I Feel Like I’m Missing Out By Staying Unhappily Married After The Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I realize that some people will look down on wives (or husbands for that matter) who choose to stay after their spouse has an affair. They think that the wives aren’t strong enough to leave, have no self esteem, or have chosen to just look the other way. However, as someone who has been there, I can tell you that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, we are strong, capable, and brave women who make the choice, at least in part, because we are considering the well being of our family. And because we made a commitment that we are determined to keep.

Happily, many of us are able to restore our marriages so that our sacrifice does not become permanent. What I mean by this is that although we took a bit of risk with blind faith in the beginning, we were rewarded for this faith with a marriage that is mostly recovered and a choice / life about which we have no regrets.

I wish that I could tell you that this regret – free outcome happens 100% of the time, but it doesn’t. I do sometimes hear from women who made the choice to stay and now look around and have some regrets about the state of their marriage or their life. Here is one example. Someone might say: “I would do anything for my kids. If you want to know the most important thing about me – and about what defines me – it is that I want to be the best mother that I can be. I want my kids to grow up to reach their full potential. I want them to know that they are loved and valued over anything else in my life. I want them to have every advantage that I can possibly give them. My parents are divorced. So I firmly believe that living in a two-parent household is an advantage. And I want them to have that – which is why I stayed with my husband after he cheated on me. Yes, he promised that he would change. And to my knowledge, he has not cheated again. He has changed his lifestyle and does not go out much anymore. Still, things never went back to the way that they were. I still have anger and so our marriage never recovered. I see my friends and neighbors have these normal marriages. I see wives and husbands look at one another with happiness and intimacy. I see husbands who look adoringly at their wives and who would never dream of cheating. I want that. And I feel like I am missing out not to have it. I long for a relationship that feels equal and loving. My husband and I tolerate each other. Sometimes we laugh and share things – but it is mostly due to the kids. As far as intimacy that loving spouses in a happy marriage share – no, we do not have that since the affair. And I feel a big void because of it. At the same time, my hands are tied because of the commitment that I made because of my children.”

I’m not sure that your hands are tied quite as much as you think. And I’d like for you to consider that your children would never want for you to be unhappy or to feel stuck only for their benefit. And they may well feel what is going on. You’ve said that your husband made the effort to change his life and has not cheated again. At least he has shown good faith – which is a great start. You are not alone. Many couples save their marriages after infidelity – but what they fail to do is to rebuild it. You can’t expect to be happy or to just pick up where you left off until you rebuild.

The Importance Of Truly Rebuilding: If a hurricane came along and leveled your home, you couldn’t expect to live in it as before until it was fixed. If you tried to, you would be frustrated and you would struggle with the things that are still broken. Well, an affair is a marital hurricane. If you don’t fix it, you will be frustrated and will struggle with the things that are still broken.

Believe me, I know what I’m asking. I know that in many cases it can seem very difficult, if not impossible, to really fix the broken pieces. It can be a long term process. But don’t you deserve the effort? Don’t you deserve a marriage that doesn’t mean that you feel like you are missing out? You’ve already taken the difficult steps to save your marriage and maintain your family and that is very, very commendable. But why stop there? Why not keep going and do whatever you need to do to restore the intimacy? This might mean counseling. This might mean working on your physical relationship. This might mean educating yourself by reading up on how others have done what you want to accomplish. The point is, there are many ways to get to the same finish line. But you owe it to yourself and to your family to get there. Because yes, you want to give your kids a two-parent family. But don’t stop there. Give them a HAPPY two-parent family. Because you are modeling the marriage on which they are going to base their own. And you deserve to be as happy as anyone else. I believe that it is possible if my own experience is any indication. There were definitely large periods of time where I thought my marriage might never be happy or the same. It is NOT the same. It’s different – but in an almost better way. And it’s definitely happy. Getting here wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com.

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