I have just finished your book and thought it was wonderful. I could relate to many of the feelings, thoughts and actions that you described. It was uncanny reading the same words that I had been feeling, contemplating and in agony over at various parts of the book. My situation is quite similar to yours. My husband and I are idling in neutral right now. He is going to a counselor solo to decide if he wants to work on the marriage. I feel a bit helpless at this point. There really is nothing I can do. I have told him how I feel.
I am trying to focus on me, despite the tearing apart feeling I have inside. The emotional rollercoaster has been overwhelming. Do you have any advice for me in the interim? I am doing a lot of reading, and trying to physically take care of myself (although I am starting to feel the lack of sleep take its toll on me).
I’m so glad to hear that my book has been an encouragement.
I want to commend you because you are doing very well. You have a very healthy perspective and have done/are doing the right things from what your email describes. You have handled your husband exactly right. Here is what you should do if your unfaithful spouse is undecided.
The most important thing to do is focus on your own personal growth. That way either way you come out a winner. If your husband decides to leave the marriage, you will be as well prepared as possible to move on with life alone. If your husband chooses to work on the marriage, the stronger healthier you (emotionally, mentally and spiritually – not just physically) will be all the more attractive to him, and you will have done your part to be the woman you need to be to contribute to a healthy marriage relationship.
Here are the things I recommend (some of which you are already doing):
1. Take care of your health. Eat properly, exercise, and get proper rest. Hiring a fitness trainer can be very beneficial. Mine helps me with nutrition and an exercise program specialized to meet my needs. Perhaps talk to your doctor or a naturopath about help with the sleep part.
2. Read books and educate yourself about affairs. The more perspective you have the better off you will be. Understanding will help you to heal and make the best possible decisions for yourself in this critical time.
3. Journaling is a great idea and can be very therapeutic in the journey of healing from betrayal.
4. Join a Beyond Affairs Network Support Group
Click Here for more info.
These infidelity support groups provide invaluable help for getting over affairs. If there is not group in your city, consider becoming the coordinator for your area. It’s amazing how healing it can be to share your story with others who truly do understand, and as you pool helpful resources with others, you will learn much faster and avoid mistakes.
5. Develop a positive network of friends and/or family you can trust. Not everyone is safe to share with so use discretion here, but it is not good to suffer your pain in isolation.
6. Work on developing yourself in your chosen field of work (or find out what that should be in the first place). Set goals for yourself. What do YOU want out of your life? You can also develop yourself in interests outside your vocation or in a charitable work. As you find fulfillment within yourself you will be better equipped to be an ideal partner.
As Brian commented to me during our healing journey, “Anne, you are growing tremendously as a person, and it scares me to death!” It scared him, because it meant that old unhealthy patterns in me were disappearing, and with it unhealthy patterns in the way that I was relating to him. Brian found the new “Anne” extremely attractive, but also scary because he didn’t know if he could keep up.
The chase in relationships is extremely healthy. Some women and men make the mistake of trying too hard to get/keep their partners. We have to pull back at times, show that we are strong on our own. We don’t need to be married, but rather choose it. We need to let our partners chase us too, and be confident enough in ourselves to believe that they will.
One man who had an affair, expressed this exact sentiment to Brian. He said he loved his wife and wanted his marriage more than anything – but he did not find it attractive that his wife seemed so needy of him. He wanted her to be more independent and show that she could stand on her own two feet. He wanted the challenge of having to chase her.
7. Be strong. Make it clear that you love your spouse, are willing to grow and change in the marriage and that you believe it can be better and stronger on the other side.
At the same time that you will not stay if he cannot choose you with all his heart, and if he cannot, there is no time like the present for him to leave. His affair has been a huge disappointment. Also make it clear that whatever decisions he makes, you are going to be okay. He must live with the outcome of his decisions and with himself for leaving if he decides to walk away from the promise he made to you on your wedding day. Even if your unfaithful spouse is undecided, you can live with a clear conscience – you are not the one who is breaking your wedding vows.
©Copyright 2011 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.