How to deal with the guilt and make a decision
Women who have affairs can often feel as if their marriage has had a long death. You may have been emotionally unfulfilled for years, longing for a connection that feels unrequited. After years of reaching out and thinking it’s not working…you burn out. Sometimes, a certain someone can walk into your life and ignite a spark. This new relationship gets you excited, makes you feel validated, and might even make you feel like a Victoria Secret model. However, affairs can also bring guilt and shame, and figuring out how to resolve both relationships won’t be easy. Here’s what you need to know.
Why It’s Happening
When you’re emotionally unfulfilled and feel like you’re living day in and day out in a bland relationship, the sudden chemistry with another person makes you feel alive again. Having someone who really cares, wants to learn everything about you, and tries to carve out time for you is flattering and gives you a boost of self-esteem. You have deep needs in your marriage that are not being met, and you’re seeking to fill that void somewhere else.
The exhilarating feelings you experience with the “other man” may give you a rush, but these feelings are usually replaced with a sense of guilt. The guilt comes from feelings of shame that you are keeping part of your life and emotions hidden, and not feeling confident enough to speak up. You know you’ve made a commitment to your husband, and you’re not following through on the promises you made to be faithful and truthful. Your affair becomes like a drug – you know it isn’t right and feel guilty, but then keep going back to it because the other man also makes you feel a temporary high. At some point, fear can also take over end you’ll start thinking about how if you come clean you could lose your marriage, respect of family, and even your financial security if the marriage is over.
Steps to Take
- Understand why and where things went wrong in your marriage. Get to the root of it. Meet with a therapist to sort through it in a confidential environment without judgment.
- Put the other man on hold until you figure out your next step. It’s best to close one door before you open the next. Your guilt won’t fully go away until you make a clean break, regardless of which man you choose, so stop communicating with the other man until you figure out if you’re going to give it a shot with your husband.
- Read the book “Too bad to stay, too good to leave”. This book can help you sort out your feelings. Sort through the feelings about staying in your marriage or leaving to be with the new person (or to be alone).
- Decide whether or not you will tell your husband about the affair. You can either tell yourpartner or not tell him, it’s up to you, but either way he needs to know how BAD things actually are in the marriage. He may not realize how bad you think things are and that you are feeling neglected and lost. You know your husband best, and can tell if it would be beneficial to your relationship to tell him about the affair, or if you can even live with yourself by keeping it a secret forever.
Fixing your relationship after an affair isn’t easy – but it can be done. Infidelity doesn’t have to signal the end of your marriage, but it does mean that something is seriously off course and you need to work together to get it back on track. The guilt can be overwhelming, even to the point where it impacts your physical health, so it’s important to deal with the issue head on and make a decision about staying in or walking away from your marriage.
I hope you the article “Women Having Affairs: How to Make a Decision” was helpful for you.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653