Many people tell me that truly getting over an affair is the hardest challenge that they’ve ever faced – worse than illness, worse than losing a job, worse than unforeseen tragedy – because learning about an affair makes you realize that the life you thought you knew didn’t really exist. This shakes your world view, your ability to trust, and your faith in your own perceptions, to their very core. Many people describe it as “my whole life was a lie and I didn’t even know it.”
Admittedly, this can be earth shattering. It can take time and be very difficult to recover and overcome the pain. But, it can certainly be done. I’m living proof of that. In this article, I’ll offer some tips and advice on not only how to overcome the pain, hurt, shock, and betrayal of an affair, but how to emerge stronger and better off in the end.
Know That It Was Their Fault, Not Yours: It’s human nature to want to analyze what went wrong. It’s also human nature to blame ourselves. This is very true with infidelity. Many women almost immediately begin to blame themselves or the state of their marriage for their husband’s affair. They let themselves go. They didn’t see what was right in front of their face. They knew he wasn’t happy but just hoped that it would work itself out.
All of these things may well be true, but that doesn’t excuse the cheating. The affair was your spouse’s decision. It was their mistake. There were other alternatives available to them. They could’ve discussed things with you. They could’ve asked for a divorce. They could’ve got counseling. But, they didn’t. They cheated instead.
And, this is often the result of their own inadequacies and not yours. There is something lacking within them. They have poor impulse control, poor decision-making abilities, poor self-esteem, or something lacking or missing within themselves. And, despite the myths that are out there, the mistress is often not prettier or better than the wife. She’s just at the right place at the right time. If only beautiful and alluring women could keep their husband’s interest, then why do stunning women like Elizabeth Hurley, Halle Barre, and Jennifer Anniston deal with infidelity just like every body else? Because their partners were lacking, not them.
This doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it’s important not to let their decision to cheat affect or diminish how you feel about yourself. You are the same worthwhile person that you were on the day he married or committed to you. His unfortunate actions do not change that.
Focus On Yourself: So many women will immediately place their focus on their spouse. “What are they thinking? Will they cheat again? How can I make this right?” I completely understand this thinking. Truly I do. I followed this same pattern. But, if you truly want to overcome what has happened to you, sooner rather than later, you must shift the focus from them to you. If you want to save your marriage, you can still do that and can certainly address these issues once you’re in a better place and have healed some. But, any decision made in haste and based on fear is likely not going to stick anyway.
So, when your inclination is to think about what THEY need and what THEY want, I want you to stop for a second and change your thinking to what YOU need and what YOU want. Because you need to be a focus on yourself. This may feel selfish or weird but continue on. Whether you want to save the marriage or not, you’ll need to be in a good, healthy place no matter how you chose to move forward. You can’t do this if you remain stuck and don’t receive what you need to heal.
Now, many women will tell me that unfortunately, they need their husband’s participation in order to get what they need. In other words, they need him to be sorry. They need him to make it up to them. They need him to want to make the marriage work. I understand this too. But, in reality, these things are wants and are icing on the cake rather than actual needs. In fact, these things will often fall into place once you do the work on yourself. But, you will not be in any position to evaluate or genuinely receive these things until you’re in a better, authentic place.
So many times, affairs sort of bring to light the insecurities that you always had to you. But, when things were going well, you never had to deal with them. There have always been things that made me insecure, but when I was (I thought) happily married, I was able to push them to the back burner. However, they never really went away.
And, after I found out about the affair, they magnified about 1000 times over. Suddenly, I was the ugly girl with bottle thick glasses again – the book work who could never land the popular guy. As hurtful as this is, I had to deal with this and over come it. Because if I didn’t, it was going to continue to manifest itself in sabotaging ways whether I saved my marriage or ended up with someone else.
In truth, you really can use the affair as an opportunity to take serious inventory of your life and to fix things within yourself that will make you healthier in the end. I’m not even talking about your marriage or your spouse – I’m talking about you and you alone. Because if you are going to truly overcome the affair and the cheating, it must come within yourself – no one else.
I know that working through the aftermath of an affair is difficult, but it can truly be worth it. After my husband’s affair, I went back to school, worked on myself, and eventually realized that he was lucky to have me. This self-work made saving our marriage possible. Our bond and intimacy are much stronger and my self-esteem is at an all time high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/