I Have No Choice But To Stay Married To My Husband Even Though He Had An Affair. What Now?

By: Katie Lersch:  I think it’s probably fair to say that a good number of women initially consider altering or ending their marriage after learning of their husband’s affair.  Because it’s a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t consider the long -term reality.  Your mind figures that A plus B should equal C.  In other words, cheating plus marriage should equal divorce.

But your mind is not your heart.  And your marriage is not an equation.  There are people involved.  There will be real consequences to your decision.  If you have children, your decision will affect their lives greatly. It may even affect how they run their own households or their own marriages as adults. So, as much as some of us might like to just throw our marriages away without a second thought, we can’t always do that.

And this realization can make you feel a little resentful and helpless.  You can feel as if you are “stuck” in a horrible marriage and a dreadful life.  A wife might say: “when I admit reality to myself, I see that I have no choice but to stay in my marriage.  My husband cheated on me.  He says that he is sorry.  He says that we can get through this.  I am not sure that I want to get through it, but I also do not have a real choice.  I could never be the one who chooses to break up my children’s family. And frankly, when I had children, we made the decision that I would stay home.  I know that I could work again if I had to, but I would not make the kind of money needed to maintain a decent lifestyle.  So being on my own would be a disaster in so many ways.  So I am stuck in this marriage with a man who cheated on me.  What now?”

I understand your frustration.  You feel as if you don’t have any control and you’re left to just live in unfortunate circumstances which may not change.  I’m certainly not a therapist, but I do know that in my own case, one of the first things that made me feel better was to take back a sense of control.  It gives you purpose.  It gives you your self respect back.  And you no longer feel as if you’re just sort of blowing in the wind.

Taking Back A Sense Of Control With A Plan: One way to take back to control is to have a plan.  I know that you are angry with your husband and you are justified in this anger.  But ask yourself what you might want five years from now, when that anger has faded.  If you are going to be married (and we can assume so as that is the decision you have made,) then do you really want to be married and unhappy?

You may feel that this is out of your control, but that’s not entirely accurate.  You can’t control what you husband does, but you can choose your own behaviors.  You can decide if you want to get help and do everything in your power to heal your marriage.  As you’ve indicated that your husband is remorseful, it seems likely that he would be willing to cooperate in this regard.

You don’t want to feel like a victim. And you will feel less like a victim if you pursue healing so that hopefully and eventually, you feel content in your marriage and can actively choose to stay in it.  Counseling is one way to do this.  Self help is another. I would suggest not just doing nothing and continuing to be angry but stuck.

Getting What You Truly Deserve: Trying to move forward and wanting to heal does not mean that the anger magically goes away, but it does mean that you now have a constructive outlet for that anger.  A good counselor or good self help program can help you direct that anger toward change.

You deserve more than feeling like you are serving a life sentence for infidelity that wasn’t yours.  Quite honestly, I think that living in a miserable marriage is even worse than dealing with infidelity.  Because with the right tools, the pain of infidelity can wane or end, but living in a miserable marriage goes on and on.

If you are committed to staying in your marriage, it makes sense to try to heal it.  Because it’s not fair to anyone to just accept that you’re going to just be treading water, not really happy or engaged and just sort of there.

Every one deserves more than this, including you. Why not at least attempt to make it as good as you possibly can?  If you want to spell this out for you husband, you might try something like: “we both know that, at least for now, I’m staying in the marriage because it is best for everyone.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m happy right now. I do not want to live my life in a miserable, struggling marriage.  It is not good for our kids and it is not good for us.  I would like to find something to help us.  I’m going to educate myself on the best way to do this.  And I want your commitment that you will participate in whatever I decide. I do not want to be unhappy and resentful and I don’t think that you want that either.  Will you commit to helping me work through this?”

Most men will say yes to this because they don’t want for any of you to be unhappy.  And they likely feel very guilty because deep down, they know that all of this unhappiness is because of them.

I understand your anger because I felt the same anger.  But, it is exhausting to hold onto that anger and pain.  While it’s not always possible to let it go immediately, I can tell you it is SUCH A RELIEF to put it down eventually. There’s more about this on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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