Talking about affairs and the way they change lives is sensitive and subjective.
Affairs happen for many reasons, but they have to end someday. It has to end in a relationship or end up breaking one.
They always have repercussions.
No matter how tiny the spark of infidelity is or how big, it always leaves a scar.
After an affair, some relationships bloom and get better. And some others, well they just wither and die.
So why is there such a stark difference in the way different couples respond to an affair?
An affair hurts everyone, unless you aren’t in love with your spouse.
But how is it possible for some partners to forgive a cheating lover while other partners end up hating their lover-turned-foe.
It all depends on the way couples react to an illicit affair, and what they really do about it.
Affairs in a marriage
To understand how you or your partner would react to the news of an affair in the marriage, you need to understand the true emotions that are experienced by the hearer of the bad news. [Read: How to resist temptation]
While an affair can happen for many reasons, the repercussions almost always depends solely on just two factors, the innocent partner’s ego and their humility.
How do you feel when you find out about the affair?
When you do find out about your partner’s affair, how do you feel? You’re obviously shattered and hurt. But what’s the one thing you feel more than anything else?
Is it pain, is it anger or is it humiliation?
While true love predicts that all lovers should experience pain, almost no one feels pure pain. Almost always, it’s anger or humiliation. Of course, you’re hurt. But the pain is bearable, at least at first. The only thing that’s hard to control is the anger or the humiliation. And what you feel at that moment predicts the path your relationship takes. [Read: The best way to end an affair]
Why do some relationships fail after an affair?
Many relationships fail after an affair. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, the marriage may never feel like how it once did. Bitter lovers say they’ve lost trust in their partner, or that they can never really love the cheating partner again, now that they’ve been cheated on. But ask them what bothers them most about the whole affair, and most lovers are clueless. Of course, it hurts and you lost your faith in your partner. Perhaps you even remember the other man or woman each time you’re having sex with your unfaithful partner.
But why does all of this bother you?
There may be many reasons, but the real underlying reason is your own ego and your stubbornness to forgive your partner after the pain they caused you. It’s not a bad thing though. It’s just who you are. You caught your partner in the act or found yourself in the receiving end of a confession, and the first thing that hit you was ‘how could your partner ever cheat on you… on YOU?!’
Beyond the pain and the heartbreak, your ego just couldn’t accept the fact that you could be cheated on. Your ego was shattered when you realized that your partner found someone who was better than you. And even today, your ego probably can’t get over the humiliation it had to endure at that moment. And each time you see your partner, your ego swells up and you’re filled with rage for what your partner forced your ego to endure.
Understanding your own ego
All of us have an ego. And we choose to accept criticism when our egos feel small. On the other hand, we retaliate even if we’re wrong when our egos grow bigger than our head.
A good marriage involves two people who drop all their egos for each other. People who have difficulty genuinely accepting a mistake or asking for forgiveness usually make bad partners. Not because they’re perfectionists, but because they don’t like accepting defeat or compromising for anyone else. [Read: 25 relationship rules for successful love]
If your partner confesses to cheating on you and you let your ego get in the conversation, the first thing you’d want to know is how your partner could ever cheat on you! But if you take the ego and the rage away, the only thing your heart would want to know is how this could ever have happened to both of you and your relationship.
Your ego won’t allow you to think from your partner’s perspective or about your relationship. Your ego just wants revenge. And your ego will ensure that you can never forgive your partner.
And why do some relationships get better after an affair?
Affairs can have a good side to it too. Most of us who experience a long term relationship start taking our partners for granted. When you forget the value of something special, you lose the respect it deserves. And over time, you may lose respect for your partner because you don’t value them as much as you did at the beginning.
Many relationships get better after an affair. When you first hear about the affair, you may be devastated. But if you could keep your ego aside and realize that you’re on the verge of losing the most special person in your life, you’d understand the real gravity of the situation.
Humility and the willingness to forgive
To understand that an affair is only a sign of a bad relationship, you need to have humility. Face it, in almost all cases, the only reason your partner cheated on you was because you either started losing respect for your partner, took them for granted, or didn’t bother giving your lover the attention they wanted from you.
If someone else were to give the same attention to your partner, isn’t it obvious that they may fall in love with someone who loved them better and treated them better than you? [Read: To cheat or not to cheat?]
Humility can help you see the other side of the problem. It can open your eyes to the side you’ve been ignoring. It can reveal your partner’s plea for more attention and love from you. Humility can help you see the real cracks in the relationship, without focusing on the anger or the fact that you’ve just been cheated on.
It’s easy to feel like a loser or a dumb idiot when you find out that you’ve been cheated on, but are you the only loser here? Your ego can make you a narcissist. Humility can help you focus on the relationship and on what your partner feels.
Can you accept that you had a role to play in the affair?
Sometimes, we just end up with a bad partner in a marriage who can’t help cheating on you. If you’re stuck with a partner who constantly cheats, you’d obviously know the adage, once bitten twice shy, and end the marriage.
But if you’re in a marriage with a loving partner who confesses to cheating, is it completely your partner’s fault or do you have a role to play too? [Read: Should you ever confess to cheating?]
Almost all the time, it’s the little changes in your own behavior that makes your partner change too. And little changes that are overlooked over the years soon pile up and lead to an unhappy marriage. So again, do you think you have a role to play too? Can you put all the blame on your cheating partner alone?
Affairs in a marriage and the fight between ego and humility
Affairs in a marriage can creep into any marriage when partners start to lose respect or interest in each other. Irrespective of whether you let your ego or humility control your thoughts, always remember this –
Lovers never forgive their partner when they think the problem is with their partner.
On the other hand, lovers forgive their partner when they realize that the problem is in the relationship.
Learn to put yourself in your partner’s shoes however much it may hurt when you first find out about the affair. If you truly believe you have no role to play in the affair, you have every right to hate your partner. But if you realize that you’ve got a pretty important part to play in the affair, learn to face it and do something about it. Egos cloud your judgment, humility helps you think clearly.
[Read: How to confess to cheating in love]
Affairs in a marriage are inexcusable, even if they are at times, inevitable. But how are you going to handle it, with humility or with your ego? That, my friend, makes all the difference in your love story.
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