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If you’re reading this blog you probably have some experience with infidelity. Either having had an affair or discovering the affair of your partner. One of the painful side effects of an affair is that no aspect of our lives goes unaffected. In an earlier blog I talk about how it has changed all of my memories and beliefs about the past. How everything is seen in a new light now. Holidays are no exception and for some, they are one of the hardest parts of affair recovery. There is an abundance of emotions that are experienced and often times those emotions contradict one another.
On the one hand, if you are still in your relationship, you obviously have a desire to work through it all and come out stronger on the other side. That being the case, you still feel love for your partner. On a day like Valentines Day those feelings want to be expressed. You want to announce your love and dedication and everything that the other person means to you. You want to be near them, hold them, experience the romance and passion of this day of love. You want all of these things but (and here is the other hand) they are complicated by other emotions such as guilt, resentment, fear, anger, uncertainty.
If you have had an affair you are probably struggling now with what the expectations of you will be. Do you go all out or is that overkill? Do you get mushy or will it cause trigger emotions? Would your partner be more comfortable if the day were more low key or will they be disappointed if your efforts do not speak boldly about your intentions?
If you have discovered the affair you are struggling with seeing the day as authentic. Proclamations of love are what you really want and yet they somehow seem orchestrated. You feel like the other person is obligated because of the occasion and you may question the sincerity. If your partner goes all out, it may feel like it’s fake, or staged as part of their efforts to win you back. It might trigger resentments such as why did he never act like this before? Or What did she do for her lover this time last year? You feel obligated to gush sentiments in return but there is anger inside of you that fights giving them that comfort and safety after what they have done. It can be a real battle inside. I know. I’m there.
Here is what is working for me. I specifically addressed the topic of today with my partner ahead of time. We agreed to keep it low key. I didn’t want to ignore the significance of today. I also did not want expectations that it was going to be the most romantic passionate event of our lives thus far. I didn’t want the pressure. Pressure always leads me back to the inner rage I struggle with. So we agreed. No expectations, no staged romance, just the intentions of enjoying each other’s company, a nod to the holiday of love, and the security of falling asleep next to the warm body of the person we are trying so hard to reconnect to. Anything more to that is left to chance but not to be expected.
Disappointing for my partner? Yes, I imagine so. His need to physically engage is constant. Not only because he has a high sex drive but because he desperately craves closeness day in and day out as an indication that I am not drifting away from him. Anything less is viewed as a threat. I understand that. I truly do but his need for intimacy is suffocating me and at times paralyzing my movement forward because for a woman it is extremely hard to experience anger and intimacy at the same time. Once or twice yes. Sex in the heat of anger can be amazing and expressive and passionate in a very raw way but intimacy on a prolonged basis when a woman is harboring so many questions and so much anger or hurt deep inside of her can turn counter productive and actually push her further away. Not because she doesn’t desire or love her partner. But because he is not in tune with her emotional state, her need to connect with her “self” as much as her partner. For those reasons I am extremely grateful for the graceful way my partner accepted my need to keep today a low key, no expectations kind of day.
I received roses at work. They’re lovely. I bought him a few small gifts. We’ll have dinner out as a family rather than a couple, then we’ll return home for some cuddle up time.
My advice, in addition to openly talking about the holiday with your partner, is simply this….. take a break.
Give yourselves permission. Take an intentional break from the uncertainty, the anger, the guilt, the pursuit, the constant analysis, the triggers and images. There will be time tomorrow for such things as you continue your journey toward recovery. But life is short and affairs don’t change that. It doesn’t give you back lost time spent with another and it doesn’t give you extra tomorrows to make it up to your partner or extra days to learn to forgive your partner. Why not allow ourselves today, to simply be in the now? To not focus on the past or push for the future. Let’s just experience the moments, love the one we are with, and allow ourselves a break from the constant highs and lows we experience each day.