How Do You Make Things Fair Or Even After The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from people who feel short changed after their spouse cheated or had an affair.  They often feel that they were the one who had to do all of the forgiving and who had to make all of the concessions while their spouse is the one who gets to make a mistake without any real consequences.

Common comments in this regard are things like: “I just don’t feel like anything about this situation is fair.  My husband cheated on me and all he basically has to do is to say he’s sorry and get on with his life.  He knows that I won’t divorce him because of our kids.  He knows that I am stuck.  So now I have to swallow my pride and take back this person who has so little integrity that he would lie to his family.  I feel like having my own affair just to make things even because he certainly isn’t going out of his way to make this up to me.”

I also sometimes hear from the spouse who cheated who feels as if he hasn’t yet done enough to make this right.  Common comments in this regard are things like: “I don’t think that I will ever be able to make this up to my spouse.  Yes, I have shown my remorse.  Yes, we have gone to counseling.  And yes, I have done everything that she has asked me to do.  I truly am sorry.  I am doing everything in my power to make this up to her.  But sometimes, I see a look in her eye that tells me that she is still deeply wounded and that she might never be the same ever again.  I want to make this fair for her.  I wish that I was the wronged one.  I would take her pain away if I could.  What can I do to make this more fair?  I tell and show her that I love her but sometimes I feel like it’s just not enough.”   I will try to address both concerns in the following article.

Trying To Make Things Even Through Negative Behaviors Or Actions Will Only Make Things Worse:  People often ask me if they should have their own affair to try to make things more equitable.  They want for their spouse to feel the pain that they have felt.  They’d like for their spouse to have a taste of the bitterness of insecurity.  And they only way that they can envision this is to put their spouse in the same situation that they were in.

I understand this thought process as I have had it myself.  But I have never once seen this strategy turn out well.  There are so many issues that couples need to overcome with only one affair.  But imagine how difficult this becomes when you are now dealing with two affairs.   Everyone knows the old adage that when you hurt someone else, you are really hurting yourself just as much.  Well, in this case it is absolutely true.  I understand why this idea appeals to you, but please trust me when I tell you that it will often only make things worse.

The Faithful Spouse Needs To Be In A Better Situation Than They Started With:  If you really want to know how things become “fair” or “even” after an affair, here is my take on this.  The faithful spouse needs to be built up so that they have a better situation than before the affair.  No, you can’t turn back time.  You can’t erase the pain.  But you can help your spouse heal.  You can give your spouse whatever she needs to learn to trust you again.  You can make absolutely sure that your marriage is stronger and better than it was before the affair.  You can get your spouse the help that she will likely need to rebuild her self esteem.  You can show her affection, loyalty, and affirmation on a daily basis so that she regains her confidence in you and in the marriage.

Yes, you still have a situation in which one spouse made a mistake while the other spouse did nothing wrong.  And unfortunately, you can not change this.  But if you work very hard to show your spouse that you are willing to do anything to make this right, you will often find that you have a better marriage than you started with and this is a gift to both you.  Frankly, when both spouses and the marriage have fully healed, people no longer feel the need to keep score and their main concern just becomes their own happiness and wellbeing rather than causing more pain.

Believe me when I saw that I understand the need to make this more equitable. I felt this way too.  But one day, I realized that I didn’t want to bring about any more pain or fear.  I wanted to bring about healing so I could put this behind me and let it go.  Keeping score only keeps it going.  Let go of the score keeping and this will allow you to let go of more of the pain.  If it helps, you can read about how I recovered on my blog

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