He Said He Loved Me but He Lied - How to Recover From an Affair
March 11, 2008 is a date that I will never forget. While holding our 2 week old baby boy, my husband of 7 years told me that he had been having an affair. I was in shock. I had no idea. Maybe it's because I was so wrapped up in the excitement and planning that goes into having a new baby. Maybe I was just naive. Whatever the reason, I was blindsided by his sudden confession. I hadn't caught him in the act, he just confessed.
He said that he had made a terrible mistake and wanted to repair our marriage. I didn't know what to say. So many questions raced through my mind. How could he do this to me? He wasn't only my husband, he was my best friend. I had never felt so betrayed and hurt in my life. How could I ever trust him again?
Steps for Recovering from an Affair
Time to Mourn / Work Through Emotions
Rediscover Yourself Apart from the Relationship
Decide if You Want to Rebuild the Marriage
Seek Professional Help
Sadly, I know I'm not the first woman nor will I be the last to experience the hurt of an affair. If you are in the midst of such circumstances, I would like to offer you at least a glimmer of hope. It is possible to recover from an affair and even save your marriage. I understand that there are many different circumstances and staying in the relationship is not always the right choice. Whether you choose to stay in the marriage or not, I believe that there are important obstacles that you must overcome to recover from the hurt of an affair.
Time to Mourn and Work Through Emotions
After learning that your spouse has been unfaithful, I believe that it is important to give yourself time to mourn. There are many emotions that you must work through before you can make a wise decision regarding the future of your relationship with your husband. The very first emotion that I experienced was not anger (although that was a close second), it was hurt. Because of this overwhelming feeling of hurt, my first reaction was to run. I wanted to get as far away from my current circumstances as possible. Looking back now, that would have been a bad decision and led to more hurt.
Many things about your marriage will change when faced with infidelity. You must allow yourself time to mourn the things that are lost. For instance, before the affair, I was the only women that my husband had ever been with sexually and he was the only man that I had been with. This was something that was very special in our marriage. That was one of the things that I had to mourn. That was one thing that we could never get back. I also can never say that my husband has always been faithful to me. I had to allow myself to mourn the loss of that reality.
Working through all of the emotions that come with an affair can take quite a bit of time. However, in order to recover it is important to allow yourself to work through each emotion no matter how long it takes.
Rediscover Yourself Apart From the Relationship
One thing that I realized after my husband made his confession was how much of myself I had poured into our marriage. I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing because after all, my marriage was a top priority. However, I did not have a healthy balance. Too much of my identity was wrapped up in being my husbands wife. Somewhere I lost sight of who I was apart from him. I made the decision to rediscover who I was. As a Christian, I decided to start by allowing God to show me who I am in Him. I spent time each day praying and reading the Bible. He showed me that regardless of the decisions that my husband made I am loved and important because I am a child of God. I also spent more time doing the things that I enjoyed (reading, crafts, time with friends, etc...).
Although being a wife is part of who we are, there is a lot more to each of us than that. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We have many gifts, talents, and abilities. And even on the days that we feel like no one in the world loves or cares for us we have a heavenly Father who loves us more than we can comprehend.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8: 35-39)
Decide if You Want to Rebuild the Marriage
Sooner or later, you are going to have to decide if you want to stay in the marriage and try to rebuild your relationship. This can be a very difficult decision to make. Walking away from years of memories is not easy to do. Neither is staying in a marriage with someone who has been the source of so much pain.
First, consider yourself blessed if you have the choice to make. Many women whose husbands are unfaithful are not given that luxury because their husbands leave. If your husband is truely remorseful and wants to rebuild your marriage, you must make a decision. In some circumstances, the choice is obvious. For those struggling with a decision, here are a few things to consider:
- Pray - Ask God for guidance, after all, He is the only one who really knows how the story will end.
- Do you believe that your husband is truly remorseful?
- Has he completely ended the relationship with the other woman/women?
- Is he willing to do whatever you ask in order to rebuild trust? (ex: provide proof when he is late, quit his job, give you unlimited access to his e-mail/phone, etc.) **For more on trust, visit my hub page on rebuilding trust after an affair http://encourage7.hubpages.com/hub/Liar-Liar-Rebuilding-Trust-After-an-Affair
- Is there any part of you that wants to rebuild the marriage?
Seek Professional Help
Once my husband and I decided to try to fix our marriage we sought a counselor. The first counselor that we went to was terrible. "You must forgive your husband and have sex with him at least once a week" was the advice that he gave me. "That's it?" I thought. "That's all you've got?" I didn't want to hold my husband's hand much less have sex with him. Every time we left his office, I became more and more furious with my husband. Surely this wasn't how counseling was supposed to work. Needless to say, we found a different counselor.
It is very important to seek help from a professional. Having a third party who is not emotionally involved can do wonders for your relationship. He or she is able to see things from a perspective that neither of you can. Even if you do decide on divorce, it is still crucial to seek counseling for yourself. There are so many hurts and emotions that you must work through.
The second counselor that we went to was wonderful. My husband commented that "he knows me better than I know myself." He got to the heart of the issue. Lets be honest, if an affair happens in a marriage there are underlying issues. I discovered that there were many areas that I needed to work on as a wife and my husband discovered that he had many areas to work on as well. Many people are embarrassed to seek a marriage counselor. I strongly encourage you to go. For us, it was a turning point in our marriage. There was no way that we could work through everything on our own. I heard a interview of a marriage author put it this way "you don't wait for your car to quit working before you take it in for an oil change, why do you wait for your marriage to quit working before you go in for a checkup? Isn't your marriage more important than your car?"
Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things to do; especially if the person who hurt you is not remorseful. However, if you truly want to heal and recover, you must forgive your husband regardless of what he does or doesn't do. Forgiving is not saying that what he did was OK. When you forgive someone, yes it releases them, but more importantly, it releases you. Unforgiveness can lead to bitterness and bitterness can lead to a miserable existence.
I always viewed forgiveness as a one time decision. I quickly learned that this was not the case. Forgiveness is a continual thing. I had to choose to forgive my husband every time I thought about what he had done to me. In the beginning, this was every minute of every day! Sometimes, I chose forgiveness and sometimes I didn't. I have to say that I felt better all the way around when I chose forgiveness.