You may have suspected. After all, she has seemed somewhat distant for a while. But you never thought it would happen to you. The moment the undeniable evidence was confronted, it was like being hit by a truck. She’s having an affair. Whether it is an emotional or physical affair, the betrayal is just as deep.
How can so many emotions hit all at once? They flood in and out—anger, sadness, hopelessness, confusion, embarrassment, betrayal, and rejection. The truth is earth shattering. The world that you know has been broken by an utter breach of trust by the person that should have honored it the most.
If you have or are experiencing this now, I am sorry. You may be asking yourself these questions: What happened? Is my marriage over? Can it be saved? Do I even want to save it? There are so many things to confront, but the main question is, what now?
You Probably Want to Walk. Stop. Give It Time.
This is understandable. She was unfaithful. However, don’t make a quick decision. Take your time working through the steps below before deciding anything. Do whatever it takes to save your marriage before walking away.
Carefully Consider Your Children.
Remember that she is their mother. They do not need to know the details or even who is at fault. Do not put them in the position of choosing sides. It’s hard enough. Tell them you and their mom are having a hard time. Affirm your love for them and continue to spend as much time with them as you can. When all is said and done, you want to be able to look at them and tell them that you did everything you could to save the marriage and keep the family together.
Flush through Your Feelings.
“Manning up” is not burying your feelings. You need to let them loose. Your feelings are legitimate. Putting on a good face won’t make them disappear. They will only surface later in the form of poison-filled bitterness. Feel deep, identify those feelings, and articulate them.
Then Confront Her.
If you have not already done it, confront your wife when you are under control. Be ready for her to place blame your way. Ask questions and gather as much information as possible. Calmly tell her exactly how you feel. Don’t hold back. This will take multiple sessions.
Get Some Solitude and Pray.
You need to get away where you have quiet time to think and reflect. Remove distractions. I would highly recommend enlisting help and direction from God. Separating for a while may be healthy.
Take a Self-Inventory.
She did what she did and you don’t have to own that. However, your marriage most likely got to an unhealthy place and that takes two people. Think through and identify the ways that you contributed. Own the part you played and what you can do different going forward.
Resist Falling into Bad Habits.
There is a deep pain and loneliness. The temptation will be to numb or distract yourself from it. Getting drunk, stoned, and/or looking at porn may temporarily provide relief and a thrill. However, in the morning, you will find yourself with an even deeper loneliness and hurt. Put your energy into healthy activities.
Find a Trusted Friend to Talk to—Be Very Careful in Your Selection.
You need a friend that you can be real with on every level. Choose this person carefully. Make sure they are a good listener, level-headed, and insightful. It will be easy to gravitate to the guy who will bash your wife. You don’t need that guy. You need the one that helps bring sober clarity.
Seek Professional Counseling and a Support Group.
Complicated problems need expertise to uncover. The issues you and your marriage are facing need professional insight and perspective. Even if you have no desire to reconcile, you should still meet regularly with a counselor for your own personal healing.
This is the hardest part, but the most beneficial. It doesn’t mean all is forgotten or that you blindly get back into the relationship. And it certainly doesn’t mean everything is okay. It just means letting go of grudges, anger, and bitterness. It means you are ready for renewal, either in moving on or hopefully restoring the marriage.