Soul Searching After Cheating Or An Affair: Why It’s Not A Waste Of Time

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from both husbands and wives (as well as the faithful spouse and the cheating spouse) who are being criticized for their decision to take time out to do some soul searching after one spouse has cheated or had an affair.

An example from a cheating husband is something like: “after my wife found out that I was having an affair, she wanted to immediately go to counseling and save our marriage.  She demanded that I stop seeing the other person and commit to a complete lifestyle change.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life or our marriage.  I asked her for some time to think about what I really wanted out of my marriage and my life.  She did not react well to this request.  She said that if I loved her and valued our marriage, I wouldn’t need any time to make a decision.  Am I out of line in asking for this time?  I just want to move slowly so that any choice I make is the right one.”

Here’s an example from a wife in the opposite situation: “my husband admitted to an affair because he wanted to tell me himself instead of my finding out from someone else.  He told me he would do whatever I needed him to do to restore my trust and to save our marriage.  I really wanted to believe him, but I’m hurting quite a bit.  I don’t think healing is going to be an easy or quick process.  And I have told him that I am going to need some time to do some thinking and some soul searching before I can give him an answer about our marriage.  But he doesn’t appear to be willing to accept this.  He wants  my forgiveness and my commitment right away.  Am I wrong to want to take my time and process this?”

Actually I advocate soul searching for both scenarios.  Emotions are high and confusion is common on the part of both parties.  Typically, decisions that are made too quickly or based on strong and immediate emotions after an affair can turn out to be unfortunate or unhealthy decisions.  But if you take your time and allow your decision making process to shift and adjust as you get more information and begin to heal, then you can have more confidence that you have made a healthy and appropriate decision. I do understand that spouses and family members have a tendency to be impatient and critical when it’s clear that you are taking your time before making a decision, but sometimes, you have to what is best for you rather than what someone else thinks is the best thing for them.

How To Handle It When Your Spouse Or Family Tries To Rush You When You Want The Time To Do Some Soul Searching:  Many people feel pressured when their hear criticism of their time frame.  Try to tell yourself that you need to do what is right for you and by doing so, you are increasing the odds of a healthy outcome.  Quite frankly, agreeing to something that you are uncomfortable with actually increases the odds that your marriage is going to suffer because you’re not really sure about your decision.  So if you are feeling some pressure from your spouse about your soul searching you might say something like: “I know that you’re frustrated and impatient, but my taking this time for myself is something that I feel strongly about.  I need to take my time to make sure that any decisions or actions are the right ones.  My emotions and doubts are running high right now and if a make a hasty decision, I’m afraid that I might make the wrong one.  I need time to process what is happening and to really listen to what I am thinking and feeling.  I’m also well aware that my feelings and wishes might change throughout this process so I don’t want to rush things.  I’m asking you to respect my need for time because I think that going at my own pace is going to make the outcome one that we are both much happier with.  If I were to go ahead and make a decision based on pressure, there would be resentment and doubt, which isn’t good for either of us.  I’m asking you to respect my request for time because you love me and want what is best for me and my marriage.”

Most spouses and family members who truly want the best for you will eventually come around and stop applying the pressure.  I adamantly believe that a slow pace and some soul searching is best any time that you have any doubts or concerns.  Often, the best answers and resolutions come when you give yourself time to process and to determine what it is that you truly want.   In short, it’s never a waste of time to take all the time that you need.

I feel strongly that you should never allow yourself to be pressured to work under someone else’s time frame.  I realize that my recovery after my husband’s affair may have taken longer than some, but I also know that the slow pace ensured a lasting and strong outcome.  Our marriage is actually very solid and loving.  I do believe that not rushing things contributed to our success.  If it helps, you can read about the pace we took when saving our marriage after his affair on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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