Staying Married After Infidelity: 3 Lessons

As I sit here today I’m in a place I never thought I’d get to, a place of peace, happiness and contentment.  It’s been a journey of self-discovery and growth beyond anything I’ve ever known.  When I try to determine what it was, that one thing that helped the most, it’s difficult to say.  What I know for sure, is that my healing couldn’t be rushed, it took the time it took.  I needed to grieve, and that was slow going.   Learning about Buddhism and meditation have been huge for me.  Meditation literally changed my life.  I’m calmer, more mindful and try my best to live in the present moment.  When learning to meditate, be patient and stick with it, the rewards are so worth it.  I’m currently 17 days into a on-line program: Oprah & Deepak, 21-Day Meditation Experience, which has been amazing!  Before that, I took a 4-week class on Integrative Mindfulness and Meditation with David Sudar at The Yoga Space which was also impactful in developing my practice.  Classes like these in addition to articles and books as well as meditation apps on your smart-phone are all helpful.

Three years ago however, my journey was still in its infancy…

After infidelity: 3 lessonsApril 2015 – My magical time at Breitenbush came to an end. I drove to the coast where I met up with my husband, he was anxious to hear about any insights I had during my personal retreat.  It was the day after his birthday, the first birthday we had ever spent apart and I was about to give him the one gift he wanted most.  He asked if I came to any decisions about us and I told him I had.  I said “If you can be the man I need and willing to work on our relationship and yourself, I’d like to try again.”  I said a bit more than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.  He became emotional and agreed to be the best man and husband possible for me, our relationship, and himself.  We had a lovely weekend at the beach and even started working on what we called “Marriage 2.0”, we talked about renewing our vows and getting new rings.  I hadn’t worn my wedding ring since the “bomb-drop” 6 months earlier and refused to wear it again since I felt our old marriage was dead.  I wrote in my journal at the time that Husband and I planted the seeds for a new marriage and we must be careful not to let the weeds sneak in to choke or kill it.

LESSON ONEWHEN RECOVERING FROM INFIDELITY, YOUR MARRIAGE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

The counselors I’ve seen as well as all the books and articles I’ve read say the same thing when recovering from infidelity, your old marriage is dead.  The good news is you can re-build a marriage that is stronger, happier and healthier than ever before.  I would never have believed it and 6 months after the bomb drop I wasn’t there yet (more on that in the next chapter).  Today, three years later, I can say with absolute confidence, our marriage is deeper, more fun and better than the day we married or any other time we’ve been together.

LESSON TWO: RECONCILING A MARRIAGE IS MESSY WORK.

A couple of months after Breitenbush some of my old insecurities resurfaced.  He was doing everything he could to be calm and patient when I was triggered or had a down day (which was often).  Our counselors said it could take a long time, possibly years, for me to heal.  It wasn’t just me, Husband was still learning to change some old behaviors that didn’t work for us anymore and had his share of set-backs.  Each time he stumbled, he digested what happened, and learned from his mistake. There were old habits he had like not treating me as an equal partner and other small things that, bundled together, became bigger things.  One thing I was very confident of was, there would be no more affairs, and that helped keep me going.

There were so many questions I still had. So much wasn’t clear to me about how this could happen to us.  I learned my husband had manipulated and controlled me as well as lied, for years.  I learned what the term “Gaslighting” was from a friend.  I learned I had been the victim (now a survivor!) of it for a long time.  Away from home he was the epitome of  a respected businessman, active in the community, receiving awards and accolades for the great work he did.  He deserved all the accolades and awards he got, he did an amazing job for his company and gave of himself to nonprofit organizations and worked to make our community better.  He worked with his counselor to identify how he could be a pillar in the community and then cheat on his wife.  Part of the truth he unearthed was, his sense of entitlement and ego.  He felt he worked hard so was entitled and deserved to have whatever he wanted.  He didn’t think I would ever find out about his affairs and he could keep his two lives separate.  When I showed him the article on Gaslighting, even though he had never heard of the term, he admitted sadly, it sounded like what he put me through and he was sincerely sorry.

LESSON THREE: HANG IN THERE! 

As long as your partner is sincere and continues making changes to his or her life, and you are working together to improve your relationship, try to hang in there.  It could get worse before it gets better and you will have setbacks.  Continue talking to each other, in an open and honest way.  Bring issues to your counselor that are too volatile to discuss on your own until you have learned the tools to deal with them yourselves.  You will get there.  You are building a new foundation built on great communication, openness and a desire on both sides to, not just stay married but, have the best relationship of your lives.  Once you get to the other side of the darkness and begin to see light, your marriage can end up better & stronger than you could imagine.  It was that way for us.

Note: Please don’t feel guilty however if you need to throw in the towel and end your marriage. As many reasons as there may be for working to save your marriage, there are just as many if you decide to walk away. Your mental and/or physical health may depend on it, only you can make that decision. 

Fast forward to the one year anniversary of the “bomb drop” and we had our biggest setback yet since that horrible day. Yes, we made it through, but at the time, I wasn’t sure if we would make it after all.

Staying Married After Infidelity

Till next time…
Peace & Love ~
D’Alene

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