It’s out in the open — your spouse knows about the affair. Your life has fallen into disarray, highlighted by the intense emotions your partner is experiencing. You don’t know what to do, or where to start, as reality is starting to set in.
You might ask: “Am I allowed to be emotional since I’m the one who cheated?”
While you may feel crummy, the impact of the infidelity will be considerably harder on your spouse. But — what emotions are acceptable for the unfaithful? Are you struggling with what to feel?
Here are a few responses of the unfaithful spouse:
Grief: You may feel guilty for cutting ties with the affair person. You may have considered them a genuine friend — someone you could confide in. Maybe you felt he or she understood you in a way your spouse didn’t. Likewise, you may have felt youthful, confident and desired, in their presence.
Grieving the loss makes sense, especially if you felt life was “better” with them. Holding the affair person in high regard, he or she was someone you valued. So, even while you’re committed to doing the work of restoring your marriage, you may still be emotionally attached to your lover. This is not uncommon.
Impatience: Now that the truth is out, your calmness may surprise you. I’ve heard: I’m relieved it’s out in the open. It was a burden maintaining the lies.“
As a result, you are ready to make amends and move forward. But your spouse will see that as downplaying his or her distress. They will have questions, and want details. Oftentimes, the unfaithful will ask: “I’ve apologized several times, what more do you want from me?” Or “How many times do I need to say I’m sorry for you to believe I mean it?”
Recognizing the more details you reveal, the more hurt your spouse will be, you want to move things along. It makes sense. You want to avoid the feeling of guilt that comes with answering questions. Not to mention, you probably feel like bringing it up will make things worse.
Panic: Distracted by the intense connection of the affair you failed to realize how it would impact your marriage. The consequences were of little concern. Now panic is setting in, and you recognize the possibility of losing your wife, kids, marriage, home, and life as you know it.
Struggling to make things right, you find yourself wrestling with these emotions. Understandably, your spouse is not in a place to alleviate your panic and insecurities. You may feel the panic of the likelihood of losing your spouse, but he or she is in no rush to feel sympathy for you.
What you’re feeling is intense, scary, and unsettling. It’s normal in the immediate aftermath of an affair discovery.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Lean on your support system. Reach out to a friend you trust, and open up about the affair. Ensure they can be objective, as possible.
2. Be careful with allowing guilt to turn into shame. Shame encourages you to hide. Guilt can prove to be valuable. It can help you recognize where personal growth is necessary. Shame will cause you to hide. Your spouse will see hiding as not being accountable.
3. Answer your spouse’s questions openly and honestly. This is one small way to start the process of rebuilding his or her trust.
You will experience an abundance of emotions. And, at times, you will feel like, “This is hard on me too.” Despite what society says, this can be true.
You made a decision that severely damaged your marriage. But it doesn’t have to be the death of it. Finding a solid support system is critical to your process. This will help you give attention to your difficult emotions, so you don’t hide behind your own pain, and distance yourself.