This week, my therapist told me you never really “get over” an affair. She equated an affair to a death. In many ways, it is. Its the death of your marriage as you knew it. Its the death of the illusions you had about your spouse. Its the death of the hopes and dreams you had. Its the death of the future you planned. Its the death of your naivety that you would never be betrayed in such a way.
Its a death. That’s why it hurts so bad. That’s why its so hard to move on. You don’t really ever get over losing your loved one. You just learn how to live without them. You learn to live in a new reality. After an affair, its the same. You don’t get over the fact that your spouse betrayed you and turned to another person. You simply learn to live with that knowledge. You can choose what that life looks like. You can make changes. You can have a stronger, more connected marriage. Or you can move on without your spouse. You can love again. You can even trust again. But it will always be with your new knowledge. Your new reality.
This new reality sucks. My new reality is that my husband hurt me more than anyone else on this earth ever has – including the boyfriend that beat me. My new reality is that my husband isn’t the man I made him out to be. I thought he was the man that would protect me from danger, not lead me to it. I thought he was the man that would never cheat. That he would walk away and divorce me before turning to another woman. I basically told him that our entire relationship. “Don’t cheat on me. Leave me first”. I said it a million times. I thought he was more honest. I thought he was less selfish. My new reality shows me my husband is imperfect. Flawed. Human. My new reality shows me that I never really had the security I thought I did. That it was an illusion. If I never had it, did I really lose anything?
My new reality shows me I’m stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. That I’m capable of more than I’ve ever given myself credit for. That I’m worth more than I’ve given myself credit for.
Even before my therapist told me I’ll never get over his affair, I knew it. I bought a book a few weeks back titled “How To Get Past What You’ll Never Get Over”. I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in God. There are alot of references to God and Jesus. Take them or leave them, there is still alot of good tips in the book. I’ve highlighted a few that stick out to me.
Recognize the reality of your brokenness. Accept the reality that your life will never be the same as it was before your painful experience happened. Rather than worrying about trying to become finished and perfect in this life, working through you to help you grow.
Be authentic and transparent. Don’t waste time or energy trying to hide, pretend, or cover up your suffering, in the face of pressure from other people to present a certain type of appearance.
Stop trying to change the past. Accept the reality that what’s done is done, so you can’t change the past or undo the damage from it. However, you can decide to live as well as possible despite your losses and pain, and you also can move forward into a new and better reality.
Take baby steps toward a new reality. Start where you are to move forward into a more abundant life – one in which you do your best to live every day to the fullest. Enlist the support and encouragement of people who love you and want to help you live a better life from here on.
Overcome your fear. If you wait to start living a fuller life until after your fear is gone, you’ll never take the risks to take to enjoy that better life. So face your fear, and in the process of doing whatever you’re afraid of, you’ll learn how to get past it. In the future, you may still feel afraid, but the fear you feel will no longer limit your life. You can live an adventurous life filled with exciting growth and change, despite fear.
Express your anger so it doesn’t control you. The suffering you endure from the injustices in our fallen world can rightly make you feel angry. But you need to be careful how you respond to the anger you feel. If you respond in destructive ways, your anger can break relationships, damage your health, distort your perspective of reality, and hold you back from living in freedom. However, if you respond to your anger by confessing it (honestly acknowledging your situation and the emotion of anger that you feel), you understand what made you feel angry and explore your options for resolving the underlying issues.
Forgive those who have hurt you so bitterness won’t poison your soul. If you refuse to forgive the people who have hurt you, bitterness will take root in soul and poison it, distorting your thinking and blocking your ability to give and receive love.
Share healing stories with others. Talk with people about what has helped you move beyond the struggles to healing, listen to their stories, and encourage each other to keep changing and growing as you move forward.