The last year has been a really tough one for me. After several months of suspecting that my husband was having an affair, he finally came clean and told me about it. My world came crashing down around me. It was hard to even make it through a day.
I have been moving through these past months with the weight of the world on my shoulders. We have two children and so I agreed to go to marriage counseling. It’s been six months of counseling and I feel like I am still trying to get past what happened. I am going through the motions, locked in this strange zone of feeling frozen.
I hope you can give me some advice to help me,
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Dear Feeling Betrayed,
Advice is a tricky word for what I am going to offer you here. I can offer you some inputs, based on what you have asked.
You are feeling betrayed, and understandably so. Once a partner agreement of monogamy is violated it is not an easy trust to reestablish.
I want to acknowledge your feelings and that they are not easy to just “get past”. The frozen feeling that you are experiencing is evidence that you have some work to do, both as an individual and as a couple.
To start, acknowledging and investigating those feeling is the way through them. You trusted and that trust was violated. Your frozen feeling reflects that the foundation of this trust has not been restored, as it is reflecting your lack of openness to experience life newly.
Marriage counseling is a good thing, as it provides a venue for the partners to open up and share their perspective. The right fit of counselor is important, as each of the partners needs to feel a comfortable connection to the one guiding the process. With this in place, trust can be grown through that safe space of sharing and learning.
At this point, you are a ways past the incident, in counseling, and still struggling. I would like to offer some sage advice from my mother-in-law, as offered to my husband when in his previous marriage, a decade before we met.
He had discovered his then-wife to be cheating and had left (moved out). Over time she was seeking for him to come back and work on their marriage. Mary, the beautiful soul who later graced my life as my mother-in-law, offered to my husband that if he returned to his then-wife that it needed to be with acceptance in his heart and that his focus had to be on now and not what was done in the past.
The perspective that Mary offered carries much truth in any couple moving forward after an incident of infidelity. Thawing out your heart begins with the intention to do so and to create a relationship that exceeds any past version of itself.
All that being said, bypassing your emotions is not the answer. Sweeping them under a rug or locking them away will not allow your healing to occur.
Working with someone to meet, understand, and release those shadow emotions will open the door to restoring your capacity to feel and be happy. This someone is most likely a coach or mentor who can walk you through this process and keep you accountable to moving through them.
This is very important work for you to do for your personal happiness. It will be very important work for your husband to do as well, as there are most likely factors that drove his decision to step out of the marriage from his own unresolved baggage of his past. This work is an investment in you and an investment in the “us” of your relationship.
There are many daily rituals that can also help you to release the past and stay in the present moment of creation. A regular walk outside, conversations with God, journaling, gratitude-journaling, meditating, and reading from a book that expands your understanding will all boost your presence in today.
Trust can only be reestablished over time. Time is a requirement of reestablishing trust. You have experienced a betrayal and your husband’s words must be backed by actions that help you to reestablish the trust.
Sharing with your husband that you are at this emotional impasse and have the need to do some personal work to move past it is important. Gaining his support, both through understanding and through his financial investment in your personal evolution is important. His sharing in the responsibility this way is a good step in the trust being restored.
Finally, do not bypass your feelings. They have a right to exist and to be explored and understood.
You can and do deserve to feel fully alive and engaged in life and in your marriage relationship. The incident of the affair does not have to define your marriage. It can be a clarifying experience on your marriage’s timeline that releases greater communication, understanding, harmony, and creation.
Please do reach out for any clarification on what I have shared here.