I want to share a bit of my journey after discovering my husband's affair. Strap in; it's been a rollercoaster, and I believe there's strength in sharing our stories. Why did my husband have an affair? Over the next few posts, I'll walk you through the heartache, the revelations, and, ultimately, the healing I experienced after infidelity.
The Shocking Discovery
I felt like my world crumbled when I uncovered my husband's affair. But what hit me even harder was the realization that seeking his empathy or support was impossible. You see, he was incapable of giving me the support I needed as the devastation of his affair washed over me. While challenging, my eventual understanding as to why my husband couldn't initially support me also helped me to see why he had an affair.
Did seeking support from the one who hurt you seem impossible to get? How did you cope?
Unveiling the Loveless Stranger
Why did he have an affair - didn't he love me? I had been so blinded by my own need for love that I couldn't see the truth about this question before the affair. Yet deep inside, I had always known it. His ability to show love for me felt manipulative and fake; the genuine emotion was missing. Unfortunately, my longing for love and acceptance outweighed the concerns.
Can you relate to discovering a different side of your partner that you were oblivious or blind to after their affair was exposed? How did it impact you?
"It's astonishing how blindness creeps in when you're drowning in your own need for love."
Red Flags and Ignored Intuitions
Now, I see that my husband avoided having deeper connections with anyone. Before his affair, all relationships were one-sided. In hindsight, I realized that he controlled conversations by constantly asking the emotional questions of others and avoiding sharing himself. With the wisdom of this hindsight, I now see the many red flags. My ignorance and insecurities previously concealed the apparent truth. Today, I can tell you that I am glad everything is out. It was painful but necessary. Let me explain why...
Did you ever noticed red flags in your relationship that you chose to ignore? In hindsight, how did it affect the dynamics of your relationship?
"My husband's affair opened my eyes to the loveless stranger I was living with."
The Painful Unraveling
The affair's exposure shattered the illusion of the stable life I thought we had. As I questioned why he cheated or if he loved me, it slowly dawned on me that the platform my husband built his life on was neither reliable nor stable. This man was not my rock! A lack of real self-love made it impossible for him to have any sincere love for me - it was like trying to get water out of a stone. He had shut himself down by denying his own emotions to the extent that it was an emotional impossibility for him to show me love or its many facets like compassion, kindness, faithfulness, etc. He couldn't give these to me because he didn't have love within himself to give.
"The affair's exposure was a turning point in our relationship that would either make it or end it."
The Deceptive Notion of Love
My husband's version of love was one of fantasy based on self-absorbed lies and make-believe. A shadow of what true love is. Somehow, a deceived version of attachment had inhabited his heart, making him an emotionally shallow person. Someone I am sure he knew was fake - something was missing in him.
Did you ever question the authenticity of love in your relationship?
"The capacity to hold real love was missing because my husband didn't have a genuine love for himself."
Emotional Shutdown and Its Consequences
He turned his failure to adhere to the life he wished he were living inward on himself. By doing this, he hid the things he hated about himself, not just from me but also from himself. They festered within him like a disease, destroying his ability to feel and be sincere. By denying any emotions about his pain and disappointments in life, he seared his heart from feeling. From this numb and deceived place, my husband gloried in the fact that he was not emotional. He loudly mocked others and criticized me for being emotional or having feelings. When I was in pain, he would shame and ridicule me, especially if it pressed on his hidden or suppressed wounds.
"By denying his pain, my husband seared his heart from feeling, gloried in emotional unavailability, and criticized any emotional expression, especially mine."
The Impact on Intimacy: Affairs, Porn, and Emotional Distancing
Withdrawing from my attempts to create intimacy between us and sticking to a distanced make-believe pretense of love for me, he separated himself emotionally from me. From this place of isolation, he loathed himself by stepping outside his core values and looking for comfort separate from me. It was a gradual and slow decline reflected in his hidden use of porn, his lack of concern for me, and his eventual emotional then his physical affair. Looking back, my husband was an affair waiting to happen, as his pain and disappointment in himself were immense!
Did you experience emotional distancing in your relationship? How did it impact intimacy, and how did you address it?
"His affair, porn use and emotional distancing were a manifestation of his immense pain and disappointment in himself."
The Missing Piece: Self-Loathing and Hidden Struggles
Did he love me? I have come to realize that the shoddy way he treated me at that time was a reflection of his self-loathing. He was a miserable person who attempted to make himself feel better by tearing me down. He judged himself on his inadequacies, then finding that unbearable, took it out on me. I was often left heartbroken and confused by his behavior. When I put up walls to protect my fragile sense of self, I was left feeling lonely and unloved.
What steps did you take to protect yourself when facing the challenge of feeling unloved?
"Trying to get my husband to meet my need for love and validation was an impossible task for him, especially after his affair, because he couldn't even love and accept himself."
He was so deeply enmeshed in his emotional shutdown that to feel meant only two things: anger or happiness. Nothing more was acceptable except for occasional sadness when he watched a touching scene on TV. Then, he quickly shut down or hid that emotion of sadness, and I was not allowed to mention that I had seen him tear up. If I did ask if he felt something, he became instantly angry at me.
The Unraveling of Choices
Why did my husband have an affair? In his mind, he resented me for not making him happy. That resentment toward me grew, and it seemed nothing I did was ever good enough for him. I felt I was walking on a tightrope and feared putting a foot wrong. The undercurrent in his thoughts was that I didn't make him happy, so he always harbored anger toward me. It seethed under the surface, always waiting to erupt if I didn't do what he wanted.
His misguided anger at me became the springboard for his physical affair. He blamed me for it because, in his mind, I had let him down, so he had no other choice. As a victim, he was doing the best he could, and I was blamed as the reason for his unhappiness in life. Therefore, I became the reason that he had an affair!
How did your partner handle resentment in your relationship?
In truth, given the horrible place he was in, my husband was probably doing the best he could. His affair and now well-established porn habit was his way of solving his problems. I'm not defending him or his habits; they were wrong and all hidden. I was not privy to any of his internal struggles. By hiding his innermost secrets and shutting down his ability to feel emotions, he had shut himself away from me, the world, and the reality he was living in.
Our emotions are the guides that help us navigate this world. They are like signposts. When my husband limited or denied them, he severely hampered his ability to make the right choices in life. As a result, his affair was the dangerous path he found himself on. A path that caused us both incredible pain.
"By shutting down his emotions, my husband shut down his ability to interpret life!"
In my next post, I will continue with my story and discuss how I handled D-day and beyond. We both had many lessons to learn.
The Healing Journey
As I have already said, at that time, asking my husband for empathy for the pain he put me in when he couldn't even accept the pain he was in was a waste of my energy. When I did turn to him for support, it only increased my betrayal trauma because he always returned to blaming me.
How did you approach seeking support after your husband's affair came out?
My husband had to take his own healing journey before he could be safe enough for us to relate. So, I needed to pause my relationship with him without demanding he attend to my needs. Expecting him to meet my needs just set me up to be disappointed and hurt further. It also set him up for failure because he lacked the capacity to give me empathy at that time. He lacked this because he didn't have genuine love for himself and was unable to extend true empathy to anyone including himself.
What strategies have you found effective in your healing journey?
"I accepted him as not having the capacity to be there for me after his affair. Instead I learned to focus on my self-care and support my healing."
But you know the story is not all bad, and I will share more in my next post. While it was painful then, we are now more robust, healthier people with far more capacity to handle life and its many ups and downs. I embraced self-care to survive the arduous journey after my husband's affair. It truly helped me survive the journey of healing.
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Start a Conversation or Leave a Comment
If you find comfort in sharing your thoughts, feel free to comment on this post. I'd love to hear from you —drop a comment below and let's continue this conversation on why our partners' cheated. Your journey matters, and so do you.