After five years being out of the industry, a year and a half of no income, and an 18-month-old child, I was desperate. I went through many fruitless interviews, and then, miraculously, God granted me a job as a technical writer. I went to the interview, and my would-be manager interviewed me. Then, the team members interviewed me, and one of the team members was Mark (name changed). When he interviewed me at the company, I felt the pull of attraction immediately. I felt it, but put it aside.
I started to work, and was excited, grateful, and happy to be working in a community of writers. I was the new writer, and we worked on the same team. It started innocently enough. I learned the ropes of the company I worked for, and it seemed manageable at first. But after about a week, my manager asked me to stay late for training, and started breaking me in for the real job. I eventually realized the job was a sweatshop, literally, led by a manager bent on dedication to perfect documentation.
My manager held the team in a state of fear. Everything had to be reported: any changes to documentation were to be recorded with the date. Deadlines were brutal, and the content highly technical. We worked with an unwieldy program designed for writing huge documents, which to this day I absolutely hate. (Think Fortran for the writing industry).
With me, my manager was even harsher. She had me check in at lunchtime, and before I left, to report what I worked on, and made me keep a spreadsheet of all the document changes that I had done. Any emails I sent to engineers, for questions on technical content, she had to be copied on. She did not trust me to initiate any meetings on my own, and I had to report to her any interactions I had with other people. She was a micro-manager, who used techniques of bullying, public shaming, and threats to keep those under her in line.
The job eventually grew into one that was undoable without long nights, often till 10pm, and sometimes past midnight.
During this stressful time, my husband, who has ADHD, was watching our 2-year-old son. It was hard for him. I’d often come home and find my husband at his wits’ end, my son sprawled out and finally asleep on the sofa, with diapers that had not been changed in a long time. When I finally changed my son’s diaper, I could see the angry, raw, diaper rash on his tender baby skin.
Oftentimes I came home late, and found my husband stressed and depressed, with the house totally in chaos. My 2-year-old had overturned the house, with messy yogurt stuck to tables, garbage and grime on the carpet, toys spilled everywhere, rug overturned. My over-stressed emotions and exhausted mind would then snap, and we would fight. We started having problems with insects and big cockroaches due to neglecting the house.
One time I came home when my husband had lost it with my son. It was an uncomfortably hot, stifling summer. I drove into the sweltering garage and saw my son standing there. Unable to take his toddler tantrums any longer, my husband had locked him in the garage. I found him there, with his eyes puffy from a deluge of tears, and face red and purple from unrestrained crying and screaming. Mommy anger kicked in. I comforted my son, and in a rage faced my husband. My husband felt terrible after what he had done in a moment of anger. Thankfully, my son had only been in there for a few minutes when I came home.
Countless other incidents occurred during that time, which raised the rage level at my husband. In reality, I was not just angry at my husband but also unbelievably tired, stressed, and burnt out. My body had started breaking down with severe muscle cramps, tendonitis, and panic attacks. What made matters worse was my husband has ADHD. Meds wear off in the evening, and it’s hard to control emotions when the meds wear off. This made it hard for him to watch my son, especially when I came home late.
In the midst of all that I was going through at work and at home, I started to seek comfort from my coworker Mark. At first, he simply helped with projects, and shared my workload. Then, he was shielding and protecting me from my manager, even while he was under tremendous work stress as well. We provided each other with moral support in the impossible work environment. I felt that no matter how bad the situation was, or how hard things were at work, he was there and supportive.
Then, the relationship quietly and steadily morphed. I don’t think anyone starts out anything like this expecting things to morph. But they do. In my mind, I knew where the relationship was heading, but still did not grasp the full impact of it. Mark was married and had no child. I was married and had a child. How could I have even considered any sort of relationship with him? I knew I wasn’t pursuing anything, and deluded myself into thinking — and maybe initially it was at first — that we were just friends. (Oh, the capacity for self-deception in us humans!) He was just a coworker who was incredibly (I thought) nice, smart, and supportive. But with the stress of work, and late nights, the line between friendship and something more became dangerously easy to cross. During the workday and those late nights, we got to talking about more and more personal stuff, and I found myself more and more falling for him.
I believe it is often the case, while we are married, we encounter people we feel we click better with than our spouses. It could be similar personality type, or interest in the same things, and so on. I felt that way with Mark. He enjoyed complexity, and I had a complex personality. He gave his full attention when I spoke, expressed empathy when I shared struggles at work and home, joked intelligently, and appreciated good poetry and literature. It was hard for me to resist.
I knew it was wrong, the way I felt. And I struggled and condemned myself for it. My thoughts went from hoping he has a good married life, to wanting him myself. And yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, where some sense of sanity was left, I wavered at the thought of how devastated my husband would be. I had visions of losing my son, and pictures crossed my mind of never seeing my son again, if I acted on my feelings.
Thankfully, nothing came of this. During that difficult time, God protected me in so many ways, so specifically, through verses and messages, which came through at the right times. I also had godly people I confided in, which helped tremendously. I did not know it at the time, but God had been watching over me that whole time. He rescued me from that situation.
I work at a different company now. And yes, there are temptations, as there are everywhere else. But I remember what happened, and I pray I make the right choices.
I hope this post helps me, and anyone else, struggling with these things.
- There’s no such thing as marrying the “right man” or the “wrong man.” Treating the “wrong man” like the right one turns him into the right man. (This also holds true for marrying the “right woman”). Caveat: There are cases where someone may be married to an abuser (physical, verbal, etc.) In such cases, separation may be needed. Please, seek help.
- There is such a thing as an emotional affair. That is what I was involved in, and often women are more likely to fall into this (as opposed to men, with a physical affair).
- It is never, ever worth it. If you hear the stories from people who went through with it, or carried out their “heart’s desire,” you hear stories of intense regret, depression, wish for suicide, and worse. Don’t “trust your heart” or “follow your hearts desire,” especially if your heart is known for following the wrong things.
- If you are struggling with this, please share with a trusted and godly friend. Ask for prayer and accountability. It is a battle, and a struggle! The Enemy wants nothing more than to destroy marriages and families, because a godly marriage and family is one of the strongest representatives of God’s love on earth.