The Importance of Owning Our Choices and Outcomes When Healing From Infidelity

Over the last decade in a half or so, I’ve been doing my own work and had the privilege of watching other people do their work as they heal from infidelity or addiction. During that time, I’ve come to the realization that, in many ways, our healing, our future and our personal restoration require the ownership of two things: our choices and our outcomes.

What Happens When We Own Our Choices

If I can’t own the choices that I’ve made, particularly as an unfaithful spouse, I’m not safe and I make myself a victim. If we can own our choices, we can own our consequences. And if we own our consequences, we become incredibly safe — both for ourselves and for the betrayed spouse. Alternatively, if I cannot own my choices, then I begin to push away my consequences and I begin to remain angry — even rageful and defensive — because I haven’t owned the fact that I, as an unfaithful, chose to have an affair.

Infidelity is nobody else’s fault, and we can’t hang it on anybody else. We have to embrace the fact that we made those choices, even if we hate them and the damage they caused everyone around us. I had a choice, and I decided to embrace the consequences and to embrace the life that I was offered after the biggest failure of my entire life.

Our choices have to be owned. If we can’t own our choices, we continue to remain a victim and, then, we blame everybody else instead of embracing the consequences. Inevitably, this leads to us pushing away the betrayed mate. It delays the healing process, and it delays the betrayed's ability to:

  • Trust us.
  • Want to be close to us.
  • Rejoin us in life.

We have to have the courage to say, “Yes, I have done this. Yes, it is awful and it’s nobody’s fault but mine.” By owning up to what we’ve done, we create safety in the mind of our betrayed mate and safety for everyone around us. Why? Because we’re not constantly pointing the finger and blaming everyone else for our actions.

Every unfaithful, I believe for the most part, has the opportunity to hang their choices on the betrayed spouse. If we want to continue to make ourselves the victim and make it somebody else’s fault, there’s always going to be that opportunity.

There are always going to be imperfect character traits within the betrayed, but that will never, ever, be an excuse to justify infidelity.

Until we are willing to stand strong, own what we’ve done and embrace it, we keep everybody — especially our betrayed mate — at arm’s distance. We also delay the entire healing process or, quite possibly, sabotage it to the point where the betrayed mate says, “I cannot do this anymore.”

It’s just as true for the betrayed spouse. You’ve been subjected to a level of trauma that is completely awful, but you still have a choice in how you respond.

When just the unfaithful spouse is cared for in recovery, it’s so painful for the betrayed — they feel abandoned and left for dead. That’s why we care for both spouses at our EMS Weekends. It absolutely has to be that way. If we just care for the one spouse, it’s a recipe for disaster. Both spouses have to be cared for. Both spouses have to get the help they need, in both their individual journey and the relationship’s journey.

What Happens When We Own Our Outcomes

We also have to own our outcomes. I’m sure each and every one of you is in a position right now that you didn't see coming or are dealing with an outcome you didn’t want. You may be in the middle, where you’re not sure how this is all going to turn out. You may even be on the journey to healing and things may be going well, but recovery is not easy. One day you can feel like there’s hope, and the next day you can feel like the relationship is completely done. Some of this is very normal; but if we can’t own our outcomes, then we wind up living in denial.

As long as we live in denial, especially as an unfaithful spouse, we miss:

  • The opportunity to be present with our mate and ourselves.
  • The opportunity to take steps forward into the next season of life.

Whether you are an unfaithful spouse, a betrayed spouse or have, unfortunately, come to the decision to divorce, there is life for you and there is healing for you ahead. If nobody else tells you this, let me be the one to say it:

In the next season of your life, there is purpose, joy, value and meaning. Your marriage or relationship may be over, but your life isn’t over and your purpose and value aren’t over either — I promise you.

Owning your outcomes is necessary because, as Rick says, "If we can’t accept where we’re at, we’ll never get to where we want to be" healed and restored in the next chapter of our life. When you own your outcomes, you become safer for your mate and yourself. You become ready to live and ready to say:

“Look, here I am. This is not what I wanted and this isn’t where I saw us going. I can choose to remain a victim and live in denial, or I can embrace where I’m at and choose to live a life of value and courage anyway.”

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You don't have to do this alone! Join other betrayed mates on the path to healing with our life-changing Harboring Hope online course. With Harboring Hope, learn how to weather the pitfalls and hardships following infidelity and pave a more hopeful future.

"I definitely recommend the Harboring Hope program as a support for healing. To be in a safe community with other women who know what you're going through and how you're feeling is comforting. Whether you're able to reconcile or not, there is hope." — Harboring Hope participant | April 2021.

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