By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from women who feel as if they are losing themselves after their husband’s affair. Even though intellectually, they know that they are a worthwhile and special person, it is hard to convince their heart of this when they feel such a huge sense of betrayal and rejection. It can make them question their worth.
A common comment in this a situation like this is: “I’m embarrassed to say this, but I feel somewhat worthless after my husband’s affair. Honestly, for the past couple of years, my self esteem has been rising. I have a wonderful career and I thought that I had a good marriage and a loving husband. Three years ago, I began working out and improving my appearance. I honestly thought I looked better than ever. But now everything is in question for me. Because if I’m so great, why did my husband cheat? And I always thought that my husband and I had a very special bond. He always told me that I was the perfect person for him. Well, obviously that’s not true. Now I feel like all a woman needs is to be breathing in order to be special to my husband. I enjoyed feeling special and now I don’t anymore. How do I restore that? Or is feeling special something that is gone forever for me?”
I absolutely do not think that anything is gone forever. Yes, it takes a lot of work to restore your self esteem and your sense of uniqueness after infidelity but it most certainly can be done. Quite often, you will need to go within and find it within yourself instead of accepting it from external sources, at least for a little while. And from experience, I can tell you that this is a lesson that is most definitely worth learning.
Understand (And Genuinely Accept) That His Affair Wasn’t About You: So many women intellectually understand that when a man cheats, it really has nothing to do his wife. He may tell you that it does, but that’s only because he doesn’t want to look at or acknowledge the flaws within himself or accept his own lack of impulse control. A man can have a wonderful marriage, a beautiful and accomplished wife, and an enviable life and yet still cheat.
Almost every one knows this, but when it comes to ourselves, we forget it or we don’t believe that it is applicable to us or to or own situation. We are actually sometimes more comfortable taking the blame onto ourselves than assigning it to someone else, even though we’ve done nothing wrong. There is nothing awful about you that means that this universal truth does not apply to you. This is not your fault. You have to entertain and then accept the idea that you don’t have to own this because it was not your mistake.
You May Have To Take Inventory Of What Makes You Special For Yourself: In a second, I will discuss what your spouse can do to recover your sense of being special. But before I do that, I want to talk about you. And the reason for this is that if you don’t believe that you are worthy, then you aren’t going to believe that someone else believes this too. Your husband could give you an extensive list of what he loves about you along with very specific examples. But if you don’t believe this within your heart and about yourself then you are going to doubt his sincerity even if he is being completely truthful.
So, it is very important that you spend some time with yourself being very open about what is delightful about you. There is no one else like you. Only you possess the unique talents and characteristics that you have. And no one can replace you. This time with yourself might feel strange. It may feel like you are bragging on yourself or tooting your own horn. That’s perfectly fine. Because you are and because you deserve it.
If you are doing these exercises and something rings false for you and you can come up with a legitimate reason why it’s so, then fix it. If there is something that bothers you, then give yourself permission to practice extreme self care and to address it make it right so that you can look at yourself in the mirror with no regrets.
Tell Your Spouse What You Need: I hesitate to even bring this up because I’d love it if you only needed to look to yourself for validation. However, I know that it’s very unrealistic to think that what your spouse thinks or says doesn’t matter. If you want or need something from your spouse, then ask him for it. That is your right. And asking is better than being resentful or disappointed that you are not receiving what you need.
You may want to say something like: “I’m sure that it’s obvious to you that my self esteem has taken a hit. During our recovery, I need for you to compliment me. And I need for you to point out what is unique or special about me. I need to believe that you actually see me, understand me, and appreciate me.”
Understand that your spouse may not do this perfectly. He’s a man and men are different in this regard. But his just making an effort should tell you something. If he doesn’t make that effort, then you will need to make a decision as to whether you are going to give that to yourself or if you are going to approach him in another way. But make no mistake about it. You ARE special. And you deserve to feel that way.
I know that you can doubt your own worth because of someone else’s action and this isn’t fair. Sometimes, you have to be very proactive and give yourself what you need, even if it feels very selfish or odd. You’re welcome to read about my own recovery process if that helps on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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