“My husband admitted to a very brief affair over a decade ago but I can’t handle the pain this has caused. Why does it hurt so badly?”

Pete replies…

You might find this answer hard to read because it doesn’t point the blame at your husband. However, really understanding what I write here will be the key to you being able to stop  the terrible hurt you are feeling.

When we were born, it was like we were a pure bottle of the finest mineral water, life giving and completely clean in the world. Then over time, we got damaged by the world. Every time someone else got irritated, or disappointed with us, and expressed that to us, this hurt. No one likes being told they are a disappointment. It was as if someone had poked a tiny pin through our bottle of water – and now there is a tiny leak. When they did it again and again, the leaks gradually got bigger and bigger. “You never eat enough vegetables”, ” Stop being so noisy”,  “Why can’t you do better at school?”, “Go away, I’m busy.” Eventually, all our water drained away, leaving us feeling empty and insecure about ourselves – and this hurt too.

This happened to me, my wife and every single person I have coached in the last eight years. There is not one person I have found that this didn’t happen to.

Since your husband had an affair, I can tell you that the same happened to him. His bottle of water was emptied when he was a child and this hurt him, and he was carrying that hurt around before he even met you. Over his life, he has tried various things to try and diminish this hurt. Some people drink a lot, some people strive to be the best, some people gather lots of friends to help them feel wanted. But all of these solutions are only ever temporary – they don’t heal the holes in our bottle.

Whatever the circumstances of your husband’s affair, they don’t really matter. If you can accept that he was simply doing something to try and make his own pain go away, then you will understand why he did it.

The hurt that you are experiencing is because you are making his actions mean something about you. I’m not a good enough wife, I’m not slim enough or pretty enough. He lied to me…

He wasn’t thinking about you when he took the opportunity. He was only able to focus on his own pain. He hoped that you would never find out. He didn’t want to hurt you, that’s why he lied. It’s all about him getting something for his pain – not wanting to cause you pain. And his pain was caused when he was a little boy.

Your level of hurt is because of the hurt you felt when your bottle was emptied as a little girl. His actions have attacked your own sense of self-worth, yet you didn’t feel like this for ten years when you didn’t know the information, and he had still had the affair. Nothing has changed for you – you are still enormously worthwhile, whether your husband is in his own emotional pain or not. Your pain will go when you really start to see and believe this.

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