My husband and I have decided to work on our marriage, as it’s what we have always wanted but haven’t really known how to do. He has moved back home, we both go to individual counseling, and we see a counselor together who says we have come leaps and bounds in how we communicate together in order to create a passionate marriage.
In my family of origin, I have always been a compliant child, keeping quiet, putting others before myself, and in general, doing anything just to keep the peace. My individual therapy has unleashed my anger at living like this, so I’m now learning to put myself first when it comes to my needs, my wants, and my life. Working things out with my husband was what the “true me” wanted and believed in. It was the fear of how everyone would react (that I shouldn’t want him because he cheated and that he would do it again and again) that kept me stuck.
The issue now is that since my husband and I are happy and working on creating a passionate marriage, well, my family have all but disowned me. They’re not supporting or accepting my decision, and he’s not welcome in the family. They expect me to come alone to family gatherings with our children, but without him. They are being very hurtful towards me, and I have very little contact with them as every time I do, they try and drag me into their bitterness and anger. They blame him for everything, and my mother has called me selfish because I don’t care what is going on with the family. Any advice on how to deal with all of this crap?
It’s my honor to serve. After reading your question, it seems to me that the topic we really need to focus on today is fear.
Let me share with you some ideas about that:
First of all, we all deal with fear. Your family is dealing with the fear that you’ll be hurt again, so they’re resistant to the idea of a reconciliation. Your husband is also dealing with fear — the fear of losing you. You are dealing with the fear of making a mistake, fear of being played for a fool again, fear of being rejected by your family for going against their wishes.
Just so you know, I deal with fear, too. I deal with the fear of my advice being misunderstood, fear of growing older, fear of ruining my children (even though my intentions are good), fear of having a coughing fit when I’m on stage giving a speech, and so on.
And what I’ve discovered is that sometimes, the best thing for dealing with fear is to apply a healthy dose of clear, cold common sense.
Think on the following:
- You can’t lose the love of your family. They might give you the cold shoulder for a while, but eventually, they’ll come around. On the other hand, you could very well lose the love of this man.
- You own your life, free and clear. You don’t need your family’s approval or permission to live how you see fit. And if you live in fear of hearing “I told you so” from your family, you’re not truly living your life.
- “I told you so” only hurts your pride. On the other hand, the loss of a true love would hurt a lot more than your pride.
- This is a personal decision, not a democratic one. Your family doesn’t get a vote here. You don’t need permission to rebuild your marriage. That’s your privilege.
- Compliance isn’t an act of love. By giving you the cold shoulder, your family is hoping to punish and make you feel guilty enough to comply to their wishes. But if you comply, you don’t do so from a place of love. You do so from a place of fear (the opposite of love).
- It would be a mistake to convict people of future crimes. The only thing you know for sure is that your husbanded cheated in the past. What you don’t know for sure is if he’ll cheat again in the future. Imagine if a man gets arrested for DUI and the judge convicted him of future DUIs… would that be right? And if you think about it, isn’t that what your family has done? They’ve tried the case and found him guilty of crimes he’s yet to commit. Personally, I believe it’s a mistake to do that because you never know how much someone can change and grow from a mistake — so it would be an even bigger mistake to write them off.
- The road to hell is paved with misguided (though good) intentions. At the core, your family loves you, and they don’t want to see you hurt. They want to protect you. They want to prevent you from future pain. All noble intentions, right? And I completely understand. I have a 10-year-old daughter, and I want to wrap her in a warm blanket and protect her from everything. But I also know that wouldn’t be in her best interest. In fact, as painful as it was, I’ve come to the realization that love is letting go of (not holding back) your children. Bottom line? When you protect a child, you mother them, but when you try to protect your adult children, you smother them.
- Live by what you trust (not what you fear). There are two ways of navigating through life — by what you fear, or by what you trust. If you navigate by what you fear, then you’re in a state of strain and anxiety. If you navigate by what you trust, then you’re in a state of confidence and relaxation.
…you navigate by what you trust. Will you sometimes be disappointed? Of course. But here’s the good news: It will only be for a small percentage of time. If you live by what you fear, then fear will rule the majority of your experience.
Basically, I’m saying: It’s okay to trust the love in your heart.
Think about this. If you choose to rebuild your marriage and things work well, what you would have done is change the destiny of your entire family — not just your own children, but your entire extended family.
- You would have shown them the power of forgiveness.
- You would have become an example of compassion.
- You would have allowed them to see that true love doesn’t run when times get tough.
- You would have shown them that guilt and punishment no longer work on you.
- You would have shown them you’re not willing to trade your marriage for approval.
- You would have shown them that love is stronger than betrayal.
Some final thoughts…
I have faith you’ll find some of these ideas useful and will put them to work in your life. Begin today to be your own advocate. You don’t need anyone’s permission to rebuild your marriage. If you’d like further inspiration on rebuilding after infidelity, read my article “10 Good Reasons to Rebuild Your Marriage After Infidelity.”
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!