By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who, very understandably, want their husbands to “pay” or “suffer” for cheating or having an affair. Many can focus on little else but getting revenge or on making their husbands gravely sorry for cheating. I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with a much younger woman. I am so furious. I want him to truly suffer for doing this. I don’t want him to have a moment’s peace in his life. I want him to live with regret and to wonder every day how he could be so stupid. I don’t want a divorce because a divorce would make things too easy for him. I want him to have to look at my face every day and wonder how he could hurt me as I did. But my friend says my feelings aren’t healthy. Is she right? Because I can’t help feeling this way.” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.
Although Wanting Him To Suffer Is Understandable, It Sometimes Hurts You As Much As It Hurts Him: As a wife who has dealt with infidelity, I absolutely understand wanting to make him feel intense regret. He has hurt you very deeply. In fact, very few things hurt this much. However, placing your focus on bringing about suffering can bring you down right along with him. This is especially true if you want to save your marriage, as this wife was saying that she did. I’m going to give you some things to think about. Please don’t think that I’m insensitive. I’m just trying to be practical as someone who has been there.
I can tell you that trying to save your marriage after an affair is very difficult. You spend a lot of time worrying if you are trying going to happy again. Sometimes, your greatest wish is to just have things feel normal again. You’d give anything for a day where you and your husband could enjoy one another’s company without thinking about or worrying about the infidelity. But you can start to wonder if this is even remotely possible.
Thin about it for a second. If you spend huge amounts of time making sure that your husband is suffering or feeling pain and sorrow, how likely is it that your marriage is going to feel normal, or happy, or even as if it’s on the way to recovery? To be quite honest about, if you place your focus on making your husband suffer, you are likely to feel pain right along with him if you intend to stay married. His lack of fulfillment and happiness is going to make you doubt his commitment to you and to your marriage. This isn’t the way to recover or be happy again.
Wanting Him To Feel Remorse Versus Wanting Him To Suffer: I suspect that many wives who say that they want their husbands to suffer really mean that they want him to feel true remorse. In other words, they want him to be so sorry, that he will think twice about being unfaithful again. They want him to fully understand how destructive his actions were so that he will not repeat the behavior. This is different than wanting your husband to suffer a lifetime sentence of misery within your marriage.
Of course you want him to feel sorrow and remorse for how he has hurt you. But, at the end of the day, you probably want healing and closure to come out of this whole situation so that you are able to move on and be happy again. This can’t happen if you continue to focus on pain and misery.
Sometimes, when I explain this to wives, they will tell me that they still want him to suffer even if this means that they are no longer married to them. I do understand the sentiment, but even if you divorce this man, don’t you deserve to move on and to fully live your life? You haven’t really moved on if you are still placing your focus on him – even if your focus is meant to ensure his misery or suffering. So while I do understand the inclination to make him feel the pain that you feel, I want you to understand that it probably isn’t the healthiest place to put your focus. The healthy place for your focus is on your own healing and your own happiness. Quite frankly, his actions are going to have repercussions without your needing to do anything. Men quite often do feel sorrow and remorse on their own. And when we attempt to bring about more misery, they will often try to make you out to be the bad guy to help to justify your actions and honestly, this is the last thing that you want. And, if you conduct yourself with dignity, not only will you begin to heal, but the chances are better that he will feel that remorse and sorrow that you are looking to see.
I admit there was a time when I wanted my husband to feel intense emotional pain for cheating on me. But over time, I came to learn that the more I focused on his negative feelings, the less I was able to experience positive feelings or peace. Once I let go of my need for revenge, it was as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and this made recovery and healing possible. If it helps, you can read the story of my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
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