What Do I Do Now That My Husband Has Finally Admitted To An Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: Many wives think that if they can just get their husband to finally admit to the affair, they can finally start the healing process, or at least can begin moving on.  But often, once they finally get that admission, they aren’t sure what they should do next.  I heard from a wife who said: “for the longest time, I knew that my husband must be cheating on me.  All of the signs were there and also, I just knew in my gut that something was very different and very wrong.  But every time I asked my husband about this, he would deny it.  Sometimes, he would get very angry and he would make me out to be crazy or paranoid.  This was a horrible time in my life because I began to ask myself if perhaps I was just imagining things.  One day, I decided I wasn’t going to take this anymore and I told my husband that I wasn’t going to drop the topic until he finally told me the truth.  Much to my surprise, he finally did.  Out of the blue, after months of denials, he finally admitted to an affair but he said that he didn’t tell me because it had long been over.  Although I’d been rehearsing this moment in my own head for months, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I just walked out of the room and we haven’t broached the subject since.  What do I do now that I finally have an admission?  Because I’m lost and unsure. I’m disappointed in myself because I feel like I’m not handling this very well.”

The first thing that I did was to reassure this wife that what she was experiencing was absolutely normal.   We all think or assume that we will react in one way to a situation, but when they situation is starring us in the face, then the answers elude us and, in a sense, we are frozen.   It’s as if our worst nightmare has suddenly come true.  And this is why there is absolutely no harm in taking your time in order to get your bearings, which I’ll discuss below.

Don’t Rush Or Push Yourself.  Nothing Says You Need To Make A Snap Decision:   There is a lot to consider in this situation and typically, a lot of information and feelings are coming at you all at one time.  It’s very easy (and understandable) to feel overwhelmed by these feelings and to want some relief.  That’s why it can be tempting to feel as if you need to make a quick decision.  You truly don’t.  Nothing needs to change overnight.  In fact, I would argue that you are more likely to make a regrettable decision if you make it when you are in such turmoil.   Give yourself the luxury of time.

Now, sometimes your husband will panic and will try to rush you to forgive him or to share what you might be feeling or considering.  There is nothing wrong with telling him that, at this time, you just don’t know.  You can tell him that you will let him know when and if you do have answers, but right now, you are giving yourself the time to process what is happening and where you want to go from here.  You most certainly deserve that.  And don’t let anyone pressure you to short change this process.

Worry More About What You Want To Happen Rather Than About What You Or Others Think Should Happen:  For whatever reason, people seem to feel fully justified in giving a hurting wife their unsolicited opinion during infidelity.  Your friends, your family, your coworkers, and even your husband or his family might feel totally free to give your their opinions on what you should do.  (That’s why I often advocate being very careful who you share this information with.)   It can be easy to listen to these people who truly do care about you.  But, the thing is, this is your life.  It is not theirs.  Try to worry the most about your own thoughts and feelings because you are the one who is going to have to life with the consequences.  Live your own truth, not anyone else’s.

Having said that, I have to warn you that your feelings may fluctuate.  One minute, you may want to leave your husband and end your marriage.  And the next minute, you might desperately want to work things out.  This is normal also.  That’s why you should be in no hurry to make any lasting decisions.  There is nothing wrong with waiting and watching your husband’s behaviors or evaluating your feelings and wishes as they come.  And, as you find that your feelings and wishes become more constant and persuasive, then you can have more confidence that you are making an authentic choice not overly influenced by shock and pain.

Reserve The Right To Reevaluate As Things Improve, Change Or Worsen: Understand The Opportunities That Might Not Be Immediately Obvious:  Often, it’s very difficult to make any decisions until you watch and evaluate.  In other words, you don’t know at this moment if you’ll go to counseling or if that counseling will work.  You can’t foresee how much rehabilitation your husband will undergo or if you will be happy with the same.  You can’t see how your marriage will look and feel in the future.   That’s why it’s perfectly OK to tell yourself that you can make decisions as you go and receive more information.  Your healing likely won’t be linear.   So give yourself a break and don’t feel as if you’re not making progress when sometimes you are and it’s just not yet evident.  Just vow to do the things that are going to bring about improvements and relief.  And be flexible enough to discard the things that aren’t working.  If you don’t like your counselor, give yourself permission to find another or to go another way.

I know that it may not be obvious right now, but sometimes this really is an opportunity to evaluate what you want from your life and your marriage moving forward.  And sometimes, this brings about positive and lasting change that might not have otherwise happened.  Make sure you are gentle with yourself.  You didn’t ask for this.  It isn’t your fault.  But it’s up to you to get yourself what you need to heal.  Sometimes, that’s not an easy process but it’s usually worth it in the end.  So, to answer the question posed, I can’t tell you precisely what to do if you have an admission, but I can advise you from experience to take things slowly and to make your own needs as important as anyone else’s.  This is often a gradual process that changes and evolves over time. Take it day by day and understand that if you are clear about what you want and need, you will sometimes eventually see some changes that turn out to actually be beneficial to you.

Although I was tempted to make snap decisions after my husband admitted to an affair, I chose instead to take things day by day.  I’m glad I didn’t automatically decide to leave my marriage because we were able to save it and it’s actually quite good today.   The recovery wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.  If it helps, you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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