Dear Suzie, What kind of woman does this to her family? Does this to her kids? How could she have been so selfish, so insensitive? Didn’t she think about how it would destroy me and our family? Now, she tells me every day how sorry she is and that I’m the man she really loves, but I can’t help thinking those are just words. Her actions prove I’m not enough for her. She couldn’t possibly be satisfied with me, or else why would she need to sleep around? Can you explain this to me?
I understand your frustration. It makes sense for you to feel the way you do. Right now, you’re being confronted with two conflicting pieces of evidence. On one hand, you want to believe her words are true. But on the other hand, you have good cause to believe they might not be. The question becomes “Which should you trust, her current words or her past actions?” And in the future, how can you be sure that her actions will match her words? This kind of uncertainty would throw any man into a tailspin.
To help you find some clarity, here are four key questions to begin with:
Minus The Affair, Does Your Wife Have A History Of Making Good Decisions?
Why this question is important: This is a good question to start with because if you’re going to make a prediction about a person’s future decisions, a good place to start with is their past decisions. This strategy works well not only in a personal
situation but in business situations as well. In fact, banks and credit card companies make lots of money following this system.
Here’s what I mean:
When you apply for a loan, the first thing the bank does is assess your risk-worthiness (which is pretty much the same thing you are doing with your wife). They will usually start by looking at your credit history.
What are they looking for?
Two key things: (1) Your repeated decision habits; and (2) The overall trend of your established patterns. They know that while they can never completely eliminate risk (none of us can), what they can do is make some accurate predictions.
Here’s how they do it: If a person has a proven pattern of making good financial decisions, the chances are very good they will continue that pattern.
And the opposite is also true. If a person has a history of making poor decisions, then chances are good they will continue in that downward trend.
Notice the word “trend”.
Businesses know that life happens, and people make mistakes. So rather than looking microscopically, they take into account the overall pattern. In other words, a few blemishes can be overlooked, as long as the overall trend is positive.
You can apply the same kind of thinking here.
Ask yourself, minus the affair, does your wife have a history of making good decisions? In your opinion, is her overall decision-making trend towards the positive or negative? The answer to this question will help you better evaluate how much you can trust her future actions. Remember, when looking at a person’s history of behavior, it’s important not to look for perfection, but to look for consistency.
Before The Affair, Did Your Wife Have A History Of Lying Or Manipulating You With Words?
For example, did she have a pattern of making promises but not keeping them? Did she tell you what you wanted to hear rather than telling you the truth? Did she say one thing and mean another?
Why this question is important:
The answers to this question will help you decide how much you can trust her current words. If she has a history of being manipulative and lying to you, then you have every right to feel some sense of caution. However, if this is not something she’s been known for, then chances are good she can learn from it and move on.
Before The Affair, Did She Have A History Of Misrepresenting The Way She Feels?
For example, is she the type to tell you she’s ok when she’s not ok? Or that she doesn’t care which restaurant you guys eat at, only to find out later that she really did care?
This question is important, because honesty plays a big part in helping you evaluate a person’s trustworthiness, and honesty comes in two flavors:
- Factual Honesty — the where, what, and when about an experience
- Emotional Honesty — the truth about how you’re feeling at any given time
Of the two, emotional honesty is by far the most difficult for human beings to live by. It’s much easier for people to be honest about the facts than about their feelings.
What is emotional dishonesty?
Emotional dishonesty can be described as the attempt to cover up, fade, fake, edit, or misrepresent the true state of your emotions. If we were to peel back the layers of your hesitation, uncertainty, suspicions, and mistrust… we would find one big fear. We would find that the true fear is that she’s being emotionally dishonest with you. You’re worried that while she’s saying she’s sorry (words), she doesn’t truly feel that remorse. You’re afraid that while she’s saying she loves you (words), deep in her heart, she doesn’t truly feel that love for you. You fear that although she’s saying she will never hurt you like this again (words), deep down inside, she isn’t truly being sincere.
I understand your fears.
However, I do caution you against making decisions out of fear. And this decision is way too important to allow fear to guide you. Instead, I suggest you let your love and logic be your guide.
What is emotional honesty?
Emotional honesty means being transparent about how you feel. When you are being emotionally honest, what you say matches exactly what you feel.
Back to the key question…
If you believe that your wife has a history of being emotionally transparent (minus the affair of course), then the road to relationship recovery will be much easier for you.
However, if she has a history of being emotionally dishonest — meaning the affair is just another in a chain of similar events — then the road to relationship recovery will be more challenging (although not impossible).
Which brings us to the final (and perhaps most important) question.
Do You Believe She Can Learn And Grow From This?
Here’s why I consider this the most important question of them all: If I could give you a magic crystal ball to look into your future, and you were able to see that over the next 30 years, your wife would never repeat this pattern again… would this make it
easier for you to trust her today? If your answer is yes (and I think it would be), then really, all that magic ball would have told you is that she was able to learn and grow from her mistake.
Here’s a key insight that I want you to think about: “It’s not that history repeats itself; it’s more that people fail to learn from their histories.” So, the question is, what if you could know for sure that she has learned from this experience? What if you could feel certain that because of her willingness to learn and grow, this experience would turn out to be a blessing for you, for her and for your entire family? What if your love story didn’t end in tragedy, but rather, in redemption?
A lot of what happens next comes down to what you believe.
It’s because people will rise to your level of expectations for them. If you think she can learn, you add power to her ability to learn. If you think she can’t, then you’re contributing to her learning failure.
Which one you choose to do is up to you.
However, let me remind you: It’s never a good idea to set learning limits.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!