What to Do When an Affair Ends Your Marriage – Help Dealing With the Guilt
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You don’t go into a marriage planning to have an affair and hurt your spouse in the deepest way possible, but it happens all too often. In some cases an affair can highlight problems within a marriage and you can come back together stronger then ever, but in many other cases it is the final act that destroys the relationship.
If you were the one who had the affair that ultimately ended your marriage, how do you deal with the guilt? The following tips are not solid solutions as no one can promise you that, but they will direct your thinking so you have a fighting chance of freeing yourself from the guilt.
The first thing you need to do is to take responsibility for the affair, but not necessarily for the breakup of the marriage. We will discuss who accepts blame for the end of the marriage in a moment, but your very first step is to just accept that you had the affair and that it caused your spouse and you a lot of pain.
Many people want to hide in excuses or denial, but the guilt will always be under the surface eating you up if you do this. Make peace with the fact that you did in fact have the affair. It may even help you to admit this fact to your spouse, but don’t do that if it has been some time since the divorce. They have likely already made peace with the affair and you don’t want to re-open the scars for them.
It Wasn’t All You
It is equally important to understand that your affair was not the sole cause of the divorce. Yes, it may have been the final straw and it may have been the final act that highlighted all the other problems in your relationship, but it was not the only reason the marriage broke up.
When an affair occurs there is always a reason behind it. Solid relationships between two people who are head-over-heels in love with one another do not allow the separation and emotional void that allows an affair to occur. If someone has cheated, then there were problems within the relationship even if both parties did not recognize it prior to the affair.
You don’t necessarily have to go through rehashing what all of those marital problems may have been, but it is important to let yourself off the hook some by realizing the problems were there. You are not a horrible person for having the affair and you are not solely to blame for the destruction of the marriage.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your ex ever acknowledges that the marriage was already rocky before the affair, but it is very important that you acknowledge it.
Understand Your Needs
Now, spend some time thinking about your needs that may not have been met adequately in your marriage. This is not done to blame your ex or shift responsibility. It is done as a learning experience. Work with a therapist or a coach to identify what you were seeking when you started the affair and why those needs were not being met in the marriage.
This knowledge will help you notice warning signs in future relationships when something is not right. You will know what needs have to be met in your relationship in order for you to be happy, and, you can look for that in the future.