You felt great about yourself—until your spouse cheated on you.

Now, your self-esteem has taken a plunge, and you wonder if you’ll ever feel good about yourself again. Before your spouse’s affair, you might have been moving through your life, accomplishing your goals, comfortable in your marriage.

Then came the self-esteem blow: your spouse cheated.

In this blog, I want to share steps to help you reclaim a healthy sense of self-esteem. Read on… 

The Crushing Self-Esteem Blow

When a spouse cheats, it decimates the marriage vows and the sense of relationship security you relied on. Along with the relationship damage is the damage to your relationship with yourself:  how you feel about yourself, which is essentially what constitutes your self-esteem.

Now, your internal dialogue is filled with questions of self-doubt about who you are and what you’re worth. Where you might have once stood strong and proud, you may now feel like a paler version of your former self.

If you’ve been injured by an affair, there are many layers of devastation to work through that are a result of learning of the affair. You may be struggling to overcome a multitude of complex feelings and thoughts, both on a personal level and in regard to saving your marriage.

Your inner dialogue may sound similar to this:

1. I look so tired all the time now, no wonder my spouse strayed.

2. With this gut, my spouse probably isn’t attracted to me anymore.

3. If I hadn’t let our sex life get boring, this wouldn’t have happened.

4. My husband (or wife) is probably bored with me, all I do is work.

When you are haunted with words of self-doubt, it can be difficult to switch gears from tearing yourself down to being your own advocate. Your self-esteem may already have taken a beating just by the news of your spouse’s affair. Now you may be struggling with that critical inner dialogue.

But if you want to save your marriage, you need self-esteem.

Your Self-Confidence: A Crucial Component To Marriage-Building

If you are also trying to repair a damaged marriage amidst this inner turmoil, you suddenly find too many challenging questions on your plate. From healing yourself to healing your marriage, it’s a lot for you to take on all at once.

However, you need to take some time to focus on yourself and work on rebuilding your self-esteem. Your self-esteem is an essential, crucial component of saving your marriage. To build a marriage that is stronger than what you’ve had, you will need a strong sense of inner self-confidence, and the courage to demonstrate your self-confidence. Here are some steps for you to take as a beginning to help you get through this crisis period.

Step 1: Commit to Yourself

Before you can commit yourself to saving your marriage and building it into a stronger relationship, first commit to this: to salvaging your self-confidence and  building a stronger relationship with yourself.

Your self-confidence is damaged, and only you can repair it. Commit to making the effort to heal yourself, first and foremost. Your priority at the moment should be to focus inward as you work through this self-healing process.

Step 2: Define the Crisis

When you experience a crisis of self-confidence, you are already asking yourself many questions, and those questions can cut to the core.

Submit to this self-evaluation. Ask yourself the hard questions. I encourage you to write down what you’re asking, and what your answers are to your own questions. Get it all out in the open, no matter what the question is, and no matter what your answer is in response.

Remember that you are the expert on knowing your thoughts and feelings. I am not saying that your thoughts or feelings are equivalent to or based on “the truth,” only that no one knows better than you what your thoughts and feelings are.

After you make an honest self-evaluation, analyze your information. Can you put a name to the inner crisis you’re experiencing? In order to cope with the crisis, you need to understand what it is.

Step 3: Cope with Confidence

After you do your self-evaluation, we can expect that you will understand more of your own motivations for tearing yourself apart. Now, your “job” is to argue with yourself against the negative thoughts and feelings.

For example, if one of your self-questions was whether or not you’re accomplished enough, ask yourself: “How exactly can my spouse’s affair take away from my accomplishments?”

This exercise will help you define your crisis of self-confidence, and then your “job” will be to question and argue against those self-defeating
thoughts and questions. For some people experiencing a blow to their self-esteem after infidelity, there is something appealing about staying  mired in the self-defeating thinking. It can create the illusion that you are taking care of “the problem,” because you are actively focusing on something and feel that you are somehow controlling things and making them better. But focusing on an illusion accomplishes nothing in the real world. You need to break free from this pattern.

My best to you as you rebuild your self-esteem, and then your marriage.

Did your self-esteem take a major hit from the affair?

Is it lingering, or do you feel you’re recovering a strong sense of self?

If you’re struggling, what would make you feel good about yourself again?

Please share your ideas and personal experiences on this topic with other members of the community.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Editor-in-Chief

Marriage Sherpa

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