“Though you found Sheila attractive, you initially had no intention of anything other than friendship. At first, your conversations were nothing special, just friends talking about mostly inconsequential matters. However, as you enjoyed being around each other, you became more open and transparent. Gradually, you evolved to discussing personal matters, trusting each other, and liking the attention and validation. Somewhere along the line, one of you began to slip in words of affection, cautiously at first, and then openly. Well before either of you openly professed love for the other, you both knew what the other felt.
“As your relationship deepened, you began to hide the amount of time you spent together, the increasing numbers calls or texts, and the escalating emotions you felt for each other. Neither of you considered the possibility that you violated boundaries as friends, co-workers, or Christians, though both of you were still actively involved in your churches. Nor did either of you entertain the idea that by your deepening desire to be with each other you violated your marriage vows to Melinda. You each believed strongly that both of you were good people who had no wish to do anything wrong.
“With time, talking led to handholding. That eventually led to warm, clinging embraces. Next came kissing which finally progressed to full physical expression of your emotions.
“Guilt followed your first lingering kiss. It reached its peak when you became sexually intimate. Before you left each other after that first time, you wept and prayed together, asking God to forgive you and help you not sin again.
“Soon the prayers ceased.
“Now neither you nor Sheila feels a need to ask God to forgive. Instead, you thank Him for bringing you together.”
He stared at me for several minutes before speaking.
“Yes, that’s pretty much the way our love developed. So what does that have to do with anything?” John asked warily.
“I walked you through that very brief history for two reasons, John. First, it’s significant that I told your story to you, not you to me. I probably missed something here or there, but I got the main parts right, didn’t I? Why is that important? Because it means you aren’t unique. What you have isn’t magic or extraordinary. I’ve heard the story so many times in my work with marriages in trouble – sometimes from the guy’s perspective, sometimes the gal’s – that I know it well.
“Second, John, because I know how you got to where you are, you need to realize that I can tell you where you’re headed. How? Same reason. I’ve heard the stories.
Hundreds of them. Sure, I might miss something here or there because every situation is a little different, but I’ll get most of it right.”
He was not enthusiastic about hearing my predictions, but realized it would be irrational to refuse.