How Do Wives Survive When Their Husband Confesses To An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  Much of the time, we underestimate ourselves.  We look at people facing hardships with dignity and grace and we are full of admiration and awe.  We are proud of them.  We wish them well.  But we also secretly think that we could never handle obstacles or struggles in the same skillful way.  And we are secretly glad that we are not dealing with similar circumstances.

Until we are.  I have to be honest and tell you that I thought infidelity was always going to be something that happened to someone else.  Sure, I’d had beloved friends and even family members struggle with infidelity.  I knew that it happened to good people in good marriages.  And I’d seen a lot of the wives eventually rally and triumph.  But I thought that I could never do that.  And I hoped that I’d never have to.

Of course, it should be obvious by now that I did have to deal with it.  And I know that I’m not alone in my thinking.  Because I get a lot of correspondence from people who ask me how in the world you get through this.  I hear from mothers whose daughters have just learned of a husband’s affair and who are deeply concerned.  They say things like: “my daughter is not a resilient person. I worry that she is never going to recover from this. I worry that she will never see her own worth ever again because of what this selfish man has done.”

Or, I will hear from a wife who says: “I feel so broken because I just found out my husband has been having an affair.  I know that there are women who survive this or even recover from it.  But I am not one of those women.  Those women are better than me because I know that my life is never going to be the same.  How do these wives bear it?”

Well, I can try to articulate this as best as I can.  And, I understand this mindset because I had it.  I too thought that I would never move past infidelity and that it would forever define me and my marriage.  But it hasn’t.  And I have more than moved past it. In fact, I believe that in many ways I am stronger and better. The key?  You use it to fuel you and not to beat you.

I am not going to tell you that it was a smooth process.  I struggled greatly at first.  I felt worthless. I pitied myself.  I thought that I didn’t offer much to myself or to others. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I couldn’t afford to think this way. People depend on me.  My children.  My employer.  My friends.  My family.  My colleagues.  It was one thing to let down myself by not believing I had it in me to rally back.  But it was something else to let down the people who I cared very much about.

And so I let my strong emotions fuel me instead of letting them stop me.  I made some decisions.  I decided that my children would never pay the price for my husband’s infidelity.  They would not have an unsure mother who didn’t look people in the eye.  They would not have a mother who was fearful and afraid.  They would not have a mother who was not going to model believing in yourself.   I decided that I wasn’t not going to be less than I knew that I could and should be because of what someone else did.  And I decided that I wasn’t going to be knocked off balance due to something that I did not do and could not control.

Now we all know that it is easy to say these things.  But it is harder to carry them out.  Dealing with an affair saps your confidence, your energy, and your determination.  It is a process to get these things back.  But you get them back by actively working on this.  You fake it until you make it. You take inventory as to what is sapping your strength and you address those things so that they no longer drag you down.  You ask yourself what you are managing to do well and you do more of it. You seek help when and if you need it without the slightest bit of shame. And you are gentle with yourself when you struggle.

I suppose my answer to the question of “how do women survive when their husband confesses to an affair” is that they just pick themselves up because that is what they have to do.  What is the alternative?  To be wounded and broken over something that you didn’t do?  To struggle when you are not the one who made the mistake?  That wouldn’t make a lot of sense, would it?

No, instead you figure out what is standing between you and emotional health and happiness and you address those things – with the help of a professional if you need to.  And you keep reminding yourself that although your circumstances might have changed, you have not.  You did nothing wrong.  And like anyone else faced with challenges in life, you keep moving forward because doing otherwise is letting yourself – and those you love – down.  You rise to the occasion because doing otherwise isn’t fair to you or to anyone else.  And because you still deserve the best life that you can provide.

Use these struggles and this pain as fuel.  If you need to use your anger as fuel or you need to “show him” how strong you can be, go right ahead.  Use whatever motivation works.  And keep right on going.  When you have to take a step back, realize that you will rally again.  Be kind to yourself.  None of this is your fault.  And I don’t believe that any woman needs to think that she can’t move on because of this.  You absolutely can. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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