I Feel Like I Let Everyone I Love Down By Having An Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who can’t help but dwell on how much disappointment and pain that they have caused by cheating or having an affair. Often, they are well aware that they have deeply hurt the people that they love the most and they can’t seem to focus on anything other than this.

I heard from a wife who said: “I made the biggest mistake of my life when I cheated on my husband.  And it was such a pathetic way to cheat.  I was a stay at home mom who was lonely and who reconnected with an old boyfriend on Facebook.  I risked the well being on my family just because this other man paid me some attention and made me feel good about myself.  I can’t believe I acted so irresponsibly and was so stupid.  I immediately told my husband the truth and begged for his forgiveness.  We are trying to make it work.  But one thing standing in our way is my anger at myself and my belief that I don’t deserve my husband or my family.  I have let them all down.  I have made it so that my two children might be without their father.  I have acted in a way that is the direct opposite of the beliefs that my parents instilled in me.  In short, I have let down and disappointed every one in my family and I don’t deserve any of them.  My husband still says he is willing to try to work it out, so how can I let go of this feeling that I’m just not good enough for anyone?”

I actually felt quite deeply for this wife.  And I didn’t feel that her self loathing was doing any good for herself or for her family.  I had a couple of insights that I was able to point out to her,  which I will share below.

Regardless Of The Mistakes That You Made, Your Children Still Need And Love You:  I’m not going to tell you that cheating on your children’s father wasn’t a mistake because you know that it was.  But, everyone makes mistakes in their life and in their marriage.  Yes, this is a particularly big one with far reaching consequences.  However, this doesn’t mean that your children don’t still love and need you.   None of this is their fault.  Regardless of the mistakes their either of their parents have made, they still need both parents. And your distancing yourself from them because you feel that you aren’t deserving of them actually hurts them more than is necessary.

I understand that you feel undeserving right now, but be careful that you aren’t projecting your own pain and uncertainty unto your children.  They do not deserve that.  And, right now, what they need is for you to be a strong and steady presence in their lives.  What they need is for you to vow that your mistake is not going to derail their life because you are determined that you are not going to allow that.  So the best thing that you can do is to vow to make this right again and to move on in a way that is healing and healthy for your family.

If You Rehabilitate Yourself So That Your Spouse And Your Marriage Is Happy Again, You Will Be Deserving Of Their Love And Commitment:  I have to admit that as a spouse who has been cheated on, I tend to agree with cheating spouses who think that they don’t deserve their spouse, at least before rehabilitation has taken place.  In fact, if there is no remorse and no rehabilitation, then I would not disagree with this wife.  But neither was the case here.  And, if she could make it her goal to become the best wife and mother she could possibly be, then she would have shown herself worthy of at least a second chance.

In short, if you do everything in your power to make your marriage, solid, fulfilling and strong again, what more can you be expected to do?  If your spouse is eventually secure, happy and committed to your marriage because you have proven yourself trustworthy, rehabilitated, and remorseful, then they believe that you are deserving.  Why can’t you believe the same?

I do understand that this type of remorse is not something that you can expect to go away overnight.  But committing to a lifetime sentence of guilt and sadness isn’t going to help your marriage, your spouse, your children, or your parents.  It only ensures that the pain continues and none of you deserve that.

While you can’t take back the affair, you can commit to fixing this so that you and your family can move on.  And if you make sure that your marriage and your family is as strong and as happy as they can possibly be, then you have done all that you can.  I understand that you are disappointed in yourself.  But that is a part of life.  And the real strength lies in acknowledging your mistakes, learning from them, allowing them to inspire improvements and changes, and then moving on.

My husband went through similar feelings after his affair.  And frankly, his guilt and sorrow didn’t make me feel any better.  I wanted for him to help me and recover and to move on rather than wallowing in self pity and remaining stuck.  Once he understood this, we began to see some improvements and our marriage recovered and is very strong today.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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