I sometimes hear from wives who are very disappointed in their own reaction or coping abilities after their husband’s affair. Many believe that they aren’t handling it as well as they should be or that they are overreacting or just not healing quickly enough. I heard from a wife who said: “I feel like I’ve turned into an entirely different person after my husband’s affair. I used to be strong and confident. I used to be very assertive and sure of myself. I used to like the way that I looked and the way that my husband looked at me. But, every since I found out that he cheated with someone else, all of my self confidence has completely evaporated. I cry all the time. When I look in the mirror, I sometimes have to literally look away because I am seeing someone completely different. I see a woman with haunted eyes. I feel like I’m not the same person. I find myself crying all of the time. This just isn’t like me and I’m so disappointed in myself. I never though I would react this way. I thought I would kick my husband out with defiance, but now I found myself wondering if he’s still attracted to me or if there is something wrong with me. How do I make myself stronger? Because I don’t like this overly emotional person that I have become.”
I felt for this wife in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. Any wife who has dealt with infidelity can identify with this. You feel as if your very essence has been stolen from you. And you feel as if what you thought was true about yourself is now always in question. It’s as if reality has completely shifted and you can begin to wonder if things will ever return to normal again. I can tell you from experience that much of the time, life does eventually return to a new normal. And I can tell you that you shouldn’t beat yourself up over this. None of this is your fault. And you are the same capable person that you always were. You will just need to have a little more patience with yourself in the days to come. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Understand That What You Are Feeling And Experiencing Is Absolutely Normal: Many women in this situation will think that they are falling short. They will think that they aren’t handling things as well as some women might. They’ll worry that they lack strength and conviction. I used to think that I was quite spineless. But what I didn’t realize was that my reactions were completely normal. When your husband cheats, your whole world changes in an instant. It’s completely understandable that you would struggle as the result. This doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually get your bearings. It just means that the early days and weeks of this process can be rough. Your response to these rough days doesn’t mean that you are not a tough or capable person. It just means you have a heavy load to bear right now.
It can be counter productive to compare yourself to others or to tell yourself that you’re not coping well enough. You’re not going to get a letter grade for this test. There is no right or wrong answer. Every one responds in their own way. Give yourself a break and be very gentle with yourself. And give yourself permission to do or experience whatever gives you some relief or makes you feel better. Again, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. It’s what’s right for you.
Know That The Only Person Whose Opinion That Matters Is Your Own: Many wives in this situation feel as if every one knows about their husband’s infidelity and pities them as a result. This you can make you feel as if you are less than someone else or that you are not good enough. Here’s the thing with this line of thinking. It is no one else’s business. No one can accurately say what they would do or how they would feel in this situation unless they have been there. And, even then, we are all individuals. So, don’t worry about the perceptions of others. Worry only about your own perceptions. Worry only about giving yourself what you need to heal, including your own permission to take each moment as it comes.
Look For Small Ways To Make Big Statements: Even when your world is shaken to its core, you still need to place one foot in front of the other, just like every other day. So look for small ways to confirm that you are still doing fine. Make eye contact with yourself in the mirror even if you have to force it. Look at your husband directly when you discuss this. Be assertive about what you need from him in order to heal. Make absolutely no apologies for doing exactly what is necessary in order for you to move forward. There are days when this process might feel incredibly self centered. That is perfectly OK. The truth is that the only one who can ensure that you have what you need to be as strong as you can be is yourself. Your husband can’t read your mind. Your best friend can’t give you what you need. All of this lies with you. And you can do this. None of this is your fault. You did nothing wrong. But you alone can be your best advocate and can be the person who ensures you get what you need most.
I will admit that I turned into someone else after my husband’s affair. I didn’t even recognize the woman in the mirror at first. And, if I’m being honest, there were some things I didn’t much like about her. So I decided to be honest with myself and change those things that bothered me while embracing those things that I did like. And you know what? This process made me a better, more confident person. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it. If it helps, you can read the whole story on the surviving the affair blog.