I Cheated On My Spouse. How Can I Feel Good About Myself Again?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who regret cheating on their spouse more than they can possibly express. Because they can’t change this and they have to face all of the hurt and pain that they have caused, this can make them feel incredibly badly about themselves.

To demonstrate, I might hear a comment like: “I cheated on my husband and never in my life have I regretted something so much. Amazingly, my husband has decided to stand by me. He says he has forgiven me and he blames himself somewhat because he travels so much for his job. Frankly, this makes me sad and it makes me feel worse about the situation. I almost wish he would have been furious with me and he would have made me earn his trust back. But he didn’t. He forgave me right away and he has continued to try to treat me well. Occasionally, some of his frustration will slip out and he will snap at me. But for the most part, he continues to be his kind and loving self and I always end up feeling like I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve him. This whole process has made me feel like trash. A few of our family and friends know about the affair and I am sure that they are thinking that my husband deserves much better than me. And the sad thing is, I agree with them and I know that they are right.  Every day, I fully realize that my husband could do so much better. Every day, I feel like I am deplorable person. And I am not sure how to start feeling better about myself because my husband has made things somewhat easy for me. Despite the fact that my husband forgives me, I don’t forgive myself. How can I feel better?”

People often assume that an affair only hurts the person who was cheated on or the faithful spouse. But I know first hand that it can hurt both spouses. And I can tell from the correspondence that I often get on my blog that many unfaithful spouses are genuinely remorseful and feel quite horribly about themselves. I haven’t been in this experience myself, but I’ve seen my husband go through it. Below are some suggestions that I have which might help this situation.

Attempt Excellence Every Single Day: In many respects, healing after an affair does take time. In other words, no matter how perfectly the cheating spouse acts, how much remorse they show, and how much rehabilitation takes place, there still needs to be some passage of time in order to establish a new normal. Still, there are things that you can do to help this along. One of those things is to try, every single day, to do right by your spouse and to do right by yourself. That means not constantly looking back. It means asking yourself regularly what you can do to move forward. It’s very tempting to dwell on questions like: “why did I cheat? what type of person betrays their spouse?” Those types of questions tend to keep you stuck. Instead, you want to ask questions like: “what can I do today to make this better? How can I help my spouse heal today? How can I be a blessing to my spouse in this moment?”

When you ask these questions on a daily basis, you propel yourself forward and things begin to get better. You begin to realize that day after day, you are showing integrity. You are being the type of wife that your husband deserves. And you are giving yourself the best version of yourself – which you also deserve.

Help Someone Else Outside Of Your Marriage: I would never tell you to take time away from your marriage. That should be your first priority and where you place the most of your time. However, if you spend every waking moment lamenting what has gone wrong, you can start to define yourself in that way. It can really help to define yourself outside of this. Take a little time for yourself. Volunteer to help someone or something else. This will take your mind off of things and remind you, that deep down, you are still a good person who made an unfortunate mistake. It happens to us all. No one is perfect.

Once You’ve Done All That You Can, Give Yourself Permission To Forgive Yourself: If you know in your heart that you have done everything in your power to be the type of wife that your husband deserves and you are now living your life with honestly, integrity, and grace, then you just have to give yourself permission to let it go. Dwelling on it isn’t help you. It isn’t helping your husband. In fact, it can keep you both stuck. It can delay your progress. It can keep you living in the past. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t sorry for what you did or that what you did is justified (because we know that it isn’t.) But, it does mean that you know that you have done all that you can do. And, moving forward, you know that the best gift that you can give yourself and your husband is to move on in a healthy and positive way. If you are always focusing on the negative and on how much you dislike yourself, then you aren’t going to be able to give your husband, or yourself, the best of yourself.

My own husband had a great deal of difficulty feeling good about himself.  Over time and as he saw that I forgave him, he begin to forgive himself.  He was able to once again see himself as a wonderful father, a good citizen, and a loyal son and friend.  This took time, but it did happen. If it helps, you can read about our process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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