I Am So Ashamed For Having An Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are consumed with guilt and shame because of the extra marital affair for which they never planned. Often, they never intended to cheat on their spouse. Many used to harshly judge friends or colleagues when they cheated because they always thought that this was something that they themselves would never do. And so, when they find themselves the victim of the old cliche of the complacent spouse surprised by their own cheating, they are paralyzed by the ensuing shock and shame that follows.

I heard from a wife who said: “if every one knew about my affair, I would be the laughing stock of the neighborhood. It is such an old cliche. But I had an affair with our lawn guy. My husband works very hard, but he is always very busy. Once the kids went to school, I had a lot more time on my hands and a lot less to occupy it. And I became very lonely. One day, I invited the lawn guy in for lemonade and we just started talking. Eventually, this became a habit and one thing lead to another. The thing is, the other man is a really good guy. My actions were deplorable on so many levels.  Neither man deserved this, but my husband deserved it least of all.  I knew what I was doing was wrong. So I broke it off. I have started taking care of the lawn myself. Telling my husband was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. Basically I had to admit to my husband that while he was out providing for our family, I betrayed him and put that same family at risk. I have a hard time looking my husband in the eye. I have offered to go to counseling but so far, he hasn’t taken me up on this. I feel that I don’t deserve my husband’s time, love, or effort. I feel like I don’t even deserve to live in my home. I am so ashamed of my actions. I thought this was something I would never do. I always thought that people who cheated were low quality people who couldn’t control themselves and now I am one of them. I truly don’t know how to pick myself up from this. The shame is eating me alive. What can I do?”

You Can Start By Knowing That You Can’t Change The Past But You Do Have Control Over The Future: I felt a lot of compassion for this wife. Even though I have been on the other side of this situation (as I was the spouse who was cheated on,) it was very obvious that she was sincere and that she was practically overcome by her shame. It was also obvious that she would give anything to take the affair back. She was fully aware that she had hurt no less than four people (her husband, the other man, herself, and her child.) Unfortunately, there was really nothing that she could do to change the past. There is no way to turn back time or to pretend that the affair never happened. It did. There’s no turning away from that.

However, what you can control is your future behaviors and reactions. You can vow to become the best wife that you can be from today forward. You can find constructive ways to deal with loneliness and boredom. You can vow to do whatever your husband needs for you to do in order to restore his trust. Take full advantage of those things you can control and try to move on from what you can’t. Because frankly the guilt does you no good, which leads me to my next point.

The Shame Isn’t Serving Any Purpose: The fact that this wife felt such remorse and shame said a lot about her as a person. And, the same may have even been somewhat reassuring to her husband. But eventually, this type of all encompassing shame hurts you much more than it helps you. It cripples you so that you don’t feel like an equal party in your marriage. It makes you fearful and meek. It shifts the balance in your marriage and gives you yet one more issue to overcome.

Understand that this isn’t helping you. It is hurting you. If you truly want to save your marriage and move past this, then you have to move away from these type of negative feelings and trade them for more positive ones.

The Real Shame Would Be In Staying Stuck: I completely understand why this wife was ashamed. She had acted in a way that she knew was wrong and she had hurt someone whom she loved deeply. But the only way to change this is to make it right. And when you are paralyzed by guilt and shame, then you limit your ability to do this.

I advocate doing whatever you need to do in order to rebuild your self esteem. Get counseling if you need it. Become the best wife that you can possible be. Become the type of spouse that you yourself would want. And vow to always conduct yourself in a way that makes you proud. If you do these things, the shame will eventually wane. Moving forward and ensuring that this never happens again is the healthiest thing that you can do for yourself and your family. But dwelling on the shame just ensures that you remain stuck.

As I alluded to, I was the faithful spouse.  But my husband struggled with guilt and shame for quite a while until he finally accepted that it was holding us back rather than helping us to move forward.  Once we both committed to moving forward at all costs, things changed for the better.  If it helps, you can read our story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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