What could life count for?

“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.” – A Chinese Proverb

“I have emerged from the tunnel of grief into the light. Life is better. Not the same, but good and getting better all the time.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers – widowed

Those stages of grief are:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression/Despair
5. Acceptance

When all is said and done, if there has been an affair in your marriage, no one can turn back the hands of time and undo what has been done. It is water under the bridge. At some point we must accept this reality, but that DOES NOT mean the rest of our lives must be misery. As yourself – what does your life count for after an affair?

When you’re surviving an affair, it’s good to face the affair, yourself and your marriage issues head on, but sometimes we can get out of balance doing this.

One of the best things we can do as part of our healing is to step back and see our lives as a big picture.

What does your life count for … vs. What could your life count for?

What do you want your life to count for?

How do you want to be remembered?

Will you choose to remain a victim or will you prefer to be a hero?

If you shift your focus from yourself and your own problems and start to ask yourself different questions, you can get a different perspective. One of the most helpful things you can do to survive any difficult life experience is to shift your focus by looking at problems others have faced.

Some of the worst experiences of your life, can become some of your truly best experiences, if you let them, if you choose to make them that.

We do not have control over everything that happens to us. We do not have control over the actions of others. WE DO HAVE ABSOLUTE CONTROL OVER our internal world – we decide what things mean, and what to do about them.

Some people reach the end of their lives as negative, complaining, and bitter people. Considering the suffering some people go through, this makes sense, however, other people reach the end of their lives full of joy, wisdom and contentment.

Ironically, I’ve discovered among the elderly that often those who are full of joy and are a delight to be around have often suffered much greater adversities and pain in life than those who are bitter.

“A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” – unknown

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we choose to react to It.” – Chuck Swindoll

One of my strategies for pulling myself out of a pit of emotional despair is to ask myself …

What do I wish someone would do for me today?

Then instead I do that thing for someone else. This always helps me to feel better.

“Surmounting difficulty is the crucible that forms character.” – Tony Robbins

When I was going through my own affair-healing journey, I was sure I was the hardest done by person on the planet. I didn’t deserve for this to happen to me.

I wondered if it was even sane to believe that I would ever know a single day of happiness again in my life. Today, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I share that because I want to plant a seed of hope in you today.


Now when I think back, I feel embarrassed that I was so sure my affair story was the worst situation ever. I’ve heard so many more stories that seem so much worse. The truth of the matter is each situation is worse in some ways, and each situation is better in some ways.

One woman came to a BAN meeting once and shared her story, and when I heard it, I thought for sure, I’d heard the worst thing ever. She suffered from a chronic illness that caused her to be hospitalized from time to time. On one of these occasions when she was being released to go home, her husband came and suggested that she stay at her mothers for a couple of weeks. He acknowledged that since she was still recovering she would need extra care and since his work was demanding that he work long hours right now, he feared he wouldn’t be able to care for her as she needed. Seemed logical. So she went to stay at her mother’s.

About a week later, she decided to go home to pick up a few things she needed, unbeknownst to her husband. When she entered her home, she found all of her belongings had been packed up and another woman’s belongings moved in.

She opened her closet and found another woman’s clothing hanging in place of her own. Her husband turned out to be the ULTIMATE WHIMP. He wasn’t even man enough to tell his wife the marriage was over. Imagine the horror of walking into your home after sickness to discover you’ve been replaced and your spouse hasn’t even told you!

I was sure this was the most painful story of all. I felt at a complete loss to encourage this woman. At the next BAN meeting, however, she returned and told us how incredibly encouraged she was at the last meeting. I was happy for her, but also perplexed. “I’m glad you feel better,” I said, “but do explain why? I don’t understand.”

“Well,” she said, “after attending the meeting, I realized I was better off than all of you.”

I was amazed. Better off than all of us! How could that be?

“I’m glad you feel that way, but how?”

“First of all, most of you have children with your spouses, so ending your marriages would be much more difficult. I don’t have any children yet, so it’s easier for me to make a clean break.

“Secondly, many of you are not in a position to do well financially if you pursue divorce. I have a university education and can easily support myself at a high quality of life.”

The point of this story is …

What are your redeeming factors?

What do you have going for you?

Ask yourself, what good can come from this situation?

I’m not for a moment implying that the affair was a good thing. I’m implying that you cannot undo the affair, so how can you make your life better in the future?

What does your life count for? What will you make your life count for?

Who can you help? The homeless, the poor, those in prison, those lost in gangs, prostitution or drugs? Will you do something to help save our environment? Will you help those suffering with diseases or disabilities?

Would you like to survive this affair; so that once you do, you can work with us to help others find hope and healing?

Or will you dedicate yourself to being a good parent and breaking generational patterns so your own children won’t suffer as much as you have?

Sometimes the best way to ease your own suffering is to ease the suffering of someone else. If you would really like to think about what your life will count for, I recommend writing your own eulogy from 4 different perspectives, pretending to be different people in your life: a good friend, your child, a coworker or boss, and perhaps someone from a church or other charitable organization where you contribute.

What do you want others to say about you when you’re gone?

What will you choose to make your life count for?



Anne Bercht

©Copyright 2008 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.