Over this time I have been able to devise my own list of things I consider necessary in recovering from the devastation of my husband’s affair. I don’t feel yet I will fully heal, or even trust him again like I used to, but I am trying and things are getting better.
1. It is vital that the cheating spouse ends any relationship with the paramour.
For me this was a difficult situation as they do and still work in the same office and he the boss of the other woman. When this other woman knew I had found out she emailed to say she would end any social interaction with my husband, I emailed her back saying under no circumstances to contact my husband socially or professionally. I was not expecting her to still be in my life one year on and they do have, very rarely, dialogue mainly through email. I will not be able to fully heal until this other woman is out of my life, as long as she is here, the affair is still alive for me.
For me it is like ripping off a scab, which has barely begun to heal, each time they see each other at work.
It is important that the betrayed partner decides the closure with the affair partner, the type of contact allowed for this closure and the betrayed spouse should review what will be said. Ideally this should be the last contact.
2. The cheating spouse must divulge as much information about the affair that is requested by their betrayed spouse in order for them to come to an understanding, to feel like the cheating spouse is now being honest and open.
My husband was not aware of the importance of this and continued to lie or omit the truth for near three months, he says to protect our marriage from damage; I say to protect himself as he thought he would lose everything. I really would like to emphasise that my husband did more damage and broke my heart more by the numerous lies and cover-ups which then unraveled to reveal the truth. I became severely messed up emotionally and he did so much damage to the little amount of trust I still had for him, that seeing a future together was harder for me to visualise and recovery seemed impossible. For those three months I was barely able to function, my children suffered because of this. The jigsaw analogy was the key to helping me and telling him why it was so important to tell all.
3. The cheating spouse must feel the pain they have caused the betrayed spouse and write a genuine letter of apology acknowledging their mistake.
The betrayer should show instant shame and remorse, do not get defensive or tell more lies. Don’t show shame for being caught, show shame for having an affair.
My husband did try and lie his way out of it and it has caused me more pain than if he’d just been honest. He can understand now how he tormented me and made me distrust him more by acting like this, he wishes he hadn’t done this.
Ideally the truth should be given immediately, the betrayed should not get discovered as this hurts the betrayed more and brings the level of trust and disappointment to a lower point than if the betrayer had offered himself the truth and shown remorse, regret and shame. As a betrayed spouse I can hand on heart say it is harder to pick myself up after being emotionally knocked repeatedly for two months by my husband.
It is easier to rebuild a marriage if the betrayer comes clean before the betrayed spouse hears or becomes investigator. It shows vulnerability and truthfulness, which disappears if the affair is covered up by lies and questions evaded. Any lies told before disclosure mean it’s harder to believe any reconciliation or declarations of love.
My husband wrote a brief apology and acknowledged it was his fault very early on, explained to me that he never stopped loving me and due to him compartmentalising the affair he didn’t connect with the impact it would have on his real life. He said he acted selfishly. I have asked for him to write to me now I am in a better place to listen, apologising for the neglect as well as the affair, I am still waiting. Without it I feel like he does not understand my pain fully or has shown true remorse.
4. The betrayer should show more compassion for the spouse than for the affair partner.
If the betrayer is still showing compassion for the affair partner then they have one foot out of the marriage. The betrayed spouse needs to see that the affair partner meant and means nothing and that the reconciliation with the marriage partner means everything to the betrayer. They have to demonstrate that their heart belongs with the spouse completely.
I was lucky in some respect that my husband has always said he liked her as a friend and did not want it to be physical. He had no problem demonstrating that the OW meant nothing to him, as she didn’t compared to me.
5. It is of utmost importance to rebuild the marriage that the betrayer becomes totally transparent. The betrayer must stay clean with no more secrets and no more lies.
My husband has done just this, I have access to all his emails, both work and private. I have access to his mobile phone and work laptop. I have access to his Skype account and I can still track him if I feel I need to.
I can now phone or text him, he used to ignore me when I did this and made me feel unloved and neglected. Now, he answers almost immediately and even instigates some of the communication.
As he often travels away with work, he also sends confirmations of hotel bookings and flights now. I do ask that he face times or skype me when he is going to bed so I can see he is alone and going to sleep.
6. The betrayer should show understanding and patience of the pain they have inflicted on the spouse.
What is the past of the betrayer is now the present pain of the betrayed. The betrayer must now become the healer for the betrayed spouse. The betrayer must show respect for the betrayed to show anger and pain and in turn show love and reassurance.
My husband did do this and took so much abuse and shouting from me, I threw and hit things in anger it was either that or stab him. I think he partly took this because he was ashamed and felt he deserved it. We have barely had a cross word in all the years we have been together, looking back I did not like myself and the way I behaved, it is not my personality, but the shock and torment I had endured had turned me into an unrecognisable person.
Throughout this abuse, he took it and did show me reassurance and love, he was determined to show me how much he loved me throughout his affair and how he loves me more since.
I think throughout the healing journey we have found a new deeper respect for each other.