My Husband Cheated On Me After Eighteen Years Of Marriage And Now There Is Nothing Left

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from long term couples who are struggling because one of them has cheated or had an affair. Many are quite shocked that, after being married and faithful for all of this time (decades in some cases,) their spouse would betray them now. They sometimes feel as if they have wasted countless years of their life on a person who isn’t so trustworthy after all.

I might hear a comment like: “I have been with my husband for over twenty years. We have been married for eighteen of those years . I have given this man the best years of my life and four beautiful children. I have stood by him through his most difficult days and I have shared wonderful days with him. I have sacrificed and put my own career on hold so that I could help advance his career. I have always been supportive of him and put him before myself. And now, after eighteen years, this is how he repays me. I picked up his phone to charge it for him and I see all these texts and photos from a young bimbo. I am beyond devastated. And I am furious. I feel like I have spent most of my adult life supporting something that never even existed in the first place. I feel like my whole life has been a lie. I feel like there is nothing for me to work toward now. My friends tell me that I will calm down and eventually things will not seem as dire as they do right now. But, I don’t know about that. I feel such a huge sense of loss.”

This wife’s feelings were very normal. I felt the same way for quite some time before I started to look at things a little differently. My intention is to make this article helpful to you regardless of whether you want to save your marriage or not. No matter where you are in the process, it almost invariably gets better. That is just the natural progression of things and I hope that it is reassuring to hear. I know that it can feel like nothing is ever going to change, but it almost always does. I’m not going to try to convince you that this isn’t an awful thing that has happened. But I am going to try to convince you that there are ways to approach it which make it a little easier to handle.

Know That Regardless Of What Happens Moving Forward, You Don’t Want To Call It All A Waste: I’m always a little concerned when I hear someone say that their marriage or their history with their cheating spouse was “a waste.” And this is particularly true if there are children involved. Sure, it may be hard to remember the good times right now when the bad times are right in front of your face. But if the whole marriage never existed, then you wouldn’t have the four beautiful children that you have and that I am sure you would not trade for anything in the world. And, those same four children probably need you right now.

From my own experience, I completely understand feeling as if your whole married life is a lie. You are certainly justified in feeling this way, especially in the beginning of the healing process. However, I’ve learned from experience that focusing on the negative in this way will potentially negate all of the good for which you have worked and fought so hard. Whether you want to give your spouse and your marriage another chance or not, hopefully in time you will come to realize that this one mistake does not negate the twenty years of history that you have created with this person. All of that was real. One day at a time and day after day, you created a life. No, it obviously wasn’t perfect during every day of it. But it existed. And it’s my opinion that you shouldn’t deny that. Because being able to sustain a long term marriage with your family intact says a lot about you. And it is something to be proud of, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.

And, if you one day do want to save your marriage, I suspect that you will find that your long, shared history matters quite a lot. In my own case, once I calm down a bit, I was able to realize that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) attempt to erase years and years of a good and happy marriage over a mistake that happened over the course of only a few weeks. You may not ultimately decide to save your marriage. But even if you don’t, at least give yourself credit and allow yourself to respect and retain what you worked so hard to create, even if it eventually changes in form.

Saying that it means nothing sells yourself short and takes away something that you have worked hard for. Regardless of what you chose to do with your marriage, don’t steal anything positive from the past. You created a family. You put in the time, the effort, and you should reap the rewards. This is true regardless of how it all turns out.

I found that in my own life, I was able to move past the resentment (at least somewhat) by addressing the things that most bothered me. Like this wife, I had put my family and my husband’s career first while I put my own needs second. I remedied that and it dramatically helped my self esteem. You don’t need any one’s permission to do this, but give yourself the encouragement to take whatever steps are necessary. Hopefully, in time, you will see that instead of being “nothing left,” there is plenty left.  And there is plenty to look forward to. You have your children, your life, your health and the future. You can craft that future into whatever you want it to be.

I don’t mean to minimize what you are going for.  I have been there.  I know that it is difficult. But I also know that it gets better.  Hang in there and ask yourself what you need every day just to move a little more toward healing. It’s a gradual process but in time you will look around and realize how far you’ve come.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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