It seems so simple to label the affair as fantasy and the cheating spouse as addicted; in a fog and damaged people who looked outside of the marriage for fulfillment. That all makes it almost palatable. It allows us to stay in the mariage to understand and excuse and forgive. Right? When I look at the person he was or was capable of being,I question all of those excuses and explanations we use to help us get by and through; to try to forgive. There is something inside of me that just cannot accept the way he treated me. The deliberate abandonement and manipulation and deceipt. It was'nt a made for tv movie discovery-one day I find out and the affair ends or maybe it doesnt end right away but eventually without all of the carnage. I allowed myself to hold on to save the marriage, to save this poor, addicted, needy person from making the biggest mistake of his life. Ha! In the meantime, I laid down and sacraficed so much of myself under the guise that I was gonig to save my marriage. He did eventually come around-out of the fog. He promises to make it up to me-whatever that means. How do you make up for murdering someones soul? Where do we go from here? How do we reconcile all of the damage?How do we reconcile all the damage Where do we go from here? Haven't we all asked ourselves those questions? Haven't many of us wondered if, by extending forgiveness, we're giving our spouse an easy out? A way to avoid the consequences of their actions? That we're the ones paying the price for their crime?
We're left with a hole where our heart used to be, while our husbands got to have this exciting affair. That we were dragged through the mud, while they come back to an intact family. That they don't have to pay for their mistake the way we do.
Which, I suppose, is kinda true. And if we're approaching our post-betrayal lives as accountants, then it never will be even. The ledger will never really balance.
So what do we do?
We can rage and wail and scream that it's not fair, which is something many (I am, of course, referring to myself) do. We can kick him out and file for divorce, which seems reasonable under the circumstances.
Or we can, as our writer says, come with up excuses or explanations for our spouse's behaviour and try to piece together what's left of our marriage in the hope that it can withstand the storm.
The choice is always ours. What we don't get to choose is that it happened at all.
We have been betrayed. And that will never be "fair".
We can choose to feed our sense of injustice. We can become cynical and tell ourselves that we've created "excuses" to help us get by.
But there is a cost to approaching it that way.
I believe that examining the reasons behind my husband's cheating gave me a deeper understanding of and compassion for him. I could look at it as creating palatable excuses that allowed me to stay in the marriage. It might be technically true.
But it isn't helpful.
Even if I wasn't going to stay in the marriage, looking at his behaviour as simply the actions of a deplorable human being doesn't take me where I want to go, to a deeper understanding of human nature. To a place of compassion for my children's father.
Nor does it take me to a place of deeper compassion for myself. By recognizing that my husband's behaviour was the result a deep wound inside himself, I was able to extend that compassion to myself. I was able, for the first time in my life, to recognize that I didn't have to be perfect to be worthy of love. Aspiring for perfection didn't protect me. It kept people at arm's length. In other words, I allowed myself to heal.
You ask how we "reconcile the damage." I don't think we do. I don't think we ever get where we want to go by cataloguing the damage and figuring out which column it goes in.
If we do any "reconciling", I think we take a long hard dispassionate look at what our spouse is doing to make up for what he did. Not what he did then but what he's doing now.
If he truly deserves a second chance (and not all guys do...not by a long shot), then you get to decide if you're the one who gives it to him. You don't have to. You're completely within your rights to say, "nope" and move on.
But if you do decide to give him a second chance, then really give it to him. Set up your boundaries around what you need to move forward and then give him the chance to show you that he can become that better person. You may be disappointed again. Life, unfortunately, doesn't offer guarantees.
But the alternative is to be disappointed again no matter what he does. To live your life in a state of disappointment because of what already happened.
I write this as much to remind myself as anyone else. My one big lesson, that I seem to need to learn over and over, is that people can disappoint me...and still be worth loving. That they can disappoint me and still love me as well as they can. And that I can disappoint myself...and still be worth loving.
I know it feels like he "murdered your soul." I know how deep and dark that pain is. But let your soul light the way out. It knows the way.