How you handle difficult times is what sets you apart

Infidelity in a marriage isn’t easy on anyone.  It hurts, it triggers fears, it ruins the status quo, it just totally and completely sucks. Once it enters your world you will never be the same.

I wonder then why some people are able to move beyond a betrayal to rebuild a stronger relationship or to at least improve their own character – and others never do.   Some women just get stuck.

I read some blogs recently that were posted on a ‘divorced moms’ site.  I think what struck me most is the self-righteousness of the author and the anger that lurked behind every word.  One blog in particular was fueled by a belief that simply by kicking her husband to the curb that she had somehow become a stronger, better person.  I’m not saying that it doesn’t take a degree of strength to kick your spouse out of your life – but in the case of this particular woman that act alone didn’t seem to change her.  Years after the divorce she was still experiencing the same degree of hate and anger – but now she was doing it alone.  The hatred that seeped into her words were heartbreaking.  Hatred for her husband, for men in general, for women who sleep with married men…it was pretty upsetting.  This woman has children with her ex – I can’t help but wonder how much of that hate is felt by those kids – and what happens when one day those children are old enough to read their mom’s blog.  Ugh.

I do understand when women decide to divorce their husband because of infidelity.  As much as I’m a believer in staying, I do think there absolutely are cases when leaving is the best thing to do.  But it doesn’t negate the need for those women to try to move beyond the anger, to deal with the pain, to forgive rather than hate, to own up to their own patterns and to open their hearts.  These things that need to be done whether you stay or you go.  There is no sense in dwelling in the pain.  It’s needless suffering.  Holding onto that hatred and all the feelings that go with it can never benefit anyone and won’t prepare you for the possibility of a healthy future relationship.

If you are struggling with the idea of forgiving an ex or a current partner who betrayed you – maybe you can start by praying for that person.  Perhaps that can be the first step down a lighter more positive path.  A path that is lit by empathy, caring and love.

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A blog for both the cheater and the cheated upon.

I certainly don’t claim to be an authority on the subject of marital infidelity, but I do think I offer a unique perspective on the subject.   My understanding arrived first as the unknowing wife who was cheated on – repeatedly – by her sex addict husband.  Second, as the lonely, confused woman who sought comfort in an affair in order to escape the pain of my husbands actions.

Many of those who follow my blog are women who themselves have experienced the unimaginable pain of discovering their husband has been unfaithful.  Another significant group of followers are men who are married but cheating on their spouse.  Interestingly, I also have women following my blog who are the the mistresses of married men.  I appreciate that there are people from all sides of this complicated subject reading my posts.   I have no ill will toward any of these people and I sincerely hope that once in a while something I say resonates with each one of you.

This diverse audience is the reason that I write in equal parts from the viewpoint of both the hurt wife and the cheating spouse.  It’s natural to just want to read the parts that you personally relate to – this selective reading provides support through familiarity but not necessarily any growth.  I encourage everyone to read both sides of my story, perhaps by doing so one can begin to find some empathy or understanding toward the other parties involved.  Trying to understand isn’t the same as condoning lying and betrayal  – but by examining the flip side of the situation I believe we can start to move closer to the goal of healing.

Here are some of the feelings that I have experienced over the past 10 years through my discovery of my husbands addiction, his acting out, his relapse, my affair and our recovery.   If you have felt any of these feelings then I suspect many of my blog posts could be of interest to you – no matter which side of the affair you fell on:

Humiliation, disgrace, embarrassment, denial, apathy, pity, anger, hatred, loathing, rage, contrition, revulsion, guilt, superiority, shame, wrath, resentment, pity, indifference, compulsion, disgust, preoccupation, fixation, anxiety, obsession, passion, longing, craving, desire, loneliness, controlling, fearful, comprehending, powerlessness, forgiving, compassion, understanding, gratitude, empathy, tolerance, trust, love.

When being grateful comes easily

48 hours from now, I will be waking up in the recovery room following my bilateral mastectomy.  For an entire year now I have been consumed with fear, doubt, denial, confusion and stress.  When I finally made the decision (literally 5 minutes before surgery #1) I felt an unexplainable certainty.  When the pathology results of the samples they took during that surgery came back a few days later I knew I had chosen well.  I am so grateful that I pushed through my fear of surgery in order to get this information.

Doctors today let their patients make their own decisions.   I’m sure their insurance companies insist on that.  But putting such a complicated decision upon someone with no medical knowledge is absolutely harrowing on the patient.  Even so, I am grateful that my doctors (all female and in their 40’s) would say “you can’t make a wrong decision” but each would then follow up with “if it were me, I would do the mastectomies”.   Legally, they can’t be held accountable for telling me what they would do if it were them.  For that unofficial advice I am grateful.  I live in Los Angeles, and have many cutting edge, experienced doctors to choose from – in the end going with female surgeons with excellent credentials – I am grateful to have such choices.

As much as I am grateful for early detection and my medical team – it doesn’t begin to compare with how grateful i am that I am with my husband.  He has been an absolute rock every minute of the past year.  When I was afraid he held me, when in pain he helped me, when I was in denial he would gradual nudge me back toward reality.  He prayed for me and with me.  He taught me to meditate and to release my emotions.  He finds me beautiful even when my breasts are bruised, scarred and swollen.  He loves me and gives me so much to fight for.

The fact that I almost left him – twice – seems surreal to me now.  The first time was when I found out how out of control his sex addiction was, that he had cheated on me just a year or so into our marriage.  The second time was when my ex boyfriend was offering an escape to an old life with a long history.  Words can’t express how grateful I am that I could see the bigger picture:  That these sexual and addictive parts of our lives were opportunities to grow – both as individuals and as a couple.  When we both disclosed the complete truth to one another a year and a half ago we knew we were both finally in it for real.  The love I feel for and from my husband every minute of every day tops my gratitude list.  I couldn’t imagine experiencing all the joys and pains of life without him by my side.

Even with his flaws – he is a good, good man.  If you have one of those as well, but are rightfully confused about how to react to his infidelity and/or addiction I suggest trying to get beyond his past actions and start forgiving.   Then hopefully one day in the not so distant future, you too will get to a place of true love, compassion and – of course – gratefulness.

Practicing Gratitude

When there is so much debris from a marital nightmare floating around, it is really easy to get stuck in negative thoughts.  When you get stuck in these thoughts, you can spiral into depression really quickly.   On my bad days – I force myself to list at least 3 things that I am grateful for.  Doing this exercise helps shift our perspective away from the negative, it reduces my stress and forces me to be in the moment.  It is a healthy way to break out of an obsessive thought pattern.  For some people it’s the very thing that helps them get out of bed in the morning.

 
Sometimes the list is very basic 
 
– I am grateful I have use of my arms and legs
– I am grateful I have a job
– I am grateful that my parents are both alive and healthy 
 
But even on a good day it is wonderful habit to practice gratefulness.  Here is a list of 20 random things I am grateful for today.
 
I am grateful that there is a Starbucks next to my work
I am grateful I discovered Almond Milk
I am grateful that I can afford a health club membership 
I am grateful that my hair isn’t falling out from stress
I am grateful that no one in my family is incarcerated 
I am grateful that I slept well last night
I am grateful that my skinny jeans fit today
I am grateful that I can go home for Christmas
I am grateful that I heard the song from The Band Perry on the way to work today
I am grateful that my niece asked me to be her confirmation sponsor
I am grateful that I am comfortable expressing my anger 
I am grateful that I don’t have a cold
I am grateful that my A**hole neighbor is out of town
I am grateful that I discovered an amazing therapist
I am grateful that the new ELLE showed up today
I am grateful that I get a 4 day weekend next week
I am grateful that my dad completely recovered from his stroke last month
I am grateful that noise under my car was just a stuck piece of junk
I am grateful that I have friends who want to spend their birthday’s with me
I am grateful that we don’t have to visit any in-laws during the holidays
I am grateful to be married to a wonderful and sober man
I am grateful that I lost count and went over 20 without even trying!

 It’s almost Thanksgiving…what a good time to try starting a gratitude practice.