By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who aren’t sure if they are taking too much time to see any progress with their marriage after an affair has damaged it. Often, people become impatient when they don’t yet see the progress that they had hoped for. Many worry that the lack of progress after so much time means that their marriage can’t be efficiently saved.
You might hear a comment like: “it’s been eighteen months since my husband had an affair. And we have been struggling to save our marriage for that entire time. Some days I feel that we are making a little progress, but then a few days later, I begin to wonder if we are making any real progress at all. I never would have believed after this much time I would still feel so much doubt and pain. We have been seeing a counselor, but I don’t feel as if she is doing any good. She doesn’t seem to be very sympathetic to me. And I don’t respect her opinion as much as I should. I’m starting to think that my marriage might be over because too much time has passed without seeing any real recovery. I’m starting to think that trying to save this marriage just isn’t reasonable any more. I do still love my husband and in a perfect world, I would like to save my marriage. But I am tired of feeling insecure and angry all of the time. I am tired of always being suspicious and I know that my husband is extremely tired of this also. I feel like I’m starting to invest too much time in something that is just never going to get any better. How much time should you invest in your marriage after an affair?”
In my honest opinion, I’m not sure that there is any set time frame. It’s going to depend upon your marriage and both spouse’s willingness to hang in there. With this said, of course you want to see progress for all of your hard work because it’s extremely hard to hang in there when things aren’t getting any better.
In my own experience, I’d see some progress and then I’d start to feel some hope and then I might have some bad days so that I’d take a couple of steps backward. And yes, that was discouraging. I did change counselors at one point and I did experiment with various forms of self help. It was frustrating when things didn’t work and uplifting when things did. But no, things didn’t always improve as quickly as I wanted.
This is only my opinion, of course. But if you are seeing some improvement some of the time and you still feel love for your husband and a desire for your marriage, then I believe it is worth it to continue to try to improve and to tweak things. Don’t hesitate to discard something that isn’t working for you. Don’t hesitate to try something new. And if you need more from your husband, tell him. He probably wants to see more improvement also and he probably will be relieved when you tell him what you need so that you can make more efficient progress.
Yes, healing after an affair takes time, but if you find yourself revisiting the same old problems or issues, then you have to ask yourself if you need to try something new, do some additional work, or look at things another way.
And I’d like to make one final point. This wife mentioned insecurities as one of her major problems and one of this couple’s major issues. She did admit that her husband was giving her reassurance and that she wanted to believe him. But, no matter what he said or did, she just didn’t feel safe in believing him. This indicates that perhaps you need to do a little more work on restoring the trust, but it can also indicate that you may need to do some things in order to restore your self esteem.
I really can not stress this enough, even though I don’t want to imply that this is in any way your fault. It’s not your fault but if you become very proactive about fixing it, then it’s my experience that it is really worth it to be very aggressive in doing whatever is needed to restore your self esteem. This may seem petty, immature, a waste of time, or selfish, but I assure that it is not. It is well worth your time and your effort. Because if you still have very damaged self esteem, your husband can do or say everything correctly but you still may not believe it. You may want to believe it more than anything but you can’t because you don’t believe yourself worthy or you still feel damaged or less than someone else. This is very common and it is not your fault.
But it is so worth it to invest not only in your marriage, but also in yourself. I often tell people to put as much energy and time in themselves as they put into their marriage. Because doing so will often enhance and speed your healing.
But to answer the question posed, in my own experience, I believed that I would stick with it for as long as it took to invest in my marriage after my husband’s affair. Because of my family, I just could walk away. Plus, I had invested too much time and effort to just abandon my marriage. Every one is different and I totally understand making a different decision. But that’s my opinion on the question.
As I alluded to, I committed to taking whatever time I needed in order to recover. I knew that it might be a long road, but I wasn’t willing to explore the alternative, which was ending the marriage. If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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