This blog looks pretty much the same as it did, late last October, when Brian and Sarah Valente drove to Colorado Springs and taped this show*…
*FYI, there is adult content in the flashback scenes.
I had planned to post this tonight, after the show had aired. Technically, I’m not supposed to talk about the show until it airs. However, my face and voice are in the current preview on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s site. So, I think it’s only fair that I let my readers in on the prank secret.
Because you know that while my blog looks the same as it did last October…
My home looks vastly different.
Last summer, Brian (we call him Papa Bear here in blog land) and I were in the strongest place we’ve ever been since “I do”. Actually, no, we were much stronger than when we said “I do”. We’d survived:
1) A military separation during the first year of our marriage
2) a set of twins shortly before our second anniversary
3) a phone call that confirmed my suspicions of a marriage ravaged by betrayal and sex addiction
4) a second set of twins shortly after our third anniversary
5) a long road of recovery
6) the beginning of our public testimony
7) a singleton (our 5th baby)
8) an allegation that Papa Bear had fathered a child around the same time as point #3
9) a DNA test that disproved the allegation
10) rumors that Papa Bear was cheating again
11) disproving that rumor through the last resort means of a lie detector
10) stepping out into ministry after four years of healing and victory
Yikes. And all that in just over seven years.
Then, shortly after our joint decision to be more open and public with our testimony, we were given the opportunity to tape our story for OWN. We agreed. And I wasn’t allowed to say a word about it until now.
That’s where the longest intro ever ends and this post actually begins.
Oh, but not before pictures! Let’s spend a few more minutes focusing on that happy little couple from the show.
(First things first: the coolest coffee machine in the universe. I want one for my house. It grinds and brews individual cups of coffee that taste like Starbucks got saved.)
(Me, on the set, so thrilled to do my light check before hair and makeup.)
(So fake. SO FAKE.)
(The cutest little makeup girls in the world.)
(The all-important hair meeting with the assistant producer.)
(Here’s what a control freak looks like when her hair is being done by someone else.)
(Awww….that smile will melt ya.)
(He was such a good sport about the makeup.)
And, then we were ready for our close-ups.
When we first learned about the opportunity to tape for Oprah, we were thrilled. Oprah and the Valente family go way back. Well, maybe not. But we did almost meet her on one occasion shortly after we were married. And after having two sets of twins within sixteen months, “When are you going on Oprah?!” became a common opener from strangers.
I learned about the opportunity while Papa Bear was still at work. It excited me, but before getting overly excited, I waited to see what Papa Bear thought of going on television and delving, to some degree, into his past. I asked him as soon as he got home; and, I only wish there were more questions that would make his face light up like that. He was thrilled. At least, it certainly looked that way to me. I’ll never, ever forget the first thing he said after the, “Really? Are you kidding me? How cool!” was done. He grinned, “I get to go on Oprah and tell the world how wonderful you are!”
And all God’s people said, “Awwwww”. Although, I did question him about that motive and ensure him that if he didn’t feel a higher purpose, he certainly didn’t need to go on t.v. to talk to me. He assured me that bragging on his wife was just a “bonus”. That, my friends, was a lie. I don’t think that my husband knew he was lying. No, I know he didn’t. He was, however, being lied to and allowing those lies to affect his decisions.
It was a few weeks before we knew enough about the show to know it was not being taped with Oprah but rather for her new (not yet live at that point) cable network. We discussed the disadvantages of doing a show that could be edited so extensively, and I leaned toward backing out at that point. Papa Bear, however, insisted that ours was a story that needed to be told. Reluctantly, I contacted the show’s casting director and told her we were still on board.
The following is what followed from my perspective:
From that point, to the day we actually taped the show, was over a month. The interim time was filled with hours (it takes so much more work to make a t.v. show than I ever would have known) of pre-taping phone interviews in which producers asked hundreds of probing questions in hopes of finding “the story”. You know, the one that wraps up nicely in thirty minutes. During this time, I watched my husband wilt. On several occasions, I broke down in tears because the memories that were being dredged from our minds were so painful. He became more and more distant, and while I continually suspected that the cause of his new demeanor was guilt induced by the questioning, we were also facing financial trouble and moving to a much smaller home. Also during this time, Papa Bear was overwhelmed with school. Nothing in life seemed to be working, and everything could have been the cause of depression. So, when I questioned my husband about his altered mindset, and he assured me that the interviews were not to blame, I believed him.
The weekend of the taping was the best time we’d had together in a couple of months. We liked everyone on the production team and appreciated the care and time they put into our story. Almost immediately after returning home, though, Papa Bear’s depression intensified to the point that I was scared for his life. He left just a few days later. One of the last things he said to me before he left was, “I love you, but I can’t come home until I can look at you without feeling guilty.”
From my husband’s perspective (which I was not aware of at the time), he’d been faking his way through the romance in our lives for awhile. The continual guilt and shame he felt (that I’ve referred to and apologized for) had killed off all the “in love” feelings he’d once had for me. His motivation for taping the Unfaithful show was to pay the final penance for his sin and finally crawl out from under the weight of his past. In other words, he did it for me. He did it to prove, once and for all, that he was truly sorry for the pain he’d caused me. And when, post-taping, he didn’t feel more redeemed, finally healed, free to feel for me as he expected he would, depression overtook like a wave, and he left.
The Bible says:
I think that many Christians don’t understand the difference between guilt and conviction. And I think I know why. They start out much the same way, after all, with shame and sadness over having violated God’s law. But then conviction takes an exciting turn just as guilt takes a devastating one. From my own experience, conviction takes me right back to the gospel…to the time when my sins were first forgiven. Conviction reminds me that I am the chief of all sinners while simultaneously carrying me to the feet of my Savior (where I’d be better off staying, by the way). Guilt, while also pointing out my sin and my devastating humanity, holds me in that place of shame and pushes me to run from my Savior.
Conviction has incredible power because Christ’s sacrifice has incredible power. Guilt has power, too, but not the kind we want to tap into. Although, I did unwittingly participate in the inducement of guilt in my husband. I’ve learned so much over these past six months, but probably mostly, I’ve learned to let go of pain. I’ve learned that no one owes me anything, least of all my husband. I’ve learned that to expect sorrow or penance from another person cheapens and invalidates the Blood of the Lamb. If someone has wronged you, even hugely, and you’re still waiting for them to prove their sorrow…stop waiting. Sin, once under the Blood, is gone forever. Yours, and theirs.
From the very bottom of my heart, I believe that taping the Unfaithful show was a bad decision. And, quite frankly, I checked with my husband but I didn’t check with God. I also believe, though, that God is going to fix this mistake (as He’s done with all the others) for me. I cling to Romans 8:28 like a drowning man to a lifeline. This world is going down, but with Jesus’ righteousness beating in my once wicked heart, I don’t have to go down with it. And so, I’ve asked Him and I’m trusting Him to use every word spoken tonight to His glory. I’d be honored if you’d pray the same way.
Bad decision? Embarrassing since we’re not together at the time it is airing?? YES! But no guilt, not here. Guilt might not ruin your marriage; but at the very least, it will damage your soul.