My husband had an affair a year ago. I am still hurting from the episode. We are still married. I got back into the marriage, not because he apologized (he never did), but because I was unsure how bad a split would impact the kids. He blames me for being a “bad wife”.
I have spent the last year trying to get my stability back. I am not there yet and keep going back to why it all happened. Also, I don’t feel any love in my soul for this man. I feel I am compromising my life after I had so blatantly trusted him.
Is this normal after a year? At what point should I just allow myself to move on?
A partner’s infidelity causes some of the most painful and devastating feelings an individual can experience. Even though your world was shattered a year ago when you discovered your husband’s affair, please know that you can become whole again.
It’s normal to still hurt after one year, especially if you’re still waiting for your husband to take personal responsibility for his actions. If your husband is still blaming you and refuses to be accountable, then your relationship can’t fully heal. The pain of an unhealed relationship is unquenchable if you’re still with the person who doesn’t care about how they’ve hurt you. A partner’s unwillingness to have compassion for your pain, especially when they inflicted it on you, is really just another form of betrayal.
Before you exit the relationship, however, I encourage you to make it clear that you expect him to feel and share his remorse with you. If he doesn’t feel remorse for his behavior, then your relationship will stay stuck. If he refuses to do what it takes to feel remorse and accountability, then this is a significant threat to the future of your relationship.
Of course, he may actually feel remorse, but doesn’t have the ability to share it. This is common for many people who have committed grievous mistakes. They blame, hide, and excuse it away because it’s so terribly painful to accept their behavior and face the fact that they hurt someone they were supposed to protect. As you work to find out if he can access that remorse, it will help you better know if there is any hope for your relationship.
Also, remember that his affair isn’t your fault. Even if you were the “worst wife in the world”, he still has plenty of other ways to respond to his marriage pain. He could talk to you about his concerns, set boundaries with you, or even leave you. Cheating isn’t the only option to deal with his issues in the marriage. Blaming you for his affair prevents him from learning more about himself so he can grow from his mistakes.
Marriage therapist and author Esther Perel said that, “sometimes, we seek the gaze of another not because we reject our partner, but because we are tired of ourselves. It isn’t our partner we aim to leave, rather the person we’ve become. Even more than the quest for a new lover we want a new self.”[i] Keep the accountability on him so he can be in charge of learning what he needs to learn from this experience.
The decision to stay or go is complex and deeply personal. Make sure you quiet down the emotional and protective responses from friends and family about your situation. They are understandably concerned about you, but your decision needs to come from a place of peace, not a reactive and fearful place. Seek counsel from your Heavenly Father through scriptures, priesthood blessings, and personal prayer. Remember that the Holy Ghost will show you what things to do.[ii]
Please know that leaving this relationship will not automatically free you from pain and sorrow. There are important lessons to learn whether you are directed to stay or go. Elder Richard G. Scott counseled us not to “look for a life virtually free from discomfort, pain, pressure, challenge, or grief, for those are the tools a loving Father uses to stimulate our personal growth and understanding.”[iii] Your husband has inflicted deep wounds on you and your marriage. There is much work to be done for him to restore safety and trust. As you patiently wait to know which direction to go, allow yourself to learn and grow from these experiences.
Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves as the primary chorister. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.
[ii] 2 Nephi 32:3