He Had the Affair but Why Do I Feel So Stupid?
Posted On: August 14, 2018
Robyne F. Howard Psy.D.
Lakefront Counseling Group, Ltd.
Finding out that a spouse or significant other had an affair often creates intense feelings of trauma – including rage, resentment, anxiety, chronic “checking” behaviors, (his phones, email, bank statements, social media accounts and whatever else you can access), lack of sleep, ruminations about the other person, questions about who your spouse or significant other is and how you missed knowing, along with what it means to move forward or not.
Everything comes into question – was he really talking to her during your dinner out for your tenth anniversary, or taking a call from his co-worker as he stated when he excused himself from dinner repeatedly? Was he really in Manhattan during his guy get-aways or traveling with her?
How many business trips, birthdays and family vacations must be reworked and understood through the lens of an affair? And when does this end?
I often liken finding out about an affair akin to getting a chronic illness– it may begin with a cough or a question or uncertainty, but soon cascades into everything you’ve ever known to be true and real — is not. Along with a belief that I and we will never be well again. Waves of intense emotion come on like a tidal wave at times, only to lessen and then surge again. Losing that bedrock of trust and knowingness in a relationship shakes the very core of what provides stability, predictability and safety – things we all need to feel protected and safe.
Many of us find that our marriage or significant relationships are islands of trust and consistency, yet when that understanding is shattered, we feel broken.
After 20 years of providing couples therapy, where at least 1/3 of couples entering therapy are as result of an affair, I can unequivocally state that rebuilding and healing your relationship is possible. Many variables determine this – the desire to remain a couple, motivation to change habits and communication, willingness to rebuild trust and intimacy, and most of all, an ability to connect to the partner you now know and not the partner you thought you knew.
If you find that your partner has had an affair, know that with the right help, your relationship surprisingly can become deeper, more complex, closer and with a greater intimacy that is based on truly understanding each other beyond who you thought you knew.