Many would agree that infidelity can be one of the most painful experiences to endure. In this episode, rather than taking that statement at its word, I dive into the impact of infidelity and the ways it affects us.
Just like all things in life, there are some things that are out of control, and some that are very much in our control. Even with infidelity, there is much that we can choose. We can choose just how much we allow the choices of another to impact us. This episode will help you see where you are making the experience more painful for yourself and what you can do about it.
To work with me, schedule a 1-1 call to see if my upcoming Know in 90 group is right for you. We begin in November!
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 102, The Impact of Infidelity.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, my beautiful friends. So before I dive into this week’s episode
about the impact of infidelity, I want to share a few personal things with
you. So in the past six weeks, I have been all over the place. I’ve been to
Colorado, New York, France, and Utah. Yeah, a wide array of places, right?
So I went to Colorado for a business training that was amazing. My husband
and I went to New York to visit my 19-year-old daughter who picked up and
moved by herself to New York. And then I went for a week to France. I got
together with women who we did a trauma certification together,
relationship trauma. And the person who created that training put together
an event in France and I went to that. And then I went to a girl’s weekend
in Utah with a bunch of my friends from when I used to live in California.
And Utah was a central location to many of us.
So anyway, I’ve been all over the place and part of the reason I tell you
this is because I left my daughter, my little baby girl. And it was really
hard for me, like hard to make that decision, hard to leave her. I cried.
It was really difficult because as a younger mom, I never would’ve dreamed
of leaving my baby as young as that. I just wouldn’t do it. And I’m a
nursing mom and knowing that I wouldn’t be there to nurse… She does take
a bottle well, because I work and have somebody here that helps with her
while I work. But it was really, really hard. And I want to share with you
just this little bit here to give you something to think about. What
finally kind of pushed me over the edge and gave me what I needed to be
able to say goodbye to her and to leave her for a little bit, especially
when I went to France, was the belief that I want my children, my
daughters, my sons, to know that they can be both amazing parents and
pursue their personal interests.
And as a younger mom, I really felt beholden to letting my world kind of
revolve around my kids. And now I’m older, I’m 45 and have a career. And it
was so much to adjust to anyway having her. And I just decided that I want
her to know that we can be connected wherever we are, that she can trust
other people, that she’s very loved and that she can pursue all the things.
And I tell you this because I want you to know that you can too. I hope
that you find this helpful. In the end, we had the most amazing reunion.
I’ve just loved being with her. I just adore her. She’s such a bright spot
in my life. She turned 11 months yesterday and is just a delightful little
human. Anyway, with all of these things that I’ve been doing, I’ve got just
so much coming through me of things that I need to teach, things that I
need to create to really broaden my message to reach more people.
And so some changes are coming, they are coming. But for now, let’s get to
the podcast, okay? Before I do, one more quick thing, and that is that when
this episode is aired, it will be just a few days before my last Know in 90
launch as I have been running my Know in 90 program. I’m continuing my
program, but I’m going to be changing some things. So this is going to be
my last group as it is. We start next week. If you still want in, click the
link in the show notes and get in touch with me.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about the impact of infidelity. I recently
was with a group of colleagues and one of them said that infidelity has to
be one of the most devastating things you can do to someone else. And I
have lots of thoughts about that, and that’s what I want to address today,
okay? Infidelity, some people define it as death by a thousand paper cuts,
lots of wounds inflicted over time as more details come to the surface.
Some that are already unhappily married use infidelity as a reason to leave
when the reasons they had before didn’t seem valid enough. For most people,
infidelity cuts deep, and today I want to talk to you about why that is.
There are two main things to look for and I will use examples of both for
So by nature, we want to trust that the person we are with is good,
trustworthy and has our best interest at heart. So when we find out that
they were deceitful intentionally, that they did things that they know we
would not be okay with, and even that would deeply hurt us, it is easy to
be highly impacted by their choices. At a primal level, we are tribal. We
like to move through the world with others. So to be cut off from your
tribe feels like death. Even if we can logically know that that is not the
case, at a deep primal level, we can sense a threat.
I personally think that this is part of why so many of my clients could
smell. They can smell that there’s something off in their marriage because
we’re deeply wired to look out for our tribe, to protect it, to keep it
safe. So we can often spot when something is off. So from that standpoint,
a threat to your tribe, your union, primally, can feel like death. It’s
very threatening. That is real, according to how we are wired. But it goes
deeper than this. I personally can speak here about my own experience about
the next point I’m going to make. Infidelity can touch on our deepest, most
fragile wounds. Ouch, right? How can it be that the person we want to know
and love us the most can hurt us the most, right?
For me personally, because of my lack of a strong, loving male for my early
years of childhood, I grew up thinking that other people had loving dads
but not me. In my childlike attempt to make logical sense of my world, I
made it mean that I must just be slightly less lovable or a lot less
lovable. Isn’t that so sad? Even as I prepared this episode, I was sad
thinking about little me moving around in the world thinking I was less.
But when infidelity occurred, it hit hard on that tender, hurt part of me
that hadn’t quite healed, and it added a new wound. If this is sounding
depressing, please hang with me, okay? I’m going somewhere good. For now,
just reflect on what I am saying and what is true for you and your
experience. Just pay attention to what’s coming up for you as I talk. How
can we possibly move on from this, heal, let alone salvage our
There are some things I want you to consider. First of all, the impact
something has on our life is directly related to the meaning we attach to
it, not just the event itself. There’s the event, and then there’s the
meaning we attach to it. One is by the natural shock and hurt that comes
when things happen that we did not expect, especially if they dramatically
change our day-to-day life. Something that we feel a lot right? This can be
illness, job loss, moving, care taking of a loved one, children with hard
struggles, and we can add in here infidelity. Those things can instantly
change the way we view the world, really shake up our sense of equilibrium.
How many of you have had experiences where you learn something, you hear
something, and just like that, things look different to you? Things can
never go back.
I think we all have had times in our life like that, where we thought
things were one way and then we learned that they’re not. We get news, we
get information, something like that. I think sometimes one of those things
can be like if any of us have had child loss or a close friend that has
lost a child or you hear about things like that and then you want to just
go scoop up your kids. Things that shift and change your sense of things,
your sense of safety even, and you want to go home and hug your kids. I
think we all have things like that that shake things up so much that we
can’t ever go back. So there’s the initial shock to our sense of safety,
our kind of view, worldview. And then there are all of the things that we
attached to it, all of the meaning we attach to it.
Often, our egos are very bruised. We’re embarrassed. We wonder what people
would think if they knew. We feel ashamed that our spouses would cheat. We
feel shame for staying and shame for leaving. Jealousy and envy come to
play. We feel self-doubt. Our egos are there trying to protect us, but can
often lead us down a path of a whole lot of unnecessary suffering. So last
week, I met with my Know in 90 alumni group, and one of them shared
something profound. She asked me if I’d heard the story of the two arrows,
and I had not. And she shared a little bit of it in that call. And then
after that, I followed up and went and studied it. So this is a Buddhist
tradition about the two arrows. Basically it goes like this.
The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it
painful?” The student replied, “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the
person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student
replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot
always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction
to the first, and with the second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”
Isn’t that profound? Oh, the possibility of choice. Now we didn’t choose
that first arrow, but we can sure choose the second, and we can really pay
attention to the impact of it. We can’t control all the things that happen
outside of us, but we can change the patterns that we have that send the
second arrow straight to us, and cause so much additional pain. Right?
Okay, so a few points I want to make about these two different arrows so
you can recognize them are these. Usually the second arrow is aimed inward.
We take shots at ourself, we blame ourselves. We’re hanging out in so much
shame, we’re feeling small. Or we go back and forth between fury and blame
at them, back to blame at ourselves. It can become quite a vicious cycle.
My beautiful friends, in my experience as an infidelity coach, I see a
pattern. I see lots of patterns, but I want to point one out here. I talk
to lots of different people all the time. I hear stories all the time. And
most of the time, this is a pattern that I see. Choosing to step out of the
marriage comes from unhealed wounds, men who still feel like a boy inside
who want to be loved and seen, who want to be the rescuer so they can feel
good enough, who have not healed wounds from how they were treated as kids
or early rejections that they didn’t know how to process.
Yes, we are 100% players in the dynamics of our marriage. For sure, we are.
But their choices most likely had nothing to do with you. But you, my
friend, now today, have so much power to change everything for the
betterment of both of you, whether you stay or go, by showing up now in
strength and courage and driving things forward rather than shrinking in
with that second arrow. I myself think that my first husband never felt
like he was enough. I think that there was a lot of pressure to perform
according to the world’s terms, like to be successful, and he was. He had
an Oxford degree. He had two different master’s degrees, a law degree from
a top-10 law school, all the jobs, all the education, and it was never
I remember when we were married, he was always chasing the next thing. What
if I did this thing? What if I got this degree? What if I got this job? It
was never enough. I felt a lot of pressure to take really good care of the
home. I cooked home-cooked meals daily. I tried to keep my kids looking
good and well taken care of. I tried to take good care of myself and to
take care of my body and things like that. And I always felt like if I took
care of things well enough that he would feel better. I went to lots of
therapy even to try to make myself better because I felt like I must not be
good enough because I just didn’t feel like he liked me very much. It was
just kind of a bummer. I didn’t feel like he liked me or being home with my
kids, our kids.
And as time has gone by, I can see that no one could have been enough. I
wasn’t and no one could because it was an emptiness that was inside him
that no one could fill. There was a lot of pain there that was unhealed.
And rather than seeking healing, he blamed me and others for his issues.
And in the end, he sought out things that would mask the pain and numb the
pain rather than seeking healing. It’s really tragic actually, right? The
choices that are made, my friends, are not about you, they’re about our
egos. They’re about trying to give temporary hits, temporary feelings that
we just long for and also lacking the skills of knowing how to create that
in your current marriage. Now, our egos will tell us personally that it’s
all about us. Our egos will tell us that either we’re to blame or they’re
to blame, and there’s no other alternative, and so we go back and forth
between that, okay?
We’ll often feel so much pressure to do things right, to handle the
infidelity properly, whatever that means, to tell the right people, to not
tell the wrong people, to honor ourselves. What does that mean? Does it
mean I have to leave? Does it mean I have to try to stay? How confusing can
that all be? So let’s circle back to what I started this episode with:
impact. How can you minimize the impact? One huge thing is to use the
infidelity for you rather than against you. That may sound totally cliche,
but hear me out, okay?
For me, being able to really, really see the areas that were still tender
in myself or even showing myself that some things that I did not know were
there at all, helped me to see what needs loving, healing. Yes, there are
some new wounds, but the infidelity forced me like nothing else could to
really look and see myself, to really see where I’m selling myself short,
to really see what I make it mean and why. Why do I make it mean that? To
evaluate what is true, what is not true, and to ultimately do what I
thought was best, which in my first marriage was leaving the marriage, not
because of the infidelity, my friends, but because of his unwillingness to
honest with me. It wasn’t because I found out about things and then decided
to leave. That was not it at all, actually. I was willing, and he was not
he just was not willing to be honest.
So here’s my suggestion for you. Use that powerful mind of yours to focus
on the first arrow. There are lots of feelings there to process. There’s
hurt there to process, right? There’s enough there to work through without
adding additional pain. How do you know if you are flinging that second
arrow at yourself? It will almost always leave you feeling less than, not
good enough, small, weak, inferior. None of those things are true. You,
just by being yourself as you are, are already good enough, able, capable,
more capable than you can possibly know, worthy of good things, worthy of
the best things.
When you see your brain start to tell you a story of not good enough, just
bring attention to it. Notice that you are hurting yourself with that
second arrow, and you don’t have to. It is optional. Remind yourself of
what is true, of your capacity to heal, your capacity, to have what you
want, his capacity to heal if he chooses it. This does not have to be the
end of your relationship unless you want it to be. Of course, unless it’s
chosen for you, and even, then you can heal and you can have something even
better. You can have something even better. It can be the ending that
starts a beautiful beginning.
Now, a point I want to make is this. You do not owe anybody anything. You
do not owe your partner trying to stay. For some of you, you won’t want to.
Some of you will feel obligated to stay, but you really want to leave. I am
just giving you permission, over the air right now, that if you don’t want
to stay, if there are already lots of damaging things, lots of hurt, and
you just don’t want to, that you want to heal outside of this, if you feel
it’s in your best interest to heal outside of this and to let him heal
outside of the relationship, you are allowed to do that with no kind of
owing anything, no obligation, no explanation.
For some of you, where you can still feel that there’s a lot of good, that
there’s a lot to fight for, this is a place to start. You can start by
recognizing the story that you have attached to his infidelity and the
impact that is still making on you. And that goes for all of you, whether
you stay or not, okay? You can heal. You can heal. You will get to a time
where several days will go by, and you won’t even think about it. You will
get to a time where you can think about it, and it will feel neutral. I
know this is true because I have experienced it, and I have clients who’ve
experienced it. I know that this is a reality for a lot of people.
Notice the story you’re telling yourself about his infidelity. You are very
likely adding pain on that is optional and will slow your healing. You
don’t have to, okay? You can lessen the impact. You can slow it down, have
so much compassion for yourself. Like, of course, my brain’s trying to
protect me. Of course, my ego is freaking out. And you can have love for
all of that, and you can still decide to do something different. All right,
so much love to all of you, and I will see you next time. All right,
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.