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Life will Never be the Same
By Peggy Vaughan

While it's tough enough to deal with your partner's emotions due to your affair, sometimes it's compounded by the fact that you are also dealing with intense emotions of confusion, guilt and/or depression. And this, in turn, can delay the process of working on rebuilding the marriage, especially if it prevents talking about the issues involved.

Often both people are faced with a period when it's too painful to look back and too scary to look forward, so they're kind of stuck (like a deer caught in a car's headlights). One of the most effective ways to get unstuck is to face the underlying issue (for most people) of dealing with the fact that "life will never be the same." The affair (and circumstances surrounding the affair) are realities that won't go away.

Like any life crisis, an affair challenges us to figure out how to integrate these new facts into our lives in order to go on. When we're faced with consequences of our actions that can not be erased or undone, it calls for digging deep inside and discovering some way to become better people by virtue of this experience.

So the first step is letting go of "if only..." and looking toward "what can I do to demonstrate that I've learned an important lesson" from this experience. And, further, how can I take this learning and use it to be a better person in the future and to help others as well. The answers to those questions will be personal and individual, but it's worth the effort. Many have been helped by focusing on the familiar saying: "That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger."

So when a spouse is feeling guilty about the pain from their affairs, it doesn't help either person if they just wallow in feelings of regret or depression. It would be much more useful if they would go beyond just focusing on their past actions and begin focusing on how they can use these learnings to be a better person—and a better spouse. Alleviating the feelings of guilt and depression is likely to happen as a "byproduct" of focusing on actively doing something productive. While they can't change the past, they can create a better future.

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