Living In The Now After The Affair: Is It A Good Idea

By: Katie Lersch: If you’ve never dealt with a cheating spouse or a marriage marred by an affair, then you probably don’t realize how all encompassing thoughts of the affair can become. There are times when you can think of little else and when you feel as if you are stuck in emotional quicksand. Everything makes you angry or hurt or confused. And days, weeks, or months can go by when you don’t feel much improvement. Despite not wanting to, you might find yourself always going back to the affair, always wondering about the other person, unable to move on.

As you might suspect, this process gets old. That’s why some people decide to take drastic action. And sometimes, this includes a new attitude. One such example is deciding to “live in the moment.” To demonstrate, I might hear from a wife who says: “I can’t seem to move on from my husband’s affair even though it was almost a year ago that it happened. We have been to counseling. And I am sure that my husband doesn’t see or communicate with her any more. In fact, he turns most of his attention to me and to our marriage. I do believe that he wants to save our marriage. But the biggest obstacle in our way is my own attitude. I just can’t seem to keep from looking back and fixating on the past. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about zen buddhism and I’ve been meditating. I’ve started experimenting with living in the moment in other areas of my life. This has been helping me a good deal. I notice that I am happier in my job, with my children, and with my other relationships. I am considering trying to ‘live in the moment’ when it comes to my marriage. In fact, I tried this just today. I told myself that I wouldn’t think about the past. I wouldn’t think about the future. I promised myself that I would just enjoy being with my husband. We actually had a nice day and we laughed, something that has been in short supply lately. When I talked to my best friend tonight, I mentioned this to her. She told me that ‘living in the moment’ wasn’t realistic here because doing so meant that I was letting my husband off the hook. She asked me if I intended to forget what he has done. She said my husband was sure going to like my new attitude because this meant that there would be no price to pay for his affair. This took the wind right out of my sails. I actually had a good day but talking to my friend negated it. I felt like I was doing the right thing at the time. But now I think I’m only fooling myself and looking for a quick fix.”

This wife described a couple who had been working on their marriage for a year after the affair. I’d hardly call that a quick fix. Frankly, I used variation of “living in the moment” at various times during our recovery after the affair. I also use it when I’m under stress due to things that I can’t necessarily control – and I am talking about things that don’t have anything to do with my marriage.

Here is my take on this. I believe that this change in attitude can provide you with a lot of relief as long as you keep things in perspective. Here is why. I believe that it’s very possible to get into the habit of ruminating. What I mean by this is that you get into the habit of going over the details of the affair over and over again even after everything has been said, discussed, and worked through regarding it. There is nothing left to say. All questions have been asked and answered. The work has been done. And yet you are still running it through your head and you are still being injured by it on a very regular basis.

When this is happening, “living in the moment” actually can help you to break this cycle.  Because you are forced to just notice what is right in front of you in that moment in time. You can not look back. You can not worry about the future. You are just enjoying now. This allows you to reconnect with your spouse in the here and now. This in turn can help to delay, slow down, or even stop that ruminating. And make no mistake, if you really want to move on, this ruminating must eventually stop.

Does this mean your spouse doesn’t have a price to pay? No, but he may have already have paid it. Does it mean that you no longer take regular inventory of your marriage? Absolutely not. There is a difference between living in the moment and living in denial. But you want to create a more positive reality. If living in the moment helps you do this, then I do not see the harm. I found it very helpful.

I am sure that this wife’s friend wanted to help. But the truth is that friends and loved ones often do not understand. They are trying to help, but without them having been there and having come through infidelity in a healthy way, they can’t possibly be objective. I believe if you find something helpful and it isn’t hurting you, then no one can or should tell you that you are wrong. That is a decision that only you can make for yourself.  And if you are finding relief by living in the moment, I say go for it.

I got to the point in my own recovery where I stopped making apologies or asking for advice from friends and family.  I loved them. I still do.  But they are not mental health professionals and they could not properly advise me.  I had to do what was right for me and I have never regretted it. You’re welcome to read more about my own healing on my blog at

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