The darkness that comes from the choice to have an affair overwhelms the light, feeds the anger and never is the solution to what ails the adulterer.
Word on the street is that March is Infidelity Awareness Month. In an effort to make those who have affairs aware of the damage they cause when a simple, although difficult, a conversation would be the better choice, I’ve decided to get a jump on it and bookend my Mistresses – 7 Truths About You post with this one for the adulterous spouse.
While it would be actual magic if the term ‘awareness’ inspired all those who are having affairs to come clean, I am happy to see that steps are being taken to help get humanity over the hump of betrayal. With some space between now and the affair that ended my marriage, I understand how infidelity and betrayal are components of our emotional evolution. There is a purpose to the pain. But in the aftermath of discovery, while the spouse walks around in a daze with visible wounds, the assault often continues. Let’s stop the infidelity, and if we didn’t get in front of that train in time, let’s stop the post-traumatic assault.
1. Affairs Don't Cure Marital Problems:
You think you have marriage problems so you have an affair? C’mon now, that makes no sense! All marriages have problems. Remaining happily married requires work. We scoff at working at a relationship but pour days and years of effort, toiling and laboring into our jobs. Which is more valuable? If you said job then you ought not be married. And chances are, if you’re cheating, you soon won’t be. My point is that two people who come together to create a committed relationship need to understand that by definition it means that big challenges will need to be met with maturity, and grace and optimism as two people continue on their individual journeys in life. You have an affair when you feel bad about yourself and look for someone else to make you feel better. And since your spouse couldn’t make you feel better you went outside of the marriage. Guess what. That’s not going to work either. In fact, it’s going to make you feel worse in the worst possible way.
2. You Don't Have a Right To Be Angry About Anything:
The choice to have an affair means you took all the manure in your marriage, scraped it into a huge pile and then put an industrial fan on one side and your spouse on the other. You so know that isn’t going to be well-received. The mystery is – Why are you angry when your spouse asks you to stand with them as the s…tuff flies?
3. Don't Even Try Stupid Justifications:
Trying to point fingers at the past and justify your affair WILL NOT WORK. You will have to accept that it was your choice to break your marital vow, and that choice overshadows every other problem in your marriage. You’ve now made this an entirely different ballgame. The other one had much simpler rules.
4. Was it Worth The Pain To Your Children?
With that sideways glance, that first kiss, the night you said you were working but you were really frolicking in a hotel room, YOU have single-handedly complicated the crap out of your marriage. But, more importantly to you, because chances are this is all about you, you have royally screwed over yourself and your children, which are of you. Children pay close attention to their parents. Your choice to have an affair is going to have a negative impact on them. Without a doctorate, I am dead certain that is a safe statement to make. They do not want to think of their parent as a liar.
5. Your Ignorance Is Quite Evident:
Your spouse played a role in your life. But he or she did not play a role in your affair. And now your affair partner is playing a role in your marriage. Seriously, could you not see how that is not going to end well?
6. Empathy? Heard Of It?
You lack empathy, so work on that for the sake of yourself and your children, if you have them. If you led with empathy you wouldn’t have had an affair, because you would have been able to sense the level of devastation that comes from betrayal. The good news is that one day your (former) spouse may thank you. But, please don’t ask for that. A little humility goes a long way.
7. Own It!
And there’s a long way to go if your adulterous behavior has just been discovered. The very best thing you can do is to say, I’m sorry, mean it, and then work diligently on your emotional maturation. In other words, grow up. And then heal from the wounds you caused to yourself. Marriages between incompatible people happen all the time. To use that as an excuse to betray someone is - let’s keep this language simple - really, horribly ugly. And here’s what not to say:
- You are responsible for this, too.
- It wasn’t working out anyway.
- Get over it. I have.
- Why are you so angry?
- I should have never married you.
8. Watch What You Do With Your Anger!
Every time you feel angry please go stand in front of a mirror and, with compassion for yourself, deal with it. Your anger belongs to no one else but you and should not be off-loaded onto your (former) spouse or your children.
9. It May Be Time To Do Some Navel-Gazing:
Transformation heals wounds. You and your spouse came together in this life for very important reasons. Choices were made. Hearts broken. If you genuinely want to heal the gaping wounds caused by betrayal, you will need to transform from the person who thought it was okay to harm their spouse into someone who a (former) spouse can trust. And that is where the benefits of infidelity will be realized. Two people changed for the better through incredibly hurtful and difficult circumstances.
Until we evolve beyond betrayal, spouses have the opportunity to spin magic from the aftermath of it. For the one betrayed, they are stripped bare and given a head start on looking at the truth of who they are and how they wish to evolve. For the one who betrayed, they have a much more difficult road. The darkness that comes from the choice to have an affair overwhelms the light, feeds the anger and never is the solution to what ails the adulterer.
Life is not complicated until you yourself complicate it.