I often hear from spouses (very often wives) who worry that they are suffering from depression as they are trying to recover from their husband’s cheating, infidelity, or affair. And sometimes when they are talking about this, they almost admit to it as if it’s something to be ashamed of, as if they’ve done something wrong, or as if it is their fault.
I recently heard from a wife who said something like, “I’m afraid I’ve fallen into a depression after my husband’s affair. I try not to let this get me down and I try to look on the bright side of things. I still have my children and I still have my health and extended family. One person’s mistaken actions should not be able to bring my life to a stand still in the way that it has. I shouldn’t allow him to derail me like this. I have many things to be grateful for. We’re trying to save our marriage and we’re making real progress. But, many of the joys of my life are now tainted. He took her to one of our favorite restaurants which I can no longer stand to step foot in. She goes to my gym. Her son plays on the same football league as mine. So I’m always reminded of what happened. I always have to look the past right in the face. It makes me not want to leave my house and I’m ashamed to be seen around town. I feel as if everyone knows although deep down I know that this isn’t entirely true. I’m probably being overly dramatic about it, but this is how it feels to me sometimes. It’s as if all of the joy has been sucked out of my life. And I’m not sure how to get it back. Sometimes. I’ll try to tell myself that it’s just mind over matter, but I just can’t seem to stop feeling so badly and then I get more and more frustrated with myself.” I try to help put this in perspective in the following article.
Although You Have A Very Valid Reason To Feel Down, Understand That None Of This Is Your Fault So Your Frustration Should Not Be With Yourself: As I said, many spouses express their depressed outlook as if this is their own fault because they were not strong enough to overcome their own feelings. Strength really doesn’t have much to do with it, at least in my own opinion and experience.
Very strong and determined people are hurt every day by infidelity. It doesn’t say anything about your character, strength, or intentions if you are struggling right now. You are struggling because you cared and you loved. You can not fault yourself for that. And you can’t be expected to overcome something as devastating as infidelity or an affair over night. You will often need more than just will power, good intentions, or determination. Sometimes, you need more time and there are even sometimes where you might need additional help, but there is no shame in that.
Understand that if any blame exists, it should be for those who took action, not for those that didn’t. To me, the real tragedy in this situation is when the faithful spouse is not only depressed but then blames them and is too ashamed or discouraged to seek help or to attempt to move forward.
Small Things That You Can Do To Begin To Feel Better And Less Depressed After Infidelity: I know that there some days when you may not even feel like getting out of bed. (I felt this way too.) In fact, there may be several or even a string of such days. This is normal. It doesn’t mean that you are weak or not determined enough. But when you find this happening, it’s extremely important to try to counter it with something positive.
Sometimes, you literally have to force this on yourself. Whether this means going out with friends, spending time with your children, writing in a journal, or watching some light hearted comedy on TV, it’s very important to break the cycle of feeling as if you have no control over how you feel. Although you can’t control the feelings or prevent them from coming, you do have a great deal of control over how you react to those feelings (even if it just means writing down your feelings as they come to you.) You can choose to give over to them or you can be very proactive and seek out the positive when you feel the pull of the negative. I can’t promise that it will always work perfectly. You may well still feel miserable, but at least you are reaching out and keeping yourself from being isolated.
I know that you can feel as if you want to be alone. But quite often, that is the worst thing that you can do. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, even if you don’t want to talk about the affair. Sharing a movie or laugh with another human being can often provide a great deal of relief and perspective. Even a small reprieve from the depression can feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulder. Isolating yourself is a natural inclination but it often just makes you feel worse in the end.
If there are people and places that bring about unbearable feelings for you, there is nothing wrong with avoiding them until things get better. There’s no need to make yourself feel worse than you already do simply for the sake of proving a point. You will know when you’re ready to move forward. Pushing yourself doesn’t often do much good, and it also makes you feel frustrated. You can ease back into difficult or questionable situations as you feel more ready to do but always put your own needs and emotional health first. You don’t need to prove a thing to anyone.
If none of the above offer any relief and you truly feel deeply depressed and hopeless, then please see a specialist about this. You do not deserve to feel this type of pain for the long term. You did not do anything wrong. And often the right therapist or specialist can help provide needed relief. There is truly no need to suffer when you don’t need to, especially when none of this is your fault.
When my husband had an affair, I had an inclination to isolate myself and be alone with my pain but this was the worst thing that I could have done and this only increased my depression. It wasn’t until I decided that I was not going to talk on the responsibility for someone else’s decision that this changed for me. I eventually did get over the depressed feelings toward the affair, although it did take some time and help. You are welcome to read my story if you think it might be of some help to you.