You found out your spouse had an affair, and the indescribable devastation you feel has shredded your emotions and taken over your every thought as you realize you’re married to a cheating husband (or wife).
You realize that marriage is a partnership, and as such, there’s a part of you that wants to shoulder some of the blame for your spouse’s cheating, as if cheating husbands or wives are the other spouse’s fault.
Don’t you dare.
Your responsibility comes now, post-affair. In this blog, we’ll look at 3 key responsibilities you have now that the affair is out in the open and as you try to pick up the pieces of your life and your marriage.
What Responsibility You Hold in Your Marriage
As a responsible adult who wants to save their marriage, it can be very tempting to want to pitch in and own up to some responsibility for the affair occurring.
No matter what the problems were in your marriage prior to the affair—and they could be some pretty serious issues—that particular trigger was pulled by the cheater, not you. A cheating husband makes their own decisions, and you weren’t consulted first.
Accept responsibility for your share of the problems within the marriage, but not for what your spouse decided to do outside of your marriage. That decision was theirs alone. And it didn’t fix the problems in the marriage, but made a hundred-fold greater set of problems than what you started out with, including a devastating blow to your inner self as the victim of their actions.
But right now, before you can have the strength and capacity to work on saving and rebuilding your marriage, your responsibility first and foremost is to save and rebuild yourself.
Don’t doubt for a minute the blow that you have sustained from learning of your spouse’s infidelity. It can be mentally and emotionally crippling, and affect your physical health as well.
Your responsibility is to help yourself work through this extremely difficult, challenging time. Without entrenching and taking this time for yourself, you won’t be in a position to help anyone else—let alone save your marriage. You need to work on the self-recriminations, self-doubts, loss of self-respect and love you have for yourself.
Your self-esteem has really suffered, no doubt, from learning that your spouse was able to have an intimate relationship with anyone other than you. This knowledge can make you feel wanting, as if there is something “wrong” with you that your spouse could ever contemplate an affair, let alone go through with it and commit the infidelity.
It’s time to rekindle the good feelings you should have about yourself, build your self-respect up once again, and put the one person who counts most—YOU—back in your corner.
Next, we’ll look at 3 key responsibilities you need to take to unlock love and respect for yourself.
Your Key Responsibilities Post-Affair
Key Responsibility 1: Assume Personal Responsibility
Forgive the obvious, but you may need the reminder: this is your life, and your life is your responsibility. You make your life what you want it to be, according to your wishes, dreams and desires. It is within your power and within your dignity, and no one can take this away from you—not even a cheating spouse.
Sure, you wish the affair never happened and gutted you the way that it has. But it’s what you do now that really matters to learn what you can from this horror and move forward with your life.
Key Responsibility 2: Accept Reality
Just because you assume personal responsibility doesn’t mean you will now be able to wave a wand and make everything all better. Accept the reality of the circumstances you find yourself in today, complete with complex emotions, feelings and thoughts that aren’t necessarily under your control at the moment.
You will still need to work through those emotions and stop the slew of nightmare images. This is normal to go through this process, painful as it is. It is also a way of expressing personal responsibility: facing what you are dealing with today, and working with it.
Key Responsibility 3: Do Things that Satisfy You
How much fun have you had lately? Prior to the affair, many victims say that actually, their life had been one long list of responsibilities—there was no room for fun.
Bravo for taking care of your responsibilities, but this also ties back into personal responsibility: you deserve fun. It’s not selfish to want to do things that fulfill you emotionally and spiritually, things that bring you truly alive. This may have been a major problem in your marriage prior to the affair: you forgot, as a couple, how to have fun, but also how to do so individually.
Take the time now to rediscover—or discover anew—what will bring you personal fulfillment. It may be hard at the moment, as you’re suffering post-affair, to think you’ll ever be able to smile, let alone laugh, again. But make the effort, and give yourself permission to be fully the person that you are.
My best wishes for you as you take care of yourself during this emotionally-challenging time.