It’s not at all unusual to hear people say that a spouse’s affair changed both people in the marriage. It’s rare for both people not to be deeply affected by the affair. Sometimes, the cheating partner can become aloof, cold, and insistent that life is too short not to be happy. Sometimes, the faithful partner is angry, resentful, and reluctant to trust again. These observations are a bit stereotypical, of course. Not everyone falls into these categories. Occasionally, you have the cheating spouse who comes to appreciate his family (and the frailty of life,) or the faithful spouse who sees that things can’t always be taken for granted. However, friends and family can question these “atypical” reactions, which can cause frustration for all involved.

A faithful wife might say: “I know that it is not unusual to change after your spouse has an affair. But from the friends and family members that I’ve seen go though this, this change is usually negative. The faithful wife is often left skeptical and suspicious. It is hard for her to trust or to feel at ease again. I can’t deny that I haven’t experienced these feelings, but they are not the feelings that stand out to me. Instead, what I feel is that life is too short to wallow in this despair. My husband’s affair actually made me see the danger of becoming complacent. It is hard to explain. But when I look back at my marriage before that time, I actually see a woman who wasn’t paying attention. I took my life and my spouse for granted. There were warning signs, and I did not see them. I was sort of sleep walking through my life. I have no idea if I am going to stay married or not. But regardless, I have ‘woken up.’ I have started to realize that you are guaranteed nothing in this life and that you’d better get to living and enjoying life while you have the chance. I have dinner and drinks with a small group of friends on a regular basis. Many of these friends have dealt with cheating and some of them do not understand my thinking and believe that I am delusional or kidding myself. They think that I’m trying to put on a happy face for my husband’s sake, but that is not the case at all. They also think that I’m trying to see the bright side because the truth is just too painful. Are they right? I’m not denying that this is going to be harmful to my marriage. I have not committed to working things out yet. This is more about me individually. I’m just realizing that one has to embrace life because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Is that so wrong?”

I certainly don’t think that it is wrong. I see varying responses in this situation. And I do not think that any are wrong. But, if you can make a conscious choice to focus on improvement rather than on despair, why not? What’s wrong with trying to improve things for the better rather than focusing on the negative and wallowing in self pity? I had a similar reaction. I did have plenty of disappointment and anger in my husband, but I also chose to look at myself and to examine my own behaviors. Because of this, I made several adjustments in my life before I was even sure if I was going to try to save my marriage. I changed my career outlook and made some tweaks to my health and appearance. I did not do these things for my husband. I did them for me. As you said, you can’t predict where life is going to take you, but you always want to count on the best version of yourself. If the affair makes you take stock of that so that you can be who you were ultimately meant to be, then in my opinion, this is something to be grateful for. You can still regret that your husband had an affair while embracing some of the changes that it brought about in you.

It’s my opinion that while the affair is never the faithful spouse’s fault (as it’s a choice by the cheating spouse,) there’s nothing wrong with using it as a starting point for self improvement. Because uplifting yourself and your experiences is beneficial no matter what inspired you to get there. I understand that not all wives have this reaction, especially at first. But I agree with you that there is no sense in continuing to dwell on the negative, especially since you can’t change things. So you may as well try to mine this experience for the positive things that you can take from it. If you don’t learn, grow, and change perspectives, how is it working for you and what is the point?