A key to a joyful life after an affair is acceptance, which requires an attitude of gratitude.

life after an affairBy Linda & Doug

Robert C. Jameson, MFT and author of “The Keys to Joy-Filled Living” says that the key to acceptance after an affair is to have an attitude of gratitude.

But how do you do this when you are so angry and hurt you can’t see straight? Being grateful is the farthest thing from your mind, right?

The article excerpt below provides us with the author’s thoughts on how to move to a place of acceptance by changing our attitude.

Acceptance Is A Process

No matter what resolution you decide, to repair the relationship or to end the relationship, at some point in time, the acceptance process comes into play. How can you accept that your life has been turned upside-down?

The process of moving you to acceptance is easy to describe and to understand. However, it can be a challenge to experience acceptance. In order to experience acceptance, we need to change our attitude. In order to change our attitude, we need to change our altitude.

Moving out of judgment to acceptance requires an attitude of gratitude. If you can be grateful that something has occurred, then it’s easy to accept the event. If you have an attitude of resistance, judgment, or resentment, it can be very difficult to move to a position of acceptance.

“That’s great,” you say. “But how do I move to an attitude of gratitude when I’m so angry and I don’t like what’s happening? I’m not grateful. I’m resentful. I’m angry at him/her for what happened. What happened is wrong. It hurt me. It’s terrible. Be grateful? You’ve got to be kidding.”

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Changing our attitude requires us to change our altitude. We have to look at the event from a different perspective and a different point of view. This step is by far the most challenging step to take. It is the place where most of us get stuck.

Hopefully, I can give you some keys on how to break free so you can change your attitude, and move from judgment to acceptance.

To help make my point, let me share a story. I’m walking on a trail up a mountain path. I’m having a wonderful time. The birds are singing, there is a breeze in the air, and I’m admiring the beautiful cloud formations. Ouch! I trip and fall and I sprain my ankle. What a curse! My day is ruined. I’m angry at myself for being so clumsy and twisting my ankle.

So, how do I move to a position of acceptance?

Step one: change my attitude to being grateful that I twisted my ankle, which is swelling up as we speak. Great! Have an attitude of gratitude? How the heck do I do that? Move to step two: change my altitude or my viewing point. How? OK, so here I am, looking at that mountain path from the point of view of an eagle flying overhead. As I’m sailing on the wind, I look down and see a huge rattlesnake just around the bend, right in the middle of the path. If I had continued at the same pace, I see that I would have walked right into the rattlesnake, and it would have bitten me and I could have died from its poisonous venom. Whew! I’m now so glad that I twisted my ankle. This was a gift from God. I’m now in a position of acceptance, and I can deal with my situation in a more effective and powerful manner. I am no longer judging myself. I feel grateful for twisting my ankle.

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“But how do you know if that snake was really around the bend? Aren’t you lying to yourself and pretending you know something that I don’t?” Yes, possibly I am pretending to know something that I don’t really know. I sense we all pretend we know a lot about things we really don’t know. The difference here is you are making a very conscious effort to affect a change inside yourself, a change that will give you more freedom and inner peace — qualities we experience when we are in acceptance.

A Life-Changing Event

You might say, “OK, I got it, but that’s a simple story. What about the really hard things that happen to us in life; like my partner having an affair?”

Challenging things happen to all of us. It’s nice to know that you are not alone. Some events are life-changing, and it is these life-changing events that require the most work. Life-changing events are just that… life-changing. Remember, it’s not the issue that’s the issue; its how we deal with the issue that’s the issue.

I am encouraging you to look at how to deal with this issue in an uplifting manner so that no matter what happens, you can be more accepting of the experience.

We are all in the process of learning how to use everything for our upliftment, advancement and growth. I am not suggesting or saying this is an easy process. That would be a lie. It is a challenge. However, the two primary rewards for working through the process are freedom and joy. (Read full article here)

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We’d love to hear your point of view regarding this article. Please post your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks!

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There are misconceptions about forgiveness that cause many misunderstandings and also serve as roadblocks to the healing process.

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    23 replies to "Life After an Affair – The Process of Acceptance"

    • exercisegrace

      “If you can be grateful that something has occurred, then it’s easy to accept the event.”

      This is true for many situations in life, and for some it can apply to affairs. But for me, recovery and acceptance has held no place for gratitude. I am not grateful that my husband cheated for a year, brought his whore into our home and other special places. There is no gratitude for the psychological scars our children still carry years after the event. There is no gratitude for the severely damaged relationships my husband has with his children, one of whom is off to college and so THAT relationship may never fully return to what it once was. I will not sugar coat what we have been through, how we are still stalked and harassed from time to time. This will never be “the best thing that ever happened to me”. I will never say our marriage is “better than ever”. Because truthfully those are self-deceptions. No relationship is made “better” by dragging a whore through it. I was exposed to an STD. That is not better. We spent thousands on an attorney to fight her crazy, and it will take years to recover the money thrown her way when my husband stupidly involved her in our business. Nope. Not better there either.

      However, acceptance IS necessary. And you can achieve acceptance without having to sugarcoat tragedy. My husband’s sister lost a son when he was a newborn. A year later she had a daughter. Would anyone EVER sit with her as she grieves that lost son all these years later and tell her to be grateful he is dead, because otherwise she might not have had her daughter? Would they ask her to list all the positive things about her son being dead? That would be cruel and insane. She has accepted what has happened and her life is good. She eventually moved through the stages of grief.

      I have accepted what has happened. Bad things DO happen in life, and we DO need to find a place of acceptance. Sometimes that place isn’t rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it is stepping on that rattlesnake, getting bit and finding we have the strength to get up, bite that things head off, bind up our wounds and limp forward. I will always be angry this happened, but I don’t live in anger or bitterness. There is a big difference. We continue to move forward and the future will be good. I believe we will continue to gain strength, and overcoming this tragedy will be a part of our story instead of letting it destroy our family. It’s ok to say that we are working and trying and it isn’t pretty. It can be messy and ugly and painful. Good things don’t rise from the ashes, we PULL them out of ourselves while we are covered in the ashes. We find strength and love we never knew we had. We insist on something better. And that doesn’t happen BECAUSE of the affair. It happens IN SPITE of the affair. So no, his affair will never be the “best thing that ever happened”. That’s self-delusion, and if someone needs that? More power to them. WE need to be the best thing that ever happened to us and to our marriage. Own it friends! YOU are strong. YOU make things happen. YOU work and forgive and try and fight for what you deserve. Now go pat yourself on your back.

      • Jennifer

        Thank you, exercisegrace, for articulating many feelings that I’ve been struggling with. The example of your sister-in-law and her children particularly says it well.

    • gizfield

      You said it all, EG. ANY Benefit after adultery is indeed in spite of it, not because of it. Bravo.

    • Dee

      What a brilliant reply to this post!. I am eight, yes eight years on from my husband’s EA and I rarely come on this forum now because I have accepted what my husband did and have largely managed to get on with my life. We are still married and never really talk about it these days. However, although I have accepted what happened, my life changed as a result of it. We lost our house, I lost my job as a result of the stress I was under and my husband has a long commute as a result of my insistence that he leave his previous job (his affair was with a work colleague). I love him still but I will never trust him like I used to. I accept that life presented that challenge and we overcame it, but there was a cost. I accept that as an equal partner in that marriage, that I was partly responsible for where we had got to…..but my children didn’t deserve any of the pain, confusion and heartache that followed…I simply cannot ‘gratefully accept’ that….

    • theresa

      I can’t remember ever feeling grateful for this torturous episode of my life. I’m not grateful for my pain. I’m not grateful for the pain it has caused my children. I am not grateful for what I have lost, self respect, respect for my husband, the sense safety, security, trust, unconditional love, a certain “naïveté or belief in the goodness of people, joy, the feeling of “easiness” when we’re together. Peace. I hold out hope that some I may get back. Some may be lost forever.
      I had made a lot of headway on the issue of acceptance. I can not undo the past (I’ve heard it said that hope is the foolish wish to be able to change the past). And there are consequences, the memories or triggers that will cause me pain. Can’t change that. Why should I feel anything close to grateful here? I resent the fact that I am supposed to just forget the pain to learn a lesson, to learn what’s good for me.
      I had accepted.
      So just what should I have been grateful for being blindsided by the unlooked for information that reveals an old lie. Was it forgotten or undisclosed?
      Or a more recent deception?
      Right now all I feel is fury.

    • theresa

      Forgot this. The serenity prayer is one of my crutches. Went looking for version of it and found this. I liked this lesson better

    • Strengthrequired

      Eg said it all, yet the only thing I am grateful for, is that the ow showed my h her true colours and that he was able to open his eyes wide enough to see her fo what she really is.

    • Tabs

      Thanks for the link! I find the Serenity Prayer very apropos.

      What kind of person finds “gratitude” in a spouse’s affair?! I’m four years out from Dday and I still harbor resentment and anger. Like Dee, my H and I don’t talking much about the affairs, but it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking about it. It was, however, my choice to stay married. A decision I will graple with forever.

    • Jenny

      Great topic!

      I have been thinking alot about this as I come into the “anniversary” season for me finding out about my ex-husband and my friend and their affair.

      It will be five year anniversary this upcoming spring.

      I have spent so much of the last five years trying to “prop” myself up that I was okay that I don’t know that I have really felt how much I was hurt over the affair, the divorce, the loss of friendship, and the fact that they married each other very soon afterwards (and in my limited knowledge all is going well).

      About two weeks ago I was on a drive that was about an hour, but no traffic lights etc to worry about. I often let myself feel in these situations like I don’t other places.

      I started sobbing in a way I have not really let myself in a long time. I actually felt all the underlying hurt that I have been trying to push away.

      I think I need to really feel this before I can accept the situation. I probably have some anger to process about the hurt also.

      I am far from acceptance, but I do find that I feel better about myself when I can reframe what has happened to me.

      For example prior to my being sad I was in a place of “Oh is must all be perfect for them, they are still together and it must all be great….what is wrong with me that I am still struggling with this five years later?” In essence I have given them all the power again, and all I do with this is self-mutilate and sabatogue myself….and feel worse. I am comparing their “outsides,” to my “insides,” and lets face it they will never match up.

      Instead I am more real (though I may be sad or emotional I overall feel better when I can reframe my beliefs such as “This experience has really allowed me to have feelings for the first time and that is something lacking in my life previously,” (and lead to my own addiction issues previously). Or “I have not enjoyed the lessons, but have found the learning to be really powerful.” Yes this situation stinks, but frankly I needed some of what I learned from this, or I think I would have been heading down a much more destructive path for myself.

      I have been working my own recovery for some time over this. I don’t want to forget this experience ever, but I am afraid if I don’t come to a place of acceptance (that it happened, that it hurt me, that I get to have emotions around it), this experience will cloud all of my experiences in my life going forward. I also need to accept my role in it (not that the affair was my fault), but for example that I let him take advantage of me due to my blind spots in the divorce.

      I don’t know that I need to forgive the situation/behavior etc, but I do think if I don’t accept it I am eventually only going to be hurting myself.

      Luckily my goals are progress (to work on acceptance). The do not need to be there yet (perfection). That is all I can expect of myself.

      Thanks again I enjoyed the post and the responding serentiy prayer post very much.

    • antiskank

      EG, fantastic response. I am right there with you! So right!

    • Deeply Concerned

      My beloved had an intense affair that lasted nearly a year. It has been about 3 months since D-day. I’m working hard to heal with counseling, books, classes and reading this website. When I make an effort to talk about ways we need to work together he is often defensive and sarcastic. I try to carefully word my approach but he sees it as all negative. It is not my goal to be negative. I really want to repair the relationship. Our conversations turn into arguments and this confuses me.
      Maybe he wants out. If that is the case I wish he would just rip off the bandage. It would hurt me because I love this man but I’m in agony. I want to focus on repair and restoring our commitment. Now I’m wondering if he was committed in the first place because of the efforts he went through to get an outside girlfriend. He kissed her intimately on their first date. She had already propositioned him over the phone. She was introduced to some of his friends. It was humiliating but I know it wasn’t my fault. The affair has ended. This was not his first affair.
      Any thoughts? I’m open to any constructive suggestions. Thank you for listening. It’s good to know someone understands.
      By the way, my insurance does not cover couples therapy.

    • Golfgrrl

      This is my first time ever commenting.

      I really appreciate this blog and have been reading it since I caught my husband in his EA (which he told me was over), But it had turned into a PA.

      Acceptance is a process. It is not easy.

      Here’s what I’ve started to accept:

      The answers I’m getting are the answers. I don’t need to put meaning into them. They are what they are. Even if they’re hurtful.

      I never had a chance because I never knew the issues.

      Doing it all for someone doesn’t give people comfort. Sometimes, they just get bored.

      I don’t have to accept love in any old way or form. I can accept love given to me the way I need it or want it. Otherwise, buh-bye. You’re wasting my time.

      Acceptance leads to forgiveness, but forgiveness doesn’t necessarily lead to reconciliation.

      I’m stronger than I ever thought I was.

    • antiskank

      Acceptance is easier said than done! I thought I had accepted the reality of the affair, my shattered life, and all that it encompassed. I had determined that the healthy thing to do was to try to rebuild a happier life, get out of the miserable rut that I found myself in. No feeling sorry for myself, get a grip and be grateful for the things in life that are good. I have my life, my health, my friends, my job, my kids, and my grandkids. I keep reminding myself but sometimes it’s not enough!
      I know that the past can’t be changed but acceptance is difficult when the few answers you get are lies. When you want a renewed relationship but get indifference and avoidance with no communication, it’s hard. When you are the only one doing the work, it is hard to accept that you may never get what you are looking for. I am definitely in a better frame of mind personally and more confident in myself that I have been since D-Day but definitely not back to “normal”. I don’t yet know what life holds for me but I too, am stronger than imagined and will be okay whatever happens.
      I took Doug and Linda up on their great offer and became a lifetime charter member today. It gives me some comfort to know I have this great resource to come to when I’m in need of a boost. It also makes me feel a little afraid and hopeless to think I may need it for a lifetime! Will I ever really accept this and get past it to be truly happy?

    • 4life

      I am struggling with acceptance after 14 months post D-day. I struggle with it even though the affair has woken us up and has been a catalyst to a new and improved relationship. We are closer than we have ever been in our 21 year marriage. We do many things together we never did before. Sex is off the charts good. We talk, we laugh and we enjoy being together. However the affair is always on my mind despite all this. I am always thinking “why did it take this horrible affair for our marriage to get to where it should have been all along?” Sometimes I think I would rather have a mediocre relationship than a great one with this pain.

    • John

      I could feel my WTH facial expression as I read the article so I was pleasantly surprised when I read the comments that basically voiced my thoughts. The attitude of gratitude isn’t something that I can comprehend when it comes to my wife’s physical affair. What could possibly be around the corner that’s worse than having your spouse cheat on you? An affair is more like your head falling off than a sprained ankle. Am I supposed to say, “Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about which hat to wear now”? I don’t mean to come off as an ass but I think the guy who wrote this is an idiot when it comes to affairs. There’s no way that you’ll ever hear me say, I’m glad my wife cheated on me because…

    • Elaine

      4life, this is EXACTLY how I feel. 21 months after D day and I have had to come to an acceptance but I think about some aspect of the affair or it’s fallout every day. Like you, I am glad of the better relationship we have but wish so much that it hadn’t taken the discovery of an affair for it to be this way. Yes, maybe I was happier in a mediocre marriage than I am now having experienced and carry on experiencing so much pain.

    • Anu

      My husband has been having an affair for the last 11 years which when he was caught 5 years ago – he swore he was done with her.yet he kept on with her until I caught him by the emails to the same woman!!
      I am shattered and when confronted he states he was never sexually involved with her- I can’t believe that as they flew together and stayed together
      The trust is gone!!
      Will he ever leave her or shouldI?.
      Furious beyond reason wife

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