A post from the other side (Guest post)
I was asked to write as a guest and pondered the subject for sometime, interestingly I had written this prior to Paul posting his ‘Post Affair’ blog . I have read over the past 4 years questions and responses on websites from the perspective of the betrayed spouse and recently at work encountered a colleague whose partner had betrayed her.
What have I learned?
Holding a grudge is not only unhealthy but does not resolve a situation. A prime example of this is when the betrayed feels the person should ‘pay’ for the cost for the affair, whether this be financial or psychological and must therefore suffer the consequences of their actions. I believe this is a bad situation to find your relationship in and it is a slippery slope towards failure.
The relationship needs to have a genuine foundation. This may be difficult ground to find. For some this may seem next to impossible, especially if the partner is unwilling to do the necessary work and put in the investment. I know that during his affair Paul paid a lot of lip service to the fact that he was confused, but also often stated he was committed to our marriage. Nevertheless his actions suggested otherwise. In fact his book truly opened my eyes to his irritation at the inconvenience of having a wife! It wasn’t actually until I had decided enough and wanted out that he actually became invested in our relationship.
Honesty is key, not only to each other but also to yourself. An open dialogue is essential if things are to get back on track and honesty is paramount. This may necessitate some counseling (as in our case). Each individual needs to ultimately realise that the other is ‘enough’ and that no one is perfect. There also needs to be an element of forgiveness in order to repair and rebuild on both sides.
A journal can be a useful tool. I maintained a journal for the first few months of the affair and looking back I wish I had continued as it helped me work though my feelings. It was also interesting to see things from Paul’s perspective when he wrote his book. Early on in the affair I had maintained a journal daily and it was interesting to see his perception of events in comparison to mine, which upon occasions were quite different to how they actually occurred. But saying that reading his book helped me to see into his headspace and gain some insight, although admittedly it was a difficult read.
Give it time….. Time to process and time to heal. Both of you need this. You need to understand that you are not the only person hurt by circumstances. Your partner will also be embarrassed and may probably be grieving too. I know Paul was, although he never spoke of it. In fact when we moved overseas there was a time I thought we wouldn’t make it (it hit the too hard box), in fact the first 6 months were pretty awful. That isn’t to say either of you will forget what’s has happened in the relationship and you certainly shouldn’t, after all it is a life lesson to be pondered and absorbed.
Acceptance… That is our ultimate goal. So many people I have noticed are stuck in the grief cycle (Kubler-Ross 1969) in anger and cannot, move out of that phase, either because they do not wish to or are unable to. Unfortunately we cannot erase this painful chapter in our lives. However, in order for our relationship to rebuild and grow we have had to accept that our old marriage (even the good elements) is dead and cannot be resurrected. Our current marriage is a now a new beginning a second chance. That is not to say the journey has been easy, far from it! It is difficult to acknowledge that my husband loves/loved another woman. Just because she has been physically removed from our current existence doesn’t erase her presence and we cannot flick our emotions off with a switch! She is now embroidered into the fabric of our marriage, but no longer rips it apart. But that is the truth of the matter and I have had to accept that. That does not mean to say she does not pop into my mind more often than I would like (I am sure whether he chooses it or not that she haunts his thoughts too). But fate has spoken. We must accept our situation in order build anew. However, that doesn’t mean that I have become a doormat, far from it! Compromises will necessarily have to be made on both sides! Nevertheless, the affair allowed a personal reflection and self- development that otherwise would not have taken place. I cannot understate how painful this process was, but I hope it has refined me, not defined me. This process is not road mapped, and does not come with a trouble shooting guide or timeframe for either party, it is labour intensive but worth the input. Acceptance gives us potential for a new future instead of looking back over our shoulder into the past, giving hope for a new chapter.