I know first hand (and from the extensive and exhaustive research I conducted after my husband’s affair) that a wife’s self esteem after her husband has cheated is a huge issue which must be overcome in order to heal yourself (and your marriage should you chose to) in the aftermath. But, what I didn’t realize at the time (but do now) is that the person who cheated can also have very serious self esteem issues both before and after the affair that also need to be addressed. In the following article, I’ll discuss how and why these self esteem issues come to light and how best to deal with them.
How Low Self Esteem Can Lead To Cheating Or An Affair: Many people do not realize this, but often people who have affairs are looking for something that is missing not in their marriage, not in their wives, but without themselves. For whatever reason, they are no longer feeling desired, vibrant, competent, understood, attractive, or alluring. Often, an affair is a way to validate them, their needs, and their own vitality. It’s usually only after the affair has ended badly or that they have been caught do they realize how flawed this logic really was. And, once they realize how permanent and destructive a mistake the affair really is, their already low self esteem takes another hit. In no way am I defending their actions. Not at all. But, it’s important to understand that the spouse who cheated often has self esteem issues as well.
Low Self Esteem After Your Spouse Cheats: It’s absolutely the norm to have your self esteem take a huge hit after your spouse has cheated. Rather than seeing the affair as a flaw within him, we so often try to find the flaw within ourselves. Were we not pretty enough? Sexy enough? Young enough? Attentive enough? Interesting enough?
All of these questions nag us, but statistics show them not to be true. I don’t say this to diminish or downplay your feelings. I say this because I want to help you put this in perspective. A well known infidelity study indicated that a very low approximate ten percent of spouses who cheated felt that the other woman or the other man was in some way better than their own spouses.
Instead, an affair often has much more to do with them and their shortcomings rather than your you and your shortcomings. If only unattractive or flawed spouses experienced cheating, Halle Berry, Princess Diana, and Jennifer Aniston (all gorgeous women) wouldn’t have experienced this. An affair typically has less to do with physical attributes and more to do with seeking emotional reassurance. It’s very important that you understand this and don’t beat yourself up over something which you have no control.
How To Address Self Esteem Issues After A Spouse’s Cheating: I often advise couples to take the time to work on themselves apart from the marriage. This is what it ultimately took to help me heal both my marriage and myself. It’s so important to see yourself as an individual rather than a wounded part of a couple. It’s also important to be kind and patient with yourself. Allow yourself the time, distance, and luxury of “selfish” things that would make you happy.
These things will be different for everyone. I learned to work out when I was feeling angry, sad, or unsure. This helped relieve my stress, distract me, and improved my physical appearance and confidence. Eventually, I changed my hair, fixed my teeth, and went back to school. As people started to look at me differently, I started to regain my confidence and see myself as an individual rather than the wounded wife of my husband.
Honestly, my husband began to look at me in another light as well. He knew that the confident, busy, and forward moving woman he saw before him was no longer unsure of herself and what she would allow or withstand in those she chose to associate herself with. He respected me and treated me in a whole new way, which was ultimately necessary. Because, for a marriage to survive an affair, it is not enough to restore it to what it once was. It’s entirely necessary to make it something better, so that neither party is tempted to live or linger in the pain of the past.
Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/