Can an affair give someone courage to get out of an abusive relationship?
Abuse is a serious topic. I want to remind everyone that I am not a healthcare professional. I beg of you to reach out to someone who is if you are in any type of abusive situation. Don’t let it linger and don’t make excuses for why it is happening.
Seek help immediately.
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is a great place to start if you aren’t sure where to turn. Do not let fear, shame or embarrassment keep you from doing what is best for your well being.
With that said, I want to shift the conversation over to affairs and using them as a way to gain courage to leave an unhealthy relationship. I think we can all agree infidelity is a symptom of unhappiness. It could be an unhappiness within ourselves or within the relationship. Either way, it caused us to look elsewhere to satisfy the need to feel good again.
When life at home becomes a war ground, it is easy to get swept away towards a connection that builds you up and gives you some semblance of wholeness rather than tear you down into a broken unwanted pile of who you once were. If everyday feels like a constant failure, we lose hope and fade into numbness and depression. Strength to do something about it is nonexistent.
Many are quick to judge affairs in a negative way. I know I once did until I found myself in the middle of one. One day I was the perfect wife and the next… I was the mistress. I am the textbook “girl next door” so this was completely out of character to the point that even I couldn’t believe it was happening. But it was. And it forced me to open my eyes to a new perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying affairs are a good idea. Whenever people tell me they are considering it, I always say, “Don’t do it. It isn’t worth it.” So much pain came along with my affair but… so did courage.
I wasn’t in an abusive marriage but I was in an unhappy one. The affair made me realize how lost (and internally unhappy) I really was and looking back eight years later, I understand now that it gave me strength and a reason to leave. If this other person hadn’t ended up in my life I don’t know how long I would have continued pretending everything was fine.
We all want to believe we are strong enough to end an unhealthy relationship, but walking off into the sunset alone can seem daunting, especially if we are at a low point in our lives because of a toxic situation. Having something that shows us the way can make the impossible feel possible.
I do think an affair can give us a spike of courage but I also think an affair is not the answer. I see it more as a wake-up call to the larger issue that needs to be addressed. That can mean seeking help from a professional as I mentioned before or exiting the situation all together.
The man I left my husband for was my Catalyst to change -- Not my “happily ever after.”
I jumped from one unhealthy situation into another which is a common pattern. I hadn’t yet done the work to understand why I ended up where I did, so things got worse before they got better. The affair made the ball start rolling but it took a great amount of self reflection and therapy to put myself into an emotionally healthy place.
If you are having an affair or considering one, it is time for a reality check on why. Many times affairs are what we do to avoid dealing with the harder issues at hand -- such as facing an abusive situation.
It becomes a temporary escape we mistake as the solution.
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My Life in Yellow is not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and the advice within this column does not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a health/medical professional. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.