Healing from infidelity involves teamwork; both spouses must be fully committed to the hard work of getting their marriages back on track. The unfaithful partner must be willing to end the affair and do whatever it takes to win back the trust of his or her spouse. The betrayed spouse must be willing to find ways to manage overwhelming emotions so, as a couple, they can begin to sort out how the affair happened, and more importantly, what needs to change so that it never happens again. Although no two people, marriages or paths to recovery are identical, it’s helpful to know that surviving infidelity typically happens in stages. If you recently discovered that your spouse has been unfaithful, you will undoubtedly feel a whole range of emotions – shock, rage, hurt, devastation, disillusionment, and intense sadness. You may have difficulty sleeping or eating, or feel completely obsessed with the affair. If you are an emotional person, you may cry a lot. You may want to be alone, or conversely, feel at your worst when you are. While unpleasant, these reactions are perfectly normal. Although you might be telling yourself that your marriage will never improve, it will, but not immediately. Healing from infidelity takes a long time. Just when you think things are looking up, something reminds you of the affair and you go downhill rapidly. It’s easy to feel discouraged unless you both keep in mind that intense ups and downs are the norm. Eventually, the setbacks will be fewer and far between. By Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W. http://www.divorcebusting.com/a_healing_from_infidelity.htm
...there was only one thing
that interested her
and that was
getting into bed
with men whenever
she’d the chance.
And I warned her straight.
‘You’ll be sorry one day, my girl,
and wish you’d got me back’.
If your usage of a substance like alcohol or drugs, or habit like excessive shopping or sports-watching, ever prompted someone you love to say to you, “Too much,” listen up. The biggest mistake people make with addictions, alcohol and otherwise, is that they deny that they are over-doing it. They get defensive. They insist “I’m only drinking so much because …” They claim, “You do it too..” or “Everyone drinks like that..” They minimize, “I just drink….” Denial is tempting, and extremely self-defeating. Resist this temptation, and you have a chance at averting the potentially marriage-threatening consequences of an addiction that you persist in sustaining. The remedy: Take your loved one’s concern seriously. Seriously reassess your habit. Ask yourself, “If I look at my drinking in the best possible light, what is it meant to accomplish?” If the answer is that drinking enables you to escape from stresses in your life, it’s time to face those stresses head on. Addictions usually are an alternative to addressing and resolving problems, marital and otherwise. Replace running away with talking about your problems with someone you trust. By clinical psychologist, marriage counselor and author Susan Heitler, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201110/resisting-the-3-main-temptations-destroy-marriages
Sometimes I feel
as if I’m racing
with my own shadow…
But that’s one thing
I’ll never be able to outrun.
Nobody can shake off
their own shadow.
Admitting you are wrong is associated with resourcefulness. Low self-esteem makes a person less resourceful and prone to being addicted to being right. A person who is able to admit being wrong is more resourceful because he believes he has the right to develop new capabilities. Admitting you’re wrong breeds an environment of tolerance. I’ve been wrong enough to know that you and others are capable of making mistakes too. We all do. Admitting to being wrong creates an environment of tolerance, not just personal tolerance, but tolerance of others. Admitting you’re wrong creates open-mindedness. By that I mean a more willing environment for your opinions to be reviewed. This is extremely important if you are in search of the truth. Open-mindedness is an essential ingredient to discovering the truth. Admitting you’re wrong will help point out where you sound stupid. This may not be a high priority on the list of things sought for by someone who is addicted to being right, but as one becomes more mature it is important to know where you sound like a fool and how to correct it. Addicted to being right sounds fairly lame to people who are interested in truth and high ideals so you may as well figure out early on in life where you sound stupid. Why wait to correct that? Lastly it is important to admit you’re wrong and then listen. Learning to listen after admitting you are wrong is a powerful way to get a fine education. You will learn much more by listening to others that by talking.
We all mess up.
It’s what we learn
from our mistakes
My wife and I were emotionally disconnected. Over the years I had become more and more reticent to tell my wife the truth about my heart. In part that was due to my own lack of awareness, and in part I didn’t want to deal with any upset it may cause. So, I told her what I thought she wanted to hear. This started out with small and gradually led to bigger things. I expected my wife to make me happy. I had believed that marriage was supposed to make me happy. I was very confused because I was not happy. And in fact, the more I tried to make my wife happy – the worse things got in our relationship and the more miserable we both were. I was like a blood-sucking leach trying to experience life through sucking it out of my wife. I thought (at the time) I was being virtuous – trying to make her happy. In reality I was very selfish as my motive was about me and not her. And she knew it. I had no boundaries. I grew up with three sisters and have always felt comfortable with women. I enjoyed connecting with women. I used to say that I was just being playful. … a mentor of mine told me that I was not being playful, but seductive. I was looking for affirmation and attention and had developed a skill to get it from women. I was bored. I was under-challenged in my job, my kids were not around, my wife was traveling for her job, and I was alone a lot. I had lots of “down” time with nothing to fill the void. I was (unconsciously) looking for something to fill the void. I believed that I would never cheat. I was the last person I thought would ever commit adultery. I knew what was right and wrong. I was strong and I could handle any and all temptation. I was Superman. NOT! My pride led me to believe that I could get close to kryptonite and not be destroyed. That was foolish. I was a fool. I was 100% responsible for my infidelity. It was my fault. These things did not “make me” do it. However, these were things that made me vulnerable to cheating on my wife. I am still weak – but now I know I am. And in light of that, I can make different choices and therefore guard against being vulnerable. http://affairrecovery.com/survivors/Jack/why-people-cheat
When would he realize
that it wasn’t his infidelity
I couldn’t bear,
but his cowardice?
From “Sarah’s Key”
by Tatiano de Rosnay
Guilt sometimes sets in right after the first sexual encounter, and it continues to build as one lie is added to another. Depression follows guilt and it’s not unusual for a wayward spouse to even consider suicide as a way to escape the nightmare he or she has created. As an act of desperation, honesty is sometimes seized as a last resort, often in an effort to relieve the feelings of guilt. The revelation of an affair is very hard on an unsuspecting spouse, of course, but at the same time, it’s the first step toward marital reconciliation. Most unfaithful spouses know that their affair is one of the most heartless acts they could ever inflict on their spouse. So one of their reasons to be dishonest is to protect their spouse from emotional pain. “Why add insult to injury,” they reason. “What I did was wrong, but why put my spouse through needless pain by revealing this thoughtless act?” As is the case with bank robbers and murderers, unfaithful spouses don’t think they will ever be discovered, and so they don’t expect their unfaithfulness to hurt their spouse. But I am one of the very few that advocate the revelation of affairs at all costs, even when the wayward spouse has no feelings of guilt or depression to overcome. I believe that honesty is so essential to the success of marriage, that hiding past infidelity makes a marriage dishonest, preventing emotional closeness and intimacy. It isn’t honesty that causes the pain, it’s the affair. Honesty is simply revealing truth to the victim. Those who advocate dishonesty regarding infidelity assume that the truth will cause such irreparable harm, that it’s in the best interest of a victimized spouse to go through life with the illusion of fidelity. It’s patronizing to think that a spouse cannot bear to hear the truth. Anyone who assumes that their spouse cannot handle truth is being incredibly disrespectful, manipulative and in the final analysis, dangerous. How little you must think of your spouse when you try to protect him or her from the truth. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
To cheat oneself out of love
is the most terrible deception;
it is an eternal loss
for which there is no reparation,
either in time or in eternity.
Some affairs are “one night stands.” They usually take place when a spouse is away on a trip, or when one has gone out partying without the other spouse. These relatively loveless affairs usually happen when people drink and lose impulse control. Alcoholics are the ones most likely to have these flings. Other affairs start as a caring friendship and develop over years to become a complete relationship that solves most emotional and practical issues for the couple. These relationships become so complete and persistent that spouses are eventually divorced, and the lovers are united in marriage. But most affairs are somewhere in between one night stands and relationships that lead to marriage. Affairs usually take place because they meet important “emotional needs”. But most affairs meet only some emotional needs not met in marriage, leaving others that are being met by a spouse. That fact usually rules out the possibility of divorce, at least for the spouse having the affair. The wayward spouse knows that the lover, for some reason, is not able to meet some of the needs met by his or her spouse. So most affairs are never intended to lead to divorce and remarriage, but are “safety-valve” relationships that satisfy a need not met in marriage. Having drawn the above conclusion about the nature of affairs, it should be obvious why most wayward spouses would like their affairs to go undetected. Not only do they want to avoid all the unhappiness that goes with discovery, but they also want to continue the affair as long as it meets needs not met in marriage. In most cases, a lover only meets one or two emotional needs, while the spouse meets others. From “Coping With Infidelity Part II” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5060_qa.html
If you cheat on someone
who is willing
to do anything for you,
you actually cheated yourself
out of true loyalty.
The unsuspecting jilted spouse usually senses a problem when an affair begins. For one thing, an affair usually takes up quite a bit of time, and all sorts of excuses are given to be away from home — having to work late, impulsive trips to the store and unexplained absences from work — they all become more and more difficult to believe. Telephone records and credit card receipts are carefully hidden, for if they are found, they will often reveal the scope of the affair. When the spouses are together, an emotional distance usually prevails. Sex is almost always a problem for women who are having an affair, and many men having an affair find they cannot make love to their wives, either. In many cases, intimacy in marriage becomes so bad that a separation is requested to “sort things out.” An affair is often suspected by the jilted spouse, but almost always vigorously denied by the offending spouse. It usually takes solid evidence… to get an unfaithful spouse to admit the truth. I’ve seen so many spouses lie about affairs, that when one spouse wants a separation, my best guess is that he or she is having an affair. I’m right almost every time. Why would anyone need to be alone to sort things out? It makes much more sense to think that being separated makes it easier to be with their lover. Granted, there are many good reasons for a separation, such as physical or extreme mental abuse. But of all those I’ve seen separate, most have had lovers in the wings. Since an affair usually creates emotional distance between spouses, lovers describe their increasing dissatisfaction with their marriages. They talk about how incompatible they are in marriage and how compatible they are with each other. The addiction they have for each other turns the relationship into a passion that makes an eternal relationship with each other an absolute necessity. Many would rather commit suicide together than to return to their horrible spouses. “Coping With Infidelity” by Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5059_qa.html
A love affair is like a short story–
it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The beginning was easy, the middle might drag,
invaded by commonplace, but the end,
instead of being decisive and well-knit
with that element of revelatory surprise
as a well-written story should be,
it usually dissipated in a succession
of messy and humiliating anticlimaxes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
There was a time when I thought I had my first wife fooled and she did not suspect I wasn’t being faithful. Only years later after our divorce did I learn she knew all the time. She suppressed her thoughts and feelings and never expressed them to me. Suppressing an emotion is one of the most common responses to a difficult situation. One is aware of the unwanted emotion, but chooses to avoid or ignore how one is feeling. For instance, a wife who knows her husband is having an affair may feel hurt, but choose not to say anything about it because she feels she must maintain a stable home for her children. When the hurt overtakes her, she many ignore it by taking on activities to keep herself from thinking about it. Suppression, however, is only a temporary fix, until you deal with them, the feelings won’t go away. From “The Enabler: When Helping Harms The Ones You Love” by Angelyn Miller
Man is not what he thinks he is,
he is what he hides.
Sometimes it is difficult to accept responsibility for mistakes I have made or wrongs I have done without feeling the need to explain. That’s a reflex action taken with a mostly false sense that an explanation somehow changes what happened. Unless I have been asked to talk about my actions there is no good reason for jumping to rationalize and justify them. In most cases it only makes things worse by reliving the blunder and dragging someone else through it as well. The appropriate words to say are “I’m sorry”; apologize and move on. In all circumstances, feeling misunderstood and the need to make myself abundantly clear usually comes from a weak view of myself; a shortage of self-esteem. Thinking I am what I do as it is perceived by others is not healthy. What matters most is accepting myself as a fallible human being. I am perfectly imperfect and will make mistakes and do wrong things. To see myself otherwise is to expect myself to be something other than human.
If people refuse to look at you in a new light
and they can only see you for what you were,
only see you for the mistakes you’ve made,
if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes,
then they have to go.
A young apprentice applied to a master carpenter for a job. The older man asked him, “Do you know your trade?” “Yes sir!” the young man replied proudly. “Have you ever made a mistake?” the older man inquired. “No, sir!” the young man answered, feeling certain he would get the job. “Then there’s no way I’m going to hire you,” said the master carpenter, “because when you make one, you won’t know how to fix it.” Moral of the story found in a Fred Rogers book: An unlearned lesson of a mistake creates a destiny for it to be made again. Making a mistake is usually not the worst thing. Not learning from it is!
The only real mistake
is the one from which
we learn nothing.