by: katie lersch: I often hear from wives whose main goal for the short term is getting their husband away from the woman that he is cheating or having an affair with. Many give their husband’s ultimatums and flat out tell him that he has to make a choice between his wife and the other woman because he can’t have them both. Some husbands make this decision very quickly and others can’t seem to decide. Some tell their wives that he has chosen her only to be caught with the other woman once again.
Many wives hope that once their husband decides to choose them over the other woman, the path to healing and saving the marriage will be immediate. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. I recently heard from a wife who was confused as to why this felt like a hollow victory. She said, in part: “when I found out about my husband’s affair, I suspected that he would immediately break it off with the other woman, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he said that although he loved me and didn’t want to end our marriage, he wasn’t sure who or what he wanted. I told him he had to choose. Well, this decision seemed to take a very long time. He went back and forth and even moved out for a while. Just recently, he called and told me that he chose me and our marriage and asked if he could return home. I allowed him to do this because I was initially ecstatic that he chose me and assumed that this would be over and we could move on. However, now that he’s home, it’s clear that this is almost a hollow victory. It’s pretty obvious that he’s not happy and neither am I. He’s always just sulking around the house and I feel a lot of pent up resentment. I thought his making a choice would make things better. And, although I’m confident that the other woman is out of our lives and that he’ll make good on his promise not to see or contact her, it feels like she’s still here in the middle of us and our marriage. She may not be with him anymore, but it seems that she’s still on his mind or in his heart because he’s clearly not fully present here. This just isn’t what I expected. I thought I would be thrilled that I finally won and got him back, but it almost feels like I’ve still lost him anyway. What can I do to make this right so that we can get on track with our marriage?”
The wife’s sentiments are so common. It’s not unusual to become so fixated on getting our husbands away from the other woman. We begin to think that once we get him to chose us, our work is going to be done. Once he chooses us, we’ll have her out of our lives once and for all and this nightmare will be over. But, what we often don’t realize is that even once she’s physically gone, her presence can be felt for a long time afterward until we deliberately place the healing into motion.
In My Opinion, True Victory Doesn’t Take Place Until You Feel Whole And Complete Again: Many women echo this wife’s concerns. It’s so common to hope that once this other woman is out of the picture, our struggles will be over. But frankly, sometimes the struggles truly are just beginning. Yes, healing your marriage (and yourself) is often very difficult or next to impossible with her still in the picture. But, once she’s gone, that’s when you have to begin to truly pick up the pieces. And even if she’s no longer there physically, her presence can often be felt mentally and psychologically for a long while after the affair is over.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged or allow your frustration to halt your progress. Understand that true healing and feeling whole once again isn’t going to happen overnight. Eliminating her from the picture is necessary and it’s a huge step toward recovery. But, understand that getting her out of the picture only means that you won’t have to contend with her anymore. It doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything to improve yourself, your marriage, or the after math of what’s happened.
I know from experience, that you often won’t feel like you’ve really won or recovered until you are at peace and happy again. Because if you get your husband to chose you over her but then do nothing to ensure the healing and recovery or yourself and your marriage, then you are still likely to walk around wounded, hurt, and unsure. This can leave you feeling as if she’s still a ghost in your marriage and your life.
In order to really rid her from your life and your mind, you have to make sure that recovery is so complete that there’s no longer any room for her. If you can rebuild to the point where you are once again happy, confident and fulfilled, it’s only then that you will have the confidence to realize that not only is she no longer a problem or source of pain for you, but that she was never solely the problem to begin with.
Understand That The Other Woman Is Often Just A Symptom Or What’s Wrong. So Eliminating Her Without Also Addressing The Other Issues Can Still Leave You Feeling Empty And Unsure: When the other woman is a huge presence in our lives, we often convince ourselves that if we can just convince our husbands to chose us over her (so that we can get her out of the picture) then everything is going to be all right once again.
But we often don’t realize is that she’s not the entire problem. She’s often a symptom of what was wrong either with our husband (a lack of self esteem, a time of personal crisis, etc.) or with our marriage. So just removing her from the picture doesn’t change those things that brought about the symptom in the first place. In order to truly heal and to feel confident that she (and her aftermath) are gone from our lives and are no longer a threat to us, we’ll often need to remove those things that contributed to her coming into our lives in the first place.
There often isn’t a quick fix for this. Recovery after infidelity is often a detailed process that requires a lot of work both individually and as a couple. But the good news is that couples who are really committed to truly rebuilding their marriages are often rewarded with a relationship that is better than ever and the confidence to know that the other woman (and others like her) are something that they aren’t going to have to worry about in the future.
Surviving The Affair is a blog I put together to share my story. I know that this is a very difficult time, and that recovery can be elusive, but working through it can truly be worth the effort. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually truly get over the affair. My marriage is stronger than ever. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. If it helps, you can check it out at http://surviving-the-affair.com/
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