The Gratitude Experiment

gratitudeOne of the first pieces of advice I received from another betrayed spouse was to start a gratitude journal. She told me to write down three things at the end of each day that I am thankful for in my life. I didn’t start the journal but valued the advice. Months later when I went to my first support group meeting I was advised, once again, to journal this experience and write down three things to be grateful for every day. I wonder why the number three? Is it not enough to be grateful for one or two things each day? Is four too many?

I had a “friend” post her gratitude list one by one on Facebook every day during the month of November. While I saw the value in her life of expressing thanks, I was annoyed at how happy she was with her life. I was about six weeks from my D-Day and couldn’t see much to be grateful for in my life—and sure as hell, I didn’t want to read about her bountiful life each day. I avoided Facebook for the month of November.

As far as I was concerned, it was obvious what I was thankful for in my life. My kids, my family, our health… I could add to the list but you’ll probably stop reading. I look back at the first few months after D-Day and imagine my list at the end of each day would be a record of each of my children’s names. I was grateful for my children. They saved me from drowning in the quicksand of hate, self-pity and fear. My D-Day was in September—which may have been a blessing in disguise. School had just begun and the flurry of a new school year kept me going when all I wanted to do was die. I discovered the affair around 3 a.m. and at 7:00 a.m. I had to drive my son to his soccer game. On top of that, it was my turn to bring oranges for the team. There I stood in my kitchen that morning with an 8” chef’s knife slicing oranges into wedges. I couldn’t let the soccer team down. I wasn’t going to miss his game. Ironically, it was a miserable game and his team lost for the first time in a year. My kids gave me a reason to keep living.

Sometimes I get caught up in a thought that has no significance or meaning. I was in the car last week, feeling sorry for myself and allowing the pain to cascade down in a barrage of thoughts. One of those stupid thoughts:

She took that from me. The purity of my marriage, the totality of my love, a part of my husband I cannot get back.

I call it a stupid thought because it’s not true. I had to stop the thought and remind myself she stole nothing from me. My husband never stopped loving me—in fact, our love is stronger now than ever before. My love for him has been proven to be stronger than I ever knew. And the part of my husband she had—she can keep because it wasn’t him. She asked him to be someone he wasn’t and she only got him to do it through lies, manipulation and deceit. If their relationship had been based on mutual attraction, true friendship and respect then I would have to accept and validate what they shared. This is not the case for us—and I am grateful. [Crap. Sorry, I promised I wouldn’t make you read a list.]

EnergyLesson learned. The power of our thoughts is more controlling than we know. The further I get on the calendar from my D-Day, the more I recognize how his affair didn’t take anything from me. Sometimes I slyly grin and revel in our love now. Isn’t it so much better to love someone in spite of their mistakes and faults? Isn’t it so much richer to feel love from someone who understands the value of you, life and love? Last week I read an article about how to have a happy marriage. [Btw, there was no mention in the article that infidelity negates a happy marriage.] A contributor to the article wrote about accepting that the average human life spans 77 years. That translates to 77 summers, 77 Christmas mornings, 77 winters, etc… And if you are lucky enough to be married for 50 years… you can do the math. At the end of my life I don’t want to regret lost time. I want to be grateful for the years and moments we spent together. I don’t want to waste a moment.

I am not sure I would have done this soul-searching at this point in my life if it wasn’t for my husband’s [stupid] affair. Life is so busy when you work, have three kids and are involved in the community. Before the affair and while it was going on, it was too easy for both of us to ignore what we were grateful for in life. We probably should have been making these “gratitude” lists since day one of our marriage. I realize that when I identify what I am thankful for in my life, those facets prosper and blossom.

I haven’t yet started my gratitude journal but I am consciously aware of what is good in my life. Not only am I aware of it but I am sharing this happiness with the people I love. The path isn’t always perfect but I am happier now than before. I am listening to the whispers within my heart and living more authentically.

You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.  

Sarah Ban Breathnach


9 thoughts on “The Gratitude Experiment

  1. i picked up a book when i was at my mums called the magic… i think it follows on from the secret (the covers looked similar)… that power of manifestation book everyone raved about a few years back. anyway, its about gratitude…

    i was in love with it at first, it talks about the magic you see in the world as children… but i wasnt in a good space to follow through with it… everything was just doom and destruction heh. but i did get the point, and i do still have my little pebble (its sort of used like buddha beads or a rosary if you know the concept) in my handbag… i dont get it out and do my thanks… but its there, lol. waiting?…

    • I guess we are in the same place. 😉 I read a review of a book about depression the other day and it had a similar concept to help anyone suffering from depression. Focus on the little things in life and enjoy them. The review wrote that we should eat a raison (or anything) slowly, infinitely; tasting each burst of sweetness and appreciating the flavors that fill your mouth. It’s based on Eastern religious practices of refocusing and meditating on the simple abundance and beauty in our lives and that will put everything else into place.
      Well, I didn’t start my journal but I thought about what I would write last night as I was drifting off to sleep.

      • word. that book talks about super little things, the sun coming up, the air you breathe… then as you learn to be more aware and mindful it can be more personal… i got bored… its a LOT of WORK! my dads parents whenever they were around used to make me say my prayers every night and i haaaated it heh. thats what it reminded me of and thats why i stopped.

        another good little book is soul coaching… denise linn i think. i didnt finish it though, i lost it while on holiday… figured i didnt *need* it anymore? lol

  2. You are so right. She did not take your husband, the one you knew and truly loved, because he was not himself at the time. This is true for me as well.
    Fortunately, we both have our true husband’s back, working hard and learning lessons, practicing daily how to love their wives honestly and openly, dealing with their own character flaws and us all accepting them.
    They each have loving wives willing to work through the immense pain and confusion because the love shared is worth it.
    I too do not wish to regret lost time. At this stage I have only 28 years of living left based on those statistics, so 28 CHristmases (and the last 3 were crap given he wasn’t himself and having the affair) 28 winters, 28 birthdays for each of our 3 sons and hopefully many special moments with grandchildren yet to be blessed with.
    Indeed, there is so much to be grateful for every day.
    On one hand it hurts me to think this affair almost broke us apart and changed our life forever. What angers me is that, this darn prick teaser who got a little of what she wanted for a long time and tainted my marriage into the process (all while pretending to be my friend) , also brought us closer together, made us work at our relationship and the very things that bring us joy. In the past week or two, I have experienced true love, tenderness and thoughtfulness not experienced for more than two decades.
    Keep listening to the whispers within your heart.

    • Thanks for writing. I hate thinking that she contributed to any of the joy I have now. I feel like she stripped our marriage down to the raw, bare bones that held us together. We weathered the storm… nothing to do with her and everything to do with the foundation of our relationship being stronger than anything she could throw at us. Love is stronger than evil.

    • Sweet, puuurfect and well thought out. I like the way you think and I love the way your heart sings.

      Peace be upon U.

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