I often hear from people who are struggling to restore their confidence or self esteem after their spouse has cheated or had an affair. Often, they will tell me that they are a completely different person after the affair. And many intuitively know that in order for their marriage to survive, they are going to need to effectively deal with these insecurities.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband cheated on me with a much younger, much prettier woman. When I found out, he said he would break things off and it appears that he did. We have been working on our marriage and I feel like we’re making a little bit of progress. But I do have problems with being very insecure. This wasn’t an issue for me before he cheated. Yes, I’m older, but so is he. I take relatively good care of myself and I feel like I’m relatively decent looking. But I can’t compare with someone who is much younger, prettier and skinnier than me. My husband says the affair wasn’t about her looks. He says it was about his own desire to be young and desirable again. But what does that mean for me? I can’t change my age. So I can’t make him feel young around me. And now every time we’re out and there’s a young, pretty girl, I feel insecure. I worry that my husband is staring at younger women and I find this a little disturbing and pathetic. And then and I look in the mirror and I see an aging, miserable woman. The sad thing is that before he cheated, I actually liked what I saw in the mirror. I would never want to be young again because I am so much wiser than I used to be. At the same time though, my husband has proven to me that he likes eye candy and he will pursue a younger woman. He tells me that he loves and is still attracted to me, but how am I supposed to believe this when he’s proven otherwise?” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
His Infidelity Doesn’t Change Anything About You Or Your Physical Appearance: I know that you might think that this is easy for me to say, but it really isn’t. I was in the same situation that you are. And I too looked in the mirror and worried if I was pretty and sexy enough. But here’s something that I didn’t realize at the time and you may not either. Your attractiveness and sex appeal before and after the affair have not changed at all. Your looks aren’t going to change in a few months time. But your perception of those looks can change. Because your confidence has taken a hit. It’s so important to understand that nothing about you has changed except for your circumstances and your perceptions. And, the good news is that you have control of both.
Ways To Erase Or Deal With Your Insecurities After Your Spouse Cheated Or Had An Affair: I’m not silly enough to think that this is a “mind over matter” issue or that if you just give yourself a big enough pep talk, this issue will be over for you. I know from experience that just relying on positive thinking doesn’t work. I also know from my own life that in order to believe that your husband loves and finds you attractive, then you yourself must absolutely believe this yourself. Because if you believe that you aren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or alluring enough, then it truly doesn’t matter what your husband says or how sincerely he says it. You are not going to believe him anyway.
That’s why whatever you try must include self work. If you had confidence before the affair and only find your confidence shaken because of the infidelity, your job will be a little more easy. As your marriage heals and time shows you that your husband is sticking around because he wants to, then you will begin to get a little of you swagger back. Because in truth, very few people are going to stay with someone to whom they are not attracted, especially for the long term. So time has a way of restoring your confidence because you know that he won’t and can’t fake it forever.
In the meantime, you can help this process by being very kind to yourself. If there are issues about your appearance that bother you, there is nothing wrong with addressing them. However, never use this as an excuse to beat yourself up. Surround yourself with kind, loving, and supportive people, including yourself.
And, if some of your insecurities existed long before your husband acted inappropriately, you will usually have a little more work to do. A very wise counselor once told me that an affair doesn’t have to do with a person’s love for their spouse. It usually is at least partly due to a lack of self esteem on the part of one or both of the spouses. When I first heard this, it confused me and made me a little angry. However, after I thought about it for a while, I realized that my own insecurities had always plagued my marriage. I had long acted out of fear and lack because I didn’t believe that I was a good enough mother, daughter, or wife. And this gravely affected me in many areas of my life.
I would never claim to be grateful or even OK with my husband’s affair, but I am able to look back and admit that some good came out of it. One example is that I was forced to look at my insecurity issues and then not only acknowledge them, but to fix them. It was to my benefit to form my own career and to address things about myself that I didn’t particularly like. Doing this helped with my healing but it also improved my marriage.
And once I made progress, when my husband told me I was lovable, or beautiful, or sexy, I believed him. Because it was the first time that I believed it about myself.