Truly Healing from an Affair and Making Your Marriage Magical Again
How My Husband and I Rekindled Our Love
Affairs are life-altering, destructive forces that trample lives and marriages under its heels. An affair does not need to be the death of a marriage, it can be an amazing rebirth. If you are bitter and want to punish your spouse for the pain they have caused you, this article is not for you. If you are open to making changes, excepting responsibility and holding on to hope, I hope my journey of healing and love with inspire you and help you recapture your own happy ending. If you have experienced an affair and want to rebuild your marriage, then read on.
The Pain of Discovery and Rebirth
When I first learned of my husband’s affair, it was probably one of the most devastating moments of my life. So much so, that for a few hours, I could barely process anything. It seemed so surreal. I was trying so hard to put the splintered pieces together and understand what was happening. Although my subconscious had told me something was going on for a while, I didn’t want to believe it. I was willing to believe whatever lies my husband fed me just to keep my delusions.
Even after reading the very damning texts, part of me still wanted to believe that it wasn’t true. I wanted to believe anything excuse he might have come up with just to erase and negate them. In a few short sentences, everything I knew came crashing down around me. At this point, it would have been very easy to play the victim card. After all, I was the wounded party, the betrayed wife.
However, when the affair came to light, I saw every single mistake I had ever made in my marriage. I saw every single instance when I had belittled my husband, taken him for granted or tried to control him. I saw all the ways I had damaged not only him but our marriage and our friendship. It was all there, and it was like a punch to the gut. Yes, I could blame him for seeking someone else out, but I didn’t want to blame. I wanted my best friend back.
As I saw my part in the tragedy, I saw that I had changes that I needed to make towards my husband. I realized that my husband deserved better treatment from me like he received before we had kids. He wasn’t mine to just take advantage of and expect the world from. He was the man I loved who deserved to be shown that I appreciated him.
Fortunately, this story has a happier ending. We were able to overcome this huge obstacle that had the potential to destroy our marriage and built something stronger in the end. It wasn’t easy, but we worked together, and it worked out better than either of us could have imagined.
Figuring Out How Things Fell Apart in the First Place
Before we had kids, the two of us were inseparable, best friends. Nobody came before him; his opinion was the most important and, in my eyes, he stood upon the golden pantheon of a demigod. We were the kind of couple that talked to each other in silly voices and foreign accents. We had a language all our own that consisted of endless inside jokes and movie lines. We had this almost psychic connection. It was magic to me.
Then we had children, and everything slowly began to change. I went from best friend and lover to mommy mode in the blink of an eye and my poor husband began to take a backseat to our children in every way. Suddenly, in not so subtle way, I made him feel like he wasn’t the center of my universe anymore. I had made our children my priority. The sad thing is, even though I had stopped making him my priority, I still expected him to make me his and I got upset if he didn’t.
To his credit, in most ways, he still made me his priority, even during the affair. I didn’t realize just how much my husband truly loved me and my indifference and un-acceptance was killing him. All he wanted was my love and admiration and all I could see was what I perceived him doing wrong. The worst part was he was crying out to me and I just didn’t hear it. To cope, my husband began to just stop caring, or at least to try not to.
How the Healing can Begin
When an affair is discovered, 90% of your success will depend on how you handle it. It is vital if you want your marriage to survive, you use your head to rationally think about what you want to accomplish and not let your emotions carry you away. Not an easy task by any means. You have to realize that this is basically cleaning up after a tornado. There is a ton of rubble that needs to be cleared away and you need to be willing to accept your part in the destruction.
When I was clearly able to see my part in the fiasco, it truly helped me move forward. I knew almost immediately that I didn’t want to leave. I loved my husband more than I hated what he had done. We spend a lot of time talking. More than anything at first, we spent every bit of time we had going over our life, what went wrong between and where we would go from here. I took a careful look at our life and I had to take reasonability for my part. It really does take two and if you are really in a true love relationship, you have played a part, whether you are willing to believe or not.
The next important step was removing the other woman from the picture. Let me warn you, getting rid of the other woman is no easy feat. Some women just can’t take the word “no” for an answer and the ending of the affair almost makes them dig in their heels deeper with determination to win. This part is not for the faint of heart. Your husband is probably not in love with her, but he has definitely formed an emotional attachment. That in itself can cause a few problems and she will try and use that to her advantage.
The first and most important step is that your husband has to agree to cut off all contact with the other woman. This part is seriously hard and will challenge your patience and sanity. I know this is probably the hardest thing you will ever do but you have to allow him to find closure in this. Most mistresses do not go quietly into the night. A lot of them will do everything in their power to undermine your relationship and prey on your weakened trust.
The other woman went out of her way to make my life a misery. She tried to destroy me from the inside out. She checked her morals and dignity at the door and went after me without mercy. It was difficult and I was no match for her twisted attacks. There was a silver lining to these attacks. Every time she went after me, it brought my husband and I closer together, creating a common enemy.
The Real Healing Begins
I loved to say that once the affair was over everything turned out like a fairy tale from a storybook. This is real life, things are never that easy. In fact, I would say I was nothing short of a mess for the first few months. My self-esteem was in the toilet, I couldn’t eat (not without throwing up), and my mind was always racing. Some days I don’t know how I functioned and got through the day except to say that my resolve to be with my husband was stronger than my desire to give up. Day by day things did get better.
This was not an overnight process. Trust had been broken and it had to be rebuilt and not just on his side. I had to show him that I could love, appreciate and admire him as I had years ago. Just as our falling apart had not been an overnight process, neither was the rebuilding. We needed to start from scratch and find things we both enjoyed, and we started spending quality time together. We made it our priority to spend as much time together doing the activities that we had enjoyed early on in our relationship. We dated each other again, made sure to hang out and chat and rekindle that friendship that was always the focal point of our relationship.
When I look back on this period, it was tumultuous in my mind, but in hindsight, it was us falling in love all over again. The nervousness, the eagerness to please, the heightened awareness of each other. That in itself was a powerful aphrodisiac. We were both, fortunately, coming from the same place of realizing just how important our relationship was. It had taken on a new importance and we were drunk on the newness and finding each other again. There was a giddiness of having snatched something out of the jaws of death. A wonder that made us both stand in admiration of a higher power to save us from our blinded selves.
Did we talk about the affair? Yes, we did, especially in the beginning. However, as we found new things to concentrate on, she became less of a focal point as time went on. After the first few months, the only time she really came up was when she pulled one of her silly tricks to cause problems. In these circumstances, she actually made us closer as we were discussing her as a common problem that we would like to be rid of.
I Made Him My Priority
Most people, mothers, will tell you that their children are their highest priority. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t healthy for a marriage. Husbands don’t do well coming in second place. Men have very specific needs and attention is one of them. I know we feel like they should be these tough warriors and they are, but they need to know that they are important to you and to feel respected. They need to feel that they are more than a paycheck. I know it goes against the grain to put someone above your children, but this is the person who you will grow old with after your little birds have flown the nest.
I quickly realized that I didn’t have to focus all my attention on my children and I could still be a good mom. In fact, seeing their parents happy and in love was far healthier for my children than two people who barely got along. I tried to find ways to show him daily that he was my priority and I loved him. It wasn’t even big things. I made his favorite cookies, tried to make meals that I knew he liked. I made sure that I saved some energy for him in the evenings, so we could sit and talk. I found something very interesting over the following months. When I wasn’t being critical, when I wasn’t focused on the bad stuff, I was suddenly able to see and appreciate all of the good things he did for me and for our family. I learned that you see what you look for and I realized that all I needed to do was change my perspective. It was miraculous how just my change in attitude brought new life to our relationship.
The 5 Love Languages
During the time we were rebuilding I discovered a book called the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Of all the books and articles on relationships that I read, this was by far the most helpful. I learned that not everyone receives love in the same way. What makes one person feel loved, may not be what makes someone else feel loved. We usually project or love our spouse the way we want to be loved, not the way they want to be loved. Was that ever a revelation for me. Was I loving my husband wrong? This was both intriguing and mortifying.
There is a quiz that partners can take which narrows down what their love language is. However, my husband isn’t one of those people who likes to take “relationship quizzes,” so I needed to really read the book to discover what his love language was. It was simple to figure it out once I read each of the different languages, his love language stood out quite clearly to me. The interesting part was I was able to use my new information, not just on his language but the theory, in general, to cultivate some very heartfelt and deep conversations with him. It was an eye-opener to see some of his hidden depths, thoughts, and fears about relationships.
I realized that by seeking out interesting new information, I could infuse our relationship with new life. We could have intelligent conversations about things other than our children, the news and other topics which had dried up and gone stale. I realized that my marriage needed to keep evolving and I needed to keep finding new things to bring life into it. It sounds elementary and like something everyone should already know, but when life takes over and your only communication is about your children or what bills need to be paid this week, your conversations get boring.
That was something the other woman brought, new conversations that had nothing to do with the children, the home and all the boring day to day stuff. The other woman wanted to know his thoughts, his dreams, and his desires, making him feel like he was significant. Not that you should stop talking about these things, they are important. However, it's more important that you carve out time to spend together and talk about things that don’t involve your everyday life. Getting to know each other again.
When was the last time you asked the kinds of questions you did in the beginning? When you first met, you wanted to know everything about your spouse. Later in life, you just assume you already know who they are. People change over time. You aren’t the same person you were five years ago, maybe even one year ago. It only makes sense that neither are they. They have changed in subtle ways that you may not have even noticed. Get to know them again. Talking can build real intimacy.
Create Rituals and Celebrate Life
This can feel awkward as hell at first, especially in the first few days following the discovery of the affair. Feelings and emotions are running high, but you absolutely cannot skip this most vital step in healing your marriage. This is the bonding, the living, the exploring that is the oxygen to the flame of passion and happiness in your marriage. This is the time to rediscover why you fell in love and learn new things about your spouse.
Maybe your partner has discovered a new sport or hobby, show interest, find something you can do together. In the earliest days of your relationship, I am willing to bet that you would have sat through the most boring, mind-numbing activities just to spend time with them and make them happy. In the beginning, you created rituals and found things you both enjoyed. It is time to cultivate that attentive attitude, but most of all, have fun together.
We discovered music was our bonding force. We had loved music when we were young, and it was always something we shared with each other. Over the years, music had taken a backseat to everything else in our life. We discovered a way to reawaken this in our life by sharing songs, all sorts of songs. We purchased a subscription to Google Play which gave us an unlimited amount of music. We would send songs back and forth to each other, love songs, a new song we just discovered, an old song we used to like. We discovered new bands and started attending concerts and festivals together.
We used music to speak to each other. He created a playlist with beautiful songs that told me how much he loved me. Then I created one for him and day after day new songs were added to each of our lists and would be sent back and forth from our phones. When we would sit on our patio, talking and listening to music, we would suddenly find ourselves dancing. It was so romantic, and I was happier than I had been in forever. It bonded us and created beloved rituals between us.
Music was just the beginning, it was a door opener and we spent time finding new ways to celebrate our life. I opened my closed mind to new foods, adventures, and past times. We had purchased a boat a few years earlier but suddenly it was a new adventure just getting out on the lake together. We took romantic sunset cruises, just the two of us. We surprised each other with different amorous ways to utilize our time alone on the water. It was exciting and infused our life with magic and energy that it had not had in many years. It was like finding my best friend again after so many years. I felt alive again. All it took was a little creativity and a desire to have fun. As time went on we found new interests to share and our relationship continued to evolve.
Texting and Appreciating
My husband and I also started to text each other more. Not about our usual day to day things like “don’t forget soccer tonight” or “what’s for dinner?” but texts that said things we liked about each other, how we missed each other or sometimes something a little bit more provocative. It was a quick way to reach out and say, “I’m thinking about you and you’re important to me.” It may not seem like much, but on some days, those texts were my lifeline. They gave me something to hold onto. I knew if he took the time to send it, he wasn’t just going through the motions. In time, those texts took on a life of their own. We both began to look forward to what message or song was coming through our phones.
I started to make a point of noticing all the things he would do for me and thank him. Showing my appreciation of him was one of the most important changes I made. Even if they were just small things. I made a point of looking for the good things and not worrying so much about the things I didn’t like. He seemed to blossom in the light of my appreciation, respect, and gratitude, which made him want to do it all the more. It was all in my attitude. When I was happy and appreciative, he would do anything to keep me that way. He confessed that before, I was never happy, and it made him feel like he couldn’t do anything right and after a while, he stopped trying.
From that point on, I made up my mind to keep a gratitude diary, where I would write down all of the nice things that he did or said and made a point to appreciate them. I was determined that I would have an attitude of gratitude. At first, my entries were simple things like “He put out the garbage, so I didn’t have to.” It was incredible as time went by how much more amazing my entries became because he was going out of his way to make me happy, the more I showed how much I loved and appreciated his effort.
If I Could Go Back and Change Things, I Wouldn’t
A long time ago, I learned that some of the best things in our lives come out of the worst times. This affair turned out to be one of my greatest blessings. I have changed as a person, I grew in ways I never imagined I could and for the better. My relationship with my husband is healthier and stronger than it has ever been. We are closer and more in love than we have been in many years. We found that lost spark that was all ours.
My husband says that if he could go back and change things he would, even though he loves where we are. Me, personally, I wouldn’t change a thing. If I have learned anything, it is that changing something would keep us from where we are today, and I love where we are today. We aren’t haunted by the affair, we use it as a growing point, a reference point. Something to remind us not to take our life and each other for granted. I am grateful to the other woman for just being the other woman. I am grateful that we were able to rebuild our relationship for the better. I am grateful that we were able to take something as horrific and destructive as an affair and use it to build a better life.
It would have been so easy to just roll up, play the victim, harbor resentments, and live in the past all the while constantly nursing my wounded vanity as so many people do. It would have been effortless to just let the hurt kill me. Life isn’t meant to be lived like that. Happiness can be reclaimed through forgiveness and love. Yes, an affair hurts and the pain can be intense. It can do an immeasurable amount of damage to a marriage. It is how we choose to deal with it that can make for a better marriage.
If you really truly love your spouse and want your marriage to be happy and successful, then you have to embrace a new future out of the ashes of your old one. Imagine land in the aftermath of a volcano; although it is all blacken and destroyed, in time the earth becomes more fertile through the minerals in the volcanic ash. Yes, there has been an enormous amount of damage and destruction, but after some time beautiful life can and will spring forth from the soil. The same principle holds true for a damaged marriage. Out of the chaos and damage can grow a fertile and wonderful relationship, if you're courageous enough to seek it out.
Don’t focus on the hurt or pain, if you have to focus on anything, focus on remedying the problem that caused the affair in the first place. If you want your marriage to not just survive but thrive, then you have to be ready to be strong, humble, compassionate, and understanding. The question you need to ask yourself is do you want to be happy or do you want to be a martyr. You only get one shot at life; don’t you owe it to yourself to really live it? The affair and the other woman don’t have to be the downfall to your marriage, they can be the catalyst that helps bring you to your happily ever after.
If I can impart one piece of advice, it is this. Anger and pride are not going to fix your marriage. They are negative feelings that are just going to push you further apart. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and really love and live. The other woman doesn’t matter and if she is haunting you in your mind, just remember this, the best revenge is to be happy and live a great life. You will find it very hard for both of you to be thinking about the other woman and the affair when you are having fun and laughing together, creating new memories.