Dear Anne, I have read, read, and read, anything and everything I can find, on how to cope with wife having an affair. Nothing works. Nothing. I am so devastated I don’t even want to wake up in the mornings. And this is not a few days after this. This has been going on for months. How do you REALLY cope with this? I am prepared to leave the marriage if I have to. But I don’t want to. I love her so much. I don’t know what to do. – Tom
First of all let me say that, I am so sorry that you are in this situation, and that you would even need to reach out to us in the first place.
I’m glad that you are reading, and at the same time, I find myself wondering what you are reading, because there are a lot of voices out there on the Internet on infidelity these days and not all of them are good. I’m wondering how much time you’ve spent on our site so far, because I have written more than 100 articles, and together with my husband, and our team, and a host of our clients, we’ve done more than 50 teleseminars that you can start listening to now – some dealing specifically with how to cope with wife having an affair.
Yes, it is normal to feel like you don’t even want to wake up in the morning … but not necessarily for months. It does sound like you are stuck, and obviously something has got to give.
When I first began in this work, one of the most popular women’s magazines in America wanted to run my story. And I REALLY wanted to do the story, because I had a message that I knew needed to get out there, and I wanted to reach people in every way I could. However, the magazine’s editor had an agenda for this article, it was to be titled “The one thing that saved my marriage was ….”
At the end of the day I declined the story, as I told the editor, “I’m sure you’ll sell a lot of magazines, with that quick fix catchy title, because our culture is conditioned for quick fixes, but I can’t own that theme, because it isn’t true, and that approach will cause damage to people, because one thing doesn’t heal you.” I’ll tell you how I healed from my husband’s affair:
It took a stack of books, 1.5 years of individual counseling, 2 seminars, and hours of conversation with my husband. In addition, it took a fighter attitude, that said, “I have no idea how I’m going to get through this, but somehow, some way, I will.
It took a willingness to face myself, and my own demons too. I had to learn, and it wasn’t easy. I had to be willing to change. I had to get strong in myself.
Educating yourself about affairs is an essential part of healing, but learning alone will not change anything in your life. It’s what you do, differently, that will bring about change. So I ask you not, “what have you read?” but instead, “what have you done?”
The quality of our life depends on the quality of the questions we ask ourselves. You ask, “How do I cope?” It is better to ask, “How do I heal?” because healing is better than merely coping.
If your wife is willing, it would be best to pursue affair recovery coaching together. You need an outside voice to help you. A good coach or counselor can help to break the stalemate between you, by helping each of you to define what you really want, where your differences lie, and what each of you needs.
When we are surviving an affair, we do not trust our spouse who has been unfaithful. That makes sense. Ironically, they do not trust us either, even though we have not had an affair. Ultimately, your wife longs to be happy, to be fulfilled, to be loved, to be respected, cherished and heard. So do you.
Heightened emotions make it difficult to really “hear” each other in affair recovery. Each of us is too busy shouting to be heard, or shutting down altogether out of utter frustration. Usually to heal your marriage, you need to be willing to hear and give first. When one spouse begins to make the positive changes they need to make, in 95% of marriages the other person will respond positively. “It’s not fair,” you say. We know and we agree. There is nothing “fair” once there has been an “a-fair.”
The question is how much do you want your relationship – enough to be the first to make the changes?
Every person wants to see themselves as a good person, so in order to give themselves permission to have an affair, most unfaithful spouses rewrite their marital history. The good things in the marriage diminish in their minds, and the bad things become bigger than they really are.
As the betrayed spouse we are focused on our pain. Ironically, the unfaithful spouse is also focused on their pain. As they engage the affair, they begin to put energy and effort into the affair. Our feelings of love and affection follow our actions of love and affection. Since the unfaithful spouse has been putting their love and affection towards the affair partner, their feelings are going there too, usually.
Therefore, the unfaithful partner, tends to not trust their innocent spouse during the aftermath of disclosure either. So when you try to tell your spouse what to do, telling them to read books, and sending them links to articles, they are not likely to receive it, because they feel their situation is different, and that you don’t understand them.
Because of the lack of credibility you have with your spouse at the moment, it is wise to enlist the help of a good coach or counselor instead. They have a better chance at establishing trust with your partner, and in the end, guiding you both to getting the happiness and healing you both want.
There are many things we can do to cope on the interim, by seeking good support and learning positive coping mechanisms. But ultimately we feel better when we feel we are working towards something and not just spinning our wheels.
Yes, there are no guarantees on this journey. But with the right help, determination, and a willingness to change what you are doing, you can and will get through this.
I encourage you to pick up the phone now and call our office 360-306-3367. Our clients tell us continually that they are amazed by how personable, sincere, truly insightful and understanding our approach is, and the tools we give you are exceptional. We understand affairs, and are able to approach it head on in our coaching and seminars, in a way that genuinely supports both husband and wife, no matter who had the affair.
Brian & Anne Bercht
PS – We really care about you, your story and your healing. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Every email is handled with the utmost confidentiality, and we will do everything within our power to answer every email personally.