Dealing with the aftermath of your spouse’s affair can be a harrowing time. Your spouse’s cheating may have been an assault on your self-respect, making you lose your sense of self-worth.

If your self-respect has been shredded and is in need of repair, read on. In this post, I’ll give you 3 keys to get you started on your return to a healthy sense of self-worth and respect for the great person you are.

The Aftermath of an Affair for the Victim

The barrage of emotions you experience after you’ve found out your spouse cheated can be quite overwhelming. In the aftermath of the revelation, your thoughts and emotions are reeling. The betrayal causes hurt and anger—and often, some of that anger points inward.

All of those negative images, thoughts and emotions can wreak havoc on your inner health, leaving your self-confidence in tatters.

You may find you are berating yourself:

  • Why didn’t I sense something was off?
  • How could I not know that he/she was cheating, with all of those late work nights?
  • What’s wrong with me, that my own spouse would do such a thing?
  • Why wasn’t I enough?

With an inner dialogue that sounds like that, is it any wonder your self-respect has disappeared? You are your own best champion, and if you turn on yourself, who is there to cheer you on?

This anger that’s directed inward is natural. Post-affair time is generally full of doubts: about your marriage, who your spouse is, who you are, and what you want to happen next.

But when it’s making you sick, and you don’t feel you can talk yourself through these negative thoughts, is when it’s time to put in a massive effort to take care of yourself and turn things around.

Remember this: your mind is your territory. You control what happens there.

Regaining Self-Respect after the Affair

You aren’t responsible for your spouse’s decision to cheat. Things may have been bad in your marriage, but it was no excuse for your spouse to venture outside of the marriage, break their marriage vows and your trust—and think that would somehow improve things.

What an affair does it make a bad situation worse—every time.

Affairs cause pain and suffering for the victims of this ill-advised decision. You didn’t ask to be cheated on, but you are left with the negative impact that is its aftermath. An affair can make you feel like you’ve lost control over everything—especially your life and how you view it. This is, in large part, why your self-respect gets eroded.

Here are 3 keys to consider in getting back your self-respect:

Key 1: Take Personal Responsibility

You aren’t responsible for the affair, but you are responsible for your life. Also, if you want to save your marriage, you are responsible for helping to heal the rift in your relationship with your spouse. However, in no way did you make your spouse cheat.

It’s up to you to surpass the difficult hand you’ve been dealt. You are responsible for what you tell yourself, so listen to that inner dialogue that’s going on—and take responsibility for changing what you’re saying to yourself.

Key 2: Embrace Reality

If you are feeling down and depressed after discovering your spouse’s affair, accept that this is your reality at the moment. It doesn’t mean it is a permanent reality. But pretending that you don’t feel awful will do nothing to help you gain back your sense of self-respect.

Once you accept that your current reality includes a lot of negative emotions, thoughts and images, it can deflate some of the power of that negativity. Simply by acknowledging that this is a really nasty time in your life can help boost your self-confidence—you have the power to name it for what it is. Now, you can focus your energy on flipping the picture back around to a more positive reality.

Key 3: Feed Your Emotions and Spirit

Your marriage may have been in disrepair for some time. If you think about it, it may have been a long time since you had any fun, let alone fun with your spouse. Anger, resentment and other seething emotions may have marked your days leading up to the affair—and certainly characterize them post-affair.

Take back your sense of self-respect by stopping the bad habit of not having fun. Think of all the things you love to do that you find personally fulfilling—and start doing them. You may not feel like it at first, but tell yourself you need to develop some new, good habits: principally, enjoying your life.

It doesn’t mean you stop working on trying to save your marriage or become so engrossed in having fun that you ignore the heavy work involved. It simply means that your emotions and spirit have been damaged—and only you can lift them back up. By nurturing and loving yourself, you will build your self-respect.

The length of the road back to self-respect varies for each individual. I can’t tell you that you’ll have it back next week, or even next month. But once you acknowledge that you really have lost respect for yourself, only you have the power to turn that around.

I would like to hear from you about how discovering your spouse’s affair damaged your self-respect, and what you’ve done to take care of yourself and gain it back …

I know it’s painful to talk about, but what has been some of your inner dialogue going on? What are you saying to yourself, or did you say?

Have you regained your self-respect and self-confidence?

What actions did you take that were successful? Which ones weren’t so successful?

Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic by leaving a comment below.

Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,

Stephanie Anderson


Marriage Sherpa

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