Dear Dr. Buckingham
I have been married 14 years. My husband recently cheated. We have been trying to work things out but I’m angry. He tried to find fault in me, to justify his affair. He admitted that, only after I beat myself up over and over trying to find out what I did to cause it. A part of me wants to just divorce him! What should I do?
Help me heal! Please!…Toya
It is understandable that you are angry and anyone in your shoes would feel the same. However, anger can and will debilitate emotionally, physically and spiritually if not dealt with effectively. In order to find peace and heal properly please consider the following recommendations.
First, I recommend that you find healthy mechanisms to cope with your anger so that you can process clearly. Do whatever works for you, but consider the following: pray for peace, speak with family members or friends who are willing and capable of providing words of encouragement or seek counseling.
Secondly, I recommend that you keep your head up and do not allow your husband to pass fault. I say this to remind you that cause and effect is not the same as influence and contribution. Every human-being including your husband has Free-will and are capable of making decisions free of others. Sometimes we do things that influence others’ behavior, but we cannot control individuals; therefore cause and effect does not apply to human behavior.
For example, some individuals claim that they cheat because they were denied sex or because they were not happy. While these factors might influence behavior, they do not cause individuals to cheat. This excuse or thinking is inaccurate because lack of sex or unhappiness does not cause cheating. Cheating occurs because individuals choose to cheat. The bottom line: your husband cheated because he wanted to. Think about what you can do different to improve your marriage, but do not take on what you are not responsible for.
Third, I recommend that you develop a list of pros and cons for sustaining your marriage. I encourage this because we have a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of our relationship when we are hurting. Divorce might feel like the best option now, but by allowing yourself time to process the pros and cons of your marriage you might find that it is worth saving.
Finally, I recommend that you do some research and invest in resources that can help you understand and gain insight into how to move forward. For example, if you have not already done so, I suggest that you secure a copy of Still Standing (DVD) by Lamar and Ronnie Tyler. The video is very encouraging and provides insight into how a diverse group of couples are STILL STANDING despite infidelity, chronic illness, financial crisis, blended families and more. I also suggest that you visit my website and secure a copy of my book Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship. From reading my book you will gain insight into what it means to receive and give unconditional love.
Some people argue that knowledge is power. I argue that the application of knowledge is power. Please equip yourself with power knowledge and apply what you learn. If you do these two things, I guarantee you that you will feel empowered. If none of the recommendations listed above help you heal, please do not hesitate to contact me for coaching.
Best Regards, Dr. Buckingham
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.