By Anne Bercht
Question: How can I respect myself if I stay in my marriage after my spouse had an affair? Is staying after an affair a sign of weakness on my part?
Answer: I look at this completely differently. The ability to forgive someone makes you a better and stronger human being. It takes greater strength of character to rebuild a marriage after an affair, than to just give up and quit. If you really love your spouse, and your spouse expresses genuine remorse and is willing to do their part in rebuilding the marriage, there are greater rewards in staying than there are in giving up. I wonder how can those who just throw in the towel like a big baby, giving up what they really want in life because there is a major obstacle in the road, have any self-respect?
In my situation, the other woman was bound and determined to marry my husband. I don’t blame her for the affair. I blame my husband, but in my case she was very seductive. She wanted my life. She was banking on the fact that as soon as my husband told me of the affair, I would be so mad that I would just throw him out and make it easy for her to take over my life.
How could I respect myself if after 18 years of marriage, I allow some other woman to waltz into my life and walk off with my husband, breaking up my family and taking my children’s father away from them without so much as putting up a fight! If I view myself as a woman who is worthy of deep love from a man, how can I not even be willing to give some time to my decision of whether or not I want to stay?
If I’m a strong woman who respects myself and is capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions, why should I allow those in society who’ve never walked in my shoes to make the decision for me based on their own ignorance of the topic?
The ability to forgive a spouse, heal a marriage and become a better stronger person through the pain is something one can tremendously respect themselves for.
One of the biggest rewards I earned for staying and working it out was the respect of our teenagers. All of them have come to us on separate occasions and in their own words said to my husband and myself, “You know what Mom and Dad, most of our friends parents are having the exact same problems as you and Dad have had, except they just give up, throw in the towel and quit. You and Dad worked out your problems. We really respect you for that!”
Imagine being told by your teenagers that they respect you!
I’ve come to see that my husband’s affair was not something he did to me. It was something which was a reflection of his weaknesses (not my failure as a wife) and what he didn’t understand about affairs before the subtle lure of friendship at work led him beyond the line. It was not an intentional act of disrespect towards me. He didn’t have an affair because he thought; “Now I’m going to disrespect my wife by having an affair.”
Of course if he was continuing to have affairs and I stayed in the marriage that would be different, but he has done everything any man could ever do not only to make it up to me, but to become a better, stronger man himself and to ensure it never happens again.
A vice president of a large corporation once made a huge mistake which literally cost the company millions of dollars. As a result he (and everyone else) assumed he would be fired. But the President said, no way, I’ve just spent millions of dollars training this man. He’ll be the smarter for his mistake. After spending all that money on his education, I’m not about to let some other company reap the benefits.
So also my husband has made the biggest relationship mistake possible for which he has paid a huge price and become a much better man as a result. Should I now just hand over the man I love to some other woman, now that I’ve paid the price in his learning experience? What am I suppose to do? Start over with some other loser who hasn’t learned this lesson yet and have my heart broken again? How could I respect myself for that?
A close relative of mine threw in the towel on her marriage in the emotion of the moment after discovering her spouse’s affair. Time went on. They both remarried. Ten years have now past. They are still in their second marriages, but they still talk to each other. My relative greatly regrets her decision. Both her and her first husband agree today that they love each other more than their current spouse, but confess because of making quick and emotional decisions in the heat of the moment without gaining proper perspective first, they are now stuck in marriages to second best.
Ten years have past and the initial trauma and emotions have subsided. My relative says, “I couldn’t see it then, but we could’ve worked it out and we both would’ve been much happier. It was silly to get divorced over the affair. I gave up what really matters to me in life, and I deeply regret making such an important decision in my life while I was on an emotional rollercoaster.”
I say how could my self-esteem be so low as to not be strong enough to stand up and fight for what I really want? How could my self-esteem be so low as to not be willing to grow into a better person and learn how to overcome major pain and learn how to build a better marriage? How could my self-esteem be so low as to be a quitter, without first giving my marriage at least a chance when I really love my husband?
Of course, everyone has a choice and I respect and promote individual choices especially when it comes to infidelity, but being able to forgive, heal a marriage and overcome problems is a sign of strength of character and is for heroes. The strength to heal a marriage after an affair is something to be proud of. It’s not for the weak or faint of heart. Daring to make your own choice and do what you really want is to be commended and respected. This is neither weakness nor low self-esteem.
If you are currently desiring to give your marriage an honest chance after an affair, consider registering for the Healing From Affairs Seminar, because that will do more for your health, wealth and future happiness than anything else you can invest your money and time into.
Is staying after an affair a sign of weakness? No, absolutely not! It is rather a sign of strength!
For information about confidential coaching with Brian or Anne click here.
©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.
If you would like to share a success story, helpful insight or comment on this article we welcome your remarks. Email your questions or comments to Brian and/or Anne: email@example.com
(Due to the large volume of emails we receive, we cannot answer all emails, but we care about every person who contacts us and will do our best to respond personally to you.)