An Anniversary Letter To The Spouse Who Cheated: Should You Even Mention The Affair Or Infidelity Or Just Move On?

By: Katie Lersch: It would be wonderful if you could recover from your spouse’s affair without real life cutting into the mix. What I mean by this is that it’s hard enough to know what to feel or how to proceed when you’re able to clear your calendar and to avoid obligations that make things so confusing and difficult.

That would be the ideal. But it isn’t reality. Recovery after an affair takes the passage of time. Of course, during this time there will be birthdays and anniversaries and special occasions that you are not sure how you should handle. Probably the holiday that I get the most questions about are anniversaries. People aren’t sure how to acknowledge this occasion because this is the time where you are supposed to honor your commitment to each other. It is the time where many couples want to celebrate and reaffirm their love for one another. But if the affair has placed that love and that commitment in jeopardy, how do you acknowledge or celebrate the occasion?

A wife might ask this type of question: “honestly, I am unsure about how I feel about my husband right now. I found out about eight months ago that he had a two month affair. He admitted it and he was willing to break it off and go to counseling. We have made strides. Things sometimes feel as if they are getting a little better. But as a result of him breaching my trust, I am still angry sometimes and I am insecure a lot of the time. I feel like we both want to stay married, but I am not sure if we will be able to have the good and loving marriage that we both want. I need to make it clear that I do not believe that my husband is still cheating on me. I do believe that it is over. But I can’t honestly say that I believe he will never cheat again. I can’t honestly say that I believe that in ten years from now, we will still be married and still be happy. I guess deep down, I worry about what this infidelity is going to mean for our long term future. In two weeks, we have our wedding anniversary. It is a big one because we have been married for a long time. If the affair had not happened, we probably would have had a big party and perhaps taken a trip, but I don’t feel like that now. We agree that we want to celebrate. I bought a gift I know my husband will like, but I am trying to write in his card and I am stuck. I have thought about just signing the card, but I have always written a very detailed note with the card throughout our marriage. And I feel it would be weird not to do that now. But I honestly do not know what to say. I would normally tell him how much I love him and that I know we have a wonderful future. But it feels weird to say that now. I don’t want to mention the affair in my anniversary card, but just ignoring it doesn’t feel right either. What do people say or do on their anniversaries when trying to recover from an affair?”

I’m not an expert by any means, but it’s my experience that people’s celebrations vary. Some will just agree that for one day only, they are going to put the affair aside. Others try to be very authentic and to look on the bright side during that day, while also continuing to be realistic.

I do remember that this issue came up for me during my own recovery. I can share with you how I handled it, but I want to stress that what was right for me may not be right for you. Every one is different. And I believe that we all have to do what feels right for our individual situation.

I chose my own anniversary card very carefully. I do remember that the theme of it was something to the affect of – we’ve had our ups and downs, but I would not want to go through life’s challenges and triumphs with anyone but you. When I signed the card, I told my husband that I loved him and I deeply valued our marriage. But I did not pretend that there wasn’t a thing in the world wrong. I didn’t mention the affair in the card, but I did acknowledge that I knew we had challenges ahead but that I hoped we would continue to meet them head on as we had in the past.  All of this was absolutely truthful.

In short, I told what was my truth at the time. I did not use the occasion of my anniversary to rehash the issues with the affair. I wanted my focus to be on my marriage and not on the affair. At the same time, I was not going to pretend that it did not exist. This is what felt authentic and appropriate to me at the time. I was not going to be pressured into pretending that the issues were not there. But I wasn’t going to dwell on the issues so that our history was negated. You may have different feelings about this.  But I could not just erase all of the years that we were loving, good partners.

Interestingly, my husband took the same approach. He acknowledged the challenges and told me that he intended to spend the rest of his life being the husband that I deserved. And so far, he has.

I think that it’s important to try to honor your marriage because that is what anniversaries are for. And if you are still celebrating one, that means you still have a marriage and that is cause for celebration even if that same marriage is struggling. No one wants to lie or deny reality, but frankly for most people, reality means that you will face struggles over the course of your marriage. We all do. But if we endure, we will have more anniversaries to come. And hopefully, those will be a little better.

Yes, that first anniversary was hard, but every anniversary since has been better and better.  Hang in there.  If you do, you will continue to rewrite your history and you may find that next year’s anniversary isn’t as confusing. You can read more about my own challenges on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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