What you’re going through is perfectly normal. It takes time…
Nearly two years on, there are still days when I just need to hold my wife. There are still times when she’s alone, even just for a shower, and it’s enough for those thoughts to take over. But it does get better.
Every bad day or bad evening is a chance for you two to heal together and grow closer. They are not wasted.
Life.Post.Affair Wife (hereafter known as LPAWife) responded:
I love my husband, I understand that he made a horrible mistake, and I want a life with him still. I just can’t wrap my head around being “disposable” enough to him that he could cheat on me. I sometimes feel like the “cheater” and my husband are separate entities. The cheater is the one who hurt me, who put his selfish desires in front of everything else. My husband is a good man, who did an incredibly awful thing.
To which I wrote back:
I know what you mean. I thought I could pursue my selfish desires and, as long as I kept it compartmentalized, it wouldn’t hurt anyone. I tried to love my wife and be a good husband even as I was destroying her and our marriage.
It’s not easy to reconcile the two, especially when faced with what I had done, and it probably isn’t easy for your husband either. But the fact remains that I was both and I was neither. Both the marriage and the affair had become fantasies that I lived in, while the real me was incredibly sick and hurtful. There were times before the revelation that I physically felt like I was being pulled in two different directions as the cognitive dissonance tore me apart.
Eventually you both have to realize that he wasn’t who either of you thought he was. Moving forward, he has to rise from the ashes as a new man, wiser and kinder from his self-imolation. Hopefully he realizes how blessed he is to have you beside him. I couldn’t have done it without my wife, for whom I’m eternally grateful.
The reason I’m posting this, besides the fact that I have three or four posts stuck in perma-draft, is that I shared this with my wife and she really liked what I wrote. It was meant to be just a couple of encouraging comments, but I ended up neatly summarizing my downfall and our recovery.
I think it’s important to realize that the person who cheated is the same person who was a wonderful (or maybe not so wonderful) spouse for all those years before the affair. No matter how much either the cheater or the cheated tries to split those two sides of the coin apart, they are still the same coin, and those two people are really just two aspects of the same broken person.
On the other hand, affairs can be incredibly destructive. They obviously destroy marriages and families, but they also destroy individuals. Whether we chose that destruction or had it inflicted upon us, each of us has a choice whether the person who emerges from that destruction is rebuilt in the image of the old or built in the image of something new – something better or possibly something worse.
I am the same man who was self-righteous but loving for all those years. I’m also the same man who foolishly thought he could have his own way without hurting his wife so long as I was careful. But those things don’t define who I am now. What defines me now is how I act, how I think, how I feel, and how I respond to the destruction I’ve caused. In all those ways, I have chosen and continue to choose a different way, a better way. I choose to die to self.