How it Feels:
On some level, one of the best ways anyone can relate to what it feels like to catch your spouse cheating is akin to how the world felt on 9/11. I bet you know exactly where you were and what you were doing when you found out. Your life, and time itself, stopped. Living in New York, I can tell you that’s how it felt here on 9/11.
When a spouse cheats, the reaction to your world is the same. Part of your life feels like life itself has stopped in that moment. What you knew before this realization is forever changed. The life you thought you had can never again be what it was. For many reasons, the shock, the realization, the fear and finally the truth, all of it feels overwhelming and it knocks the wind out of you. The world does stop turning. For some people, there is a bit of relief; some part of them that “knew” something wasn’t right is reassured that they really can trust their guts. For others the shock is numbing and blinding.
After the revelation comes your reaction. Anger,despair, fear, pain all flood in. And these feelings are not only directed at your partner, part of you is also angry with yourself. How could you have KNOWN and not confronting or address it sooner?
Magically perhaps, your thinking was that your relationship would get better… you believed that as a couple you were working on improving your relationship, even if you didn’t have a formal plan. Perhaps you were holding out because while it wasn’t great, you have kids, friends, and a lifestyle that you can’t afford on your own. In time, things would get better; you would remember who you were when you fell in love so many years ago and somehow, magically, you would get back there… when things were easier, there was less stress and the kids didn’t need so much from you.
This revelation is incredibly painful. Seeing a way out is asking for a miracle and yet, there can be hope at the end of this horrible ordeal. I’m inviting you to consider that this moment which is your worst case scenario, is also an opportunity. How you choose to act moving ahead can and will make the difference between healing or becoming stuck in this horrible drama.
How can you make it through all of this? Here are 8 steps to get you started in the right direction.
1. Understand what happened:
Underneath the affair was a series of choices that led your partner to stray. Why? What needs weren’t getting met? What habits and patterns were in play? What was happening in the intimate connections between you in your bedroom, in your communication and in your friendship? Couples make crazy contracts with each other to make marriages “liveable” and most are never verbalized out loud. The rules of the game are laid out through behaviors and can feel clear even though the lines/rules where never discussed.
Really digging into the whys of the affair will be one of the hardest things you’ve probably ever done. Hear me when I say that you will rise from these ashes. This is an event in your life; it’s not a prediction of the life you’re doomed to have.
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