This experience has left you looking at the world through a very dark lens.
Are you an unworthy, broken person – and this is why you are in this predicament today, a victim of infidelity? Read on for the answer to this question.
Cheating: The End of a Dream?
Think back to your wedding day. You no doubt had high hopes that every day in the future would be as picture perfect as that day was. You were full of positive dreams for the future.
At some point, a transition took place from that dream-like, newlywed state to the one where you get involved in the business of life: working, cleaning, family and childcare obligations and staying on top of the ever-present “to do” list.
And then you found out your spouse cheated.
Upon finding out about your spouse’s affair, you may have had thoughts such as:
“I cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids. I must not have done it well.”
“I poured my entire identity into this relationship, and now I’m just a shadow.”
“Apparently, I’m just not worthy of devotion from my spouse, if he/she could do this.”
Suddenly, everything is cast into a negative light: your sense of self-worth, your lifestyle, who you are as an individual. In addition, because this one horrible decision has been made by your spouse, it may seem as if this failure is a catastrophe is something from which you can never recover.
Unfortunately when an affair broadsides the victim, negative thinking seems to become the rule of the day. It’s hard to think positive thoughts when you first discover your spouse has been unfaithful, or to feel good about anything – including yourself.
No doubt about it, your self-confidence has taken a hit. You question everything: your marriage, yourself, and every choice you’ve made since that fateful day when you first met your husband or wife. You sift through every mistake you’ve made, and sum it all up as one big mess that there’s no turning back from.
You may even doubt you’re worthy of happiness and a good marriage. A divorce could be in your thoughts, and you’re ready to toss in the towel. It’s over, right?
Not so fast.
Three Steps to Regain Your Marriage-Saving Power
This is a lot to take on yourself – a huge burden from which I want to offer you some steps to find relief.
Step 1: Reframe the “failure” of marital infidelity
Your spouse made a rotten decision. While it may seem as if it’s a catastrophe, that’s only your mind defining it as such. If you want to rebuild your marriage, then reframe the affair not as a catastrophe, but as your marriage “wake up” call.
You’ve heard the saying, “when handed lemons, make lemonade.” Yes, your spouse sure handed you some bitter lemons. The lemonade to make from them is the opportunity to review your life and your marriage, and see if there are changes that could be made in how you’ve been conducting your life.
Too much time spent at work? Too much attention to the kids – to the exclusion of your relationship with your spouse? (I know this is a challenging one – obviously, children are an integral part of your life when you have them, but there is still the relationship between you and your spouse that needs attention.) Have you neglected to communicate your needs to your spouse?
Step 2: Understand that infidelity places you in a temporary mindset
Notice I say “temporary.” It’s important to remind yourself that what you are going through at the moment does not need to color your entire future. Your mantra may need to be: “this too shall pass.”
Don’t accept that this negative period of your life actually defines who you are as a person, what your marriage is, and what you deserve. Remind yourself that you make those definitions, and right now – the affair has dust cast an ugly cloud over everything. The cloud will pass.
Step 3: Work on your self-confidence
Negativity undermines our self-confidence: we don’t feel confident to get along in the world. You may begin to think of yourself as unworthy and broken, but when you hear those thoughts come into your head – immediately counter them with their opposite: I am worthy, I am a whole person.
Our minds are powerful. Please remind yourself frequently that it’s YOU who has the power over what goes through there in the form of thoughts, images and memory interpretations.
My very best to you as you reframe failure and save your marriage.