I often hear of wives trying so hard to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on with dignity and grace after their husband cheated on them or had an affair. But, no matter how well-intentioned or determined, this can […]
I often hear of wives trying so hard to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on with dignity and grace after their husband cheated on them or had an affair. But, no matter how well-intentioned or determined, this can be easier said than done. Your head can understand things that your heart cannot. You can have a steely resolve in the morning only to fall apart by nightfall.
And while your husband may tell you all those things he thinks he wants to hear, listening is very different from believing. I often hear comments like “my husband ended his affair. He says he now realizes he made a mistake and that he loves me. He says he’s putting our family first. And all of these things sound great. But, I know too much.” about the other woman and about their relationship. She’s young. She’s pretty. She’s carefree. He treated her like gold and risked everything for her. I know I can’t compete with that. And it makes me feel second best. I know my husband is in home and he’s doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. But I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t for the kids, if he’d still be here. I feel like I only have him back by default. How can I stop feeling second best and not having him back? Am I good enough? He’s not telling me this, but I feel the same way.”
These concerns are very common. Wives who are trying to recover from an affair question everything about themselves, their marriages, their husbands, and the feelings of that same husband. Infidelity feels like complete rejection, even when your husband will put on that this is not the case. You may, like many, feel like you’re what’s left when things didn’t work out. And this is terribly painful. The thing is, it’s very unfair for you to have to carry these feelings with you when you weren’t the one who set this whole thing in motion. In the next article, I’ll discuss some ways to stop feeling second to none after your husband had an affair.
Focus on what makes you feel better instead of what makes you feel worse: At the risk of sounding insensitive, I know from experience that it’s all too easy to focus on what feels worst. Even if you know it’s not productive, even if you know it’s not moving you forward, the thoughts that hurt the most are the ones that keep popping up the most. And it is very tempting and easy to stop at them.
It is very tempting to sink into it. Because you don’t know how to start unearthing yourself and no matter what you do, the thoughts keep coming. So to break this cycle, you have to react as soon as you find the thoughts coming. Replace bad thoughts with something that makes you feel better about yourself. So as soon as you have a thought or feeling that makes you feel like second best or not good or attractive enough, do something that makes you feel proactive.
This requires practice. It may seem silly. And honestly, sometimes it’s easier to give in to the negative. But in my experience, when you start to be proactive and take positive action in response to negative thoughts, you start to remove the power over negativity. Here is an example. In my own experience, when those sabotaging thoughts arose, I would stop what I was doing and go for a walk. Or I would exercise. Or maybe I would call a friend who is supportive and non-judgmental. Or I would go to the game room with my children. Basically, I would find something to derail my thoughts and make myself feel like I wasn’t giving in to them.
In the end, walking and exercise turned out to be a good decision because I lost weight and toned up. This changed my appearance a bit and gave me more confidence, which led me to make more changes in my life. The weight loss added to a new way of looking at my appearance, myself and what I was representing to the world. Because what you portray to the world can become the way you see yourself.
Once you see yourself in a more positive light, you start to be much more protective of your peace of mind and well-being. And you begin to see those negative thoughts as the enemy that you are not going to let invade that much-fought peace of mind. This doesn’t happen overnight, of course. It is a difficult process and takes time.
But fighting every step of the way and making sure you’re moving toward the positive gives you the sense of control you deserve. No, you had no control over his infidelity or affair. That was the action she intended to take without his input. But, you have control over your OWN thoughts and actions. And you can’t feel second best unless you allow those thoughts to take root. When you start to feel second to none, it’s up to you to take steps to derail this until you regain some control and grow to a point where you start to know and believe that this is simply not true.