Valentine's Day: my husband left me for a younger woman. Now what?

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It is in the best interest of your children (and, I’m talking long term, forever here) that you do not use your children for the following purposes:

1. As emotional supports, equivalent to friends or other grown-ups (i.e. confiding in them your deepest hurts, etc.)

2. To hurt their father for betraying you (i.e. turning them against him by speaking badly of him or his misdeeds. While it may be true that he has behaved badly, forcing the kids to choose sides will only hurt them, and for a long time).

3. To punish their father for betraying you (i.e. keeping them from seeing him or having a good relationship with him is another way that they can be damaged - he may be a lousy husband but a decent father, and just because he has hurt you doesn’t mean you should hurt them).

You must help your children to understand that nothing they did led to the break-up, and that they will have your support in continuing their relationship with their father, albeit under different circumstances.

Develop a self-care plan that includes the following elements:

Physical health – eat well, exercise and stretch regularly, walk a lot, sleep enough, vitamins and supplements.

Emotional health – talk to a counselor, stay in touch with family and good friends, journal, meditate, join a support group.

Spiritual health – re-evaluate your life’s purpose, perhaps even rediscover a passion that yoou can pursue, something to give your life meaning and connection.

Financial health – get some financial advice, work out a budget and long-term financial goals. Don’t leave things to chance. Negotiate child support and other money issues with your husband, but don’t equate money with fairness or wellness. You have to decide what is worth fighting for, and at what costs.

Buddhist teachings have always advocated acceptance as the path out of suffering.

If we resist reality, i.e. things as they are, we will create unnecessary suffering for ourselves. Acceptance leads us away from suffering while resistance leads us into it. But many people think that acceptance means approval. "Well, how can I approve of what my husband has done?" they may say. Or, "How can I approve of betrayal?"

In essence, acceptance really means acknowledgment or recognition, rather than approval or sanction. Accepting something means that I acknowledge or recognize that this is the reality, though I may not like it or love it. In fact, I may even be deeply hurt by it. Betrayal sucks. But it is what it is, and recognizing that, I can decide or choose an appropriate response, one that will be self-preserving and self-enhancing. If I resist it, insist that it shouldn’t be, deny it’s impact, and so on, then I will be spending my energies on fighting something that already exists, whether I approve of it or not.

The truth is that you can get through this, and you can become stronger as a result of it. Consider these lyrics from a Leonard Cohen poem:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

You did not cause the break-up, but perhaps somewhere along the line you ignored the signs that tell of trouble in your marriage. This does not make you weak or at fault for what happened. Rather, it may provide some sort of meaning to what has happened and what might happen in the future.

We all participate in creating the outcomes we get, in some form or manner. Learning about the ways in which you’ve participated in your relationship will help you avoid the same mistakes in a future relationship (yes, there will be onewhen you are ready for it).

You can choose how you will rise up and respond to this very painful time in your life. Tend to your heart and spirit, but also tend to your body. The whole works. This is a time for an overhaul, and keeping your focus on these self-care tasks may make it easier to get through the harder moments. Talk, cry, pray, walk, read, but also get a new wardrobe and hairdo. Maybe even a tattoo.

Do not try to be normal, for this is an extraordinary time. Be outrageous on your own behalf, but focus on you rather than him. Something went wrong with your marriage. Don’t blame anyone.

Instead, learn from it and choose to make it right for yourself. Let the light in despite these troubled times. Though you don’t know what the final outcome of this story will be regarding the relationship, you can decide what your own outcome can be about. You are now the author of what that future could look like. Will it be Goddess Rising or Heartbreak Hotel?

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