By Terry Ross
The crushing blow came after 10 years of marriage, infidelity had struck again. For society as a whole it was nothing new marriage after marriage is destroyed by infidelity but it’s different when it strikes so close to home.
The first few days were the hardest the days after someone had felt the need to let the secret about the infidelity out and after he had finally had to come clean about the affair. It wasn’t even that he didn’t even love her, he said, he didn’t want their marriage to be over, he had never meant for it to happen.
She was devastated, she couldn’t think straight, she couldn’t eat and she couldn’t sleep. Infidelity, how could he do this to her, how could he sleep with someone else and then come crawling back into her bed.
Her mother looked after the children for a few days, just to give her time to think and protect them from the trauma. She just had to have space, time to come to terms with what had happened. For some infidelity might not seem such a big deal but she was shocked, she had no idea what was going on, she thought she was happily married, she felt emotionally destroyed, as if her world was going to end, she was grieving for her loss.
It was days before she could pull herself together enough to try and think about what she should do. She’d been married for so long she felt like her right arm had been ripped off. Infidelity hits people in different ways, some angry, some calm acceptance while others are stunned, she was stunned into shock.
It was a while before she felt she could ask the question ‘why’, she needed to know to try and understand what had happened, why it had happened, why an affair, why she wasn’t enough. If she was to move on and survive infidelity she had to get some answers.
Apparently it just happened, a common enough answer, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and in a moment of weakness he gave into temptation. He said the affair was over, it was a short fling, it didn’t mean anything, he would never do it again, he loved her and he would do anything to save their marriage. He pleaded with her to forgive his infidelity.
She had a hard choice to make:
• firstly did she believe him,
• secondly could she ever trust him again
• thirdly was she capable of forgiving infidelity
He said he still loved her and she knew that a week ago she was happily married and loved him. She knew she could forgive him almost anything, but infidelity, it was asking too much. She thought long and hard, she considered the children, she thought about life without him and remembered the good times they had together and then she thought about him in bed with another woman. The same image came popping back into her head like a never ending nightmare.
It was a few weeks later when she finally decided that they would give it another go. In her heart of hearts she knew he wouldn’t have gone looking for someone else to jump into bed with. She knew infidelity would be really hard to forgive but he promised that he would never look at another woman again and deep down she did believe him.
She decided to enlist some help, just so that she had support and guidance on how to survive infidelity. It might seem strange to some but she really needed someone to tell her to do this and do that, in her mind it made it less personal, more of challenge rather than a crisis.
For her the right approach was to save her marriage, for her, for her kids and for the family but it only worked because she made a conscious decision that she could and would learn to forgive infidelity and learn to trust him again.