What do you do after an affair? Let me start by saying, I NEVER THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE MY STORY…
I remember when I was younger, I would hear stories of women whose husbands cheated on them & I have to be honest I had this view that they must have had a part to play in letting that happen. I was naive & honestly had no clue, like most single people about marriage… or its intricate relational dynamics that cannot be reasoned with people who have never experienced that level of commitment or even betrayal in a marriage. I do not fault myself or others for this, as the depth of relationships & even pain can only be understood – once they are experienced. No matter who you are or how many people try to explain what an affair feels like until you have lived it – YOU JUST DON’T KNOW. People like to say they understand, or that they too have been cheated on… however, an actual affair in marriage is VERY different from cheating in a dating relationship, engagement, or other levels of cheating… It is never easy to deal with & it is NEVER right to cheat.
If you haven’t heard any of my story you can check out these three posts about my journey to healing after my husband had an affair & left.
1st post – Click Here
2nd post – Click Here
3rd post – Click Here
Anyways, I say all of that to say that only a few years ago, I found myself in a place that I had previously thought was reserved for late to middle-aged women who had let themselves go or were too focused on their children to be attentive to their husbands. & yet, I was the woman who had been cheated on… I was 25 years old & only married for 6 months when the cheating began – I didn’t find this out until way later on. The pain is not in any way something you can explain or make sense of. The person that is usually involved in an affair – is not a stranger, there are many times that some form of a connection previously existed. I have learned it is not peoples chemistry, depth of relationship, or even proximity that matters when an affair takes place. In situations where most affairs happen – the main cause for a person to cheat (a man in my case) is due to the fact that they are unhappy in their current state in some form or fashion. Usually, when someone cheats, it is not because someone is more talented, more attractive, or even more well off… the people that spouses cheat with are able in some way to make that person feel good about themselves & whether it is actually a woman or a man – if someone is cheating it is usually because they have some sort of deficit or lack that they would like to be filled. It is not possible to fix the issue through an affair, the person that chooses to cheat cannot fill that lack through another relationship or affirmation from another sex – it is an internal deficit. Most of the time there is a personal issue or dysfunction that is present… When I was younger, I honestly thought that an affair was all about sex, & I quickly learned that is not, we were intimate physically the entire time the affair took place. I realize that there are many different kinds of stories & dynamics when it comes to this issue… I would like to share a lesson that I learned in my personal season of dealing with this. Your story may be different than mine, & maybe you are even the person who was unfaithful… I hope some of these posts can bring some insight into your situation – whether the timing of it is in your past or present.
It’s been said that the only people who know what goes on in a marriage are the two people who are in it, and sometimes, even they’re not sure…Sexual fidelity is a fundamentally important part of that trust that has been broken, but the whole has been affected. Everything is questioned, then, about the marriage, if the faithfulness was not kept. What was real? Was I a fool? The impact is like a death. The grieving is like a death. Nothing was what it appeared…
1. CHEATING IS NOT ABOUT YOU – IT IS ABOUT THEM.
There are many things that we can fix personally in our own lives, & there are so many things that I could have done better as a wife to the first man I married. But I cannot & could not make him choose to honor his relationship with me or God in our marriage. Somehow, every person who cheats has some elaborate reason why they did it. I truly believe it is to make themselves feel better, but the truth is that there is NEVER a good reason to cheat on a spouse. PLEASE IF YOU HEAR ONE THING FROM THIS POST… them cheating – is NOT about you. No matter what you have or haven’t done, we all have a choice in what we do & don’t do. & what we do – whether you like it or not, says more about us than anyone else. Just because people say vows & make promises… it doesn’t mean that a person will value their own words or commitments – & that is a personal choice. Being loyal & faithful is not a gift you are bestowed on your wedding day… it is WHO YOU ARE! & who you are is cultivated long before you are married or even dating…
“Pioneering research by Alfred Kinsey found that married men cheated at rates of around 50 percent. In 1953, Kinsey showed that 26 percent of married women had also been unfaithful. Estimates today find married men cheating at rates between 25 percent & 72 percent. Given that many people are loath to admit that they cheat, research on cheating may underestimate its prevalence. But it appears that cheating is as common as fidelity.”
When I found out my husband cheated, I went through all the scenarios that may have caused him to make this decision… I had so many questions. When this kind of thing happens, you don’t know who to blame, was it me – was it him… it had to be someone’s fault right? I tried to support him & be there for him, but so often he pushed me away… & then sought affirmation from other people. I couldn’t make sense of it all… I mean, I didn’t expect marriage to be easy by any means, but I also didn’t expect my husband to start cheating on me 6 months into marriage! So, I wanted to know why… What I have found out, is that I will not know why because it’s not about me. When someone cheats, it is selfish & thoughtless. It does not factor you, your relationship, or dynamics into their choices. How you are in a relationship may be seen as fuel or encouragement to stray, but at the end of the day – the choices that we make say more about us than they do anyone else. I also always wondered how someone, knowing that a person is married – could cheat with your spouse… I mean did they not know they were married? They had to of known… (in my situation they did know, this person was at all my wedding showers & was personally in my life.) & they wouldn’t want this to happen to them, so how do they justify it? I will never know that answer either, but it is something I have thought about a lot. I have always believed that if cheating is habitual – it is a character issue, not just a mistake. Especially when the person is not upfront & lies about a relationship. I guess if they were proud of who they were with or what they were doing – why hide it?
“The the old adage “once a cheater, always a cheater” could be based in truth. A 2017 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior followed nearly 500 adults through two mixed-gender romantic relationships. Researchers asked participants to report their own infidelity & whether they knew or suspected that their partner had been unfaithful. As it turned out, participants who had reported being unfaithful in the first relationship were three times more likely to report being unfaithful in the second, compared to people who hadn’t reported infidelity. Interestingly, participants who had reported that their first partner had cheated on them were twice as likely to report that their second partner had cheated on them.”
Let me also say, I do not think that people who cheat are evil. Their actions are selfish & short-sighted… at the least. I do believe in forgiveness & restoration & there is also a choice that one must make to go down this path. That is what I had hoped for my marriage. I wanted restoration, I wanted to forgive & move forward together. I honestly didn’t know what that would take, but I was open & willing. It did not happen for me in my situation, my husband chose to divorce me… However, one thing I have learned in this process of my spouse having an affair is that while it feels very personal & it seems super intimate. It is in fact way less about me & way more about how that person sees themselves. I see myself as deeply loyal & a fighter. No matter what I am staying in the game… But it is IMPOSSIBLE to fight for both sides of a marriage. In marriage, you aren’t just seeing if you fit, or dating for fun – you have committed your lives to each other. To me, marriage is the deepest & most sacred commitment in our whole life besides choosing to love God. & so to have that trust betrayed can be EARTH SHATTERING… I do not have all the answers but I do believe that God can use even our worst pains & mistakes & seasons of life & turn them into something beautiful. But we must choose to get better when we mess up & the hope is ALWAYS for restoration in my mind, but you cannot fight for someone who doesn’t want to fight for you… God has greater on the other side of that rejection & heartache. I know that now in my life… Did you know,
We know that cheating is wrong… & yet it happens all the time. EVERY single story is so different… I have more to say on this topic… it will have multiple parts to it & I look forward to connecting with others & encouraging you in your process of healing. I hope it helps you.
You are not alone, & I have found that if someone does leave you – & if they can walk away, they should!
God has more for you!