By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are so angry at themselves for cheating or having an affair, that they have come to hate not only their actions, but they also hate themselves. I heard from a woman who said: “I cheated on my husband. It was the worst mistake I have ever made in my entire life and I spend every second of every day regretting it. My husband says he will try to forgive me and we are working on saving our marriage. I want that more than anything. The problem is that I am so angry at myself. I literally hate myself. And these feelings are hurting my marriage. Because I don’t feel like I deserve my husband. So I am always crying and apologizing and this frustrates my husband. He says he would prefer it if I would not constantly bring this up so that we can move on with your lives. I just can’t seem to help it. When I look at myself in the mirror, I am so disgusted with myself that I have to look away. What can I do? Because I am really struggling.”
I can’t say that I knew how this wife felt because I didn’t. I was the spouse who was cheated on instead of the spouse who cheated. However, when I hear from spouses who are as sincere as this wife, my heart does go out to them. And while I couldn’t tell her that she had no reason to be angry at herself (because she did,) I could assure her that her hatred and her anger really had no healthy place in her life. I will tell you why in the following article.
Hating Yourself Isn’t Helping Your Spouse: Let me try to help you see things a little more clearly. Probably, one of the major reasons that you hate yourself right now is because you feel such sorrow about what this has done to your spouse. You love your spouse and you feel such regret that your actions have hurt them. Therefore, you hate yourself because you are the one who has hurt them. Here is the thing though. Your anger toward and hatred for yourself isn’t doing anything to help your spouse. Your hatred isn’t helping your spouse heal and likely doesn’t make them feel any better. So in that sense, it is a waste. Nothing positive is coming out of it. And, as a result of it, your marriage isn’t getting better. In fact, these feelings are doing you no good. They are hurting you rather than helping you. So you are better off moving away from them and using your energy for something that is actually helpful.
Moving Toward Something Constructive That Makes A Real Difference: One way to begin to move away from these destructive feelings is to move toward things that will heal. So rather than hating yourself, what can you do to help your spouse? Well, you can become responsible and accountable. You can become the partner that your spouse needs and wants. You can work tirelessly to restore the trust. You can do any number of things to offer your spouse reassurance and affection. In short, you want to use your energy to heal rather than to use your energy to harm.
The next time you feel your hatred and your anger driving you, redirect it. Instead of doing something destructive to yourself, do something nice for your spouse. Instead of wallowing in your thoughts, call your spouse and tell them how much you love them. When you are filled with self doubt, take inventory and make sure that you are doing everything that you can to remove all doubt of your trustworthiness and your loyalty. When you are angry at your actions, make sure that you set it up so that your future actions are ones that you can be very proud of. Because the best way to ensure that your hatred wanes is to meet it head on with love. And if from today on, you live your life with integrity and truth, then eventually you will know that you do everything that you possibly could to right this wrong.
No, you can not take this back and that can be heartbreaking. But you do have control over the future. You can control your future actions and you can do everything in your power to strengthen your marriage and to help your spouse heal. And you can become the kind of spouse who makes your partner very happy. If you can have the kind of marriage that makes you both fulfilled and you prove yourself rehabilitated and trustworthy, then continuing to hate yourself is just a waste of time and isn’t really founded anyway.
My husband would constantly say that he hated himself after an affair. But I got no joy out of this. In fact, it kind of annoyed me because I wanted him to place his focus on my feelings rather than on his own feelings, if that makes any sense. Once I made him understand this, things improved. And we were able to not only save but to improve our marriage. If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
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