If you’ve experienced infidelity you certainly realize that getting over the affair is rough – really rough. When the cheater has professed their love for the affair partner, it makes it even worse.
One of the toughest things for a betrayed spouse to deal with is the pain that is experienced from the knowledge that their wife/husband declared their love for the affair partner. The discovery of this information cuts to the core of their very soul.
It seems that most of the time this information is discovered accidently via texts, emails or perhaps social media outlets like Facebook. The painful words that are discovered play over again and again in the mind of the betrayed.
It’s difficult to accept that this professed “love” that seemed so special as to potentially risk losing everything, can be forgotten and simply tossed aside. No matter if the cheater puts forth every effort possible, the betrayed is going to find it hard to believe that the “love” for the affair partner is gone. It is also the case despite the best efforts by the hurt spouse to move on and try to believe that there is love in the marriage.
How do you undo the damage that has been done from this?
You probably won’t like this but the answer is that…you can’t.
(Note: So I don’t have to write this whole post using he/she and husband/wife, etc., I’m going to write this as if the cheater were a man. Obviously, that is not always the case.)
Those statements of love for the affair partner will always be with the hurt spouse and she will replay them in her mind for a very long time. The only thing that the cheater can do is try to prove to her that he loves and cherishes her and that he is completely committed to restoring the marriage.
If the cheater is in fact trying to save the marriage and help the hurt spouse heal, he more than likely feels he is already doing everything possible to prove to her that he loves her. However, it will take a very long time for her to trust the cheater and the sincerity of his feelings.
The cheater must understand that he has taken everything away from his spouse. She does not trust him, herself or anyone else for that matter. She is wondering if she was completely crazy for trusting him in the first place. She wonders if she should have married him and if he has always been this way and she was just too naive to see it. She basically doubts everything in her life right now.
In the first stages of affair recovery, the betrayed spouse cannot comprehend how the cheater can be committed to the marriage yet fall in love with someone else, then suddenly stop loving that person and go back to the marriage and expect everything to be back to normal. Most of us don’t love that way. We are totally committed to our husbands (or wives) and even though we may not be happy all the time, we would never allow ourselves to feel that way about someone else – let alone have an affair. So the cheater must understand why we have such a difficult time trusting their feelings and words right now.
As time goes on and the betrayed spouse’s emotions calm down and she begins to understand more about the dynamics of an affair, she will begin to accept that it is possible for the cheater to feel that way.
It took me a very long time to understand the fantasy that surrounds an affair and the affair partner and how those feelings could never compare to a real love that is present within a healthy relationship.
It will take a long time and a lot of patience for the hurt spouse to feel “normal” again. One can expect anxiety and panic attacks for quite awhile. However, there are many things that a cheater can do to help.
Getting Over the Affair – Helping Your Partner Feel ‘Normal’ Again
For starters (and I’m talking to the cheater here), simply acknowledge her pain. Tell her you understand why she is feeling this way. Do not try to minimize it or fix it. Just be there for her and allow her to ride it out.
Another is to be consistent in everything you do and say. She is trying to trust you again and she is very aware of your actions and words. Any inconsistency will produce fear and fear will bring the panic and anxiety back.
Now she may act crazy at times and her actions will not be consistent (happy one moment, crying or anger the next), but your job is to be as kind and patient as possible. You have to remember you are dealing with a person who has experienced a severe trauma. Every facet of her life has been violated. She is acting like a person who has been raped and abused and it will take her a very long time to heal.
I know this all sounds like an impossible task but if you feel that your marriage and wife (husband) are worth it, it will also give you an opportunity to strengthen your love and give you the relationship you have always wanted.
Often times it is difficult for the cheater to give their spouses everything they need because of the shame they are feeling. However, if they are able to put that aside and focus on their wife/husband and what she/he needs, the process will go much faster. This is an opportunity for both persons to grow individually and as a couple.