Infidelity + The Fear of Change
(This article was originally featured in Cosmopolitan magazine)
Q: Hi Athena,
I think that I fear change. I’ve been with my partner for 10 years – Our first five years were beautiful and we loved each other very much. Our sixth year he started acting funny and coming home late he would insist that it’s work and get angry if I pressed for answers. One day I was using his phone to make a call and a message came through saying ‘goodnight love’. I immediately called the number and the lady gave me a piece of her mind telling me that my partner was hers and that I should give them space and leave. When I asked him he said it was a fling and he was going to end it. 12 Months later, I found out from his colleagues that the woman was pregnant. The baby is now almost 3 years old. I’ve been struggling to come to terms with this humiliation. I took a job 600km away from him but we didn’t break up. I don’t know really why I’m still in this relationship except for our two boys who adore him. I’m not even sure of the status of their relationship because he hides anything to do with this baby from me. But he cries and begs if I say let’s end it. How can I ever heal from this? – Patricia
What a painful ordeal to go through.
I know that this experience has left you feeling humiliated and hurt but know that you can move forward from this.
I believe that the best possible option here is to work with a licensed psychologist who can help do just that.
That said, there is poignant line from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, that says; ‘The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only more impossible thing than staying was leaving.’
I feel like it encompasses the difficulty that you are currently experiencing.
So much pain and uncertainty is created internally when you do not actively choose a way forward.
Terri Cole, relationship expert, has the following to say on the matter, ‘There are many reasons, conscious and unconscious, that cause us to stay stuck in unhealthy or unsatisfying behaviors.
These are the more hidden or covert reasons for staying stuck…Whatever your circumstance is, why you stay stuck is as unique as you are.
It’s certainly not because you want to be miserable or because you’re ‘crazy’, there’s an actual psychological devise at work here – secondary gain.
A simple way of understanding secondary gain is by looking at what feelings or situation you get to avoid by staying stuck.
So it’s not a primary gain because no one consciously wants to stay stuck but when you start to uncover the ‘benefit’ you receive from not solving the problem, you will have a better shot of resolving it.’
You can watch my video conversation with Terri Cole here to gain more awareness on how you are responding to this situation.
So, become aware of the thoughts that trigger your feelings of inadequacy and humiliation.
They could be anything from:
‘I wasn’t good enough so he found comfort elsewhere.’
‘People know about this, they are going to feel sorry for me & talk about me behind my back.’
‘I have to stay in this for the kids.’
‘I can’t heal from this.’
Now bring your attention to:
What do you want?
Do you want to be happy with this man, forgive and move on?awareness into this.
You also stated that you feel humiliated.
Often this is triggered by self-made thoughts around perceived judgement which is often accompanied by
(This is also 100% okay if that’s what you deeply desire – just make sure that this isn’t coming from a place of low self-esteem but rather from a place of genuine love and desire).
Do you want a new love relationship?
Do you want a fresh start but feel too guilty because of the kids?
(Again, this is 100% okay, you are allowed to choose you. )
Intuitively, you know what’s best for you.
You can also watch my video interview with bestselling author and Oprah Super Soul 100, Danielle LaPorte on setting goals with soul here – because clarity is everything.
You are worthy of good, loving, mutually supportive relationships and you are capable of creating them for yourself.