent reason). I can remember plotting schemes to get rid of him. As an adult, I can honestly say that I am so eternally grateful for everything that he did for me. He always treated me like his own daughter and now that I have my own family, my children absolutely adore him. I am so thankful for having him in their lives.

Ultimately, it’s hard for children to see the goodness in their stepparents. They spend a lot of time pointing out their flaws as a result of feelings they can’t quite process. I want you to know that while being a step-parent can feel like a thankless job, remember to hang in there. One day those kids are going to look back and realize how valuable you are to their lives. Approach the responsibility with the right attitude and you will find – that families are defined by one thing and one thing only: love."

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That's what SHE said: Funny Valentine tweets, a foster-dad who only takes in the terminally ill, Iceland's answer to teen drug-use, cheap travel destinations to put on your list and a whole lot more....

Here are some things I read this week that made me think. (These are just snippets - click on the title to read the whole thing.)

"Between the failed attempts to sneak some grown-up alone time and the pressure to make Pinterest-worthy valentines for every single one of your kids’ classmates, it’s hard to feel the romance around February 14."

A few favorites:

- "I think my son is really going to appreciate me secretly adding, "LOVE YA SWEET CHEEKS!" to all his valentines for the kids in his class."
- "Does my daughter have to give a vday card to the kid who said "I will put catnip in your mouth when my dad is not looking and make you cry"?"
- "Me: Valentine’s Day is coming up. 4-year-old: Is that the one with Leprechauns? Me: No. 4: Not interested."

"My hope: I want a pro-choice situation for last names. Instead of a given, how about a conversation between parents? Maybe someone wants a cohesive family name; maybe someone wants to honor a great-grandmother or grandfather; maybe someone wants to shed a last name and join a new family; maybe someone wants to give their child four last names and let the child pick at 18 years old. I don’t know. Something. Anything. Just not a given."

"By the mid-1990s, the Bzeeks decided to specifically care for terminally ill children who had do-not-resuscitate orders because no one else would take them in.

There was the boy with short-gut syndrome who was admitted to the hospital 167 times in his eight-year life. He could never eat solid food, but the Bzeeks would sit him at the dinner table, with his own empty plate and spoon, so he could sit with them as a family.

There was the girl with the same brain condition as Bzeek’s current foster daughter, who lived for eight days after they brought her home. She was so tiny that when she died a doll maker made an outfit for her funeral. Bzeek carried her coffin in his hands like a shoe box."

"When my own daughter, a precocious and inquisitive 5-year-old at the time, asked me what the word 'politics' meant I told her they were rules. When I later told her she was too young to understand politics she made me eat my words when she said, 'But, I understand RULES, momma.'

...We parents still have all the autonomy in the world to encourage our children to become involved. Whether you’re taking your son or daughter to a local protest event (safe for children, of course) or they listen as you contact your representatives, the best mode of getting them involved is using their own voices."

The 30 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2017 from Laura with Forbes

"Eat your way through historic Hanoi, kayak in the emerald waters of Halong Bay or relax in ancient Hoi An and the nearby beaches. There are clean, safe accommodations to fit everyone’s wallet. In Hanoi, my favorite is the Tirant Hotel, near the old town, where you can bag a room for less than $70 a night. Don’t miss the Hanoi street food tour: For just $20 per person, a guide will lead you on foot or by scooter through backstreets, markets and footpaths. You will eat like the locals and learn the names and ingredients in the dishes so you can order them again. And be sure to take the time to sip a bowl of steaming “pho” noodle soup in restaurants, push carts and food stalls, where a street meal and a beer can cost the same as a caramel macchiato at Starbucks."

How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs: Curfews, sports, and understanding kids’ brain chemistry have all helped dramatically curb substance abuse in the country. by Emma with The Atlantic

"Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 percent in 1998 to 5 percent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 percent to 7 percent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 percent to just 3 percent.

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

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Friday Finds

1. Blue & Gray Ceramic Dish Set | Zulily
2. Marin Dinnerware | Crate & Barrel
3. Coupe Dinnerware Set 16-pc. Porcelain White - Threshold™ | Target
4. Urban Outfitters | 12- Piece Modern Dinnerware Set
5. Vera Wang Vera Organza 5 Piece Place Setting | All Modern
6. Martha Stewart Collection Heirloom Dinnerware | Macy's  
7. Vera Wang Simplicity Ombre 4 Piece Place Setting | All Modern
8. Mimira Dinner Plate | Anthropologie
9. Coupe Gray 12-pc. Dinnerware Set Room Essentials™ | Target 

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