I Don’t Want The Affair To Win. Is This Stupid Of Me?

By: Katie Lersch: There are some wives who ultimately decide that they can no longer stick around after their husband’s affair.  This is not a surprising reaction. In fact, many wives assume that this will be their reaction when and if they learn of infidelity.  This is what you assume, anyway.

But when the affair happens to you, sometimes you find that your reaction is a surprising one that you did not anticipate. Sometimes, when you begin to consider ending your marriage, you just can’t bring yourself to put that course of events into motion.  And the reason for this may be a matter of principal or of stubbornness.  You may not want to “give in” to someone else’s mistakes.  You don’t want to just surrender a part of your life to a complete stranger who doesn’t deserve it.

A wife might explain: “some of my friends think I’m stupid, but I have decided not to end my marriage even though my husband had a very embarrassing affair. To be honest, my husband is still acting a bit like an idiot, but I can tell that he’s trying. And he’s agreed to go to counseling, so there is a small reason to be hopeful.  But more than that, I have decided that I refuse to let the affair win.  What I mean by that is that I just can not in good faith allow some low-class, loser of a woman to walk into my life and take what is mine.  Honestly, I don’t know if I still want my husband, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to let someone take him from me.  If I ultimately choose to give him to her, fine.  But I don’t see that happening.  My friends say that this is dumb of me and that is just my stubbornness and my low self esteem talking.  Are they right?”

Why I Think That Stubbornness Is A Very Valid Reaction: Well, if sticking around or righteousness is a matter of low self-esteem, then I am guilty of the same thing that you are. And yet, I am still married. And since we have rebuilt, I am pretty happily married at that.  I felt the same way that you do.  I refused to allow someone else to ruin the life that I had built for myself and my children.  I felt very indignant and defiant about my right to maintain these things.

I can’t tell you that I was always very clear about my feelings for my husband.  But I was always clear about my feelings for my children and for my family. There were times when the desire to maintain the marriage was there, but the feelings were not.  There were times when I wondered if perhaps I would ultimately be happier on my own.  But during those times, I was determined to not just bail at the first sign of doubt.  I would tell myself that I was not going to make any snap decisions.  I would tell myself that if I ultimately left, I was not going to do so until I’d first tried every avenue to save my marriage.

If I made that effort and I ultimately failed, well then, at least I could walk away knowing that I just didn’t quit.  By no means am I saying that this strategy is for everyone.  I know that it is not.  I know that some people just can not fathom or tolerate sticking around and that is just as valid as any other reaction.

Why Stubbornness Is On The First Step, But Not The Only Step: I am not here to criticize anyone else.  I am trying to offer reassurance that if you choose to stay or delay a decision because of complete stubbornness to not give in, I think that this is valid and I completely understand. But from experience, I can tell you that this will only get you so far.  Yes, it will make you stay put.  But, it won’t rehabilitate your marriage on its own.  And in order to be truly happy, confident and content, you need to have a rehabilitated husband and marriage.  Otherwise, you may find that neither of you are as happy and secure as you want to be.

So no, I don’t think that staying put out of stubbornness or a refusal to let someone win is stupid or a mistake.  But I do think that it’s just a start.  In order to have the marriage that many of us want, you need to go beyond the defiance and also rebuild. Because you don’t want to wake up one day and fear that you are only married because you held onto your damaged marriage for dear life out of determination, but you never fixed it.

Instead, you want to know that the determination might have kept your there initially, but the commitment, the love, and the intimacy kept you there for the long term.  You want to know that you are there because you have a spouse that you are happy with, that you trust, and that you have done the work with.

The Pay Off Of Taking The Next Step: Many people hesitate to do the work.  It isn’t always fun or easy. It’s annoying sometimes.  It can feel like a punishment some days, but it is also the most effective way I know to restore the intimacy and the trust.  And believe me when I say that when these things are absent, you deeply and desperately miss them.  I applaud your stubbornness.  But I also believe that you can’t exist on stubbornness alone.  You deserve more.

Believe me, I am all for stubbornness, but take it one step further and be stubborn enough to not settle for a marriage that is less than what you deserve. Do the work. Rebuild. And craft the marriage that you truly want. I have never regretted doing the same even though it was difficult at the time.  You can read more about how I accomplished this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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