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“We should all find a quiet place, a peaceful space, to bury the chaos and rest for a while” – Christy Ann Martine

I’ve never seen Hot Tub Time Machine but I do believe in the magical transportation of a good soak. My favorite time to tub is early in the morning. A summer sunrise, the first bird’s song, children sleeping, and a cup of fresh coffee all point to perfection–now add warm bubbles–bliss.

While the hot tub plays a large part in my self-care routine, it has also rescued my marriage. 

Our hot tub was an Amazon Prime impulse buy. Two days later, a semi-truck dropped it off in our gravel driveway and took off. At least 100 feet away, over rough terrain, was the deck where it was going. What did we do? Rolled it. Yep, we decided to “roll” a square, 500-pound hot tub over rock, gravel, and seemingly endless grass. We were sweating, laughing, and swearing, but in hindsight, the tub was already bringing us together in fresh ways.

Thankfully, the roll didn’t ruin anything and my husband’s brute strength combined with a makeshift pulley got it on the deck where it will stay forever–or until it’s time to sand and stain the deck again. 

Our first time sitting in the tub was a summer evening. The grass was freshly cut, our beverages were strong and sparkly, and I could feel his sense of accomplishment. My husband is a very humble man but there was a rare glimpse of pride. I realized the steam and jets were creating a physical space for relaxed transparency. We seek that intimate space daily. 

By transparent and intimate, I don’t mean the hot tub makes everything easy and we have it all figured out. Far from it.

What I do mean is very basic and practical: it is hard to get real pissy about tight finances, your in-laws, a leaky skylight, when to schedule an oil change, work, college savings, or what to make for dinner when a water jet is literally easing your tension.

Our hardest and most honest conversations are reserved for “the tub.” But, it’s not because of the 104-degree water massage. It’s the intentionality of the space. How many times have you asked your spouse a question that morphed into a heated conversation and then exploded into a fight– because the timing and space the original question required wasn’t available? I do this. He does this.

We are trying to be better because we realize it is easy to get huffy when asked about a late notice while the kids are pulling on your nightgown and patience, the eggs are burning and Paw Patrol is on volume 1,000 in the background. It’s not so easy to be defensive when asked, “Do you need any information from me to look into that bill?” by bare wet shoulders glistening in the twilight. Good space–good timing–good heat. 

I show my first-rate “processor” husband respect and care when I wait to ask the hard questions or start a tricky conversation until we can both be fully present and relaxed. When he is thoughtful, engaged, and encouraging—he shows me, an impulsive Amazon-primer, respect, and care as well. 

The result, for us, is many hours in the hot tub and a more gracious, authentic, and supportive marriage. 

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By Stacey Chenevert
*Note to Reader: This article is Part 2 of 2- Click, The Truth: How Do Affairs Begin to read Part 1

After working with many women and men who’ve had affairs, I have found a common thread that runs throughout their stories…they all had a need that was not being met by their spouse, typically over a long period of time, and it felt good to finally feel fulfilled. 

In my experience, maintaining intimacy, both physical or emotional, has been one of the primary needs lacking with couples, and ultimately leaves one or both partners vulnerable to an affair.

Most experts agree, intimacy is not only important, it is essential. Intimacy plays a major role in a person’s emotional connection with their partner.

So, identifying both your partner’s primary needs and your needs will help you both develop a habit of meeting each other’s needs, and that is where my 5 steps come in. They are designed to give you the opportunity to discover each other’s needs and communicate how to fulfill them.

I also recommend reading the book His needs Her needs by Dr. Willard J. Harley and The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. When either spouse’s needs go unmet, over time, it can leave that spouse venerable to the deception of infidelity.

Here is a list of suggestions you can implement to protect your marriage. They will act as a barrier between your marriage and infidelity.

5 Ways to affair-proof your marriage

  1. Communication– Open and honest communication with your partner is an important step in establishing an intimate connection. I recommend setting a goal of spending at least 30 minutes every day, in uninterrupted conversation, with your spouse. Share your struggles and your victories. This will set the atmosphere for intimacy and create a sense of “I’m valued” and you matter to each other.

2. Keep the intimate details of your marriage personal- Don’t confide in the opposite sex about personal struggles in the marriage or even your life in general. This part of your heart should be shared with only your spouse. This will foster friendship, intimacy, and trust. 

3. Recognize when you’re starting to have negative thoughts- Don’t let negative self talk about your spouse ruin how you feel about them. Realize he or she isn’t perfect, and mistakes will be made. Allow room for error, and offer mercy and grace when your feelings get hurt. Don’t hold unforgiveness against them—have tools and resources in place to move forward quickly.

4. Date night– It’s important to have time for just the two of you. Try to plan a date night at least twice a month and use this time to reconnect with each other.

5. Keep watch– Keep watch over your heart. If at any time you feel like you are drawn to someone, then ask yourself what you are missing at home? If you’re feeling you have needs that are no longer being met by your spouse, please talk to your spouse about what’s missing in your relationship. Sometimes couples need a marriage therapist to facilitate this. Do not hesitate to find a licensed marriage therapist in your area.

Infidelity is an enemy of marriage, and its only goal is to destroy. It not only harms the marriage but the individuals as well. The good news is that it does not have to wreak havoc in a couple’s life forever—my husband and I are living proof that couples can heal from infidelity.

There is a process of healing, and for committed couples, it works and brings them freedom from the consequences of infidelity.

To find more about healing from infidelity, go to https://womenwithscarsaffairrecovery.com and connect with Stacey Chenevert

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*Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment or consultation with a mental health professional. Please note, I Do Part Two and Women with Scars Affair Recover do not have an affiliate marketing relationship.

3 Minute Read

By Valeria Tipton

When you get married it’s because you have met the man you feel is supposed to be your last first kiss, but what happens when he is not? What happens when your plans change?

My husband’s death came as an unexpected blow to “my plans”. At first, I didn’t think I’d ever want to move on, but time changes things and with time came interest in the possibility of someone else. The problem is how do I grieve my husband and like someone else? How can I consider my next first kiss when my husband was supposed to be my last?

Suddenly I feel pulled in two directions. One part of me is excited for the possibility of someone to love me and my son. We miss having someone who wakes up with us on his mind. We miss having that male role in our home. We miss having someone who makes us smile and laugh, especially considering we’ve cried a whole lot.

But then there is the part of me that feels like a cheater. I know it’s been 16 months. I know he is not coming back. I know I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of someone else while he was alive. I know he would want me to move on. Regardless of all I know, I still feel like I’m unfaithful even just to a memory.

How do I move on when I know my husband doesn’t? Does his memory fade more if I’m no longer Rick’s wife but also ______’s girlfriend? Am I allowed to still talk about him, still mourn him, still wish he was here if I am dating someone else?

What if it becomes serious? Is there a man that exists that can be fully devoted to my son but still recognize he is not his only father? Is there a man willing to have another man’s name discussed around the table as friends and family continue to share my husband’s memory? Is there a man confident enough in who he is and our love without becoming jealous that I will always love someone else?

Here is the truth. I never want to forget I was Rick’s wife. I never want Zander to forget his dad. But more and more I am recognizing that our lives didn’t stop when his did. So now we are tasked with moving on, but I am compelled to take my husband’s memory on with us. Trying to figure out how moving on but not forgetting work together is a hard line. One I am not sure I am skilled enough to walk. There are days I am totally overwhelmed trying to walk this line that feels like a tight rope especially given there is no net and I’ve never done it before.

I am confident of two things. Whoever gets me and Z (if anyone does) is getting something special. I say that not with arrogance or boasting. I say it with assurance. We have loved hard and lost big and with a loss that great comes an absolute appreciation for your loved ones and the time you have with them. 

So whoever gets us will be loved big because we know that time is too precious to sweat the small stuff. I actually once thought being a widow would probably be a deterrent to a potential mate especially considering I write all about my feelings and maybe for some it is; however, I now believe that I proved I lived my vows and I love with a sincerity that even death cannot sever.

I also have complete and total confidence in the fact that Rick won’t be forgotten because who I am is forever changed because of the life we lived together. 

He made such an impact on me and instilled values and opinions that I now hold as my own. So in a way, anyone who loves me, will in a small way love him because he made me the me I am today. Nora McInerny said, “We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it.” So I won’t move on from Rick, I’ll move on with him in my heart which is where he has been from the day we met and where he will stay forever.

I hate that Rick isn’t my last first kiss. I hate that we lived the vows till death, but that it came to an end way too soon. 

What I love though is that while he may not be my last first kiss, he taught me how to love deeply and in a dating world that is hard to navigate he taught me to know my worth and wait for someone who knows it too. 

He taught me that relationships take work and sometimes you want to quit but things that are really valuable are worth the effort. He taught me to be better and bring the best parts of myself to any relationship and always find the best parts of my partner. I am lucky for the years we had and I am blessed to carry the lessons from my past into the future. Whether that future will include someone new or not, only God knows at this point.

What I do know is I have been blessed to love and be loved. I will approach the rest of my life with the intent to always love big with the knowledge that maybe one of my next first kisses could be the one that is my last.

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A day known for love and romance is quickly approaching, and there are A-LOT of expectations wrapped up in just that one gentle rotation of the earth. 

If we buy into all the hype, there are roses to be delivered, perfect gifts to be wrapped, and dinner reservations to be made…weeks in advance. Plus, there’s an overwhelming assortment of cards and candies to choose from, which start filling up store shelves mere moments after the ball drops in Times Square.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Valentine’s Day. I’ve just never felt an overwhelming need to be wined and dined on this one particular day of the year. Even as a kid, I don’t remember it being that big of a deal…

I’m not sure if that incident in grade school has anything to do with it, but if your earliest memory of Valentine’s Day is laughing so hard you pee your pants…February 14th might not be your best day for romance.

Remember those Sweethearts candies, the ones with the cute little sayings like, “Kiss Me” and “You Rock”? Our teacher had the brilliant idea for all of us to read one aloud to the nearest boy if you were a girl or vice versa—one at a time—with everyone focused on you! 

Imagine having to ask the boy who calls you “bigfoot” at recess, if he wants to “Marry Me?” while fifty laughing-eyes stare in a chorus of giggles? 

All I could do was laugh along uncomfortably…unfortunately, I laughed too hard. That’s when it happened, the so-called “Sweetheart incident.”  Trying to keep it on the down-low, I quickly tied my sweatshirt around my waist (hiding my indiscretion), before sneaking out of class as fast as possible. Those chalky heart-shaped candies have haunted me ever since.

I don’t recall all of my Valentine’s Days past, but a few—for better or for worse—are memorable in their own special way…

One year, a boyfriend gave me a dozen red roses, a box of Russell Stover chocolates, and a teddy bear. That teddy bear is one of many reasons said boyfriend is no longer in the picture. 

As we discussed our plans for the big day, I happened to mention how cheesy I thought it was for couples to exchange stuffed animals. So what does the guy do? 

He gets me—wait for it— a teddy bear holding a stuffed version of a Sweetheart candy (best memory ever!) printed with “Be Mine.” It was definitely the beginning of the end for us.

Jumping way ahead in the time machine…

There was this one special Valentine’s Day shortly after we were married when my husband left little love notes all over the bathroom. He then proceeded to send me sweet nothings, via the World-Wide-Web, for the rest of the day. 

Walking in the door that evening, he greeted me with a kiss and a glass of wine as he escorted me upstairs to a warm bubble bath sprinkled with rose petals. I asked him about it as I prepared this article, and he laughed saying, “I must’ve seen it in a movie.” Sadly, no rose petals have ever graced my bubble bath since.

So, you know what I remember most about good ole’ days of Valentine’s Day when the kids were in grade school? Staying up late the night before the class parties to scribble their cute little signatures on each of those 75-plus miniature cards. Then folding those little buggers in half, while trying clip the tiny half-moon into the irritatingly small cut out. (Insert frustrated emoji here!!)

Of course, my kids didn’t want to only give cards, they wanted to give candy too. But, if you opted to include candy, you had to follow the Allergy Guide. “No nuts, remember-not everyone likes chocolate, some kids can only have sugar free, and others are gluten-free… and it went on.” It was SO stressful trying to meet everyone’s dietary needs—for candy!

All kidding aside, my husband and I have always acknowledged Valentine’s Day with each other and the kids in some small way. From love notes to small gifts, but making each other feel loved and appreciated has never been reserved for just February 14th.

What really matters is how we treat each other every day of the year. When we show up as the best version of ourselves for our spouse, our family and our friends, the myriad of ways we experience and express love are pretty extraordinary! 

It’s exactly why I’m a little hesitant to get overly hyped about this one particular day in February—when we ALL already LOVE the special people in our lives—TWO-FOUR-SEVEN-THREE-SIX-FIVE!

So this Valentine’s Day, if you’re stressing about creating the perfect date night or staying up late actually making Valentine’s cards with your kids, try to remember what’s really important about the 14th

It’s just one of many days to count our blessings, and remind our loved ones how fortunate we are to have them in our lives.

I am having an affair. I should feel very, very guilty … but I don’t. He’s a married father of three. I’m also married with three children. I happen to know his kids very well. In fact, I’ve known his wife my whole life. She is me, I am her. I’m having an affair with my husband.

It’s strangely quiet in our house this week while ALL of our children are gone. Our oldest recently moved south for his first job after college graduation and it’s going well for him. Our second is up in Canada with one of his best buddies visiting his other good friend’s family. Our youngest is at her favorite place in the world, a week-long overnight camp an hour north of us. 

We know all of our kids are safe and happy, soooo we can thoroughly enjoy these few days and nights that we have together. ALL BY OURSELVES. Did I mention that we’re ALONE? Good food, great wine, sweet music, and warm candlelight – we’re loving like we mean it.

We often wonder what we’ll talk about when the kids are completely grown up and not one of them is under our roof. If this week is any indication, it’s them. And we wonder, will we like each other? Yes we do. Yes, we most certainly do.

We’re approaching the thirty-first anniversary of the first time I fell for this guy I’m currently romancing. It was at a party about a month before he was leaving for college. We went on a date or two prior to that, but nothing serious. But THAT night, when he walked confidently through the front door of a friend’s home … I loved the way his shorts fit his waist and the look of his strong, tanned wrists. Truly! I’m not kidding!

We started dating exclusively after that fateful gathering, mostly long-distance because we attended universities in different states, but we married six years later on a snowy February afternoon. 

We keep several shoeboxes of cards and notes to and from one another, sent during the painful stretches we had to be apart, and still add new love letters to the collection now, even though we’ve been together and sharing the same address for over two and a half decades. 

Both my parents and my husband’s, had long-standing, rich marriages and without us even realizing it, modeled to he and I what a healthy, satisfying day to day relationship could look like. That’s a legacy that we prayerfully plan to hand down to future generations, starting with the dear souls that we’ve been raising, and pray that they each, often, have a married “affair” of their own. 

I sometimes daydream about them and about our daughter and sons’ futures and who they might marry, then realize that God already has every minute of their days mapped out. Whenever I look at those three, my heart fills with joy and understanding. God knew from the very beginning of time that my love and I were going to belong together and that those precious ones were going to belong to us. He will work out the details, big and small, for them also.

I’m mindful that the tenderness and affection we have in our marriage can be rare and I’m grateful. I know that every day is a gift from God and I’m thankful. Our girl and our boys have grown at the speed of light and all of our lives are constantly changing. I could worry about tomorrow, but why? I’ll enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

And tonight, right now, I’ll light the votives, pour two glasses of cabernet, play our favorite album and place dinner on the table…my beloved is almost home.

“My beloved is mine and I am his… ” Song of Songs 2:16

Boating in Hawaii

3 Minute Read

So many of you have asked, why did I name this blog—I Do Part Two? 

Why, Part Two? 

Because ‘Part Two’ means something different to each of us, it’s as varied as all of our marriage experiences. I wanted ‘I Do Part Two’ to be a space where readers could relate to different couple’s stories and know they’re not alone.

Plus, don’t we all have those moments we wish someone would’ve stepped in and yelled, “CUT…Take-two!”

Wouldn’t that have been great? Instead of, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that…” We keep getting chances to say what we intended to in the first place. No harm, no foul. 

Unfortunately, that’s only in the movies.

Some of you also mentioned, ‘Part Two’ is about getting it right this time, and feeling confident enough to share the best version of yourself with your partner. And for others, ‘Part Two’ means finding love again after a heart-wrenching loss. 

For us, ‘Part Two’ is all about discovering what it’s like to be “almost empty-nesters” as our kids leave for college and beyond. Last time we were alone in the house, everything was new, and it was all so exciting—but we had no clue what we were doing.

Honeymoon 1992

How can we keep that excitement flourishing with more experience, wisdom and a deeper affection for each other than we ever thought possible? Personally, I don’t have the answer to that—I wish I did. But, I do believe we each have something to contribute to this conversation.

Like you, our marriage has it’s own story. I certainly have moments in the last twenty-five-plus years I would love to do over again, but I wouldn’t want a complete do-over.

A do-over might erase some of the best moments of my 27-year marriage to my husband. So, even if it were possible to start over, I wouldn’t want to. We’ve worked too hard to get to this place in our relationship.

Of course, there will always be those moments I wish we’d done it differently…

I would’ve loved it if, in our early years, I hadn’t always been the avoider and my husband the fixer

I wish I’d been naturally gifted with empathy, genuinely able to see through his eyes. Unfortunately, empathy wasn’t a skill I was even aware I was missing—let alone one I desperately needed—until a few years into our marriage.

I also regret not asking my husband for help more often, when the demands of motherhood, laundry, figuring out what to make for dinner every night, and running the kids to all their activities began to overwhelm me.

I wanted my husband to read my mind. I thought he should just know how to help me, but how could he—when I rarely asked. 

So for me, and most definitely for us, ‘Part Two’ is a process of learning from the past, forgiving, and moving forward… 

Instead of fixing and avoiding, we’re really listening to what the other has to say. And more importantly, we’re more aware of how the other is feeling. Even so, we still don’t always get it right. 

Sometimes feelings get hurt… but we’re quicker to mend and more vigilant to repair what we’ve mucked up.

I remember the first marriage counselor (yes, there’s been at least five, but that’s another story…) that introduced the idea of responding to my husband with empathy versus the silent treatment.

Our counselor literally had to role-play how I was supposed to be empathic. I didn’t get it, and it frustrated the hell out of my husband. How could she not get this? Apparently, empathy is learned and I must’ve skipped class that day. 

Our marriage will always be a work-in-process. So when we start to get off track, we have a little phrase we use.  Actually, calling it ‘little’ doesn’t give it the credit it deserves. Many, many times, it’s been our saving grace. It’s only five simple words, but it’s protected us from misunderstandings more times than I can count.  

“May I make a suggestion?” 

It presses the pause button. It asks permission to give advice—you may not like what I’m going to say, but trust me, you need to hear this—it will help us both move forward.

We’ve learned to trust each other, as it’s only spoken with the best intentions.

This season of our lives is also about unwinding old patterns, finding our voices, having fun together, being more intentional, and continuing to learn how to be more empathetic with each other.

We are embracing ‘Part Two.’ I don’t ever recall a time we’ve been more intentional with how we’re showing up for each other and anticipating the other’s needs. We’re excited about the future, and we‘re looking forward to planning more adventures—together.

What will Part Two mean for you? 

*Many thanks to Amy Leimbach, my friend for over 30 years, who thought up the name— I Do Part Two. We’d brainstormed countless duds, epic fails, and domain names that had already been taken. Then, I woke to a text from her in the middle of the night—isn’t that when most women come up with their best ideas? Amy, thank you for your support and creative genius!

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