The first reaction is a lot like being kicked in the stomach. Then comes the disbelief, the denial that the man you love could do this to you… it must be a sick joke. Then the reality begins to sink in and all you feel is anger at him and his playmate. Real anger. The kind that makes you want to hurt someone.
But being an adult and a good person, you don’t. And it’s hard to sustain that type of fury for long; it’s exhausting. So the anger turns to a dull ache that sits in your chest. That’s also exhausting, so you know that you have to either leave your creep husband or get over it. Since you still love him, you’ll have to get over it and get on with life.
There are probably reams of statistics about why men cheat on their wives. Many men will have what each sees as a valid excuse for his behavior. Some men have no excuses. They’re like the man who climbed a mountain because it was there. For those men, there should be no forgiveness because they will do it again and again. But the guy who made one mistake and is sincerely sorry for it will most likely not stray in the future. It may not be easy to trust him again, but if you want a life together, you have to have trust.
Having a life together is the key point. If you can’t imagine your life without this man, then you have to start the forgiving process. If the thought of breaking apart your family is tearing you apart, then you’ll want to work on forgiving. That’s not to say you’ll forget this ugly episode, because you probably won’t. But you can learn to live with it.
You need to know what went wrong, why he strayed. In your mind there is no reason good enough to explain why he did what he did. As true as that may be, you still need to know what caused him to cheat. You need the answers for yourself and to know if the problem can be fixed. During the anger period you won’t really care if anything is resolved, but when things quiet down you’ll want some answers.
Some men seem to need a lot of coddling. Sometimes we, as wives, are too busy to give our husbands the time and attention they need. We expect them to see that we do a lot in a day taking care of kids, home, and a job and are often just too plain tired to pamper one more person. That’s what we expect, but that’s often not the case. He feels neglected, left out, unloved. If that’s the problem in your situation, communication and a sharing of tasks might free up some of your time that you can then spend with your husband. Quality time, just for two.
There are times that things just happen, a situation that seemed harmless gets out of control. That means that it wasn’t aimed at you. It was a moment of thoughtless selfishness, usually called a one night stand. For all the anger you feel, it’s hard to imagine that he’s feeling great remorse for such a careless action, but he probably is. And it’s something that most likely won’t happen again.
There is something in humans that needs to poke and prod a wound, prolonging the pain. You don’t want to do that. You do want to talk things out, find out the reasons and try to resolve them. Counseling is helpful to keep conversations from escalating into screaming matches. Consider what you’ll be giving up if you can’t get past the anger. Once you’ve done some or all of those things, stop talking about it. Don’t bring it up every time he acts like a jerk. It’s done and over. Let it die a civil death, put it behind you, and start the forgiving process.
It takes a long time to even begin to trust again. If he’s late, you’ll begin to wonder what he’s up to. You’ll want to play twenty questions when he gets home. Don’t. It will only undermine the progress you’ve made. And this is about you. You’ve been wounded and it takes time to heal. A long time. So let it begin. And if the love you and your husband share is strong, if you’re both committed to your marriage, and if the lines of communication stay open, it will happen.
There may be times that the memory of his indiscretion will surface, but push it to the deepest corner of your mind. Do something nice for yourself to shift your thoughts to more pleasant things. Make a conscious effort to keep your mind on today, letting the past stay where it belongs, behind you.