When starting the re-construction of a marriage, it’s imperative both spouses are 100% committed. It’s a long, difficult path, not one for the faint of heart. If the issue is infidelity, the partner who was cheated on will want to talk about what happened, over and over again. I kept trying to understand what went wrong, what did I do to deserve this and how could he!?! Husband received some good advise early on to not only listen, but respond honestly, as I questioned him and talk as much as I needed. As difficult as this was, he never denied me this need. We all know it was painful for me, but also for my husband who was ashamed at what he had done and motivated to make serious changes to his life. It took both of us, working hard independently and together, to figure out if we could stay married. He knew he wanted to stay married, I wasn’t so sure. I know couples who have stayed together and thrived after one of them cheated and couples that didn’t. Of the couples that did not stay together, the cheated on spouses went on to happy and fulling lives. There are no “one size fits all” rules here.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
One of my very favorite books written for women is “When Your Lover Is a Liar, Healing the Wounds of Deception and Betrayal”. A friend gave it to me and I’ve read it several times. First when I thought I would leave the marriage and again when I thought I would stay. I would refer back to this book again and again. It’s blunt and direct with chapters such as: Manipulations That Keep Us Hooked; The Lies Women Tell Themselves; If You Stay; If You Leave, and Learning to Trust Again.
We started seeing Dale, our couples counselor, on December 15, 2014 and I started seeing Dr. P a week later. Dale, as well as my husband’s individual counselor, uses the Enneagram as a tool to help people identify their personality traits from nine different types. There are many facets to the Enneagram, discovering each of our types was the first step. We found it very accurate and helpful in understanding ourselves and each other. Turns out Husband is a three, called The Achiever, and I’m a two, The Helper. In part, Two’s like to put others in the spotlight but want to be recognized for their efforts. Three’s like to be in the spotlight but find it difficult to share the glory. Think this might cause some conflict?!? See which type you are by taking the free Enneagram personality test under Resources.
It was the Christmas season and we were doing our best to carry on after the “bomb drop” two months earlier. I wasn’t feeling very festive so no tree that year. Husband put up a few decorations, I didn’t have the energy or interest. When Husband was home, we would go to counseling, have dinner with friends and family or go to a movie, trying to have a bit of normalcy. Some of our friends knew what was going on with us and some didn’t. Interesting, dinner with friends that didn’t know our marriage was falling apart was easier. We got to pretend we were the same happy couple we’ve always been and it was a nice escape. With people who knew, there was no pretending and sometimes the evening ended in disaster. He would do or say something I thought sounded like the same old shit, or I would say something insensitive and the fireworks went off. Embarrassing!
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU, BUT SAVE SOME TIME, FOR TIME WITH JUST YOU TOO!
When Husband and I weren’t together, meeting up with friends and close family helped get me through the holidays. Quick beach trips, Monday hikes in Forrest Park, phone calls, lunches or happy hours where I could vent and cry without judgement were all helpful. I would be OK at work until someone asked how I was doing and the tears would come. Staying busy is good, but be careful not to over extend yourself, we all need time to ourselves too. It’s the quiet times when clarity comes and healing our hearts can begin. This can be difficult if you have young children, but if grandparents, your spouse, friends or a babysitter are available, please, ask for help and take the time.
For New Year’s Eve 2015, we decided to leave town. Getting out-of-town or out of your normal environment gives the intensity of rebuilding your relationship a much-needed break. We put our problems aside for a few days and flew to beautiful Victoria BC. It worked, it felt nice to be with him and reminded me of how good we were together. Whether its leaving for the weekend or a picnic in your favorite park, having a little escape from reality now and then can be healthy for you both.
As wonderful as it was in Victoria, over the next few months, reality set back in and our problems resurfaced. Just when I thought I we were figuring things out, Husband would say or do something that would trigger me and I would take a nose dive. He thought I should believe he had changed after only three months, he thought everything should be back to “normal”. He would get frustrated when I showed any insecurity over other women or questioned his commitment. For the longest time, I felt I needed to protect my heart from any more damage from him.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO REBUILDING YOUR MARRIAGE AFTER AN AFFAIR
When my husband looks back at this time now, he realizes he was trying to take a shortcut to personal change, growth and our reconciliation. It would take over a year of counseling and eventually, at Dales urging, attending the Mankind Project for him to truly understand what it meant to be a loving husband and partner in our marriage. More about the Mankind Project later, but for now, believe me…it was a game changer! In the meantime, we decided we should separate. Dale agreed it was a good idea and important for me to focus on myself without my husbands influence. Dale also encouraged Husband to work on being more “other focused,” among other things. Dr. P agreed I needed time on my own to find out who I was and what I needed without Husband there to influence me. We never could stay away from each other for long, but it was good for me and my psyche to have some time away from him. As much as Mankind project was a game changer for Husband, Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat was for me. More about that in the next chapter…
LOVE LASTS WHEN THE RELATIONSHIP COMES FIRST ~ BUDDHA
Till next time…
Peace and Love ~