16 months out and I still find myself reading a lot about infidelity and betrayal. Maybe a day will come when I click on my web browser and multiple tabs won’t be open to blogs, articles, and sites dedicated to affairs and getting through them. A few days ago I had done a search and was reading different articles. I clicked on one site that led me to an article I had read previously- just mere months into Dday. More than the article though, what really struck me was the image that accompanied it.
I remember seeing the image and thinking this is how our marriage was during the affair and now that the affair is discovered this is how I feel! Yes- the affair was now done but for me all the fear, hurt and pain were just being felt. The truth of what had been going on in our marriage was only now being fully realized and the betrayal fully felt!
Me in our room alone and missing him while he was out with her. It could have been any image though – me bathing the kids, folding laundry, attending our children’s activities alone, picking up the house and him out with her somewhere- excited to be with her and not thinking of us. He was indulging her while ignoring us! He had created a separate life with her, where we didn’t exist or matter. It hurts!
One of the things that really hurts still is remembering the texts, pictures and videos I would send him of the kids and I, never knowing that all that time he was with another woman- hanging out, eating and drinking and sleeping with her. It breaks my heart- I couldn’t have even started to imagine that he would do such a thing to us!
I showed my husband this image recently and told him- every time I think about the affair or deal with a trigger this is how I feel- alone, confused, neglected abandoned, dismissed, used and that you chose her. You chose her to give yourself to and not our family. This is how you treated the kids and I.
He hates it. He’s sorry and disgusted that he has done those things! And I’m so grateful that he is! I wish all betraying spouses would get it! That the stupid, self serving, self deceiving scales would fall from their eyes and they would see how much they have destroyed the one they vowed to love, honor, protect, and forsake all others for!
Being betrayed is like having the weight of a 20 ton pile of bricks thrown at you while simultaneously having the ground you’re standing on crumble suddenly beneath you. You can’t even steady yourself for the impact of what is hitting you, because not only have you been betrayed, but it’s by your spouse!
I bristle with rage when I read about spouses who have had the affair and say they want to save their marriage, but they also want their faithful spouse to get over it, move on, let it go, focus on now, stop bringing it up, change the subject, accept their apology and work on moving forward, stop making them pay and grovel.
Your spouse isn’t making you “pay” and “grovel”! Your spouse IS trying to get out from the pile of lies, deceit, and sorrow you buried her under. She’s alive but she wishes she wasn’t. It hurts her so much! She might get angry but she has a right to and she will need to get angry to have the strength to push this hurt off her. If all she feels is sadness she’s going to stay buried. Let her hate what you did! Let her hate what you allowed yourself to become. She should hate it and frankly so should you!
Know that every time she wants to talk about it, it’s not to punish you. It’s because she still feels like this image is true and YOU NEED to convince her that it’s not! You need to treat convincing her that she is the only love in your life, like its your damn job! It will be a thankless job for a long time! It will give you some hope and then that hope will vanish as she is triggered, and as she continues to process two very different realities. See your wife, when the affair was going on, still believed she was the image on the right! She never imagined there would ever be anyone else but her- and each time she thinks about your affair or is reminded of it, its like the ground shaking and the bricks falling on her all over again. It hits so hard.
If you want your marriage to work, if you want your spouse to see you’re no longer that crummy asshole that you were, you need to step in! Take some of the hurt and impact from her. It might come as her lashing out. It might mean watching her cry endlessly. It might fill you with feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. Feel it but you can not wallow in it. Stop looking at yourself and look at her – whatever she’s feeling let her know you’re there. Show her you care about her, that her and her pain matter to you.
This is so consuming for your spouse right now that when you do or say anything that implies you want to ignore the affair – it’s basically telling her you want to ignore her and her suffering! Don’t do it- ignoring it is being a coward. Face the devastation that you brought into her life head on. Look at her and see her tears and pain. See your wife!!
When it gets to be too much and you can’t look at her anymore. Let her know you need to look away, not because you don’t care, but because you hate seeing her hurt. You hate knowing you’re the one who hurt her! Say sorry often and mean it!! Show her that you want to help her through the pain. Show her that it matters to you and it’s not something you want to ignore. Read articles, books and show her you’re trying to understand what she’s going through.
Never let your actions now make her feel like the woman on the left. She’s going to feel confused and you’re going to feel like you can’t do anything right and that the one thing you do wrong undoes all the right you have done so far- it’s so crazy. But if you stay on this path with your wife faithfully through every nausea inducing narrow loop, highs, lows, twists and turns the path will become more steady and straight and wide enough for the both of you to walk together side by side, hand in hand.
My husband – he’s the one who buried me under the bricks. He’s also the one, though who helped me get out from under it. It is a painful, difficult process.
Last night I talked to him about some triggers. Some tears fell. He felt sad. I felt sad but then he asked if he could hold me and I said yes. And as I lay wrapped up in my husband’s arms the same image came to my mind but now I’m in the right place. I’m the woman on the right.
Things can get better but it needs a lot of work and grace but you can make the image of your marriage that you distorted into a beautiful, meaningful, truthful reality! I really hope you will, because your faithful spouse, who is willing to still stay in a marriage with you despite everything that you did, deserves it. And you, the one who betrayed but now wants to make it right and is willing to work hard to love yourself and your spouse well now, don’t forget that you deserve it you!