I sometimes hear from people who are having issues when they are trying to recover and move on after their spouse had an affair. Needless to say, there are many pieces to pick up and things that must be dealt with. But, some of the people who I hear from say that their main issue is not their spouse, or their marriage. The challenge actually lies with their extended family who is now making all sorts of judgments and interferences.
Often I hear things like: “I’m ready to forgive my husband and we’re trying to work this out and move on. The problem is my family. I made the mistake of telling my mother and my sister about his affair. Now, I have to listen to how horrible a person my husband is. If he’s even a few minutes late,my family is immediately saying he’s cheating again. How can I handle this? I want to move on with my husband, but they won’t let me.”
I also sometimes hear from wives asking how to broach this topic with their children, who mostly know that something is wrong. Most people realize that the primary issue is between themselves and their spouse only, but this is easier said than done when people are witness to the fact that something has changed. I will discuss this more in the following article.
Always Try To Get Support From People That Aren’t Intimately Involved In Your Life: You may be already past this point, but if you have not yet told your family about the affair, consider keeping this to yourself. I know that when you’re hurting and needing support, it can be so easy to blurt out what has happened because you are looking for someone to lean on. Who knows you better than your family and who better to help you in this way?
The problem though is that it’s unlikely that you are going to feel precisely as you do with the passage of time. In the beginning, we are usually in a shock or state of rage. We want to lash out at our spouse and when others share in our outrage and confirm that our spouse is deplorable, this feels very good.
Unfortunately, we don’t understand at the time that we might not always feel this way. Time and explanations and reassurances have a way of making things look differently eventually. There may well come a time when you are at least contemplating looking at this another way. A few months after that, you may actually want to work things out. What happens, then, when you family is still in “we hate him too” mode? Now, those phrases aren’t going to sound nearly as good or as reassuring.
And, it’s tempting to become angry at your family and call them off, but if you think about it honestly, you have to realize that they are only saying these things because they hurt for you and are acting in your own best interests. And this is precisely what you need to realize when you ask them to stop.
If you have a choice of who to tell, then chose someone who doesn’t know or have to deal with your husband. This can be a friend or counselor.
Setting Boundaries With Your Family When You Are Trying To Work Through An Affair: As difficult as it may be to talk to your family, you are going to need to do it because you are going to feel hurt, unsure, and injured every time they go to bash, judge, or question your spouse.
The next time this comes up, tell them that you so appreciative of their support, but that you and your spouse are trying to move past this and that the conversations regarding this are now hurtful to you. Ask them to keep these judgments to themselves in the days ahead. Tell them that you understand why they are upset and it touches you that they would come to your defense, but that, if they really want to help you and want for you to be happy, you are asking for their support in the coming days and months.
This doesn’t mean that you want to see less of them or that you want for things to be awkward or forced. You just want for that particular topic to be off of the table as you attempt to work past it. Always understand that your family is reacting this way because they love you and want for you to be happy. To that end, if you and your spouse are able to work things out and your marriage returns to a happy place, this is going to be evident. Your happiness will generally be enough for them. Once they see that you are healed, they are less likely to feel as defensive and angry. This will just take time.
As far as children go, I believe that they should never be told about or brought into this situation. There are some things that need to be off limits to children and this is one of them. There is no need to thrust an adult problem onto children. If this has already happened, then make sure that they know that this is being taken off of the table. Simply tell them that their parents are going through some struggles right now, but that it is your problem to fix, not theirs.
Children are often looking for the reassurance that this doesn’t mean that you love them any less and that their world is not going to be turned upside down. You can often give them these reassurances by telling them that you will love them and keep them as your top priority no matter what. As long as they see you making every attempt to move forward, this is usually all they really need to know.