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How to Get Over an Affair and Regain Trust in a Relationhsip  E-mail


Hi Maria,

First I would like to thank you.Your website has been extremely supportive for me. My husband and I have been married for 12 years and we have two boys. This summer I found out he was having a three month affair with a co worker. Texting all day and talking on the phone all night while i was working (I work midnights as an rn). I suspected something the whole summer. His looks were changing, his attitude, his dressing and the obvious coming home  late from work. He would keep his phone near him at all times like he was obviously hiding something. I confronted him on numerous occasions. He told me I was crazy, he doesn't know how he can profess his faithfulness to me. I knew it in my heart he was lying. A month ago i had to take him to the emergency room. He had a panic attack. While in the er he came clean. He told me he could not sleep with her. He tried twice and couldn't.

I left him and took the kids for a couple of weeks. We ended up coming back but I am struggling. He has changed his life around. He quit drinking and is a lot more affectionate towards me. He changed his number and is seeing a psychiatrist. He swore he had no feelings for her and told her he is in love and happily married to me.

I continuously go through the phone bills cry and dwell on how often he talked to her, texted her, and ask him millions of questions. I had a low self esteem to begin with and this just made it Worse.

He's getting so angry now. He says he has turned his life around for us to look towards the future and I am stuck in the past letting that girl consume me. What he fails to understand is it just happened and I need time to grieve. I love him an want to grow old with him but I'm scared he will go back to her. He works with her.

How can I look toward the future???

 

___________

The goal of this website is to give support to people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their lives. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.

____________

Maria's Reply:

How to Get Over an Affair and Regain Trust in a Relationship

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your letter. I am so sorry that you have been through such an emotional turmoil. So many things that you mention in your letter are so familiar for the people who have been in your situation. You said that your husband is nowadays getting angry more often, saying that he is doing everything he can to help you to get over what happened and yet you are unable to let go of the past. What your husband does not understand is that it takes much more time to get over an affair. To read more about this topic, please see section Recovery.

It is quite difficult for the people who have not experienced cheating to realize the depth of the emotional wounds that cheating causes. It often takes couple years to completely get over what has happened. This does not mean one would automatically feel miserable several years. The speed of the recovery process depends on the nature of the betrayal, the personality of the cheater (it is harder to recover if the cheated spouse knows deep inside that his/her partner is the type who can easily end up having affairs), the personality of the cheated spouse (the level of one's self-esteem etc), plus numerous other factors.

Statistically it appears that it takes approximately 1-2 years for the cheated spouse to reach a closure and emotional balance after cheating has occurred. This is understandable especially when we think how long it usually takes to recover from depression, death of a beloved one and other similar tragedies in life. It appears that it takes a certain amount of time for the brain to heal after tragic events like these. In this light it is easy to understand that it is simply not possible to fully recover from cheating in just a matter of weeks or couple months. The cheater is often having hard time understanding this, resulting in the cheater getting angry and frustrated when he or she feels the cheated spouse is unable to move on.

The following analogy is describing the situation quite well: Cheater has caused an emotional injury to his or her spouse. If the couple decides to remain together, cheater must take responsibility of his actions not only by admitting he/she has done wrong, changing his/her ways plus other actions you mentioned in your letter your husband has taken, but also by supporting the cheated spouse emotionally as long as it is needed. The recovery process proceeds in waves: One day the cheated spouse might feel perfectly good and happy and the next day sad, suspicious and depressed. The cheater must understand that these mood swings are natural part of the healing process, in similar fashion as mood swings caused by hormonal changes are natural part of pregnancy. If cheater is showing his impatience, it is making the cheated spouse feel less loved and will slow down the recovery process. It is important that your husband understands that his actions have caused an emotional injury to you, and he must now endure the consequences instead of getting upset with you because you cannot simply "let go of the past". 

The signs you observed (changing looks and mannerism of your husband) are often indicators that something is going on (although one should not blame one's spouse of having an affair solely because of such changes). Often people mention that before finding out about an affair they had an unexplained "gut feeling" that something was not right. One should not underestimate the power of intuition, especially when it comes to those closest to us. We humans are extremely sensitive in picking up betrayal of this sort. After infidelity, the primary concern of the cheated spouse often is that cheating will occur again. It is important to understand and accept that it is not possible to have a certainty that the betrayal will not occur again.

Again, gut feeling is very important while deciding whether one should remain together with one's spouse or not. It is important to realize that one is in a way "sensitized" after finding out about cheating. During this time it is easy to misinterpret one's feelings. For example, one should not mistake the feeling of love towards one's spouse for the feeling of attachment to one's daily routines. It is often hard to even think of ending a marriage, even after something as dramatic as cheating has occurred. In many cases a big portion of the emotional pain is caused by the threat of losing the safety of familiar everyday routines. Separation is literally a jump to the unknown and it can be very frightening, especially in the older age. It is important to understand what exactly is causing the pain one is experiencing.

Dear Friend, I mentioned the above points mainly thinking of people who might be reading your letter and might have a different situation in this regard. Based on your letter it seems quite clear that you love your husband and wish to remain with him. Based on what you told about your husband's behavior after you found out about cheating, it sounds like he is genuinely sorry and wishes to remain with you and work things out.

I know that right now you feel obsessed by the other woman, you keep thinking of her and what happened between her and your husband. You need to allow yourself to dwell in those thoughts for a while, they are important for the recovery process. If you try to suppress them, they will keep bothering you in the future. When those painful thoughts enter your mind, tell yourself "ok, here these thoughts come again, now I just wait until they pass". When you learn to view these painful thoughts related to the other woman this way, as something that is as natural as the pain after a snake bite, the thoughts no longer control you as strongly as they now do.

Try this approach and you see you slowly start to feel better. This way you can in a way "detach" yourself from the situation. It is not good to nurture the negative thoughts for too long, otherwise there is a danger that they will become natural part of one's way of thinking (to read more about how to break free from the negative feedback loop caused by painful emotions and memories, please see section Recovery).

Warm hug,

Maria

 

It helps to know we are not alone. To read more stories of people who are experiencing problems in a relationship, visit section Personal Stories.

____

 

If you wish to submit your own story to get feedback and support or if you wish to contact me for any other reason, please send me email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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