Last week, a new betrayed wife posted a comment on my blog. She discovered her husband’s affair the night before and her Googling brought her to my blog. I remember so clearly lying in my bed typing the words: my husband cheated on me into the Google search bar of my iPad only hours after my discovery. I wanted someone to tell me what to do. I was completely unprepared for an affair. I always assumed if he cheated our marriage would be over. Maybe it’s what I was taught or maybe I just haven’t known any happily married people that have dealt with infidelity. The fact is I didn’t know what to do. I felt broken and defeated. I felt alone and scared. I wanted someone to tell me how to navigate this mess because this wasn’t supposed to happen to me.
What I discovered in the 72 hours after my D-Day was there was no one out there that agreed on what to do. Every betrayed woman had a different path, a different story or a marriage unlike my own. I joined web groups and read countless articles and blogs. And still, no one could tell me succinctly what to do. Honestly, I wanted someone to tell me if my marriage was over. Like I said, before I found out my husband cheated I didn’t think I would ever stay or have the capacity to forgive him. But after I discovered his affair, I realized that our love was not a casualty of his affair. I told myself I would allow myself time to decide if I could remain in the marriage or not. I told myself I could leave at any time but I would allow myself two years to heal. My decision may be not right for anyone else but me—but I could live with it.
I remember reading this article about four or five months ago. The questions asked in the article are:
- How do you define love?
- Is your definition of love large enough to encompass profound failure?
We each define love independently in our own lives. We place our own limitations and expectations of love on our definition. On my D-Day, I don’t know if I could have known if my definition of love was large enough to include my husband’s failures/infidelity. As much as I have grown in the past ten months, there are still moments when the affair hits me like a ton of bricks and I question whether I can forgive him completely. It’s how I overcome those moments that keeps me going. It’s about being open and honest with my husband about those moments so we can have complete transparency. I am not expected to just get over his affair and move on. We have an agreement that if something bothers me in five, ten or twenty years about this affair that I can bring it up and he can never say: I thought you were over that already. I promise to not hold grudges or throw it in his face but I am not expected keep silent either.
I made mistakes in those first days after discovering his affair too. We spent hours talking but I couldn’t hear much of what he said. I heard the words but I couldn’t understand them because I made assumptions that were completely wrong about his relationship with his AP. I had always thought if a man has an affair the sex must be amazing, the relationship is worth walking away from your marriage for and the man is a liar. While those things could be true—they weren’t the truth for us. Try not to base your healing on anything said in the wake of the discovery of the affair.
Sex is also a strange thing after an affair. Many women report they begin the hysterical bonding immediately. That was not the case for me. My husband was not home for 36 hours after I discovered his affair. I had time to read and read online about infidelity. I read that it took two years minimum to heal and I told myself we might now have sex for two year (boy, was I wrong). I also told my husband this. I told him that I couldn’t be physical with him and was he willing to work on a marriage with no sexual intimacy. He agreed he would stay no matter what happened. We made love the night after we were both tested for STDs. We went out to dinner and we began talking—not about the affair—about us. We were on a date and we didn’t even plan it or know it. We left the restaurant and began kissing in the parking lot. He pushed me up against the car and I never wanted him more in my life. We barely made it inside our home before I began ripping his clothes off. That was September 28, 2012. We made love seven times over the next twenty-four hours. Both of us full of desire and passion. What I realized about hysterical bonding is that it has to be both ways—both spouses have to need that connection to be reestablished with the other person. My husband and I must be still hysterical or bonding because we haven’t missed a day. The sex is the best it’s ever been and we had a passionate and playful sex life before the affair.
The truth is you may not know what to do after you discover your spouse cheated on you, but you will be okay. You will survive. Take care of yourself. Eat. Sleep. Don’t spend every moment thinking about the affair.
I wonder what advice you wish you heard on your D-Day or just after? Write it below and hopefully it can help someone. Finish this thought: My husband cheated on me, now what?