I am one of you – 13 months into this journey and finally coming out on the other side. This has been the worst and best year of my life. I have cried more tears in this year than my entire 43 years and have learned more about myself and relationships in this year than in all my 43 years. I can say I am a better, more confidant and loving person because of and despite my husband’s affair and I doubt I would have found this wisdom without it.
Ever since D-day, I have had a fierce determination not to let their behavior or choices change me for the worse. If I was changing, it was going to be for the better. I have read thousands of pages and have spent more time thinking and discovering things about myself than I ever thought I would. I loved Byron Katie’s “Loving What is” and “Real Love” by Greg Baer. They have taught me so much about accepting reality and loving unconditionally – which doesn’t mean accepting destructive things in your life but does mean being at peace with your life no matter what the circumstances. Your hurt and pain really is in your thinking and perception of any situation. Take this opportunity to find your strength and happiness inside of you because that’s the only place it’s ever been and ever will be. Then you can go out and enjoy life without expectations or disappointments in how others are behaving.
Take charge of your life and happiness and stop letting other people control how you feel about yourself. I, for one am not letting him, her or anyone else dictate how I see myself, my life or my possibilities because THEY really have nothing to do with me, those are my choices and responsibility and it is so freeing to know it’s all in my control and always has been. I was giving my freedom, happiness and peace of mind to them every time I would get upset or try to control their choices and I have now taken it all back, they can’t have it anymore.
Little did I know, as I gradually started to change my thinking, my husband did notice (so did my 3 boys) and wanted to know how I was doing it. He was attracted to the confidant, happy, peaceful person I was becoming. He felt I had finally set him free and he was able to make a choice without feeling forced or guilted into a decision. He could feel confident that his choice to come back to our marriage was solely his. We are still working on issues, but I know we are both changed for the better forever because of his affair and how we each chose to deal with it.
I hope all of you find the peace and happiness that is inside of you, waiting to be found, no matter what is going on in your life.
Let me preface this by stating that every relationship is different.
We have definitely turned a corner in our household. Every day the affair is further and further away to the point where I at times wonder why I got so bent out of shape about this. I never thought I would be in this frame of mind.
Much of this has to do with my wife’s behavior toward me. She is engaging, generous, affectionate, sexual, and for the most part open with her feelings. She has accepted responsibility and has honored NC since April. She sees this as a fantasy and has worked hard to get him out of her system and work on herself (through therapy, etc) in order to work on our marriage. Neither of us believes she ever fell out of love with me, but rather she allowed herself to cross those boundaries we are all tempted to cross at one time or another. I don’t believe there was a “reason” for this. It just happened one step at a time until it got out of control … just like any addiction.
Frankly, it seemed possible after d-day that we could have moved past this quickly and resumed our relationship. But it turned out we both needed to allow anger and pain to run its course. She needed to feel punished. I needed to feel betrayed. To move forward without that would be harmful in the long run.
But there is a point when both parties need to move on.
For my own part, just as she needed to let go of the affair, so too did I. I needed to stop talking about it, stop voicing every thought, stop throwing it in her face. She isn’t sleeping with, pining for, secretly meeting with anyone now, so what am I angry about? My ego is bruised, my trust has been damaged, my belief in my marriage has been shaken. It’s legitimate anger. But it’s anger based on past events. She is in the marriage now. She is reaching out to me. She wants to be with me. I still need to accept that completely, but I’ve found the less I dwell on this, the better I feel.
It was also helpful to accept that I can’t depend on her for my happiness. I need to secure that for myself. It’s not a bad result to all of this. I am less beholden to her and I think she appreciates me more for it.
One important aspect to keep in mind (and it helps the betrayed understand the mindset of the betrayer during the affair) is that one can become addicted to the pain of betrayal. Wallowing, anger, ruminating are all bad habits I’ve fallen into. I’m used to waking up and thinking about them. I’m used to passing by places they met and getting mad about it. It becomes Pavlovian after a while. I found I needed to have those negative feelings because I became accustomed to having them. They became a sort of crutch for me. Without them, without being the betrayed husband, who was I? I imagine my wife felt a similar need. She developed a bad habit of needing to hear from him, to see him, to read his emails, and when she tried to break that habit, it was too difficult.
I’ve really tried hard to break my own habits, to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. And one really important lesson I’ve learned is that tomorrow really is another day. I get the one day at a time mantra.
We will never be as naively trusting as we once were, but we will never be as dependent either. I think that independence allows one to take a chance on love once more. If a cheating spouse really wants to commit to the marriage, then we might take a chance to allow love to flourish.
It seems like what we betrayed spouses are feeling and thinking are all the bad sides of ourselves. I too was happy before the EA became known. Ignorance is bliss sometimes, but it is also being in fantasy. Just like our spouses we now face the darker side of ourselves.
What did Yoda say in “Star Wars?” “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side.”
So we as betrayed spouses are now facing our dark side. Just like our wayward spouses we can choose to give up, escape the problems (dark sides) by having an affair or choosing fantasy. Sometimes it seems easier just to quit and give up. But then we give up the opportunity to learn very deep things about who we truly are.
We are each faced with choices of who we want to become, someone filled with fear, anger, hate, bitterness….or we can choose love, understanding, kindness, and forgiveness. The choices we make today will determine what kind of person we will become in the future. Somehow we need to become friends with that dark side of us that is fearful and angry, understand how natural all those feelings are but not let it consume us. I think this is what is meant for us to continue to work on ourselves.
After all, life is not necessarily about the successes you have, but the lessons you learn along the way and who you become in spite of hardships that come your way.
Learning to love and trust again is hard after being betrayed by the person you loved and trusted the most. But our cheating spouses must also learn to love and trust and forgive themselves after they have committed the worst hurt possible to those that they once claimed to love. They clearly have a much tougher battle. Can they even trust themselves to do the right things any longer?
If I could do one thing differently I would be more honest with myself, less trusting in my thoughts and what I was telling myself. I caused myself a lot of unnecessary turmoil by not questioning what my mind and ego was saying. My life wasn’t over as I initially kept insisting it was. I had all the proof I needed. I was still breathing, my heart was still beating. The made-up scenarios my mind kept envisioning were just that…made-up scenarios. Geez…I still find it somewhat embarrassing to recall the drama that surrounded my emotions at the time. None of it was beneficial to my growth and recovery.
I can see now that it ‘woulda’ been far better for me to acknowledge “it is what it is, now whom do I choose to be in relation to it?” instead of focusing on what ‘they’ did to me. Focusing on them and their behavior hindered my recovery, disempowered me and kept me in a state of victimhood which left me feeling weak and vulnerable. It isn’t something I would recommend. It didn’t increase my self-esteem which had taken a major hit. All it did was perpetuate the private pity parties I was holding. It was a vicious, negative circle that became harder and harder to break. Once I stopped resisting though, I was able to begin the healing process.
It took a while to first recognize and then acknowledge that I was often my own worst enemy, that I, and I alone, was many times responsible for sabotaging my recovery. That was NOT easy to accept, but in the process I learned a lot about the ego…its purpose and tactics…and human behavior. I also learned that I do not have to go through life in a state of unconscious reaction. I am not at the mercy of my thoughts and feelings. (Or anyone else’s for that matter.) “Is that so?” has become a part of my new vocabulary. Learning to just ‘be’ with an emotion without judgment or resistance is empowering. You learn quickly that it’s just a feeling, just energy. It has no power or control over you unless you grant it permission. Now that’s truly life-changing!
I know that initially after D-Day 1 I began to really have lots of painful moments: Why would he do this to me? What is wrong with me? I looked long and hard at all the factors that may have played a part in the infidelity and tried to be sincere and honest with myself about the role I may have had in bringing him to this state of needing another woman’s approval and wanting her admiration so much he would say whatever she wanted to hear and do whatever messed up thing with her in order to please her (and I’m sure satisfy himself). But in that process I began to see very clearly that the affair had so little to do with me.
That was a part of the ‘seeing the truth’ for me. I began to realize that I really did not matter much at all; nothing I did, said, wanted, or hoped for was a factor in my H’s decision to continue in that relationship. So now, although the marriage is over, I have to continue to ask myself the hard questions in order to be the person I know I can be and want to be as I move forward. And if I can do anything to help (especially) my sisters on this website, it is to encourage you to trust your gut, and don’t settle. You each have so many amazing, wonderful qualities and you should never assume that that man cheated on you because there was/is something wrong with you. Yes, you still love him. But should you? Is he really honoring you as his wife, and desiring you as an equal partner in this life journey we’re on, or does he use you, take you for granted or even abuse you in some way? Don’t let him.
I find this interesting and to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. I completely agree that it’s important to reflect on the history of the marriage and to be honest about not only how you feel about it now (looking back) but also how you saw it then. As you said in your last post, I think a lot of the CSs feel the need to look back at their marriages through a negative lens because it allows them to justify the EA (in the same way that they start seeing only the negative of their spouse so they can justify falling for someone else). This feels utterly unfair to me and I think it’s important for the BS to confront the CS about this — to push them to recognize the bias they’ve introduced to their lives.
At the same time, while I do think reminiscing about past events when the relationship was going well and pushing the CS to admit the good times, I’m not sure about making a list of those events and redoing them. To me it feels like turning to the past and restarting the cycle you’re currently on rather than embarking into a fresh future.
To me the key is what Linda says about finding positive places of joy to discuss emotions and what brings you together and what makes you happy and if going back to a place of a past joy and redoing it will aid that then I think it’s a great thing to try. Same with reminiscing — a couple’s past is so important and I think it’s important not to let that go!
However, I don’t want to redo my past great moments — what happens if something goes amiss and somehow I end up tarnishing them? I don’t want to return to where we honeymooned because a part of me will spend time thinking “oh, back then I had no idea what an EA was or that it was possible — I just believed blindly in us and our marriage.”
Instead, I’d rather create new great moments. I feel that I have a new marriage — it’s one that’s moving in a new direction and it needs to rest on a different foundation than it did before because clearly that old foundation wasn’t strong enough and struggled. I don’t want to fall in love with my husband the way I did before because that love and that relationship ultimately led to the EA.
Finally, one other point I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about (in my personal life but also in my job as a writer)… people’s truths can differ. Just because my husband may look back and wonder if he actually loved me doesn’t mean that’s the truth of what our relationship was back then. I get to have my own truths and my truth is that he did love me. I felt it, I knew it, I believed it (and still do). He can’t take that away unless I let him and I don’t choose to let him define that part of my life — that’s giving him power over my emotions he doesn’t deserve.
I’m not advocating being delusional, but I am saying that if my husband can’t think of a time I made him happy, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen because I have my own memories of making him happy. It sucks he can’t/won’t remember them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
At the same time, I don’t want to downplay at all how devastating it is to have your spouse rewrite your positive memories into his negative or nonexistent ones. My husband has done that and honestly, it’s one of the many aspects of this whole thing that makes it all feel even more unfair and maddening.
Pretty good stuff, don’t you think? Please share your comments about these wonderful ‘comments’ below. Thanks!
Here are links once again to the posts in which the above comments were made:
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