I recently heard from a wife who said: "I feel like I have lost everything since my husband's affair. When I met my husband, I was a successful career woman. Frankly, I had it all. But when we fell in love, we decided that we would settle down and start a family. So I willingly agreed to stay home when we had children. I willingly gave up my job and my lifestyle. I used to wear designer suits and now I wear sweats. I've put on some weight and I'm sure that I'm much less interesting to be around. And after I made all of these sacrifices, what do I find out now? That while I'm at home caring for my husband's two small children, he is out cheating on me. And so now I've gone from a successful, high earning executive to a stay at home mom with an unfaithful husband. It's so unfair and I'm so angry about it. I feel like I've given up (and lost) everything because of this man. And I'm not sure that I want to leave or divorce him because of my children. How ironic is that? And what am I supposed to do now?"
I get this type of correspondence all of the time and it breaks my heart because I recognize so much of myself in it. When my kids were little, I used to view myself as "just a stay at home mom." And believe me, there is nothing wrong with being a mom. It is the most important job in the world. But my husband's affair wrecked my already low self esteem. And I had to make some major changes in the way that I saw myself in order to heal. I tried very hard to heal without making these changes, but my own self esteem issues were keeping me from doing that. I will discuss this more in the following article.
What Has Happened To You Is Not Fair, But You Have The Power To Turn It Around: I'm not going to tell you that everything happens for a reason or even to look on the bright side. Because I don't think that advice works all that well. You can't change your husband's affair. It happened. There is no taking it back. But the choices that you make today and tomorrow are going to affect the outcome of your life and about how you feel about yourself.
If you don't look at yourself favorably, or if you sell yourself out or shoot yourself down as someone who is "just a stay at home mom" this is going to translate in how you handle your situation from this day forward. You may no longer be a career woman today, but who is to say that will not change? If you want to one day go back to work, you are skilled and capable enough to do that. We all have the ability to craft our own lives. Do not underestimate or downplay yourself. In fact, I would suggest that you do just the opposite. I suggest that you use the affair as motivation to make your life as you want it to be right now.
I know it may sound ridiculous to you. But I am not being insincere when I say that my husband's affair was the catalyst that made me take a hard look at how I was living my life and how I was selling myself short. I would never trade the years that I spent at home with my children. I am very grateful I had that opportunity and I think it had a profound impact on my children. However, there came a time when it was appropriate and in my own best interest for me to pursue my own dreams and goals. To be quite honest, I may have not have pursued those things if my husband's affair had never happened.
I suddenly realized that I felt second best and I absolutely hated that feeling. I started changing my life "to show" or "to prove" something to my husband. But the changes that I made stuck. And they were for the better. And at the end of the day, the changes were truly not about my husband. They were about me.
This may sound crazy to you, but I am going to suggest it anyway. Your husband's affair and the feeling that you have given up or lost everything may well be two separate issues. Yes, your husband's affair may have brought your feelings of isolation to the forefront. But they were probably laying in wait all the same. Your husband's affair and being a stay at home mom does not change the capable woman who you are and will always be. Do not let your husband's actions change that. I understand that you may well feel like you have lost or have given up everything to a man who didn't care enough to stay faithful. But I would suggest to you that now you have the opportunity to be found - by yourself. Don't accept less than what you deserve and truly want. You may or may not chose to save your marriage. But I sure hope that you chose to save yourself. And these issues are, in my opinion, somewhat separate. I did save my marriage. But saving myself was a separate issue. And I think I would have done this regardless of what happened in my marriage.
At the end of the day, my husband's affair forced me to take a hard look at my life and make some changes that needed to be changed. And I wouldn't trade that for anything. If it helps, you can read that very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com