Affair healing Blog
One of our Community members posted a message in response to an unfaithful spouse who was frustrated because his wife remained angry about his affair. It's worth reprinting again. This is an edited version of her response.
You can feel put out that your wife is so insanely angry abut your affair, but it's not going to get you anywhere. Stop thinking of it as judgement from your spouse and, instead, judge yourself. Can you sit and own the choices you made and all the consequences that followed as yours and yours alone? When you can do that, I think empathy will come easier, your wife will feel safer, and some of her anger will dissipate. There were very few times—I'm talking nanoseconds—when my spouse showed real remorse without any defensiveness. And you know what? In those nanoseconds (until his defenses went up again, of course) my anger melted away.
I think every wayward spouse seriously underestimates the fear and intense pain, both emotional and physical, caused by what they have done. It's in their interest to do so, since as seeing it too clearly would feel awful.
Shortly after we separated, my husband hung our wedding photo in his place. When I saw it, I became enraged. Maybe he thought he was doing something positive but he failed to take my perspective into account. He was shocked at my rage, but never asked why it upset me so much.
You know what I saw when I looked at that photo? A dead girl. A dead girl I felt very sorry for. I saw a young girl full of promise and hope and happiness and innocence and worth and self respect and dreams and goals and love on her happiest day.
And I knew her outcome. I knew her worst day.
I knew years from that photo she would learn what real heartache is, the kind that doubles you over in physical pain and makes you vomit. The kind of crying that doesn't stop for days and weeks.
The kind of sleep that brings real nightmares featuring the one person you trusted above all others doing unthinkable things. I had a recurrent nightmare for weeks where my husband "picked" the affair partner's kids over our own and laughed at me and our children crying. It was awful. For weeks, I woke crying every night at 2am, calling a friend for help.
The kind of pain that makes you unable to eat for an entire month. She would learn the sound of her own heart breaking. That wedding photo she was so worried about getting just right so she could always remember that moment, could someday look back and show her grandchildren her loving husband, would just become a reminder of her pain.
All those hopes and dreams? They ended horribly. They got twisted and tainted and broken and could never be put back together the same again.
That innocence and promise and hope? It was all shattered, lost forever.
That worth and self respect? Destroyed, for a time at least, by the one person she thought she could trust. And it was all done without any input from her. She had no control over her own outcome in that way. Because he lied and betrayed her. He took that from her.
That girl in that photo is dead. She will never come back. I'm someone new. and I didn't get a choice in it. And I miss that girl. I mourn her. She believed in things I don't know if I can ever believe in again. She had things I'll never have again. And she didn't have my wounds.
Even if my husband changed and we reconciled and he did everything "right," I can never get that girl in that photo back. The life she imagined and he promised that day would always be different. I can forgive but I can never forget.
I'm not saying your marriage is forever ruined or that she'll always hold this against you, but you changed who she was. That's a lot of pain and I'm bawling right now just typing it out. Some days you can't bear it and so it turns to rage. So when your wife shows so much anger, when you feel overwhelmed, when you can't comprehend how it can keep coming and coming and months... instead of being defensive, think about what she lost and how painful those losses are to her.
I'm not saying this to try to make you feel guilty. I'm trying to give you an idea where her anger comes from. If it's anger you see, it's because she's afraid to show you her pain. So I've shown you mine to give you an idea of what she's going through.
A companion piece to this article (considering the necessary pain of the unfaithful spouse) can be found here: It's Good To Be Broken.
Unless otherwise noted, articles are written by Tim Tedder, a licensed counselor and creator of this site and its resources. Twitter: @TimTedder