I sometimes hear from people who have recently cheated on their spouses and who have also been recently caught. By the time they contact me, they’ve often made at least some attempt at a reconciliation or at working things out with their spouse. They are often sorry and want advice on what they need to do to fix the damage that this has caused to their marriage. But they often have some doubts as to whether their spouse is ever really going to totally get over the affair and truly love them again in the same way. They often worry that their spouse has lost respect or love for them and might never see them in the same way again.
I often hear comments like “my spouse says that they she is trying to forgive me and that she still loves me, but I wonder if she is telling me the whole truth. Because I can’t help but see the look in her eyes and the tension in her face when she’s saying this. I can’t help but think that she’s never going to feel the same way about me again. I almost wish she would just be brutally honest but I’m also afraid of what she might say. How does the faithful spouse really see the cheating spouse after the affair? What does my wife really think of me, even if she’s afraid or reluctant to say it? Does she no longer love me?”
I do have some insight into this as a wife who was cheated on and because I hear read a lot of comments from faithful and hurting spouses on my surviving infidelity blog. Although I don’t know the people involved and can’t possibly know people’s intimate thoughts, I do know the basic feelings that I felt and that are also communicated to me. So, in the following article, I will try to give you some insights on how your spouse might see you (or how they might feel about you) if you’re the one who cheated.
It’s Not That Your Spouse Doesn’t Love You After Your Affair, It’s More Often That They’re Disappointed, Shocked, And Hurt By Your Actions: Many spouses who have cheated tell me that they’re assuming that their spouse no longer loves them because of their actions. This often isn’t true (even though sometimes both people think that it is.) In fact, your spouse often feels the strong feelings that they do precisely because they love you and, because of this love, your affair has hurt them very deeply.
They’re often reeling in shock and disbelief. They will doubt what they have always assumed to be true about your love for them, your integrity, and your trustworthiness. Please understand that my saying this doesn’t mean that you can’t eventually earn these things back. But I tell you this because I want for you to understand that the behavior that you’re seeing from them doesn’t always mean they no longer love you. But it can mean that they are struggling to determine how the person they thought they knew could do such a thing to them. As a result, there’s a lot of disappointment and doubt and this manifests itself in all sorts of ways.
Understand That Often, The Anger That Your Spouse Is Feeling Toward Your Having An Affair Is Sometimes Projected As You On A Person (Especially In The Beginning:) Sometimes, when I explain to the cheating spouse that what they are often seeing is disappointment and shock, they will doubt this. They will say something like “I think what my wife feels goes beyond anger. Sometimes I think she absolutely hates me since my affair.” It can certainly feel this way. And she may very well think she hates you. (I know I felt this way when I was in this situation, but I eventually moved past this.)
Often, the strong feelings that you are seeing are the direct result of how your spouse feels about the affair. And it’s not uncommon for them to project the shock, fury, and disappointment that they feel about the affair onto you as a person. In fact, one major hurdle to cross during healing a marriage after an affair is understanding that what you feel about the affair is very different than how you feel about the person who had the affair. In other words, the act and the person are two different things and warrant two different sets of feelings. You can be angry, disappointed in, and out and out floored by the affair, but eventually these feelings should be directed toward the affair and not your spouse.
This is sometimes a process that takes a while to work through, which is why it’s important that you don’t take this personally and become discouraged thinking that your spouse will never change or move past their feelings. You must understand that they are dealing with a very heavy load right now.
How To Handle It When You Aren’t Sure How Your Spouse Feels About You After The Affair (But You Suspect The Worst:) It can help to try to put yourself in your spouse’s position. How would you feel if you were the faithful spouse? You’d likely be devastated and struggling. But would the infidelity mean that you didn’t love your spouse anymore? Probably not. Yes, you might be beyond hurt. But deep down, you would probably still love the person even if you hated the act.
So, knowing this, what’s the best way to handle it when you aren’t sure how your spouse really feels after the affair or the infidelity? Well, you could always express your concerns, but the last thing that you want to do is to make your spouse feel pressured or guilty. You’re not looking for pity nor do you want for them to rush their healing process or offer reassurances that they aren’t ready to give just because you need or want this reassurance.
In my opinion, the best thing that you can do right now is to keep telling your spouse that you still love them, that you are more sorry than they could possibly know, that you will do whatever you need to do to help them, and that you will be patient through out this whole process in the hopes that one day you will be able to earn back the feelings that they used to have for you.
If you are able to rebuild and successfully save your marriage, the feelings should return and your spouse should eventually realize that the negative feelings that they had are about what you did rather than about who you are. But between that day and today, there is likely a lot of work and rehabilitation to do.
I know that you may feel like your affair is going to destroy your marriage, but it doesn’t have to. 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 pretty high. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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