In the aftermath of infidelity, it can feel like your life has been blown up, and our spouse sometimes does not seem to understand how much their choices impacted us.
This episode discusses the importance of knowing that our spouse “gets it” in order to really move forward and build trust. I also discuss growing our capacity to look at ourselves and how the things we say and do affect others.
Solid relationships are built on both people taking responsibility for how we each impact each other.
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To learn more from me, be sure to join my email list here.
I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast,
episode number 118, Understanding Our Impact.
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 friends, I am so happy to be here. It has been a little while. I
had a guest on in my last episode, and so it’s been about a month, I guess,
since it’s just been me. I am just back from an amazing trip. I went to
France where I met up with a bunch of coaches and did some deep breath
work, and writing work, and just a bunch of really healing exercises and
activities as well as seeing the beautiful southern France. It was
wonderful, just got back a couple days ago. I have been thinking so much
about all of you and what is possible for you, and I want to bring you this
episode today all about impact to help you understand more fully how our
actions or lack of action affects each other. Okay?
A while back, I did an episode all about the impact of infidelity and that
is really, really important. This one is more on impact in general, not
just about infidelity. We are going to touch on infidelity, but it’s about
impact in a few different areas. Okay? So first of all, let’s talk about
why this topic, why did I choose this topic. So my husband and I, we are
coming up on seven years of marriage on July 1st, and when we got married,
we had 10 kids living at home, it was very intense. And there was just a
lot going on always, like always, always, there has just been a lot going
on. And we decided a while back that we wanted to go talk to a therapist
and work with the therapist about some of the things that we want to work
on now, now that things are a little more mellow.
Honestly, we both kind of wish that we would’ve done this before, I know I
do, that we would’ve done this earlier on in our marriage. I think that we
are kind of just trying to keep our head above water. And we have
definitely encountered some struggles in our marriages, some hurt, some
things that have been difficult to deal with and decided that it was time
now to go work on these things. So our therapist, who is awesome, he
teaches a lot about impact. He looks at a lot of situations through the
lens of impact and really has helped us to understand more fully, “When I
do this, this is the impact it has on you. When you do this, this is the
impact it has on me.” And it has really helped us both in our
communication, it has helped us in really just slowing down and thinking
through things a little bit more.
Sometimes when I will pull away, like if I feel upset about something and
kind of pull away, my husband will remind me of the impact that has on him
if I just kind of go away for a minute. And it’s usually for me to kind of
gather my thoughts so I can come back less reactive and more grounded, but
it does have an impact on him and vice versa. And so that is why I’m
bringing this topic to you today because it’s been something that has been
really helpful and really important for us. It gives us kind of a frame of
reference, like some terms to use to talk to each other about it. It has
been very helpful. Okay? And I’ll talk a little bit more about what that
has looked like for us later in the episode.
Oftentimes, we go through life just kind of doing what we’ve always done
and not really truly considering the impact we have on others, whether good
or not so good. Okay? We often just are reactive and going along with what
we think we’re supposed to do based on what other people tell us we should
do and not really thinking through, “What is it like to be married to me?
What is it like to live with me? What is it like to work with me?” Right?
All of those questions. In my first marriage, I had lots of thoughts about
him. Some of my thoughts were that he was pretty tough to be married to for
various reasons. Now, we have been divorced for 10 years, and I really wish
that I could have a discussion with him and ask him, “What was it like for
you to be married to me?”
I’ve asked myself this question since he’s not here, he’s passed away
almost nine years, but I have thought about this and asked myself that
question. And I have some answers that are less than flat flattering, but
I’m going to share them with you here, okay? I came into marriage at a very
young age, I was 19, I was like two months shy of 20, with a lot of hurts
that had absolutely nothing to do with him. I’ve shared this before, but I
grew up with three different dads. My real dad died when I was two days old
in a plane crash. My second dad, he was around for three years and he
disappeared and I never saw him again. My mom ended it, my mom divorced
him. But I’ve never heard from him, seen him again. That was from when I
was two until I was five.
And then my mom got remarried again and he is still my dad, but for many
years it was a pretty rough relationship. Definitely, I did not feel safe
for sure. I did not feel safe, I felt a lot of hurt. And so I came into the
marriage with a lot of hurt that had nothing to do with my husband, but I
really wanted his love and his validation to heal me. Yet, he was very
young too and had some big hurts of his own and some big insecurities just
like I did. I had fairy tale like dreams of him saying and doing just the
right things that would help me to feel whole instead of like a hurt little
wounded bird. I felt hurt, I felt wounded, and I wanted him to just make me
Over time, I did get stronger and I learned that no one was going to come
rescue me and that I needed to rescue myself. And that was a hard lesson to
learn. I built my own resilience, my own strength, and ultimately I left
the marriage. And then, seven months later, he died and he was gone. I have
wondered what he would say. “What was my impact on you? What was it like to
be married to me? How did the words that I said, and the way that I said
them, and the way that I showed up affect you for good and for bad? What
wounds did you bring into the marriage that you hoped I could help you
heal? And did I make those worse? And how did I make those worse?”
Since he’s not here, I can’t ask him those questions, but I can certainly
ask them myself and answer them. I do know that I put pressure on him,
mainly around how I thought he should love me, how he should treat me. I
wanted a lot of validation, I wanted to be told that I was great, and
wonderful, and beautiful and all of those things. Right? I wanted him to
kind of prop me up, tell me how great I was so I can feel good, “Tell me
the nice things, please.” Not the really vulnerable, “Hey, I really love
you so I’m going to tell you some hard things,” conversations.
I think later in our marriage, but I would’ve been ready for that, but
early in our marriage, I just wanted to be told how great I was. I did need
some healing, I did. But I was looking to him for all of it. Okay? In the
end, that put a lot of pressure on him. And no, I don’t take responsibility
for the many choices he made that led him down a pretty treacherous,
dangerous, not healthy path. Right? He chose those things. But I do wonder
sometimes how safe he felt coming to me. I don’t blame myself, his choices
were his own, but I don’t know how much I helped him either. And you know
what? These are hard things to look at, they’re hard to look at.
Let’s talk about infidelity. I have heard from many who have been
unfaithful that they had no idea the impact of their choices. Isn’t that
crazy that they really didn’t know? How can that be, right? Infidelity is
largely a purely selfish act. It’s about getting your own needs met,
pursuing a specific emotion such as pleasure, validation, excitement, et
cetera. And often, blinders go on as to the massive impact that you have on
others. There may be an internal knowing that your spouse would not be
happy with your choices and there may be even feelings of guilt, but we
humans have a spectacular way of compartmentalizing things so we don’t have
to feel the weight internally of when our separate worlds collide. We
separate them out. Okay?
For most of my clients, they feel the impact first of infidelity. Now, keep
in mind, most of my clients are people who, their spouses have been
unfaithful. They see something that they weren’t supposed to see. They get
a phone call informing them of the affair. Boom, massive impact is felt.
Then, the one who was unfaithful knows that their worlds have collided,
these worlds that they so carefully kept separate have collided, and it is
usually pretty disastrous for them. For the first time, they feel the impact
of their choices.
Some people never get here. Okay? Some people stay in denial, they stay in
blame, “It’s your fault. You wouldn’t be intimate with me so I had to go
get it somewhere,” stupid things like that I think are not useful or
helpful. Right? And you know what? I don’t recommend staying in close
proximity to people who are unwilling to examine themselves and see how
their actions affect others. Okay? But for many people, they do feel their
world colliding. Their worlds that they have carefully separated, they feel
them colliding. And when they realize not only the impact on themselves for
engaging in such self-betraying behaviors, they totally lied to themselves.
They’re in so much denial, they’ve gone against their own values. But they
also finally see the massive blow, the massive impact they’ve had on other
Now, what about you? And by you, I mean most of my listeners are people who
have been hurt by infidelity, by being on the other end of someone who is
unfaithful. At first, for most of my clients, it is not only normal but
very crucial, crucial, okay, to be able to verbally and emotionally express
the pain of the impact. This really hurts. This really stinks. Ouch. Okay?
Sometimes, we try to bottle it up and hope that it will sort of metabolize
over time, but this tends to become poison in us. We can become quite
bitter. We can become full of resentment. We can even hate our spouses for
causing us so much pain. Right?
Sometimes I have clients that express verbally and through strong emotions
and strong words how they feel about their spouse and their actions for
months and years after it happened. Maybe you’re one of them. If you are, I
wrap my arms around you. I understand you’re hurt and you want them to
understand you’re hurt, right? It has then moved from a form of healing in
speaking and sharing the hurt to a form of regurgitating pain, hoping to
make your spouse suffer as much as you have suffered, hoping that they
understand. Okay? Not only though does this have a negative impact on you,
but on your marriage as a whole. It makes it very hard to move forward
because new pain keeps being thrown into the mix and it does in fact
continue to impact their relationship. Okay?
So what is my point in all of this? My point is that it is part of
emotional maturity, growing an emotional maturity, to look closely at the
impact we have on others. It can be easy to believe that we have been hurt
so we have a free pass in our own actions, but in the end, we have to live
with all the intense negative emotions and the consequences of our actions.
We have to feel the emotional hangover of saying and doing things we wish
we hadn’t. Haven’t we all been there? Oh, I know I have. Where in the
moment I feel so justified in saying the thing and then I just feel
terrible afterwards. Like that didn’t help anything and now I actually feel
To move forward from infidelity, this has to be looked at. Some tough
questions need to be answered from a kind, loving place. And in order for a
marriage to truly heal after infidelity, the person who was unfaithful has
to look at their part. They have to, it is crucial. It will not just go
away. If they do not understand their own impact on themselves and others,
it is simply not safe to move forward. I will draw a hard line. If you are
listening to this podcast and your spouse still will not talk about the
impact on you, if they won’t look at it, if they won’t really try to
understand it, it is not a safe place for you to continue moving forward.
It’s just not.
I know that this may be really hard to hear, for those of you married to
people who have avoided the hard conversations, I understand, okay? My
friend, I invite you to be brave and instigate these conversations that
move things forward. Talk about it. Share the impact their choices had on
you. Ask them what they think the impact of their choices were. Ask them.
Ask what the impact of their choices was on themselves. Like how has it
affected you? How has it harmed you? These are the conversations that will
build trust and help you to know you’re with someone who is learning to be
a safe and trusted partner. These conversations can be fast. They don’t
have to be long, drawn-out things.
I’ll give you an example, okay? A couple weeks ago, so I live in Montana, a
little background, I live in Montana, my husband is very heavy into the ag
world, the agriculture world. He’s invested in lots of different areas in
the ag world. And summertime is busy, it’s go time with animals, with
crops, with all the things that he’s involved in. And a couple weeks ago, I
called him at 5:00 PM and I had not heard from him all day long. And he
mentioned to me that he was in a town an hour away and that he had found
out that our grandson who lives in that town had a baseball game that night
and so he was going to stay back and he was going to go to the game. And I
kind of jokingly said, “So nowhere in your planning of staying up there and
coming home later did you think it might be a good idea to call my wife and
talk to her about it?” And he’s like, “Oh, I just got busy and just kind of
forgot,” and this and that.
Anyway, so he didn’t get home for another couple, two and a half hours or
so. And I was bugged by it because I have all the kids at home. I also
work, I have the kids at home, we have an 18-month-old daughter. And so I
thought, “You know what? When the time is right, I am going to talk to him
about the impact of this kind of thing, how it impacts me. He really might
not know.” So the next day I said, “Hey, you know how Corey,” that’s our
therapist, “You know how Corey’s talking to us about impact? Okay, I want
to tell you a little something. Yesterday, when I called you to see when
you’re going to be home and you just told me that you’re going to the game,
that you would be a couple more hours, it impacted me because I was there
taking care of our daughter, and she’s both of our daughter, and nowhere in
there was there like just consideration for me and for what I might have
going on. You just assumed that it would be fine and it wasn’t even
communicated to me.”
And I said, “That impacts me and it does not make me feel very thought of,
like lack of concern, lack of consideration.” And I said, “Moving forward,
I would appreciate you calling me and just running it by me.” Like, “Would
this work for you?” And he came right over, gave me a hug, he said, “Yep, I
see it. I’m sorry.” Done, right? It was that fast, it was that fast.
Uncomfortable, absolutely, but since then, it’s been a lot better. And you
know what? To be honest, this is something that we have revisited
throughout our marriage. And I will keep revisiting again as long as I need
to. “Hey dude, let me know what’s going on for you.” Right?
And it’s something he’s gotten a lot better at. But guess what? Sometimes
he needs reminders and I feel like I have grown in my vocabulary and my
ability to express to him why it impacts me and to have a higher
expectation of what I want and just really owning that. Right? And he
handled it beautifully. He has told me that when I kind of hold back or
don’t say how I really feel about something, how it impacts him, how
sometimes it makes him feel unheard, or minimized, or not worth talking to
or various things, different things that through his own lens he
interprets. But I need to know those things so I can be responsive, so I
can be sensitive, so I can understand how the things that I do impact him.
I think that taking time to study this topic can yield deep, close, mature
relationships, especially within ourselves. By being honest with ourselves,
we get to know each other well. We can come to understand and befriend all
of the parts of ourselves and learn how certain behaviors and thought
patterns affect other parts of ourselves. We are all made up of many parts
of a whole that we spend our whole life trying to heal. Okay? This is a big
important piece in this, understanding our own impact on ourselves. That’s a
big piece of this.
So my friends, I invite you to look more closely on your impact on others,
at your spouse’s impact on you, and share with each other. First, get clear
with yourself and then talk about it. How did it impact you? How does it
still impact you? What did it make you doubt that you didn’t doubt before?
How has it impacted your worldview? Share these things. Bring people, your
spouse into your circle, and other people too, your kids, friends, family,
okay? In reality, every choice we make has some impact on others. The goal
here is not to try to eliminate any kind of negative impact. The goal is to
raise our awareness of our impact on others and help others become more
aware of their impact on us.
Let me give you an example. I recently went to France, I went to France,
very far away. You don’t just go to France for two days and come back,
right? I flew there on a Saturday and I didn’t get home till the following
Saturday. It’s summertime. It’s busy in the ag world, we have an
18-month-old daughter, all of that. We have all these other kids that had
just literally gotten out of school the day before I left. So I was going
to leave for a week, the first week of summer. I had somebody to watch our
daughter all day during the day while he went to work, but he was on his
own in the evenings, and nights, and first thing in the morning. I owned
the impact. I knew that it would impact him. I knew that it would be hard
on him potentially, right? I knew that he would have to sacrifice. I knew
that my kids would probably need to help more than they usually do and that
it would have an impact.
And in the end, I decided to go any anyway because I felt like the benefits
of me going outweighed the impact. It was something I really wanted, it was
something that I felt would be useful. And as you’ve heard me say before,
when we do things that we truly feel are the best choices for ourselves, it
does benefit other people, maybe not immediately. Sometimes it does put
people out immediately. But in the long run, when I can come back with my
cup full and with a whole duffle of European treats and chocolates, how can
they complain about that?
Okay, seriously though, really, I come back, I’m ready to go in my
business, I’m refreshed, I’m ready to do summer with my kids, I’m so
grateful to my husband, there are good things in me honoring the things that
I want. But I understand that the immediate impact is it’s hard and that
I’m asking something from him. It’s okay to do that. But knowing what that
is creates a lot more closeness. I could say to my husband and I did on
multiple occasions, “Thank you. I know that this is a big ask, I know that
it’s a lot. Thank you.” And I love him for it, right? My awareness of my
impact helps him to know that I’m thinking of him, that I appreciate him.
It creates connection. It creates more love. It creates more unity. Okay?
Even if temporarily uncomfortable, conversations in a kind way will always,
always lead to more closeness and connection, even tough conversations,
okay? Conversations had in a kind way and telling the truth and being
honest in a kind way will always lead to more closeness every single time,
especially my dear friends, when the one you are having that conversation
with is yourself. Tell yourself the truth. “How am I impacting myself? How
is my decision making or lack of decision making impacting me? What is the
impact? How is me continuing to respond in this way impacting me?” Right?
On and on and on. “How is it keeping us from healing when I respond in this
way? How is me not looking at this particular issue impacting my ability to
really decide if I’m in or out? Okay? On and on, we could go on and on.
But I invite you to look at the impact, share the impact that your spouse
has had on you. You can share this episode, whatever you need to do. You
can share these principles, these concepts with your kids, really talking
about the impact that we each have on each other. That’s what I have for
you today. Before I hop off, I invite you, my friends, to come join me in
my program, Know in 90. This is the stuff we do all day, every day. We dive
in deep, we get rolling up our sleeves and doing the work of really digging
in and understanding what’s keeping us stuck, doing the work and
understanding what it is we want and what needs to happen for us to have
it, getting out of our own way.
It’s a really great, strong program. And the women in there, I can’t say
enough about how powerful my clients are. They’re people who are ready to
own their own experience instead of waiting for something to happen. They
want to own their own lives. They want to heal, they want to move forward.
If this is you, I invite you to click on the link in the show notes and
come schedule a call with me and we can see if it’s a great fit for you.
Okay? All right, my beautiful friends, I will see you next time. Take care.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
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