Posts in Healing from Heartbreak
My Husband Cheated. Am I to Blame?
 
 

“How could I have been so stupid?”

 

“Why did I believe him when he said he was busy with work all of those late nights?”

 

“How did I not see it coming?”

These are all pretty common reactions and themes that I hear when women come in to see me after they’ve discovered their partner has had an affair.

When I sit and compare the way men and women react after discovering infidelity, the difference is clear. Men tend to react with anger. Women tend to react with self-blame.

Men might not react by becoming physically violent, but they share fantasies about hurting their spouse’s affair partner.

Women retreat and look at themselves. They consider all of the things they did or did not do throughout their entire marriage. They wonder whom they could have been more or less like.

“Maybe if I were skinnier… kept a cleaner house… listened to him talk more about work… asked the right questions to get him to really tell me what was going on…”

If only, if only, if only. And to that, I call bullshit!

All you have to do is check out the cover of any gossip magazine to know that those thoughts are distorted. Even the most beautiful women get cheated on. They have help, their homes are immaculate, they get paid to look good, and yet somehow the men in their lives manage to stray.

The bottom line is that if someone is determined to cheat, they are going to cheat. You can’t clean, cook, or work out enough to change their mind.

When people cheat it isn’t about their partner.

Did you just read that?

When he cheated it wasn’t about you.

It was about him, and how he felt. The entire act of cheating is incredibly selfish, and while people are in the act, their spouses are typically farthest from their minds.

You may have missed the warning signs, and you may have made it easy for him to get away with it, and continue the affair, but that was likely due to the fact that you trusted. You loved and you trusted, and you believed that the person who vowed to be with you forever, would.

There’s no fault in that. That’s what we are supposed to do in order to have a good relationship.

Sometimes people are not the best at creating and voicing boundaries. It can be uncomfortable to bring something up that might make you think you sound like a crazy person. Things like, “I saw you hug your female coworker at the company party and it seemed like you held on just a couple seconds too long.”

Maybe you thought something, or saw something, and you had a gut reaction to it, but you ignored it because you didn’t want to rock the boat. That’s completely normal, and the truth is, if you had brought it up it may have gotten your partner to stop for a second and consider their behavior, but if they were determined to cheat, it wouldn’t have stopped them.

Most people who cheat tell me that they didn’t intend for it to happen - actually almost all of them tell me that. If they’re in denial about their responsibility, they typically say, “it just happened,” and to that I call bullshit as well because like my friend Robyn says, “you don’t just trip and fall in another woman’s vagina.” You just don’t.

But the people who are ready to understand their behavior often tell me that they reached a point of no return, and they got in over their heads. They usually say they didn’t intend for it to happen, and for all the pain and suffering it has caused their partner, they truly wish they could take it back.

They tell me that things were not great in their marriage, and that they didn’t know how to talk about it or fix it.

But what did she have that I didn’t?

There may have been a ton of qualities that the other woman had that differed from yours. But the honest to goodness truth is that the other woman had a relationship that was based on nothing other than mutual pleasure.

Extramarital relationships exist in vacuums. Your partner didn’t share any responsibilities with that other person, they weren’t raising kids with them, and they didn’t share a mortgage, car payments, or any of the other, not-so-sexy things that come along with marriage.

We all have choices. Unfortunately your partner made a poor one, and didn’t come to you first in an attempt to repair the issues in your relationship that caused them to stray, but it’s not too late, and even though it’s an uphill battle, you can repair the damage that’s been done if each person is willing to do the hard work. 

If you still can’t see that you aren’t to blame for your partner’s affair, I’d love to support you and help you understand what’s happened in your relationship, and explore options for the future. Give me a call at (909) 226-6124 or you can click here to schedule your first session.

The Power of Mantras and Positive Affirmations

I recently had a mom’s night out and my gal pals and I went to a chalk art class. We thought it would be fun to get out together, drink some wine, and be a little artsy. What I didn’t know when I signed up for said class was that the focus was on mantras.

What is a mantra?

It’s a little saying that you tell yourself, something that you live by, and many times in meditation and yoga practices people repeat a mantra to themselves over and over. It reminds you of something that’s important and repeating it during meditation seals it in your mind as something that you can always go back to.

I’ve worked hard to incorporate a meditation practice in my life, committing to 10 minutes a day and I’ve seen vast improvements in my anxiety levels and ability to stay Zen through life’s little frustrations.

I’ve done a mantra practice where I repeat one word, and usually I just use the word, Love. Saying it over and over for 10 minutes puts me in a place where I am more loving, and where I seek throughout my day to spread love to others even in moments of pure frustration.

In my chalk-art class, I was tasked with finding a mantra that really resonated with me and I chose this one:

Choosing a mantra and practicing positive affirmations is incredibly beneficial.

We all have automatic thoughts that pop up in our minds, it’s like an inner-monologue and we tell ourselves things about ourselves all the time.

If you listen, you might start to notice that the things you tell yourself may not be overly positive or even nice.

Identifying your automatic thoughts is half the battle. Struggling in your romantic relationship can bring up a whole slew of negativity in yourself. But creating a mantra can help you cope with anger and frustration. 

Those times you feel sad, depressed, and like you just don’t want to push forward, take a moment to listen to what you’re telling yourself. Are you saying things like, “Of course you deserve what’s happening in this relationship.” Or, “This is never going to work, we are just too different.” Or maybe even, “Life sucks, this relationship sucks, and I’m going to be alone forever.”

Take a moment and listen.

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing, and once you recognize those thoughts, you can start to replace them with a positive affirmation.

A positive affirmation is much like a mantra. It’s something you tell yourself and repeat when times get tough. It can be something simple like, “I am bright, I am beautiful, and I am brilliant.” I suggest that you try something that may be a stretch at the moment, something that you don’t fully believe, because repeating it will help make it reality.

Saying things like, “I deserve positivity in my life and in my relationship.”  Or, “I am worthy of love.” “I have a wonderful relationship, full of love and respect.”

Creating a mantra or positive affirmation that is said in the present tense makes it into something you are claiming right here, and right now. It’s the same reason why goal-setting is so powerful, and why those who set goals are shown to have more success. It creates visualization in our minds of what those words mean, and we can then close the gap and become the words.

If this sounds a little woo-woo to you, I get it, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to it.

Take some time today to recognize what you’re saying to yourself. Flip those negative thoughts on their head and create a mantra or positive affirmation and replace those negative thoughts with it and then reap the benefits of an improved mood and feelings towards yourself. 

If this seems like a really big push for you because you are healing after a heartbreak, or going through a particularly tough time in your relationship, I'd love for you to get on my interest list for my upcoming e-course that will focus on helping women learn the 4 phases to healing and becoming the best version of themselves. Just click the image to get on the interest list. 

I've also got an awesome cheat sheet to help you fid your strengths, create some gratitude, and improve your attitude, and the best part is it's totally free, just click the link below, sign up, and it will be sent right to your inbox! 

3 Ways to Feel Empowered after a Break-Up

The emotion can be overwhelming when you experience the loss of a relationship, it can be difficult to sleep, difficult to eat, and the grief over the loss can send you into a downward spiral that might be difficult to get up from. There's fear and anxiety abut where to go and what to do next. Losing a love that you always thought you'd have is devastating. But just like anything, there’s always a silver lining.

It can be difficult to just put one foot in front of the other, and a challenge to get through the day without shedding a tear or two, but it gets better and there are some actions that you can take, to push you towards the healing phase. It might feel like you're just going through the motions at first, but once you find your stride, these actions can take you to a whole new you, and you can come out on the other end as the best version of yourself. 

I'm pretty optimistic when it comes to the healing process, and I get that in the beginning it might seem like a climb up Mt. Everest, but the view from the top is breathtaking! 

It takes one step at time to get there, and here are 3 actions that you can take today to help you off the emotional roller coaster, and into a new phase of confidence and self-love: 

1. Recognize that the way you are feeling now isn’t the way it will always feel.

It’s easy to let the overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness take over and govern all aspects of your life, but there will come a time where the edges of your sadness are not so sharp. In fact, one day you’ll have moved on and be in a place that makes you so happy that you’ll feel like it was all a bad dream.

You know that feeling, right? You wake up and know that you were feeling scared or upset, but you can’t remember why or much of the detail and as the day passes, you forget about it completely.

I’m not saying you’ll completely forget about your ex, or the trouble in your relationship but there will come a time that it won’t be consuming, and you won’t have to hold back tears when you recall things about your relationship or come into contact with things that remind you of them.

The best way to start the process is with gratitude. It’s easy to get stuck and caught up in focusing on what you don’t have (your relationship), so much so that you miss all of the amazing things that are going on around you. The more that you add in positivity and focus on it, the less time you have to allow the negativity to consume you.

Something that you can start daily is a gratitude practice.

Every morning when you wake up, let the first thought be, “thank you.” If you’re religious you can thank God that you woke up and that you have another day on this earth. If you want to skip the religious part, just say thank you to your body for working, for breathing, and to the universe for allowing you another day.

Then make a mental or written list of 5-10 things that you are grateful for before your feet even hit the floor. In that moment where you aren’t yet ready to open your eyes and take a stretch, and are typically thinking about how badly you need more sleep, think of the things you have to be grateful for – a place to live, running water, a warm bed, your health, your family. These things can be big or small, but they deserve to be acknowledged, and those acknowledgements will change your attitude and help combat that sadness you feel.

Practice this exercise for at least one full week and notice how it makes you feel. If you’re feeling like overachieving, when you get into bed at night, think of 5-10 different things that happened throughout your day that you are grateful for and let those good vibes you’ve created lull you to sleep rather than the sadness you feel over sleeping alone.

2. Awaken your inner badass and unlock the power of positive affirmations.

Just as with gratitude, positive affirmations have the power to change the way you feel inside. In fact, there’s a great study that says the smile on your face can change the way you feel inside, meaning it actually changes the chemistry in your brain and in your body. So even if you aren’t feeling happy, put a smile on your face and see if it doesn’t help improve your mood, even slightly.

That’s kind of how this whole positive affirmation thing works. It’s normal for a breakup to make you feel off your game and unlike yourself. Having someone you trusted and loved tell you that they no longer wish to be in a relationship with you is one of the ultimate bubble bursts in terms of self-esteem.

But you do have plenty to offer. Those amazing qualities do exist and practicing positive affirmations helps to keep them in the forefront of your mind. Spending more time on positivity leaves less room for negativity.

In order for this to work you have to take action and practice, practice, practice. Start by making a list of 10 positive things about yourself and then put that into a sort of mantra that’s easy to repeat. Your affirmations can be things that you’re totally not feeling at this moment, but deep down you know are true.

Something like, “I am bright, I am beautiful, and I deserve to be loved.” Or, “I have much to offer the world, and to others. I am kind.” Or maybe just, “I am enough.”

Then do whatever it takes to repeat a couple of your favorites throughout your day and especially in times that you feel down. Use post-it notes and put those suckers all over your mirror, your car, or your cubicle. If you want to be a little more discreet, set reminders on your phone for them to pop up at random times throughout the day to remind you just how awesome you really are.

3. Reconnect with your strengths.

Many times in relationships there are parts of us that become lost, or overshadowed, but those parts are important, and they make us who we are. They contributed to who we were before we entered into the relationship, and yet those parts often get neglected.

In order to reconnect with those strengths, reflection and introspection have to be involved. Were you once an athlete, or involved in some sport that you no longer do? Is there a creative side to you that you don’t feed because you’ve become too busy? Are you great with money? Are you a great parent? Are you a great friend?

I want you to look at those strengths and get back to them so you can start to feel like yourself again, but also more importantly so that you can begin to realize that although this relationship is lost – while it’s extremely important, it isn’t all that makes up your life.

Sometimes women can place far too much emphasis on their romantic relationship and allow it to govern all other aspects of their life rather than having a full life and allowing a relationship to fit in the picture as well.

Find your strengths; accentuate them, or build new strengths.

Do you know what your strengths are? If not, take some time to reflect on them. Ask your close friends and family what they see as your strengths, or even what they saw that used to be your strengths, because maybe they’ve noticed you’ve lost them along the way as well. It can be difficult to put yourself out there in such a way, but a close confidant will likely be truthful if you approach them in the right way.

I’m a huge proponent of journaling; I recommend it to almost all of my clients who are struggling through life’s challenges. While you’re trying to heal you can start journaling and thinking about the parts of yourself that you’ve neglected that once brought you a sense of happiness and strength.

If you still aren’t sure what your strengths are, need some help with those affirmations, and gratitude practice, don’t worry I’ve got you covered! Click on the link below to download my Attitude, Gratitude and Strength Finding Cheat Sheet and start the healing process today.  

Overcoming Infidelity - Can your marriage survive Infidelity?

This week on the blog I've got a little something different for ya! Although I typically show up in your inbox with an article all about relationships and infidelity, I was recently interviewed by Midori Verity who has The Ultimate Relationship Show over on yourtango.com and I wanted to share the interview with all of my readers. 

In the interview I talk about why people cheat, how to avoid infidelity, and how to improve your relationship and heal after infidelity. 

You can get your hands on a copy of the journal prompts that I talk about in the interview by clicking here.  

Just in case, here is the link for the video over on youtube: https://youtu.be/G6w4bQs2rmg

 

Am I to blame for my partner’s Affair?
Am I to blame for my partner's affair?

Hindsight is always 20/20. Always. It’s just too easy to look back on an event and not see the signs, find the flubs, and scrutinize the details that were missed.

When you discover that your partner has had an affair, it’s common to press rewind on the last year of your life together and look for all the signs you should have seen and things you missed. The times they were out late and didn’t invite you, the times they were on the phone way too long with their work colleague and you gave them the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to rock the boat.

When hindsight is 20/20, it’s easy to place blame on yourself for missing the signs, or not acknowledging them or acting on your gut feeling in the moment. But the truth is, relationships are generally built on trust and it isn’t foolish to trust someone you love and are committed to.

As much as you’d probably like it to, the past can’t be erased, and the future of your relationship is what matters.

Many times I have clients who say things like, “I guess the last year was just one big lie. When we took that romantic vacation, and he said all those wonderful things to me, it must’ve been a lie!”

I beg to differ. Your partner saying they love you, and having an affair are not dependent upon one another. People can compartmentalize things in such a way that makes this possible. While I acknowledge that it’s confusing, I don’t believe that what is said in a moment of romance between you and your partner isn’t true for them. Just as what’s happening for them in the moments they share with someone they are having an affair with are also very real.

What you do in the aftermath of an affair is what matters most. How you handle and set new boundaries for your partner moving forward is where you can take charge, and ask for what you need.

I have seen clients that feel as though it is now their duty to punish their partner at all costs after discovering their affair. They tell their kids, they tell their friends, their family, and anyone else who will listen in an attempt to get their partner to feel shame for their transgressions.

When this happens, it creates a space that is no longer safe. Trust is one of the most difficult things to rebuild after infidelity, but when the injured partner creates a space of punishment at every corner, things can truly backfire and this often sends the straying partner back into the arms of the other.

So while you are not to blame for your partner straying in the first place, it is your responsibility to create a space and relationship after the affair where communication is open, and you are both able to be authentic as you push towards creating a new normal.

Looking back on the signs that you missed won’t do a lot of good. What will be beneficial is to identify your responsibility and contributions towards the rocky patch in your relationship that lead to your partner’s affair.

Did you stop communicating? Did you put your job ahead of your relationship? Did you stop nurturing the friendship between you and your partner? Once you can identify your role, you will have a good place to start the healing process.

You can only control yourself, and you can only work on changing yourself in the aftermath of an affair. You can change how you relate to your partner, how you communicate with them, and how you show up in your relationship, but without looking at yourself and really taking an inventory of what you need to change, there is no starting point.

Starting over can be a challenge, whether you’re starting over after an affair, or starting over completely, I’d like to help with the launch of my new e-course, The Starting Over Series. To get on the interest list and to receive more details about this at-home course that will be launching in the very near future, click here