Affairs: a Life-altering Experience!
by Peggy Vaughan
Discovering that your partner has had an affair is a life-altering experience. Coping with this situation is more than JUST dealing with an affair - as if that weren't enough. It's also trying to deal with a totally different reality from the one you thought you knew.
Nothing feels the same: your partner is not who you thought they were, your relationship is not what you thought it was; in essence your whole world has been turned upside down.
I personally understand this feeling - because even though it's been almost 30 years since I faced this dilemma, I still remember how unreal it felt to be pretending that everything was normal - when, in fact, it felt like NOTHING would ever be the same again.
Learning of a partner's affair often leads us to "rethink" our whole lives, wondering how things might have been different. While it's understandable that we have these thoughts, in fact no one leads a "perfect" life; everyone faces some kind of serious problem or challenge at some point in their lives. So even in the midst of our own personal crisis, it can help to remember that it's not so much a case of "why me?" - as a case of "why NOT me?" - since problems come to everyone, regardless of how "unfair" it may seem.
Of course, even if we come to some kind of intellectual "understanding" of this broader perspective on life, we still have to deal with the nitty-gritty of going about our daily lives and taking care of our responsibilities. Realistically there's no way to avoid dealing with "life" - even when you don't feel like being a part of it.
However, this crisis can serve as a stimulus for stepping back and taking stock of your life, carefully considering the kind of future you want to have. This does NOT mean acting too quickly to make a decision about whether or not to stay married. It's actually an even bigger issue than that. It's a matter of thinking about "who you are" and "who you want to be." Only after first focusing on yourself are you prepared to focus on the relationship.
This can be the beginning of what we like to call "living your life by choice instead of chance." For more perspective about what this involves, read through the long list of questions from the Table of Contents of our LifeDesign Workbook.
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