1787. Sex Difference Redux— Part 41: Dignity Wins II

I continue posing as the wife with three kids wronged by my unfaithful husband who may intend divorce. I prefer to keep him but…. First, I must deal with myself. I must get control of my emotions, organize my intentions, and assume a dignified role that he’s not accustomed to seeing.

I’m MAD! My man cheated on ME! A horrible anger eats at my soul. It tears at and reshapes my thoughts. It disturbs my thinking with thoughts of revenge and even violence. It takes hold of me and won’t let go. I’m short tempered to everyone and capable of only highly charged negative responses to husband. (Someone else may sink into immediate depression, inactivity, and hopelessness. But recovery for them is much the same as described for me. However, they have a harder time getting energized.)

Anger stirs me deeply, but it doesn’t improve my lot in life. It triggers me to explode and weakens my defenses. It triggers selfishness, and waters down the milk of human kindness flowing in every vein. It dulls the future by emphasizing the present. It causes bitterness to set in. If anger does those things, why harbor it? Where’s the good of it?

I recently ran across and want to heed this: “When it comes to your emotions, be tough rather than tender.” [My source credits Stress Fractures, p. 127.] I could take his infidelity as reflection of my unworthiness, but I resist and intend to turn my anger to advantage and disprove his reflection.

Other people may help, but I need experience getting tough with my emotions. From now on I use specific actions and self-talk to conquer anger. Unloading on someone may lift some anxiety and grief, but it also takes away some of my energy to make do for myself. So, at critical times I learn to hide whatever lingers within me, which also helps with stabilizing the thoughts of our children.

Being the party that offends, husband has no reason to be angry unless I stir his anger with my own. Doing that puts me at great disadvantage. I don’t want his competitive urges and dominant nature to kick in. I want him relatively docile and peaceable and not with his guilt assuaged by my angry attacks.

He expects me to be super-angry, so I can defeat him on that count. However, I can’t forgive him, and my anger will remain until I do. My plan tones down my anger, and it looks like this:

  • I must learn to forgive him and the other woman as soon as possible. (I’ll work on it until eventually I do.)
  • I promise myself that I control my emotions. I can and will appear cool on my own demand and at all times.
  • He’s cheated, and I don’t do sex with a cheater. So, I kick him out of my bed. If it means violence or his refusal stirs me to super-anger, then I’ll be the one to move to another bed or room but not outside MY home. Maintaining peace is my obligation and frequent encounters face-to-face will help settle my nerves. Good practice makes perfect, you know.
  • I repeatedly tell myself I’m not angry and suppress leftover irritation so others don’t see it—particularly husband and children. I reserve all displays and outbursts for only strangers to husband. Even if my mother, girlfriends, or pastor see my emotional turmoil, it’ll somehow trickle back to husband and threaten my ability to recover as I wish.
  • I fight the encroachment of bitterness by repeatedly claiming victory over anger. If I get depressed, I take up whatever actions keep my mind occupied with doing something. I exploit these principles: Accomplishments discourage depression and laughter encourages hope.
  • I’ll not easily forgive him, even though I know I should for my sake. When I do, I shouldn’t inform him. He’ll figure I’m still the same woman as before he cheated. Forgiveness is for my benefit, not his. It releases him, and I don’t want anymore of that. Also, I have to defend my determination. I can’t let my resolve wither and wilt.
  • If he pleads for forgiveness and claims true contrition, I’ll respond with something like this. The time for forgiveness is after it’s earned. Forgiveness for cheating is like being cheated on without deserving it. You broke vows to both God and me. God will forgive because He loves you. My love is currently held in abeyance awaiting whatever acts of devotion you have to offer for our marriage—not promises but actions.
  • I begin now to plan how I can determine his true from faux contrition. Forgiveness doesn’t mean, however, that I take him back, because that takes more than contrition. Taking him back requires his re-qualification for faithfulness, which requires another plan to be described later.

With my anger management and dignity building plan in effect, it’s time to move on. Tomorrow, it’s the children.

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