Infidelity. It sucks. It feels like your insides are being ripped out. It is the absolute worst feeling there is, and it happens more than we would like to think.
Nobody thinks it will happen to them, until it does.
Then your world is forever changed, and you have to make big decisions you never thought you’d have to make, all at a time when you’re at your most raw and vulnerable.
Advice comes out of the woodwork. So many people have gone through the same thing, but EVERYBODY has words for you, words that sometimes make you want to throw your phone (or iPad, or whatever you’re reading the messages on). People will contact you, even if you haven’t spoken in twenty years, to try their hand at advising the unadvisable.
All these people have the best intentions, but you are standing there with a raw, gaping hole in your chest, and you’re holding your bleeding heart in your hands. There is no black and white answer anyone can give you.
You have to do what is best for you, not what is best for your junior high friend who you hardly know anymore.
The most popular advice seems to be to leave and not look back. This is sweet advice. The person advising wants you to move on, and not hurt so bad. They want to protect your heart, and heal it in the quickest route.
It is, by far, the easiest choice. You would love to just run from the problem, throw up a middle finger to your SO, and take off.
But, nobody really talks about staying.
Staying is brutal, and unfortunately there is no manual to guide you. It’s hard work, it’s full of hard choices that aren’t for everyone.
You have to listen to your gut, and really decide you’re BOTH in it to save it. There will still be crying, sometimes screaming.
There will be moments you don’t want to be touched, and other moments you want to be hugged. There will be moments you just want to give up. There will be moments you feel like nothing happened.
There will be moments you want to be absolutely by yourself, yet others where you need support. This is all totally normal, and YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.
But ultimately, in your heart, the goal is to save it.
Yes, this happened to me. Perhaps the hardest part about staying in it to save it, for me, is what happens in the aftermath. If I’m out and see a girl with the same features as “her,” I start to hyperventilate a bit.
I wonder if he really still wants to stay with me, or if he just feels obligated to stay because he got caught. I know he has caused all this, but I wonder what I did or didn’t do to make it happen.
Although these thoughts are perfectly natural and justified, I feel stupid for having them. I shouldn’t. They are normal.
Another very difficult and awkward part of staying the course is the broken trust. Even though I agree the marriage is worth saving, I second guess absolutely every move he makes.
Why is he 10 minutes late from work? Why did he walk in the other room? Why is he having psychosomatic symptoms?
What is he feeling guilty about?
Even if I decide to try to save the relationship, I still have to wade through this sea of hurt and crap. Personally, I think counseling is key to helping the relationship work and stay intact.
Again, this may not be for everyone, but a counselor is a non-involved third party who can listen to the why, the hurt, the feelings. They can give you a script to use to deal with feelings of betrayal, instead of just screaming, crying, and becoming even more toxic.
Staying in it, even after ultimate betrayal, is important to work towards for me, even though I always thought it was the ONE thing I’d not be able to forgive. But, when your SO is truly remorseful, has been your best friend for so long, kids are involved, and you both have a great support system fighting for your relationship with you, it can work.
And, let’s face it, when the rubble settles, your love for your SO doesn’t just disappear.
Hopefully this can make the relationship stronger in the end.
It’s going to take a lot of hard work on the part of both parties, but working toward reconstruction, redemption and forgiveness in this relationship is important to me.
Even if it’s not exactly the same, even if it’s a new normal for us, staying is important to me.