Making Sense of An Unfaithful Spouse

She discovered your adultery. You ended the affair and promised you’ll never cheat again. But the stress from their emotional devastation lingers. And you don’t see much change – at least, not as much positive change as you expected.

Many times, any visible changes are for the worse. You observe her bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball, moment to moment, from one emotion to the next. They’re unpredictable. There’s no discernible pattern. Her nerves are frayed. She can’t sleep. She can’t eat. Her thoughts are obsessive. Intrusive visions and flashbacks assault her without warning. She cries at the drop of a hat. She feels empty, used up, exhausted. The stress consumes her energy and her life until they feel like there’s nothing left. It’s terrible.

your spouse

It’s an ordeal for you to witness her tortured, depressed and angry states, and what’s worse; you don’t know what to do. You’re not alone. Unfaithful spouses never dream they’ll get busted, so when confronted with their adultery they’re always caught by surprise; first by their partners’ knowledge, then by her intense agony. Indeed, unfaithful partners never think about what they’ll face “after” until after. The fact is: Though they inflict it, adulterers are unprepared for the onslaught of their spouses’ overwhelming emotional distress. Is this real? Is this permanent?

As you watch her sink lower and lower, wallowing in an emotional abyss, you wonder where the bottom is, when they will hit it, and if they will ever ascend from it and return to “normal.” You ask yourself, “Is this real?” Then you ask, “Will this ever end?”

The simple answers are: Yes, it is real. And, yes, it will end. But recovery takes a long time, often years, and much depends on you. Can you be remorseful, apologetic, loving, patient, empathetic and soothing over an extended period of time? Can you commit to openness and honesty at all times – and forevermore being faithful to your spouse? See this One Place article.

Be honest with yourself: If you can’t or don’t want to get over your affair, if you don’t feel shame and remorse, and if you can’t generously provide appropriate support to your spouse, then now is the time to consider ending your marriage and spare your marital partner further pain. (If this is the case, you need not read any further.) See this article and this post for more on this topic.

But if you have put the affair permanently behind you, if you feel and can freely express your remorse and shame for your unfaithfulness, and if you can commit to supporting your spouse through her excruciating anguish, then you have an excellent chance of rebuilding from this disaster you’ve wrought to a happy, satisfying, caring and loving marriage.