Patricia Redlich

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Husband Of 30 Years Was Having An Affair

 3rd January, 2010

This time last year I discovered that my husband of 30 years was having an affair. I was devastated. Twelve months on, we have come a long way. We are both certain that we want to spend the rest of our lives together and are willing to work hard to make this happen. Which means, of course, that I have to trust him again, as much for my sake as for his.

He travels a lot for his job and interacts with a lot of women on these trips. It's just part of the business he's in. How do I learn to stand on the doorstep and wave him off with a smile, without dying inside from fear that it might happen again?

The straight answer is that you don't ever exactly lose the fear. It's a question of lost innocence. Your husband will always have to live with the fact that he shattered your trust. And you will always have to live with the pain of knowledge. It's the price paid for infidelity.

In the best scenario, what you will be left with is wary faith, if that's not a contradiction in terms. You now know that you're not as safe as you believed yourself to be - the pain of knowledge. To stop dying of fear while you stand on that doorstep waving goodbye, what you need to do is acknowledge the subtle but powerful shift towards emotional independence that you've already made. You didn't stop loving your husband, or walk away in hopelessness.  Instead, whether you realise it or not, you drew on your own strength. You stopped basing your entire happiness on the presumption that cheating could never happen. It could. It did. And you survived, a sadder but wiser woman. Your marriage survived too. You're tougher than you could have dreamed. And more independent than you thought possible.

A proper measure of emotional independence allows faith in others, while still remembering that human beings are fallible. Would cautious faith be another awful philosophical notion? You have to believe in your husband's good intentions, his desire to do the right thing. You must trust him. Checking up on him, doubting his explanations, questioning him too closely, asking for constant reassurance - it won't work, for either of you. That, of course, you know. It just keeps the infidelity centre-stage, fatally undermining your relationship in the process, not to mention your peace of mind.

For real peace of mind, however, you must also trust yourself, have faith in your own strength, believe that you can and will weather any storm your marriage may bring you. Do you understand? Whether you like it or not, the locus of control has shifted in your relationship.  You love your husband, so he has the power to hurt you. But he has not got the power to wipe you out. He is no longer your sole comforter. You are inescapably on the road to learning how to comfort yourself.

Trust is also about accepting that we cannot control the behaviour of others. When you smilingly wave your husband goodbye, it's down to him. His behaviour is his sole responsibility, not yours. That fact can either fill you with fear, or fill you with relief. You have a choice.  Choose relief and enrich your life. Use your time to anchor yourself into family, friends, interests. Allow yourself to be joyous, happy, fulfilled. Try new things. And remember, there's a unique challenge in every blow life brings us. Check it out.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design