It won’t be easy, but you can get past this and create a better marriage together.
How do you get past this? Knowing how to get over an affair your husband had when you can’t even breathe — it feels impossible. How can you even want to stay with him? And how do you imagine life without him?
Affairs aren’t the exclusive scarlet letter of the immoral and heartless. They happen with and to all kinds of people…and to all kinds of marriages. They may be thoughtless, selfish and seemingly heartless in terms of damage done. But they are not necessarily the choice of those incapable of love and commitment.
And that can make your decision of whether and how to get over an affair your husband had and make your marriage work all the more difficult.
It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that, if your husband has an affair, he is choosing the “other woman” over you. It’s only natural to assume that he wants her more than he wants you. And therein lies the sting that causes your self-esteem, self-worth and dreams to implode.
People may think they know how they would act in response to learning of a spouse’s affair. But the truth is, every affair is as unique as the marriage it has quaked and all the individuals involved. Often there is a long history together. There may be young children. Your professional lives may be intertwined. And damn it, against every angry fiber in your being, you may still love him.
Interestingly, the person who has an affair often isn’t motivated by a desire for a relationship with someone different. If your husband has done the unconscionable, he may very well be saying that he really just wants his relationship with you to be different.
And that — despite the ugliness and irresponsibility of his irreversible choice — is a message of hope.
Learning how to get over an affair your husband had in order to make your marriage work is an enormous commitment.
And when he’s the one who broke what you thought was an ironclad commitment, you may feel some resentment about the workload. Anyone in your shoes would.
It’s important to understand that all affairs happen for a reason. Those reasons are in no way excuses, but they are valuable pieces of information. And when your life feels like Dorothy uprooted in a Kansas tornado and dumped into a war zone, information like that can help lead you home. It can at least give you perspective, however gut-punching, into the daily “micro-infidelities” and unmet needs that led your husband to stray.
You may also come to discover your own unmet needs and discontents. And that means the two of you have a lot that has gone unsaid. And a lot that needs to be communicated if you are going to figure out how to get over an affair your husband had.
Both you and your husband will have to commit to a long journey of hard work in order to heal. And you will each and both have high-level tasks to tend to on a consistent basis.
Your husband will have to cut off all contact with the other person immediately and commit to consistent, painstaking transparency on your behalf. He will have to be completely honest in answering your questions, and will have to take full responsibility for the choice he made.
That doesn’t mean that he has to take responsibility for everything that has ever gone wrong (or ever will) in your marriage. He does, however, have to take responsibility for how he chose to deal with his uncommunicated thoughts, feelings and needs. And he will have to be sympathetic, loving and patient while you inch your way back to trusting him.
Your high-level tasks fall under the umbrella of being willing to put in the effort and energy…without wielding the sword of victimhood.
You, too, will have to be transparent — but about your thoughts and feelings. No matter how badly the fire of hurt and anger burn within you, your goal cannot be blame and punishment. Seeking revenge in your words and actions will only keep you in a state of anger (and eventual guilt). Your focus must be on mutual problem-solving if you truly want to heal.
While you’re working toward reconciliation with your husband, it’s especially important that you take good care of yourself. Emotions like shock, anger, devastation and grief can create a whole complex of physical reactions. You may have problems sleeping, problems with eating and digestion, and problems concentrating. And at no other time will the nourishment of your self-esteem be more important.
Both of you will have to commit to keeping the kids out of this very adult matter. That can be a tough promise for you to make, especially when they are so perceptive and you are so wounded.
Putting your marriage back together after an affair your husband had is tough enough without trying to wing it on your own. Seeking the help of a marriage/couples counselor can be an enormous help. You will be exploring some very challenging questions with painful answers, and the objective guidance of a therapist can help you both stay contained and focused on the “we.”
Some of the questions you will need answers to in order to go forward might include:
- Is the affair over, or just “on hold”?
- Is he genuinely regretful and remorseful?
- Do you both genuinely want the relationship for compatible reasons?
- Do you both want one another?
And finally, you are going to have to mutually explore the deep, perhaps long-rooted reasons that the affair became possible in the first place. Your inclination may be to fall back into the victim role and blame everything on your husband. But this is one of the most important efforts you will make to get past the betrayal.
Identifying the intensity and duration of unmet needs — for both of you — is your window of opportunity for growth. If you shrink from facing these truths, you will forfeit the opportunity to have what it is you have always wanted but never got.
Your task is to make this exploration safe. In your mind, you may be getting answers to why your husband shattered your marriage and family. But if you enter the process with a genuine desire to know one another, you will, without realizing it, build authentic intimacy.
And through this hard-won intimacy, you just may come to know one another for the first time. And that will be the starting point for creating a wonderful new marriage.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you have questions about how to get over an affair your husband had, I can help. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.