Dr. Wall rants about the effect of an affair on the person who did the cheating. He’s not recommending it as the road to happiness. This is part of a larger series On Healing From An Affair. To see the first in the series click here. To see the entire series click here.
Are they not rather harming themselves to their own shame?
(For simplicity, A is the partner who had the affair, B is the partner who found out about A’s affair, C is A’s affairee.)
WARNING: TODAY’S BLOG IS DEPRESSING, NEGATIVE AND NECESSARILY SARCASTIC. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO BE SCARED INTO TAKING THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT VERY SERIOUSLY!
Our temptation, when we think of a couple where one partner has had an affair, is to think of the other spouse as the one who is hurting. It’s easy to empathize with B. It is literally traumatic to think your spouse is faithful to you and then to discover that he or she is not. It’s a sucker punch that takes months from which to recover. And that is presuming that A’s affair is over. As long as A’s affair is continuing, the wound festers. It cannot start to heal until the affair is over.
B’s go into self-protection mode. In marriage we’re supposed to protect each other, but if A is having an affair, A is looking out for A at B’s expense. This goes against the very heart of marriage and every B instinctively knows this. In a marriage that is working both parties protect and honor their commitment and the boundary around their marriage. In an affair, A throws protection out the window, leaving B scared and exposed. Panic, fear, sleepless nights, snooping through A’s things and angry outbursts are common responses. The future is suspect, the present uncertain. One moment B thinks B can trust A; the next moment B doesn’t know where to turn.
It’s easy for our hearts to reach out to B’s. They are broken in spirit and need our support. But I’d like to propose a paradigm shift:
The real person who’s hurting is the person who cheated, the person who HAD the affair.
I’m not asking you to feel sorry for A. I’m just saying it’s easier to be the victim of someone’s cruelty than it is to be the perpetrator. I’d rather be the victim than the victimizer. I’d rather not have or do either, but given my choice…It’s easy to think of A as getting what A wants. A is doing A’s own thing at B’s expense. Why should we feel sorry for A?
Every time you do a selfish thing, whatever it is, your soul gets a little smaller, your character gets a little more demented, and your patience gets a little more delayed. That’s funny. Patience gets delayed. Ha. If you meet your every need whenever you want it, you won’t have patience. You’ll be demanding. Easily angered. Pissed at the smallest provocation. No fun to be around. Believe me, your loved one’s will see it and they will avoid you. You learn patience by waiting and delaying gratification. You learn selfishness by doing what you want, when you want it, regardless of the promises you have made. You promised your spouse, yourself, God, the church, your mom and dad, B’s mom and dad, all your relatives on both sides, you friends AND the government that you would be faithful to your spouse. That didn’t pan out. Sorry. My bad. Oh, well. I just gotta be happy. I deserve to be happy. I finally discovered what true love is.
I’m gonna puke. True love is doing your own thing regardless of the consequences? Why would there be bodies in the ditch if this is true love? Spare me true love if there is collateral damage. True love from hell masquerading as the right thing because it FEELS good? That’s how you decide things? Because it feels good? What kind of character is that? Are you two years old?
And if you used this logic to decide to have an affair, if you listened to your brain think this through, how are you going to process future data? Through the same sieve. YIKES! You’ve trained your brain to take shortcuts and now you are going to say you are sorry and not do this any more? And we’re to believe you? How are you going to untrain your brain to do that? Please don’t be upset if maybe your spouse is a tad suspicious that you are going to be good on your word. B will try your patience, no doubt. We’ll see if you pass the test. Your perseverance to date hasn’t exactly won you any awards.
If you are A, what does an affair teach you?
-That you can do whatever you want
-That your vows don’t mean anything
-That you need to put you first
-That your loved one’s can’t depend upon you
-That you are all alone
-That your values are not worth fighting for
-That your loved ones are expendable
-That your feelings are more important that your word
-That your feelings are more important than everything
-That you are god and nothing fazes you
-No stupid 7th commandment applies to you
-You might as well throw the rest of them out, too
-I am invincible
-God doesn’t see and doesn’t care and I could care less about God
-Selfishness is king
Let’s say that your affair is revealed and you are now sorry and you repent and want to turn around your life? What then?
-You will have to learn to forgive yourself
-You will have to learn to make decisions on principle, not on whim
-You will have to endure hardship from the collateral damage you caused your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your friends, your parents and other relatives and, if you are worth your salt, you will have to be patient with all these people and not take offense on how your wrongdoing has negatively affected them. You brought this on yourself, so it won’t be very becoming for you to be all upset about their negative reaction to it.
-You will have to earn all these people’s trust back. If you think this is easy, ask yourself if the boy who cried wolf got hired anytime soon after that trick.
-You will have to endure second-guessing from yourself and everyone around you
-Your reputation will suck for YEARS; earning your dignity back in your own mind and in the mind of those who USED to depend upon you will take a very long time. You will either learn patience this time around the hard way or you will give up on everyone and everything. Some people may NEVER reconcile with you. You run the risk of your spouse divorcing you, your kids rejecting you, your boss firing you, your colleagues mocking you behind your back and/or in their hearts. You try feeling good about yourself, when everyone else is thinking scandalous thoughts about you! And if all these folk somehow have enough guts and willpower to forgive you and cut you some slack? They’ll still treat you with some reserve, because they know what you are capable of. Sure, many couples reconcile after an affair is over. Some of them do awesome. But ask the B’s, as I have, how they think of A years later? How are you supposed to trust someone who sucker punched you, ripped your heart out, completely disregarded your dignity and tromped your relationship around in the mud and mire, sometimes for months and then says “sorry.” Ah, no. This isn’t easily forgotten. Forgiven? Doable, but difficult. Forgotten? Probably not. It’s still there. Hopefully, the wounds can heal, but scars remain.
This is where God comes in and rebirth and starting anew. If you are going to heal from an affair and you are the perpetrator, you are going to need to rewire your brain. A brain transplant would be good. You could start with humbling yourself before God and go from there.
And the funny thing is: If you are going to heal from the affair you did? You are going to have to learn patience and perseverance. If not, you won’t have learned a thing. What a bummer to go through all this and not have grown at all. Then you can be mad at everyone just like you were before. That’s just you, remember? You just want to be happy.
Now lets say that you leave the wife or husband of your youth for this newfound lover. What have you learned then?
Well, that’s not true. Really, you’ve learned a ton. Just not anything I would ever recommend: Nothing that leads to life and fulfillment anyway.
-You’ve learned that you can get your way
-You’ve learned that your word is not worth keeping
-You can sneak around and lie. Look at YOU!!!!
-Nothing is worth fighting for
-Get your own way
-Screw values, and promises and vows
-Live for your own happiness (that’ll seem a plus at first, but if you keep looking for happiness by tearing a layer of the onion away one at a time, pretty soon there’s nothing left)
-You’ve taught C that you can’t be trusted! You cheated with C, right?
-C has taught you that C can’t be trusted! C was willing to sneak around and lie with you, right? What kind of relationship will two people have who can’t trust each other?
-Won’t you and C be fun (25% chance of making it, but you don’t learn from your mistakes anyway, right? So what’s the big deal?)?
-If your loved one’s don’t like your new found life, they can just forget it. Who cares?
-Going forward, who’s going to be more selfish? A or C? And what kind of relationship are we going to end up with when selfishness, sneaking around and lying is our foundation? Be sure to keep your money separate! You don’t want to get ripped off!
-The sex was hot…for a while. Welcome to reality. Newness wears off. This is NORMAL. Now what? Ha! You didn’t have the patience and fortitude to work on this issue when you were married to B. What makes you think that all of a sudden you are going to have the energy, interest and drive to make it work now? So, ah….will you have to go have another affair, then, to get the sex hot again? That’s the only plan that worked so far?
-The only thing worse than your own kids when they find out you are sleeping with someone other than their mom or dad is C’s kids, when they realize that you are the creep that is sleeping with their mom or dad. If you think they are going to be all lovey-dovey ‘cuz they just want their parent to be happy, you’ll be in for a big surprise. It won’t be long before the feeling of animosity will be mutual and you’ll be clawing each other’s eye’s out. Both of you will complain to C about the other and when push comes to shove C will chose his or her kids, not you. Sorry. Blood is thicker than water. Too bad for you. Now the dumpee becomes the dumped. What a bummer. Crap.
What are you gonna do now? Try going back to B? What a mess.
And you just wanted to be happy.
This is part of a longer series On Healing From Affairs. See:
Check out these other blogs by Dr. Wall on affairs:
Dr. Wall explains a very important step that must take place for healing to occur after an affair.
In this second blog in a series on healing from an affair (for the first one click here) Dr. Wall suggests that loving feelings are too shallow to make a marriage work. Your love better have more fuel than feelings to keep it burning.
Dr. Wall continues his series (this is the third) on healing from an affair from the point of view of the person who had the affair. He looks at what true moral guilt is and what it is not.
Dr. Wall discusses how trust is re-built after trust has been violated. Hang on to your hat. We’re in for a wild ride.
Dr. Wall shares some of the latest research on affairs that he learned at a recent workshop he attended.