The ultimate betrayal. A knife to the heart. He cheated on me.
Can the relationship be saved? Can you ever trust him again? What is a relationship without trust?
Great questions. While your world is falling apart around you, let me shine a light on some answers. In this episode, I’ll share with you the 3 steps to begin the healing process so you can move on and make this work… if that’s what you want to do.
You’ll learn how to build trust again, how to finally be heard and understood, and how to encourage your partner to be the loyal and monogamous man you need.
I have been married for 25 years. In the past 15 years, my husband has had two affairs. He says he is glad I saved our marriage and that he wants to make this work, but how do I know his words and feelings are genuine? How do I know that he truly loves me and that he’s not thinking of one of his affairs — one of which lasted for over a year? I feel very hurt right now. How can I move on and make this work?
“He Cheated on Me but Says He Loves Me:” What to Trust When There Is No Trust.
The only truth that you can count on now is your truth: Do you want to be with him? Do you still love him?
It’s not that simple, I know, but affirming that you both love and want to be with him, allows you to have a solid place from where you can start moving on.
I’m going to share with you the 3 steps to begin the healing process so you can move on from the “He cheated on me” loop and move toward a brighter future together if that’s what you choose.
Step #1: Understand Brain Differences When It Comes to Love and Sex
It’s important you know that your husband can have an affair for a year and still love you. This is a wibbly-wobbly notion for women to trust because it makes no sense…AT ALL.
How can you sleep with a woman consistently for a year and not have feelings for her? How can you be intimate with another person and still be in love with your wife?
These are excellent questions.
Generally speaking, men have an easier time separating love from sex. Quick geography tip: the sex center of the brain and the love center of the brain occupy completely separate places. So with this insight, it makes more sense that he can close the door on one location and spend time in another.
And this could totally jive with a woman except that she has seven times more nerve connectors in her brain than a man! Which means for us, sex and love easily feel like one and the same thing. From there, all we know to do is project our experience of love and sex onto him.
But in reality, a man is fully capable of loving you and cheating on you at the same time.
This doesn’t mean he will cheat and it doesn’t excuse his actions if he does, but it can help the forgiving process when we understand more about how our brains function a little differently.
Step #2: He Needs to Understand Your Feelings of Hurt and Betrayal
“He cheated on me.” When you say it out loud, how does it make you feel?
Now, talk about it. Talk about how your sense of importance went down, how you feel hurt and excluded, how you feel second class…
Remember that you’ve chosen to stay with him so it’s not about hitting him over the head with his mistake or punishing him for it. People make mistakes and he needs to learn from his.
“If men and women view cheating so differently, how can a woman share her experience in a way that a man can understand and relate to it?”
I’m super Martian savvy but his answer surprised even me!
In order for a man to see things from your perspective, explain it this way: “Imagine you’ve worked on a project for years, putting in your heart and soul and extra hours at the office. Then one day, someone steals it from under you and reaps all the benefits.”
To you (and me!) this example may seem trivial but now you are speaking Martian and he can understand what it feels like to “share” and be robbed of something so important.
Step #3: Talk About the Value and Benefits of Monogamy
Once you’ve shared your “negative” feelings, it’s time to talk about the value and benefits of monogamy.
Believe it or not, not everyone is intuitively designed to be monogamous so it’s important for your man to be reminded of why monogamy is so great.
Human beings, unlike penguins, don’t necessarily mate for life. Some people are more naturally inclined to be monogamous and for others, it takes more conscious and deliberate effort. Your man is clearly the latter, which is why it is important to keep this conversation alive in your marriage.
It’s easier for him to hear you talk about monogamy vs. infidelity when the discussion is not directly about his affair but rather about a TV program or an article you read.
The strategy here is to consistently and indirectly reinforce the value of monogamy.
For many years it was enough that a man monogamously supported his wife financially but now that women financially support themselves, it is far more important for a man to be emotionally, romantically, and sexually monogamous with his partner.
Monogamy provides your partner with the highest honor by acknowledging them as being special to you.
Keep Your Eyes and Heart Open (at the Same Time)
This is so hard because our instinct after “He cheated on me” is to close our heart. After all, he hurt you.
But without an open heart, you cannot receive the love you need to heal these wounds.
Building trust from nothing takes time. It doesn’t happen just because he says he’s sorry. It’s a healing process and it takes patience, love, and understanding.
Don’t expect yourself to open your heart fully on day one. That’s an unrealistic expectation and it will only lead to frustration.
Your job isn’t to “get over this” overnight; your job is to make the effort every day to open your heart a little more and receive his love. It’s scary but it’s necessary once you’ve made your choice to stay.
The truth is, there’s not much you can do to prevent an affair in the future. There’s no need to be jealous or suspicious; these emotions only poison your personal happiness.
But don’t ignore a feeling that something is up in order to preserve the pretty picture of a perfect marriage. Keep your eyes open. Stay awake to your relationship, use as many MarsVenus relationship skills as you can, and keep the “benefits of monogamy” conversation alive in your day-to-day life.
With these 3 steps you are on the road to healing and rebuilding your relationship.
“He cheated on me” is a blow. In times of crisis and change, we have an opportunity to build resilience and grow into our best selves. Whatever choice you make, you are a brave and beautiful being of love and I wish you and your relationship the very best.