There’s no question that dealing with a cheating husband, boyfriend, or man is potentially one of the most painful things a woman will ever go through. Many women tell me that few things derailed them, hurt them, and shook them to their core like dealing with cheating by the man that they love. This can be devastating on so many levels. You question his feelings about you. You potentially change the way you feel about yourself and your ability to make sound judgments. You worry that you’re no longer attractive or appealing. You feel so betrayed that it can be hard to know how to move forward.
Of all of the questions that I get from women in this situation, how to cope is among the most common. You feel as if your whole world has been pulled out from underneath you and it can feel as though you just want to hide away from your regular life for a while. But, usually the world keeps right on turning even though you may feel as if you’re reeling. Often, you still have your children to nurture, your job to go to, and your obligations to meet. The world doesn’t stop only because he cheats, but it sometimes feels as if your ability to move forward is in question.
Women often ask me things like “how do you cope after he cheats on you?” Or “what things will make it easier to cope with this sort of betrayal?” In the following article, I’ll offer some tips and insights on coping after he cheats or has an affair.
Really Accept That His Cheating Wasn’t Your Fault And You Have No Obligation To Carry This Around With You: Many women really do intellectually know that a man’s cheating often has very little to do with the woman he was cheating on. In other words, his cheating often doesn’t mean that you were a bad wife or girlfriend. It doesn’t mean that you’re not attractive, or sexy, or appealing. Nor does it mean that the woman he cheated with is anything special or has anything better.
Men often cheat because of something that is going on within them. It truly is mostly their shortcoming, not yours. Sure, you may look back now and see times where you could’ve been a more attentive spouse. However, that is true of everyone. No one is perfect and no issue or shortcoming makes cheating OK.
Many of us know and understand this. However, incorporating this into your life is a whole different process. Believing it in our heads is different from feeling it in our hearts. Sometimes, you have to keep reminding yourself that it isn’t your fault when you start to dwell in dark places.
Because if you don’t, you run the real risk of having this continue to follow you around. His cheating should not become a life time problem for you. And yet, many women are affected by this for years after the event. This can affect your other relationships and faith in countless people that have nothing to do with the original person who cheated. It can really help to make a very conscious decision that you have no intention of allowing this to change your world view or the way that you feel about yourself.
Focus On Yourself More Than You’re Focusing On Him Or On The Relationship: It’s sometimes a knee jerk reaction to immediate focus on the “whys.” You want to know why he did this. You want to know why this happened to you or why you never saw it coming. I understand the whys. I was caught up in them for a long time.
But more important than the why is the hows. In other words, you’ll want to look at how you can more forward in the most healthy way for you. Sometimes, what is healthy for you is also healthy for the relationship and vice verse. But it is most certainly not selfish to spend as much or more time worrying about yourself than worrying about him or the relationship.
You have to take extra care of yourself right now. It’s very interesting to me that so many women will jump in and become champions for their best friend when cheating happens to that same friend. However, when cheating happens to them personally, they’ll often try to shrug it off, rush themselves, or insist that they’ll be OK when they doubt this is true. You have to be your best friend right now. You have to treat yourself as well as you would treat your best friend. You wouldn’t let your best friend move on with a stiff upper lip but with no real resolution. So make sure you give yourself that same sort of commitment.
It is not selfish to focus on the things that give you strength and make you happy. People sometimes tell me this is avoidance, but I’d disagree. I’m not advocating ignoring what is going on or never dealing with it. Of course you’ll have to deal with it. But you’ll have an easier time of that if you make yourself as strong as you can possibly be before and while that is happening.
Discard What Isn’t Working For You. Embrace What Is: You have to carefully edit what you allow into your life right now. It will usually become apparent what’s helping and what’s not. And sometimes, you’ll find that well meaning friends are bringing you down with their opinions and their judgments. If this is happening, you will sometimes with have to be honest or limit your exposure to these things.
You really do have to safeguard your own well being right now. Because you’re the one who best knows what you are really feeling and what you really need. Know that your feelings and your needs are valid and you don’t have to make any apologies for this. If it offers you some relief, brings a smile to your face, or makes you laugh, give yourself permission to do it.
Although I never would’ve believe this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com
Katie Lersch writes articles about moving past an affair. Her corresponding blog is at http://surviving-the-affair.com/