You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles. ~ C. JoyBell C.
At first, when we realize the pain has dulled, that pleasure, even slivers of it, have returned to our days, we rejoice. This, we figure, is what all those people were talking about. A new marriage. A better one. A partner whose awareness that he almost lost it all has invigorated his dedication, his determination to deserve the second chance we're offering.
But then we settle into a new normal. No longer the high highs or the devastating lows, life has regained its equilibrium. Our husband has shown himself worthy again of trust. We're often grateful for things that, perhaps, we weren't before.
The longer we go, however, without the drama and the intensity of D-Day and its aftermath, the more space there is for doubt to creep in.
He's 20 minutes late coming home for picking up pizza. Where was he really? He quickly puts down his phone when we enter the room. He shuts his laptop. The waitress at a restaurant seems to give him a look.
Or maybe he gets annoyed at us for moving some papers of his that he now can't find. Or frustrated that we forgot to fill the car up with gas.
Wait a minute, we think. He cheated on us! How dare he make me feel bad for, well, anything. He owes me bliss!!
And, frankly, yes, yes he does. But you ain't gonna get it. None of us is. The universe doesn't operate that way. Bliss comes in moments, not lifetimes.
The problem is that many of us think that, if we do the incredibly hard work of rebuilding our marriage, of giving him a second chance, of facing down our friends and family who think we're crazy for sticking it out, that we'll be rewarded with a better-than-ever marriage. Many betrayed wives have sites that essentially promise that an affair has actually made their marriage better. And while I'm on board with the possibility that rebuilding a marriage is just as viable an option post-infidelity as leaving the marriage, we have to be careful that we don't gloss over just how difficult marriage – any marriage! – is. To expect that marriage, post-betrayal, is going to be sunshine and roses is to set all of us up for disappointment.
And disappointment can feel crushing after all we've been through. Disappointment can feel like a dagger after so many indignities.
Preparing for it, though, can help us through its inevitable appearance.
I don't mean disappointment because he lied. Or disappointment because he went out with his buddies on your birthday. Or disappointment that he can't keep his temper in check. There are valid reasons to call him out for being disrespectful and dishonest and giving you reason to reconsider your choice to stay.
No, I'm referring to the routine disappointments of life. He forgets to ask how your day was. He doesn't bother to compliment you on your haircut or the great meal you cooked. He makes it clear that he'd rather stick needles in his eyes than go to your mothers for dinner.
Routine disappointments that deserve to be noted and your hurt shared...but are hardly deal-breakers.
Disappointments that all of us are guilty of because we get tired. We get grumpy. We take those we love for granted now and again.
Disappointments that we need to let go because they're part of the ebb and flow of life. Because we're human.
A big part of healing from betrayal is learning what we need to let go, what weight we need to put down. It can be tricky. And it can be helpful to have friends, either in real life or virtual, that you can trust to help you with this. Should I have lambasted him when he was 10 minutes late because of a train? Or am I over-reacting? Is it reasonable for him to have dinner with his new female work colleague because they're on a project together or should he have said 'no'?
There are going to be bumps and missteps. You're going to over-react to some things and, sometimes, under-react to legitimate red flags. You're going to have to figure some of this out as you go along.
But the more you can begin to let go, the more you can put down some of the weight you've been carrying, the more quickly you can move into a future that will have its share of downs, but also plenty of ups. Ups that you'll be better able to appreciate because you'll be present for them.