I liken divorce to a modern day rite of passage which means, no matter what the reason for the divorce, there’s a bigger lesson within the turmoil and pain. A hidden opportunity. A chance to recreate a life that isn’t working the way you need it to work.
Saying that I don’t mean to sound like I condone affairs. I don’t. I was raised in the US with our cultural bent toward monogamy. I feel for those suffering from betrayal and I’m familiar with that experience (too many serious boyfriends had quite a few of us buying into promises at the same time). The pain of infidelity definitely cuts deep!
But, I’ve also accepted the bigger opportunity inherent in needing to blow up a marriage. I’ve come to realize that it’s about truly stepping into what one is doing here on this planet. I work with a lot of people who had the love affair. Looking back on it, they see themselves seemingly out of control, in the throes of romance, caught up in the joy of feeling alive!
How can any one of us ask another to resist the opportunity to feel connection and pleasure with another human being? Who are we to stop the flow of rapture and bliss?
From today’s vantage point, every client wrestles with the consequences of their decisions. They have a difficult time reconciling who they think themselves to be with the person they were who was having the affair. All of us suffer.
I actually feel most sorry for the men and women who’ve initiated an affair, blew up a marriage (this is conscious or unconscious — and it doesn’t really matter) only to feel obliged to marry the lover. Usually, they find themselves in another divorce a few months or years down the road — the lover in the affair is not the person you’re meant to be with.
The lover’s role is to help you get out of a marriage that isn’t working.
Knowing this allows you to take back control and to figure out what the purpose of destroying the marriage was all about. That’s the work in front of you — it’s never about “wanting more sex” or “s/he was boring” or “we never did anything.” All those superficial justifications for getting divorced only highlight the inner growth and emotional awareness that’s on your horizon. It’s exciting to work with clients who are figuring out their lives!
The intent to turn shame and guilt into something productive and life-enhancing is inspiring.
So How Do You Get Over A Breakup When You Cheated? When you were the Cheater? You choose to grow. You step out of your emotional immaturity (yep, I know that one stings) and you figure out what you’re doing here on this planet for the remainder of your life. You opt in for personal awareness.
You walk away from the drama of the past that wasn’t fueling your soul.
You stretch. You ask questions. You find a mentor, a structure, a system. You figure this thing out. This is the deeply personal part of divorce and it comes whether you’re the one who blew up the marriage or not. When the soul wants to grow, the soul is going to push and push and push until you pay attention.
An affair gets people’s attention!
You don’t get to go back to your ex-spouse and try to reconcile. Certainly not before you forgive yourself. Definitely not before you’ve done some personal growth! You don’t get to walk around bruised and wounded like you’re unaware of who you are anymore. You had a hiccup, a misstep away from your vows and your values and it was a big ole’ wake up call, but you don’t get to wallow in your shame. You can’t shy away and hide. You can’t get stuck.
You take responsibility for yourself, your actions and learn to work it out.
There’s a lesson in breaking your vows and it’s unique for each one of us. You’ve given yourself a chance to step out from behind hiding, to “mature up” different aspects of yourself, and to step into being who you truly are. The affair is the thing that helps remind you that you’re entitled to experience love and connection. If you didn’t get that in your marriage, then you’d better figure out why.
I don’t like the cliched reasoning around “outgrowing one another” or “s/he didn’t need me.” Those reek of blame and avoiding your part in the escapade. They’re superficial — marriages don’t end just because you’ve outgrown another human being! Marriages end because you stopped feeling part of the partnership. You stopped trying. You stopped expecting your needs to be met. You stopped feeling you were worthy or capable of being seen and heard and respected, cherished and loved. None of that is because of anything your partner did!
This is a feeling life. We need love, affection, intimacy, the whispers of sweet nothings. No one deserves feeling less than, unappreciated, unwanted, disrespected.
Those are the reasons marriages end. If you allowed it to be like that, then you’re the one who needs to work on respecting and appreciating yourself again. Setting new boundaries. Protecting yourself from unworthy people. Making sure that you honor yourself. If you want intimacy with your future partners, you owe it to yourself to be seen and heard, respected and appreciated.
An affair gives you a chance to re-rack. To stop, take stock of who you’ve allowed yourself to be and to decide if you’re going to go in the direction of relationships where you’re not happy or into ones where you can be fully transparent and proud. You earn self-respect through doing your work not by blaming or disrespecting those you hurt. It is the growth your soul demands of you and there’s no turning back!
If you find the journey from being married to being single after an affair much harder than you thought, reach out — firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura will get you going in the right direction starting with a Divorce Unloaded™ session.