I have a lot of people who write to me wanting to know if they will ever really and truly get over an affair or infidelity. I’m not talking about getting over the man or woman that you cheated with (although I do get those letters too.) I’m talking about getting over your spouse’s cheating once and for all so that you can move on to a much healthier place and save the marriage, if that’s what you decide to do. (And even if you’re not going to save the marriage, you need to be healthy for yourself and for your future relationships.)
In reality, it’s probably not accurate to say that a person can totally put the cheating out of their mind and never think of or be hurt by it ever again. This episode in your marriage is going to become a part of it, just like any of the other struggles and triumphs that you will face. However, if you handle this correctly, it can and should lose it’s power over you and it will become a distant memory that doesn’t sting quite as much. An affair does not have to mean the end of a marriage. In fact, there are some marriages that are strengthened by pulling together in a time of crises and are helped by learning more about your marriage and about yourselves. I’ll discuss this more in the following article.
Don’t Rush Yourself Or Expect Too Much Too Soon. Getting Over An Affair Is A Process: Many people who write to me beat themselves up because they aren’t meeting some self imposed time line. Or, they’ll get angry at themselves because they thought that they were recovering or that things were getting better but then the anger and hurt will come back and they will blame themselves for this regression. I can tell you from experience that there are many stops and starts in the process of getting over an affair. One day may seem hopeful while the next will be difficult to navigate. This doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong or that anything is wrong with you. It just means that you are human and that you are having normal feelings.
The swinging emotions are completely understandable and normal and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t recovering or that you can’t. Vow to have patience with yourself and to take each thing as it comes, having the confidence that as long as you keep trying, you are still in the game. You’ve only really failed when you’ve just admitted defeat or have made the decision to stop trying.
If You Are Not Getting What You Need, Are You Asking For It?: Many people tell me that they want to forgive their spouse’s cheating and to move on, but for whatever reason, they don’t feel that their spouse is sorry enough, or rehabilitated enough, or understanding enough. When I try to dig a little deeper and ask how their spouse has responded when they have asked for these things, they often respond with something like: “he or she should know what I need and deserve. I shouldn’t have to ask or beg him (or her) for it.” In logical terms, this is absolutely true. You are the injured party. There is no doubt about that and that the responsibility for fixing this mess lies mostly with them.
But, if you leave your own healing in someone else’s hands, you will likely come up short and end up being disappointed and then resentful. In truth, most spouses who have cheated want to do the right thing, but they are already walking on eggshells because they know that they have seriously messed up. They are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. They are seriously worried about how they appear and they often would like for you to give them some sort of road map or indication as to what you need. Yes, they should know you well enough to provide this and they should just come from a place of doing whatever they need to do. But, why leave this to chance and get less than what you need or deserve?
There is nothing wrong with being direct. You don’t have to be accusatory or have a nasty tone. As an example, you can say something like: “I have thought about it and I think that if we had some accountability in place, at least for right now, this would help me heal. I’m often worried about who you are with or where you are. This worry keeps me from moving forward so I’d like it if we could take about ways that I could get some reassurance. Could you check in more or offer more reassurance?” You haven’t been accusatory and you’ve been calm. Most spouses who are really sorry will jump at this chance and actually be relieved that they didn’t have to guess at how you felt.
Creating A Better Version Of Your Previous Reality: Truly getting over an affair often means becoming happy and feeling joy again. After all, if you’re fulfilled and at peace, what is the need of going backwards? Instead, you’ll want to enjoy the new reality that you’ve created. So, you both need to define what a stable, secure and happy marriage looks like and then do whatever you need to do to get there. Knowing that you are striving for something that you can both become excited about will often make the process bearable and will ensure that you are both on board.
Finally, make the commitment to check in with yourself along the way. Rather than getting frustrated and saying “this just isn’t going to work. I will never get over his (or her) cheating,” really examine why you are stuck. This sometimes comes down to self doubt and self esteem. It’s very common for the cheating spouse to be doing everything right and yet still you are stuck. And that’s sometimes because you actually doubt yourself, not your spouse. Deep down, you have deep seeded fear – that you’re not attractive enough, young enough, or don’t have some intangible factor to keep someone faithful to you. We all have these closet feelings, but we must work to over come them. Because if we don’t, these insecurities cloud every relationship that we have, including those that we care the most about.
Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, I did eventually 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. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/[ad_2]