Why Does Infidelity Hurt So Much?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who are greatly struggling with their spouse’s infidelity. Many are surprised that they are struggling this way because they consider themselves to be resilient people who can mostly cope with challenges quite well. They do not understand why they can’t just lean on their resolve and carry on like they always have.

You might hear someone who says: “it has been months since my husband had an affair. And yet, I am still hurting so much. I know that my husband isn’t cheating anymore. I know that he wants to work things out. And I know that I need to move forward. And yet I can’t. I am so focused on the hurt. The pain won’t go away and so I can’t focus on much else. The thing is, I’m no stranger to pain in my marriage. Early on, we lost all of our money on a poor investment. We lost our home. I had a serious illness and for a while, we didn’t know if I was going to make it. There have been a lot of hardships in our marriage and we have overcome them all and even though they were painful, I was able to put them behind me. I just do not understand why this is so different. Why does infidelity hurt so much? Why is it so different?”

I can and will give you my theory. By no means am I an expert, but I have been through this. I know the pain. And I believe that one reason that it hurts so much is because you feel rejected at a time when you allowed yourself to be vulnerable.

And for all of the other obstacles we face in our marriages – illness, money problems, disagreements, these things do not feel like a personal rejection. We generally will become angry with our spouse. We may feel fear and anxiety. But in the end, we band together because we are in it together. And we don’t necessarily doubt our spouse’s love for us during it. We know that we are in a tight spot, but, for better or worse, we are in it together.

However, when infidelity is involved, we don’t know if we are in it together. Because we don’t know if our spouse wants us anymore. We don’t know if our spouse considers us attractive anymore. We loved our spouse and we let them in. We allowed them to see us the true us, the real us, the one who is without pretense. And, in the end and because of the infidelity, we worry that we weren’t good enough because, even if only for a little while, they chose to be with someone else.

And this feels personal. It feels like they saw deep inside us and they rejected the core of who we are. And so we have to wonder if this crisis is going to pass. Because we don’t have the knowledge that we are in this awful thing together. What if we let our guard down and they cheat again? What if our marriage becomes one of those bitter unions where the husband can’t stand the wife and she only stays so she can punish them? Who wants to live in a house without laughter and love?

Infidelity hurts so much because it can make you believe that your world will never be the same again and that the past you thought so wonderful was actually a lie all along.

I’ve painted a very bleak picture, haven’t I? Honestly though, I don’t think anyone can deny that infidelity hurts with a pain that rivals few other types of hurt.

But as intense as it can be, for many of us, it fades with time. I mean, I don’t think about my husband’s infidelity on a constant basis anymore. But if I were to conjure it up right this second and focus on those memories, of course I would hurt.

But it’s not that intense pain that I fear will never end anymore. It’s that sore of dull ache of wishing I could change it but knowing that I can’t. But I do have to say that with that dull ache comes a sort of triumph because it turns out that my husband and I were in that together.

We did band together. And we did overcome that obstacle like many others. And we learned and we reconnected to make sure that our hurt wasn’t in vain. So yes, infidelity hurts because it is the worst of all betrayals by the person who you love the most. But, thankfully, it is a hurt that generally fades with time. And the more you heal, the less it hurts.

Yes, some of this just takes time. But one thing that you can do, right now, is to tell yourself that you are absolutely good enough. I believe that much of the hurt from infidelity comes from the fear that you weren’t quite up to the task of being the best wife and the best person that you could be. You worry that someone else was prettier, sexier, younger. You worry that someone else took what was yours because she was in some way better.

To really begin to fade the hurt, you have to reject these thoughts. You are absolutely good enough.  Being the best wife and the best person in the world doesn’t prevent infidelity.  Because the flaw is in the cheater.  Not in the cheated on.

And once you believe that, the healing can begin. You can read more about my own recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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