By: Katie Lersch: If you are in a situation where your spouse hasn’t decided if they are willing to end the affair for the sake of your marriage, you can get to the point where you think that if you could just get past that hurdle and find a way to end things once and for all, then you could finally begin to move on. This is the hope, anyway. But some people find that once the affair ends, things don’t fall into place as easily as you hoped.
Someone might say: “when I caught my husband cheating, he was honest about his confused feelings. He said that he loved me and that he was sorry. But he said he wouldn’t lie and pretend that he didn’t also love the other woman. He said he needed a little time to figure out what he was going to do. I told him this wasn’t going to fly. I even got our counselor on his back about it. Still, he held firm. He said he wasn’t going to lie and tell me that he broke it off when he knew that he wasn’t. This went on for about four weeks and then he finally came home and announced that he had ended it. I wasn’t sure that I believed him. So I called the other woman. She was actually crying and she said that yes, he had broke it off and that she hopes she never sees either of us ever again. That is fine with me, also. I feel a sense of relief. But I do not feel as happy as I thought I might. Because now I don’t know what to do. I mean, I guess I won. But clearly, it was a tough decision for him. He wasn’t sure that he wanted me. I feel insecure. I’m still angry. Our lives are still shattered. What now? What happens after the affair is finally over?”
Well, I suppose it is the time to get clear on what you want moving forward and then get to work toward making it happen. Since you are in counseling and were willing to wait for him to come to a decision, it seems pretty clear that you suspect that you want to save your marriage.
We often assume that once the business of the affair is over, our marriage should just fall back into place. This would be somewhat fair after all that we have been through. I sure wish that’s how it happens. But in my experience, it is not.
If you just sit around and wait for that to happen, you may be waiting for a long while. And your marriage may continue to deteriorate in the meantime. You have to be proactive about moving forward. And often, you need to do this as an individual and as a couple. Because as an individual and a woman, your self esteem and your belief in your own perceptions have been challenged. You feel damaged. It’s extremely hard to heal a marriage with this kind of individual transformation. If you can strengthen yourself as an individual, it will be easier, and more effective, to save your marriage.
And, the same is completely true for your husband. The person who cheated will often need even more individual work. They need to determine what was behind their actions and they often need to work through the guilt and self loathing that they may feel after the affair.
It seems you are already in counseling and that is wonderful. Because your counselor can help walk you through this process. And sometimes, the process does take some time. You may not know exactly what you want or exactly how to go about getting it. But now that the affair is over, things don’t need to feel so immediate. You may start to realize that now you can let out your breath and take your time.
Please be gentle with yourself. Don’t apply pressure. I know it’s a stretch to ever look at an affair as a good thing or an opportunity. But it does give you the ability to take inventory. It does make room for positive change. It does allow you to define a new life and a new marriage if this is what you want. But these things don’t just happen. You have to define them as a wish and then you need to formulate a plan as to how you get there and then follow that plan – even when it’s easy to get discouraged or derailed.
It often takes one step a time. Perhaps you will work on communication first and then trust and then intimacy. As long as you are making progress, try not to think that you are doing it all wrong. You won’t always feel like things are going your way, but at least you will know that you are on a forward path if you stay the course.
There was definitely a holding pattern after my husband’s affair. He lived outside of our home for a short while and I worked on myself. By the time we got serious about saving our marriage, we were both pretty clear that we shared the commitment. Then, it was just a matter of finding a workable plan. This wasn’t automatic. We tried some things and discarded some when they didn’t work. And when we found things that helped, we did those things more. We made slow progress but eventually we got where we wanted to go. You’re welcome to read more about my own process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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