A few weeks ago I wrote a post and mentioned some questions I found right after discovering my husband’s affair. I was searching for answers. I was completely unprepared for what happened to me and I wanted someone to just tell me what to do next. The truth is no one could ever tell me how to navigate my life or make decisions about my marriage but I just wanted to hand my life over to someone else. I wanted to escape my life.
I’ve mentioned this before but the first question I asked my husband when I discovered his affair was:
Did you cheat on me because you wanted our relationship to end?
The reason I asked that question was because I needed to understand if he had already decided that our marriage was over. The media, Hollywood and everything we are ever taught teaches us that people have affairs to escape their marriages and begin new relationships. I find it interesting that now I’ve lived through an affair I see that affairs are generally not about the betraying spouse wanting out of the marriage. My husband never considered leaving our marriage while he was cheating. When I discovered the affair he had the opportunity to leave. I didn’t beg him to stay. I didn’t ask him to take care of me. He chose me and he chose to work on our marriage and himself.
Some of my readers asked me to post the questions. I don’t know if I can find them all but while I was cleaning my bedroom today I found a notebook that I used after D-Day. It’s a little funny that I took notes on articles and books that I read since there wasn’t going to be an exam or a test on this crap. I guess I wanted to make sure I was paying attention. Here is what I wrote:
What are my emotions really telling me?
What needs to change and what can I do to take those necessary steps? You cannot change what has happened to you but you do need to take responsibility for how you are handling the situation.
Should I trust my feelings?
How can I tell if my partner is right for me?
Free yourself from the betrayal, the blame game, live in the present and move forward with positive thoughts.
Actions speak louder than words. Feeling safe becomes paramount.
“I’m committed to you. You are safe.” You need to feel valued.
You are not pardoning the betrayers actions, forgiveness is an emotional release. You are not condoning. You do not need to accept the behavior.
Forgiveness is not a reconciliation. Forgiveness is about lessening our emotional burdens and healing the pain of your heart.
People harm us from weaknesses that compel them to act.
Forgiveness is inner healing not behavioral change.
We are responsible for what we do with our hurt.
Betrayer -> Solely responsible for their deception. Holding onto guilt is a choice. Self-forgiveness doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility for words or actions, but it releases you from self-contempt. With self-forgiveness brings compassion and understanding of who you are and why you acted the way you did. Reclaim what you must value in yourself.
What is required for us to stay the course?
That’s all I wrote. I can tell you that after I asked my husband the first question about his affair we spent two hours sitting on a grassy hill near our house. I cried, I yelled, I felt hatred, anger and pain. I don’t really remember the questions I asked on that grassy hill but I do remember my husband kept saying Bat Shit was his friend and things spiraled out of control. I remember questioning if I would ever be able to forgive him. I wasn’t sure if an affair was something I could get over. He was terrified that I was going to leave him. I didn’t make any immediate decisions because I didn’t want to disrupt our children’s lives. I felt strongly this was our issue as a couple and we would only involve the kids if there was no other choice.
The questions I asked my husband continued from these notes for months. Almost the entire first year was spent asking everything and anything I could about my husband’s affair. He answered everything. I asked some pretty crazy questions too. I found that if something was bothering me or stuck in my head it was always best to just ask my husband. Usually, whatever was paralyzing my thoughts was much worse than the truth. I found that in asking questions that were so intimate and difficult my husband and I became closer. We started talking about topics that couples don’t generally discuss openly. Sex, emotional insecurities… everything. Looking back now I realize I wasn’t just asking my husband the tough questions, I was asking myself too,