Infidelity is quite possibly the single most damaging thing that can take place in marriage, and unfortunately it’s also one of the more common problems that married couples will face. Statistics vary on this subject, but it’s widely reported that 60% of men and 40% of women will participate in an extramarital affair at some point during their married life. But if you are experiencing infidelity in your marriage, all the statistics in the world are probably meaningless to you, you are probably only able to focus on the way infidelity has affected you personally. So let’s forget the statistics and keep this personal. At this point, I’m going to assume that you are responding to an affair that has been revealed, and that we’re not just talking about suspicions here.
The first thing I want to do is talk about some of the feelings that you are most likely feeling right now. If you are normal, you’re experiencing a whole range of emotions, and if you’re like me, you might fear that you’re loosing your sanity as your emotions take you on a wild roller coaster ride. But take heart, the things you are feeling are perfectly normal reactions to the situation you are currently experiencing, and while I know you probably don’t believe me right now, I promise that these emotions will eventually fade and pass by and your life will become normal again. But first, let’s talk about what you maybe feeling right now:
Denial – This is a very normal first reaction, and most of us will spend some period of time simply refusing to believe that our spouse is involved with someone else, no matter how compelling the evidence may be. But try to be honest with yourself, accept what has happened. Only through honesty and clarity can you get through this, no matter what ultimately happens with your marriage.
Anger – Don’t be surprised to find yourself angrier than you’ve ever been before. An affair attacks the very foundation of our day to day life, robbing us of our security, violating the vows we took when we married, and stripping away all the peace of mind we got from being married. A normal reaction is to be mad as hell at your spouse and at the other person who has come along and invaded our life. But this is also one of the more destructive emotions you’ll be working through, so please try to keep this one under some form of control. Don’t deny that you’re angry, but also don’t allow yourself to give in to blind anger and lash out in some way that you will wind up regretting later on. As I write this page, a woman in Texas is on trial for killing her husband with her car in a fit of rage after she followed him and his lover to a motel. She has ended his life, ruined hers forever and the toll she has taken on her children simply cannot be measured. Anger must be controlled! You must accept it, but find a way to keep it under control and make every attempt to move past this most destructive of all emotions.
Rejection – It’s pretty much impossible to not feel personally rejected when you find that your spouse has placed another before you. Your self-esteem will probably hit an all time low at some point before you recover. Here’s where I recommend that you turn to your friends and family for strength. Try to surround yourself with those people who love and respect you, draw strength from their feelings towards you, and try not to allow yourself to believe you are unworthy of love just because of the actions of your spouse. Try to understand that your spouse took the actions they did because they are struggling to solve their own personal problems. It is not necessarily your fault, and YOU ARE NO LESS OF A PERSON because your spouse committed adultery.
Now, this list is by no means the absolute complete list. It’s more a starting place to help you understand the wide range of emotions you may be feeling, and to help you accept the fact that they are a normal result of what has happened.. What you’re going through is normal, and it’s important to understand that you may feel different emotions at different times. You may be mad one minute, depressed the next and then slip back into denial before working around to being mad again. Again, don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind! You’ll notice that I’ve selected several books on this subject to highlight here. I honestly believe that you should do some reading on this topic, just to help you understand the things you’re feeling and to learn some new skills for coping with this situation.