Surviving An Affair: For Women

You've just learned your husband is having an affair. How do you handle it now that you know? This article gives you some options.

ADVICE FOR WOMEN: SURVIVING AN AFFAIR

How a woman handles the devastating discovery that her husband has been having an affair is based on several factors: (1) How did she learn about it, (2) How long has it been going on, (3) Does she want the marriage to continue, (4) Does he want the marriage to continue, and (5) How does she feel about herself as an individual?

THE DISCOVERY

How an affair comes to the surface can take a number of different forms.The first one we'll look at is the accidental tip-off.This can take the form of such things as the scent of fragrance that lingers on his clothes, a change in routine such as longer hours at the office or overnight travel, and mysterious "wrong number" phone calls.On the one hand, a wife can put it down to coincidence; if her husband hasn't strayed before, why should she have any reason to believe that he is straying now?On the other hand, she may want to start paying closer attention or, if she has the resources to do it, hire a professional to see what he's really up to.

If her worst suspicions are confirmed, she has the option of confronting him with the evidence or keeping her fingers crossed that maybe it'll just burn out and go away.If she brings matters to a head, she runs the risk of him denying it and, thus, exacerbating the situation with more lies, or on the plus side force them to admit that the marriage is in trouble and set themselves to the task of exploring what they want to do about it.The scenario of ignoring it won't necessarily bring about the desired result of him coming to his senses with nary a word being spoken; left to persist, the straying spouse and his paramour could grow even closer and more comfortable, eventually leading them to decide that they should be together all the time.Turning a blind eye to their dalliances will also fuel the wife's paranoia and resentment and cause her to spend more time agonizing about the problem than actually doing anything constructive to change it.

The second way that women learn about their husband's affairs is through their circle of well meaning "friends".What's cataclysmic about this is the realization that not only is their spouse a cheater but that he has also been indiscreet enough for other people to find out about it.No one likes to be an object of pity but that's exactly what happens when such earth-shattering secrets are spilled by those whom the wife believed were her most trusted pals.What other tidbits have they been keeping from her?Whether she decides to try to save her marriage or to take her husband to the cleaners for his infidelity, there will always linger the awkward and unsettling suspicion that her friends and neighbors will be privy to every last detail.

In the third scenario, it's the husband himself who comes forth with the news.In this case, it's either because (1) he's wracked with guilt and feels the need to confess, (2) he's about to get caught anyway and feels that it's somehow nobler to have her hear it from his own lips, or (3) he wants a divorce.The third option is also tied to situations in which a cheating spouse does something mind-numbingly stupid that allows him to literally get caught with his pants down.News flash: if he's been so successful all along at concealing his affair, he's not going to suddenly become an idiot.If he gets caught, it's either because he doesn't want to be the one to initiate divorce proceedings or because his mistress has suddenly turned too demanding and he needs the missus to rescue him.



THE DURATION

Was the affair a one-night stand or has it been going on for a couple of years?If it was a one-night stand, there's a better likelihood of salvaging the marriage than if the spouse has a whole "˜nother life that's been going on across town for most of the time he's been married.While neither one is excusable, a one-night stand could have been the product of alcohol, drugs, loneliness or a moment of weakness.The wife has the option of either trying to rationalize these circumstances and deciding to trust that it won't happen again or use it as an ongoing reminder of his shortcomings throughout the rest of their lives and especially whenever she feels like lashing out.

If the extramarital relationship is one of longer duration, the biggest question is whether it's finally over (and who ended it?) or whether the temptation to keep it going even after its discovery is still very much present.Admittedly, there are couples in the world who, for financial or social reasons, prefer to keep up the pretense of a happy union in spite of the fact that both of them are maintaining separate agendas.A wife needs to figure out whether the reasons to stay in the marriage outweigh the reasons to dissolve it.

HER GOAL

If her objective is to make the marriage work, she needs to be willing to forgive the transgressions and move forward.Keeping a cheating spouse in the picture strictly for the purpose of making him pay for his mistakes over and over again may sound like fun at the outset but it will only fuel resentment and lead to more combustible scenes than the original affair ignited.If she's going to stay in the marriage, it has to be because she still believes in it and because she still loves him enough to give him a second chance.That said, her goal has to be compatible with his.If he has already declared that he wants his freedom, she's going to have an uphill battle trying to talk him out of it.

HIS GOAL

Does he want to stay with his wife and give up the need to seek companionship elsewhere?While counseling isn't a good fit for everyone, it goes without saying that both sides need to commit to better communication.If getting his spouse to take him back is solely predicated on fears of financial ruin or estrangement from their children, there's a good chance that he'll start cheating again once things have settled back to the status quo.Women need to keep this in mind if they engage in threats to either put an end to his affair or try to prevent him from starting another one.

MOVING FORWARD

Men and women are equally guilty of bashing their ex's when they start dating new people.They are also wary of trusting again because they have set up in their minds that every member of the opposite sex is going to eventually be as horrid and two-timing and rotten as their spouse.A woman often has a difficult time in accepting the realization that her man's infidelity says more about the man himself than about any of his feelings toward her.Accordingly, there's often a rush to reinvent herself into someone she perceives will be more appealing to Mr. New Guy without acknowledging that she was probably fine all along just being herself.

If she has an expectation of finding romance again one day, she needs to save her ex-bashing for those occasions when she gets together with sympathetic girlfriends and focus her energy instead on getting to know the new men who come into her life.Even more importantly, she needs to learn to love herself and everything she has to offer instead of setting up unreasonable and unfounded comparisons to whomever stole her husband out from under her.The most powerful aphrodisiac for either sex is someone who projects confidence.While that confidence may have been momentarily shattered by the discovery that one's mate has been untrue, it's not a permanent condition.Life will go on"¦and so will you.

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