The truth hurts. It’s more useful than lies and deceit, but it stings much more. That’s why, although the facts about your wife’s infidelity are painful to hear, they are essential for you to move past the betrayal. Denial will only deepen the emotional scars over the length of your life, so it’s best to address the unfaithfulness for what it was up front.
When presented with the facts of infidelity–through your wife’s admission or otherwise–you’re going to be left with two choices: to stay or to go. Whichever path you choose, you’ll need to bring coping strategies with you so that the path you’ve decided on will be as smooth as possible.
There is no easy way out. Each direction is littered with obstacles, but it’s how you choose to take on these obstacles that will make all the difference.
Choice 1: Stay
If this is the path you choose, understand it will come with more obstacles in the beginning than the other. You’re going to have to forgive your wife in order for this path to be successful. You’re going to have to learn all about the affair in question. You’ll need to put your pride aside and focus on the end goal of a mended marriage. It will undoubtedly be hard as you start your stroll down this path. But if the hard work is done with intention on the front end, you’ll find that it gets better with time.
Get the ugly truth on the table
Like I said, the truth hurts. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. In order for your relationship to survive the affair that your wife participated in, you’re going to need to know all the details.
- When’s the last time she had contact with him?
- Did they sleep together or was it strictly emotional?
- Did she love him?
You’re not going to want to hear the answers to these questions, but it will be necessary for you to get an idea of not only what happened, but why it happened. By digging into that open emotional wound, you may experience pain, but you may also get some insight into why it happened in the first place.
Once the ugly truth is revealed, you can begin to build things back up from the wreckage. It’s better to start fresh from rubble than to try and build on top of a faulty and incomplete foundation. Ask your wife what you need to hear. Now is not the time to sidestep the truth, because although it will hurt, it will be a necessary low point for you to mutually build up from.
Put your pride aside
If you’re choosing to stay, it shouldn’t be because you want to hold the affair over her head until the end of time. It shouldn’t be a power play. You should want to stay with your wife because you love her and want to spend your life with her despite her unfaithfulness.
Your pride is probably going to be a detriment to pursuing the mending of your marriage from time to time, so just keep this in mind: you’re allowed to be mad at her for what she did, but you’re not allowed to stay mad forever if you want to make it work.
Without forgiveness your marriage will never survive your wife’s affair. She has to forgive herself, but first you have to forgive her. Genuinely. No good will come from the bitterness that will arise if forgiveness isn’t an authentic pursuit as you repair your marriage. If you can’t see yourself forgiving her for what she’s done, than this path isn’t for you. You’re going to be mad. You’re going to be hurt. But staying mad and staying hurt aren’t going to be healthy for either of you. Work towards forgiveness and you’ll find that your relationship will grow stronger than it was before the affair.
Choice 2: Leave
If what your wife has done is too hurtful and deceitful for you to bear, then not many would blame you for stepping away from your marriage. Yes, a marriage is a promise to love each other unconditionally for the rest of your lives. But her actions in being unfaithful broke that promise before you’ve even come to the decision to leave the marriage. This path comes with it’s own share of obstacles, but with proper tools in place, you will be able to cope and mend over time.
Take your share of the blame
I’m not suggesting to have open shaming session on yourself. Rather, I am imploring you to try to objectively look at your former marriage and see what part you may have played in it’s demise. Yes, she cheated on you, but often times there’s something you could have done to stop that from happening. Maybe you stopped talking to her. Maybe you stopped showing affection. Maybe you didn’t appreciate her enough.
This isn’t an exercise that is looking to let her off the hook. It is one to learn from. Eventually you’re going to want to start dating again. Sooner or later you’re going to want to feel close to another woman. If you haven’t realized and learned from your missteps in your marriage, you’re likely to repeat those mistakes in your future relationships. Do some personal research and figure out what you could have done better so that you can be better in the future.
Surround yourself with friends and family
You’re going to need a strong support system and people to talk to after making the decision to leave your wife. Having some shoulders to lean on and ears to speak to will provide a great benefit as you attempt to heal from the hurt that your wife caused.
Don’t shut yourself into your home and refuse to reach out. There are plenty of people that will be willing to help, all you have to do is give them the opportunity. If you don’t feel like talking to a friend or family member, then seek the help of a therapist or counselor. These trained professionals will not judge how you feel, they will simply help you understand why you feel that way.
Having someone to talk to and vent to is essential with such emotional trauma as an affair of one’s spouse. Don’t take it for granted.
No matter what you choose, to stay or go, know that the truth may hurt, but it will help you heal. Address the affair and the problems within it head on so that you can begin to mend both yourself and possibly your marriage. Practice these coping skills and tactics to come out on the other side of infidelity with greater insight on how to avoid it in the future.