The recovery path after an affair is not a straight line towards marital bliss. For the few months or years that the affair was going on, you probably felt increasingly distant from your spouse. Now that you know what the problem was (Huh-lo, there was another woman in your way!) you are eager for your marriage to get back to normal. You want to feel close again. To reconnect with your husband.
It seems like closeness would be the natural result of getting the third party out of the way. It’s just the two of you again now. But just because your husband has stopped seeing the other woman, doesn’t mean that he has the emotional capacity to give you the connection you need right away.
It’s painful to think about, but your man was emotionally entangled with another person. Now that that relationship has ended, he feels emotional loss. The fact that it was an illicit relationship doesn’t mean that it didn’t meet a need in his heart. Yes, he should have looked to God and his wife to have his emotional needs met, but that is neither here nor there for this discussion.
He is legitimately feeling loss of something that was important to him. He is probably feeling very alone since he may feel anger or disgust or a lack of understanding from you. He is likely feeling shame. Just because he has done “the right thing” and ended the relationship with the other woman doesn’t mean he can immediately shake it off, hold his head up, and hold his arms out to you.
There will be a struggle in his heart and mind as he tries to clear through the fog he’s been in and make his way back to reality. He will need time and space to sort out the array of emotions. If the affair was very public it may be even worse. If the other woman was malicious to him at the end it may be worse. If he is being scorned by friends or church it will be worse. If his employer knows about it, it will be worse. If you have verbally berated him it will be worse. He has gone from being completely accepted by someone (at least in a fantastical way) to feeling ostracized and probably very alone. Show him how empathetic you can be because of the love you have for him.
Yes, you need him to try to make amends in your relationship. Yes, you need him to overcome his feelings and be aware of your intensely deep emotional needs. Yes, you need him to move forward and beyond the affair. But you may have to be patient. You may have to endure watching your spouse flounder around with his feelings before he can be strong enough to help you with yours.
Affair recovery is not for the faint of heart. You will be stretched like never before. But you also have a chance like never before to prove your character. You have the chance to act with dignity and grace. What kind of person do you want to be throughout this crisis? How do you want to feel years from now when you look back at the situation and remember how you handled it?
I know I’m presenting a tough approach to you, Betrayed Spouse. I know your heart is broken and you’re spending most of your days and nights terrified about what your future holds. But remember, I have already walked this road before you and I know that it is possible to still grieve and acknowledge your own pain about the situation while still looking out for the best interest of your spouse. I’m presenting the course of action that I believe you will be glad you took once it’s all said and done. Remember, your present will be your past someday. This pain of affair discovery won’t last forever, but your words and actions will be unchangeable.
What can you do while you’re frustrated about the time it’s taking for your husband to work through his emotions?
- Reach out to a non-judgmental friend who will listen to your pain and support you.
- Listen to your unfaithful spouse without venting your anger. Your spouse knows you aren’t happy about what happened. Cry and confront if you need to, but convey your hurt without ranting out of control.
- Don’t try to talk about the affair all the time when you are together. Your spouse needs time to process things alone without being peppered with questions. He remembers your last confrontation without your needing to confront again every hour.
- Take care of yourself by sleeping and getting the nutrition you need.
- Think about how you would want to be treated if you were the one who was unfaithful.
- Learn all you can about post-affair healing.
- Find someone who’s been down this road before and can offer you empathy, wisdom, clarity and guidance for what to do next.
Have you downloaded our Survival Guide yet? We have created a guide for both the betrayed and the unfaithful. It will help you through your situation when you are too emotionally spent to know what to do next.
Have you booked a free call (email@example.com) with us yet? Don’t wait to get help and support from someone who understands the crisis you and your spouse are facing.