I recently heard from a wife who had really been struggling to deal with her life and her marriage after her husband’s cheating. She had been talking to a trusted friend about the situation and the friend was trying her best to cheer her wife up. The friend told the wife that an incident of cheating didn’t have to mean the end of her marriage. In fact, the friend said, the cheating can be useful if you use it as “a wake up call” to draw your attention to what is wrong with your marriage and then fix it.
The wife didn’t really buy this. She asked me “is it true that your husband’s cheating can be a wake up call that can eventually make your life or your marriage better? Because this just seems like a cliche to me which I’m not sure is even true in real life.”
Actually, I believe this to be absolutely true. I saw this first hand in my own life and in my own marriage. The thing is, most people are not willing to use the affair as a wake up call because doing so is painful. Doing so usually means that you have to do some painful looking in the mirror and some painful analysis (or at least to take an honest look) at yourself and at your marriage.
After that, it means that you have to take what you learned and take action to invite real chance. This is a lot to ask when you are already reeling from the affair and just trying to survive and get through every day as it comes, but I am confident you can do it.
How To Use Your Husband’s Cheating As A Wake Up Call: As I alluded to before, allowing this process to work requires a lot of self awareness and deliberation. And this can be difficult when you are also dealing with the pain.
But, in order to make something good come out of the affair, you often have to be absolutely determined to do so. You have to make a commitment that you are going to allow this to be a process from which you learn and make positive changes. After all, it makes a lot of sense to try to turn this into something positive if you can.
I would never tell you or try to make you think that your husband cheating is a good thing. It’s not. However, out of the pain can come some learning, some self awareness, and some improvements that actually make your life and your marriage better.
But, in order for that to happen, you have to take a hard look at what was wrong with your marriage. Many wives will try this and think that they had a really good marriage. And, this might very well be true. Sometimes, a husband’s cheating has more to do with what’s wrong with him than what is wrong with you or even your marriage.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from this. But the wake up call will usually force you to realize that you can’t take your marriage for granted. It makes you realize that both you and your husband need to learn to check in and communicate with each other if either of you are struggling so that you prevent these kinds of events from happening in your marriage.
Even though the affair or the cheating is never the wife’s fault (at least in my opinion,) there is always something that she can learn and take from it. I’ll use myself as an example. When my husband had an affair, I was sort of just going through the motions in my own life and marriage. Frankly, I still think our marriage was a darn good one, but there were certainly times when I took my husband and our marriage for granted.
There were times when I was too tired to connect and too focused on our kids. There were also plenty of times when I put myself on the back burner. My own actions and attitude was kind of saying to my own family that I didn’t matter.
I got so caught up in the role of stay at home mom that I was constantly worried about every one else’s happiness and not my own. This allowed my own family to take me for granted just like I was doing with them. I think this sense of complacency lead (at least in part) to the affair.
And one thing I learned from all of this is that I am responsible for my own happiness. I’m only going to have one life and one marriage and I need to make both of them as strong and as enjoyable as I possibly can. The affair made me reevaluate my life. It made me ask myself what I really wanted and what would really make me happy. In the end, a made a lot of changes in my life for the better. And I am grateful for this.
So yes, my husband’s cheating and his affair was a huge wake up call for me. It wasn’t always fun to be “woken up.” But I can look back now and see that the changes were needed and they actually made my life and my marriage better.
Do I wish the affair had never happened? I absolutely do. If I could turn back time and change the whole thing, of course I would. But I can’t do that. What I can do is to try to take something from this and learn from it. Too bad it took me so long to realize this. But I can save you the trouble by telling you that if you just accept that the affair might be a wake up call for you, at least in some ways, you’ll avoid a lot of resistance and potential pain.
I guess the fairest thing to say is that my husband’s affair eventually became a wake up call once I committed to turning a negative into a positive. You can read about my journey towards healing at http://surviving-the-affair.com