By: katie lersch: If you’re Googling and researching phrases like “how to survive an affair,” “how to forgive my husband’s affair,” “how to get past an affair,” etc., then I can certainly identify and empathize with you and hope that I can help. My husband had an affair several years ago and at that time, I thought my world was ending and could not see past it for a long time. But, although I never would have believed it at the time, not only did I survive it, it actually made our marriage stronger. No, it wasn’t easy and it took a lot of patience and work, but in the end, the affair brought certain issues into the light that were hiding in the dark, issues that I never knew existed, but which were laying in wait, ready to sabotage my marriage. The affair also gave rise to self esteem issues that I had been battling for a long time, but finally overcame. However, first things first. This article will give you some tools to help you survive or get over your husband’s affair.
Don’t Obsess Over The Issues That Won’t Help Your Healing, Like Details About The Other Woman Or Who Knew About The Affair: I know that this may sound impossible to you now, but trust me when I tell you that obsessing over the other woman or what she has that you don’t, (who she is, how they met, what she looks like, etc.) will not help you heal. All it is going to do is contribute to a destructive cycle that feeds upon itself and only makes the situation and your mental state worse. It’s perfectly normal to wonder about this, but it just isn’t worth it. It will only put destructive images in your head that will be hard to banish.
There’s a well known infidelity study which polled married men who had cheated. Only 12% of them said “the other woman” was prettier than their wife. So put that worry to rest. There’s nothing special about her. Another common place where we get tripped up is that we want to know ALL the ways that we were betrayed. We want to know who else knew and how this whole charade was pulled off. So, if one of our neighbors or friends knew, then we will then turn our rage towards them too. The problem is that now we will begin to feel that the whole world has conspired against us, when really, this isn’t true. Feeling like a black cloud is hanging over you is only going to delay in your healing. No good is going to come of it. For me, people I trusted (my husband) deceived me, but others (neighbors) were trying to protect me. Understand that there are really only two people to place direct blame upon here – your husband and her. Of those two, your husband is the only one that you want to have contact with – this should be the only relationship with which you concern yourself.
When You Are Ready, Understand Why The Affair Happened: It may be a while before you are ready to hear and understand the full details of the affair, (you may never want to hear it all) and you may need help understanding what your husband is really saying. Men are sometimes horrible at effectively communicating their feelings. They will give you vague, silly explanations like “it was just a mistake,” “it didn’t mean anything,” or “it’s not me, it’s you.” These things can sometimes sound like lies your husband is either telling himself or telling you.
However, you may be surprised to know that according to much research and counseling I have participated in, these phrases are often rooted in the truth. Many men cheat simply because they’ve lost important feeling about themselves. I’ll explain. When a man is young and in love, he feels virile, alive, attractive, worthy, and competent. This is often because the woman he loves is lavishing a lot of attention, appreciation, and affection his way (often when you are first dating). Eventually though, married couples have to focus on other obligations like your job, your kids, your aging parents, etc. Many wives assume that their husband sees their struggle to juggle it all, knows that you love him, and would give him more time and attention if you could.
This assumption is partly wrong. Men feel guilty to want and need so much of your attention. So, instead of saying “hey honey, you know all those good feelings we were generating? Well, I want to get them back. Can I have more of your time?,” they will go and try to generate these feelings somewhere else. (Of course, this is messed up logic, but they don’t see it at the time.) Often, they don’t mean to hurt you, it really doesn’t mean a whole to them, and they never think you will find out. So, they assume they will just take care of this problem themselves and then everything will carry on. (This is unbelievably wrong, but they don’t understand this.)
In the infidelity study I mentioned earlier, over 77% of the men surveyed said they were “deeply sorry,” about the affair. And the vast majority said they cheated for EMOTIONAL not PHYSICAL reasons. Many people assume that affairs are all about sex. They aren’t and it’s a huge mistake to think so. Knowing this then, should at least give you a foot hold on how to proceed. You absolutely need for your husband to understand the devastation of his actions. He is certainly not blameless. But likewise, you need to understand the factors that contributed to the affair so that you can address them if you want to save your marriage, if you want to.
Turn The Focus Away From Him (At Least Initially) And Turn It Towards Healing Yourself And Boosting Your Self Esteem: Obviously, especially at first, the affair is going to encompass a huge chunk of your life. However, don’t let yourself get lost in the mix. Don’t put yourself on the back burner. So often, a woman whose husband has cheated will have a huge blow dealt to her self esteem. She will feel old, ugly, and not sexually alluring. Please understand that although these feelings are natural and understandable, they will eat you alive. And, this self doubt is a marriage killer. Your husband may be very sincere when he tells you that he still finds you extremely attractive, but self doubt or low self esteem will ensure that you don’t believe him.
It’s a vicious cycle. Take great pains to focus on your own self care and your own self worth. Get a complete make over. Take up a new hobby. Get out and see friends. Do whatever you need to do to put a genuine smile on your face. This will send a distinct message to your husband and to your own self conscience. In order to really “get over an affair,” you need to fully understand that it wasn’t your fault and that there is nothing at all wrong with you or something that some other woman had that you don’t or didn’t. This was a horrible, unfortunate decision your husband made that has less to do with you then you might think. But, you can heal from it – and so can your marriage, if that is what you want. Yes, it may take a bit of work, but in the end, I know from experience that you, and your marriage, can emerge stronger as a result.
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 no longer worry that my husband will cheat again. You can read my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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