How Can I Tell That My Spouse Is Turning A Corner After My Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from people who greatly regret cheating on their spouse, partly because they are now living through a very difficult recovery period for their spouse, their marriage, and themselves.  Understandably, no one wants to be in this type of pain forever, so people are always looking for signs of improvement.  They are always looking for indication that better days are ahead.  That’s why I sometimes hear from people who ask me if they are seeing some signs that their spouse has “finally turned the corner,” at least where the affair is concerned.

Someone might say: “I know that my wife’s struggles are all my fault.  I had an affair and it is the biggest regret of my life.  My wife has always been very bubbly and happy.  She was always a joy to be around.  She was always confident and loving.  However, after she found out that I cheated, her outlook completely changed.  It was almost as if she were the victim of a crime.  She is normally a trusting person, but now she doesn’t believe anything that anyone tells her.  She is paranoid and angry.  She constantly lashes out.  I have tried to be patient because I know that these changes are because of me. She would be her same loving self if I had never had an affair. Last week, she went out with friends for a girl’s day of pampering.  She then had them all over at our home for lunch.  I wasn’t invited, but I did come into the house to get something and I heard my wife laugh the way that I hadn’t heard in quite some time.  It was the same deep, happy, belly laugh that is so typical of my wife and her love for life.  For a second, I thought that maybe I might have my old wife back.  But then that night, she was short with me again and she reverted back to her sour self.  Some of my friends say that her laughing with her friends was a good start and that maybe she will turn the corner soon.  I’m not so sure.  What are some signs that I might see when she starts to turn the corner?”

I will list some signs below, but before I do that, I want to urge you to have more patience.  As someone who has gone through this, I can tell you that a full recovery just takes time.  It is normal to feel decent one minute and then to slide down to despair again the next.  If your wife is getting some relief with her girlfriends and is able to laugh in the presence of her friends, then encourage her to continue on with this.  Encourage her to do whatever brings her the slightest bit of relief.  I can tell you that she wants to “turn the corner” every bit as badly as you want her to.  She wants to feel like herself again.  I can almost guarantee you that she hates feeling so angry and suspicious. She most certainly wishes that she wasn’t having these foreign, negative feelings that don’t even begin to align with her normal personality and outlook.  From experience, I can tell you that this is like living in a stranger’s body.  It doesn’t feel at all comfortable.  So believe me when I say that your wife is likely just as desperate as you are for things to feel normal again.  But they can’t feel normal until some healing has started to take place.  And this is where you can help your wife.  If you have not sought counseling or found some good self help, I would strongly advise this.  Infidelity is too complex an issue to work out on your own.  Coming up with the plan and putting that help into place is something that you can do in order to help her.  Don’t wait for her to do this, when she already has so much on her plate.  Also, do whatever you can to prove yourself remorseful and trustworthy.  She likely has a huge amounts of doubts and fears right now, so anything that you can do to offer reassurance might help.

As far as turning the corner, her laughing spontaneously is certainly a good sign, but you eventually want to see that laughter shared with you.  And you want to see her willingly planning things that the two of you can do and can genuinely enjoy together.  I have to caution you not to expect too much too soon.  Asking her to just immediately trust and to allow herself to be vulnerable after she’s suffered this huge blow just isn’t realistic.  But the more patient and supportive you are, the more willing she might be to begin to move toward healing.  The last thing she needs, though, is someone always scrutinizing her progress or worrying that she isn’t recovering quickly enough.  She will heal in her own time.  You can help speed that along (at least somewhat) by offering support and seeking out help that she is comfortable with.  You can be patient when she has bad days, because it’s completely normal to have plenty of those.  And you can celebrate and reinforce the good days so that in the future, you will start to see the good days outweigh the bad days – so that the bad days eventually fade into the background.

I hope that I didn’t come off as insensitive, but I am trying to get you to see things from your wife’s point of view.  If my husband had urged me to “turn the corner” as soon as possible, I might have thought that he was more concerned about feeling normal again than he was about me.  I might have gotten the wrong idea and resented this.  You will never go wrong when you show your spouse that you care more about their wellbeing than anything else, at least that was true in my own case.  You can read more about my recovery  at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

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