Article by Katie Lersch
Wives can feel as if they have lost many things after their husband’s affair. Often you feel as if you’ve lost a little bit of your self esteem, your confidence in your marriage and your husband, and your belief that you are perceptive enough to know what’s going on. Another loss that many wives describe is the predictability in their relationship. Many describe a marriage that “is just different” than the one that existed before the affair.
On my surviving the affair blog (more about that later,) I often hear comments like: “we used to have such an easy rapport and relationship but now things are so strained and awkward.” Or “our marriage used to be filled with laughter and endless conversation but now you could hear a pin drop when we’re together. The laughter has died and in it’s place is pain and silence.” One more example is “we used to be very affectionate to one another. We were always touching or holding hands. Now, we rarely touch one another anymore. It seems like we’re both afraid of doing the wrong thing or of facing rejection. Our marriage right now after his affair is so foreign to me. It’s so different than the one we had before. Will things ever be the same again? Because I want my old life back. I don’t like this new one at all.” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.
Your Marriage May Not Be Exactly The Same After The Infidelity. But, If You Rebuild, Your Marriage Can Still Be Happy, Fulfilling, And Sometimes, Even Better: In my experience, it can be unrealistic to think that you can carry on as if nothing happened or that you can turn back time to reveal the exact same marriage as before. Despite your best efforts of your intentions, you often can’t ignore what happened. And, this knowledge will understandably make you a bit cautious and doubtful because you’ve been hurt before.
But many marriages use these doubts and fears as motivation to make positive changes rather than to give in to the negativity that has settled in. Yes, it’s absolutely normal to be angry or even furious that the marriage you thought you knew (or were even happy in) was not exactly what you thought it to be. But one mistake does not mean that your entire marriage was a farce. It doesn’t mean that you and your husband never loved one another, didn’t have a good marriage, or weren’t happy. It simply means that, for whatever reason, you were momentarily vulnerable and unfortunately, one of the spouses acted due to that vulnerability.
Often, the real key to getting your marriage to place where it feels “normal” or similar to what you’ve experienced before is to identify that vulnerability and then to remove it. Because if you can do this, then you can usually also begin to remove some of those doubts. The reason for this is that you’ll then know that the reason for the affair is removed so that you don’t have to constantly worry anymore. And, not only can this be very freeing and such a relief, but often the work that you do to remove those vulnerabilities will actually improve your marriage.
Couples often find that they are forced to be truly honest, open, and forthcoming. They are no longer reluctant to discuss any worrisome issues with or to reach out to their spouse because they now know the danger of doing so. Also, often an affair will show both people just how close they have come to losing their marriage or their spouse. This is often a wake up call that isn’t other wise possible. By no means am I saying that an affair can be a positive thing. But, I do believe that it can bring about positive changes for your marriage if you use it to motivate you rather than allowing it to weaken your marriage to the point of no return.
Identify What You Most Miss About Your Spouse Or Your Marriage And Be Very Proactive About Getting It Back: If you’re in a situation where you’re mourning what you have lost, you don’t have to just accept that the life that you knew is gone forever or that you will never get it back. For example, the wife in the above scenario missed the easy rapport and the continuous physical affection that she and her husband shared. Being able to identify and then to focus on these things are the first steps toward getting them back.
But rather than merely accepting this loss, be very proactive about rebuilding these aspects of your relationship. This is hard for many people because reaching out again to someone who has betrayed or disappointed you can make you feel very vulnerable and even a little foolish. But, unless you want to continue to live in a marriage that is missing something, you will sometimes have to step outside of your comfort zone and take a chance. I know that sometimes when you do this, you have the sinking feeling that you’re going to be hurt again. But if you don’t take that chance, you will never know what your marriage could have been.
Countless couples are able to create an even stronger and more open marriage after an affair because they come to learn the vulnerabilities and lacking that were present. Addressing your issues is sometimes uncomfortable but it is often worth it because it makes you not only stronger, but more aware of your spouse’s wants and needs and just how badly it feels when you face the threat of loosing them.
I sometimes hear women say that their husband’s affair was the best thing that ever happened to them or their marriage. I wouldn’t take it that fair. If I had the choice, I wish my husband’s affair had never happened to us. But, at the same time, I can look back at it now and see where the work we did really did improve our marriage and make it even better in some ways than it was before. So while our marriage isn’t technically the same, it’s actually improved in some areas and we’re pretty darn happy. My answer to the posed question would be that, although it’s unlikely that your marriage will be exactly the same, you can return it to a happy and fulfilling place.
If you would’ve told me two years ago that I would have a happy marriage again today, I would have never believed you. My marriage went through some very dark days and there were times when I thought we would never get through it, but we did and we’re actually better off in some ways for it. If it helps, you can read more of my story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/