I never understood women who stood by their husbands after they cheated, until the same thing happened to me. Turning off your feelings like a light switch or just forgetting all of the good times is easier said than done. And, I know that I’m alone in feeling this way. I get a lot of emails from wives that say things like: “my husband cheated and I am furious with him, but I can’t help it. I still love him,” or “how spineless am I? My husband cheated on me, but I can’t kick him out or turn my back on him. I still love him. I don’t want to let this destroy my family. Am I wrong to feel this way?,” or “I hate what he did, but I still love him. What’s wrong with me?” I’ll try to answer these questions in the following article.
Whatever You Feel Is Valid: First, I want to reassure you that no matter what you are feeling right now, it’s perfectly normal and it’s absolutely valid. Your feelings and reactions following finding out about the affair are going to run the gauntlet and probably will differ from day to day. One day you may be furious. The next you may be sad. Another day you may be guilty or ashamed. These fluctuating feelings, although frustrating, are absolutely natural.
You’ll have to be patient with yourself as you process this. Healing doesn’t not happen over night and it is isn’t linear. You’ll often move forward only to regress a bit later. That doesn’t mean that you’re delayed or not progressing. It just means that an affair is a very hard blow and is very difficult to maneuver.
Don’t Worry About What Others Think: One thing that was very difficult for me to get over is the fear of what others thought of me. I made the mistake of telling most of my girlfriends about the affair. So, they were just as angry at my husband as I was. This felt good at first, but as I began to suspect that I wanted to save my marriage, I began to get comments like “just keep an eye on him so that he doesn’t do it again,” or “you’re a better person than I am. If my husband cheated on me, I’d kick him out immediately,” or “isn’t cheating a deal breaker? How could you possibly even consider taking him back?”
Of course, these things made me doubt what I was feeling and had me feeling like I was constantly wrong or had no backbone whatsoever. One day, a new friend (who didn’t know my husband) gave me some very good advice. She said: “Listen, the only one who has to live your life is you. The only one who should be concerned with your marriage is you and your husband. You are the only one who knows if his actions are good enough for you. And that’s the only one who matters – you.”
This really struck a cord with me. The truth is, my friends were only in my life for a few minutes per day, but my husband had walked the path with me for years, had raised my children with me, and knew me like no one else. These things could not be discounted just because my friends didn’t see them or hadn’t experienced them.
Separating The Person From The Act: I often think that people who just can not forgive the affair no matter how hard they try are those who are unable to separate the person (their husband) from the actions (the affair.) They are never able to get to the place where they can’t think about their husbands and the affair simultaneously.
But, some people are able to do this – which is why forgiveness and another chance are sometimes possible. This was the case for me. It took a long time, but eventually, I was able to separate the man who had sacrificed for our family from the man who made one bad decision. Some people are never able to do this, and that’s perfectly normal too. But, it’s just as normal (and as healthy) to be able to separate the two.
Some Things That May Help You Feel Better About Still Loving Him: After a while, I decided that although I did still love my husband, there were things that I needed to move forward while maintaining my self respect. I needed to know that my husband was willing to do the work necessary to ensure that this would never happen to me again. I needed for him to be truly remorseful and to check in frequently. I needed for him to have no secrets from me, no matter how small. And, I needed for him to support me while I did some individual work on myself.
He was glad to do these things and his willingness indicated to me that he was trustworthy, sorry, and that the marriage that was worth fighting for.
This decision is very individual and there is no right or wrong answer. But, if you still love your husband after an affair, that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. It just means that you were able to separate the person from the act and that you’ve chosen your marital history over one bad decision.