My husband had an affair: I’m not sure I’ll ever be happy again
Many of the adjectives you hear to describe life after an affair are catastrophic, like “ruined,” “destroyed,” and “devastated.” Many people confess that they feel that infidelity has ended life (and their marriage) as they know it. And none of this is for the better. I understand this, because my way of thinking was exactly the same. I felt like I had a perfectly normal and satisfying life before I found out about the affair, and felt like it was all gone an instant later.
And I know I’m not alone. I often hear of people saying things like, “You can call me delusional if you want, but I really don’t care. My husband and I were very happy before his affair. It’s not just me who thinks this. People always told me they had envy of my marriage. My husband and I loved and loved each other. We loved spending time together. We were very considerate of each other. We had even been through some tough times together and we came out much stronger and that made our marriage better. But I don’t see that happening this time. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this infidelity. And our happy marriage, which was always so full of love and laughter, is now barren. I can’t even bear to look at my husband anymore, let alone laugh with him. The affair lasted less than two weeks and my husband was wracked with guilt and he told me himself. He acts like he doesn’t understand why he did this but he insists we can get over it. I’m happy again Yes I give you that opportunity. I don’t believe this. The only way I could ever be happy again if we could erase the past and the affair and then carry on like it never happened. Obviously, that is not possible. So I think my happiness is over. And because of this, I don’t see the point in staying married anymore.”
I understand. My thinking was along the same lines as yours. But there was a difference. I have kids. And I was open to the idea of seeing whether or not we could work things out for them, and them alone. Frankly, I didn’t think it would be possible. But he wanted to know that, for her sake, he had done everything in his power not to break up his family. And in my mind, I thought that even if we did make our marriage work, it would only be a shadow of what it was. Because we were also happy before the adventure. (And no, I don’t think wives who say that are delusional. It’s not always martial unhappiness or discontent that causes affairs. Most men who approach me insist they love their wives.)
I have never been so happy to be wrong. I can’t tell you that every part of my recovery was wonderful. Was not. We had to take breaks sometimes because things got really bad. There were very difficult days when I thought it would be better to give up and walk away. But I can tell you that I am happy today. My marriage is happy. My family is happy. I don’t live in denial or pretend the affair didn’t happen. I see it as a stressor in our marriage that we get over, just like financial or health stressors or other things in life that challenge your marriage. I’m not diminishing infidelity. I would give anything if it had never happened. But as he did, the choice became deal with it or walk away.
I would never tell anyone that they have to stay unhappy for the sake of their marriage or children. We all deserve happiness. And I think it’s possible, even after an adventure. But I also notice that it doesn’t usually happen on its own. You have to dig deep, put in the effort, and take the time to try to rebuild your marriage, with the help of professionals or self-help if that’s what it takes.
It is not a quick or easy process, so there may be days when you are sure that perhaps you have made a bad decision or made a mistake. But in my experience, very gradually, things go from unbearable to better, to tolerable, to content, and then to genuinely happy.
We have all had tragedies in our lives that ensured that we would never feel the same again. And yet we live another day. One day we laughed, loved and endured again. Things that were destroyed are rebuilt every day. That is what makes the human spirit so resilient. I am not diminishing an adventure or its impact. I’m just sharing my experience that it is possible to be happy again. In fact, life is too short not to. And even if in the end you try very hard and decide that you cannot be happy in your marriage. Please try to be happy in your life despite everything. There is no reason for the affair to be a life sentence for you, since you were not the one who committed the crime. You were not put on this earth to be miserable or unhappy. And you deserve better. So give yourself permission to pursue happiness in whatever way you decide is appropriate.