Have Relationship Questions? Ask a Counselor for Answers ASAP
Good afternoon, thank you for your question. It sounds like the two of you have been together for quite some time and have really focused on personal growth through your educational and career endeavors. I think that sometimes when are focused on this, of course, the relationship goes to the side a bit. It probably has felt that there was a disconnect and even dissonance, by default, simply because of the lack of daily interaction, or even monthly interaction. Even though you may have spoken on the phone, the little positive aspects of face to face talking may have gone astray. You guys sound like you may not have had all of your emotional needs met. There are different ways to identify our needs and we call them our "love languages." You felt isolated or alone in the relationship and sought support outside of the relationship. This is not an abnormal thing, and it sounds like it definitely did not fit into your value system. I think it took a lot of courage for you to admit to him that you had cheated on him. You recognized that you needed a "break" but also didn't want to hurt him. Rather than focusing sharply on your act and deprecating your decision, try to reframe the situation. Try to focus on what you gained.... You have gained perspective about what it felt like to potentially lose him. You have gained perspective about what really feels congruent within your moral compass and value system. You recognize that attempting to meet a need outside of your relationship did not fulfill you, in fact, it left you feeling more empty......
I am going to pause and ask you about your feedback because I would hate to go on and be going in the wrong direction for you :)
But now you have to allow the past to be just what it was.... You have to focus on personal forgiveness and releasing the guilt. You have to focus on how you can meet his needs and also have yours met. You can do this through the establishment of specific boundaries that you both can process together. You also have to remember that there are ebbs and flows in relationships. There will be seasons of struggle, but also seasons where you recognize that the struggles do create intimacy. Put the actions into "context" not to rationalize or justify them, but more or less to understand them. Recognize that you demonstrate a lack of judgment at the time, but this is not a personal character trait of yours-- it was outside of you. You were feeling empty and sought comfort. You sound very remorseful and so now it is time to build yourself back up. You cannot identify yourself by the actions.....
I think that you may also be experiencing anxiety about all that you have going on and it may scare you a bit as you are moving closer to fulfilling your career goals, you start processing your personal relationship and you hope that you are also on the right track. It sounds like he has been committed to you and this situation has also made him recognize that he wants to meet your needs. If everything has been wonderful over the last year, it sounds like there is little resentment or contempt present, and you didn't mention that he brings up he past-- so I think he has truly forgiven you.
In marriage counseling, I have seen couples come together and be much stronger after periods of conflict or pain. I really think it builds the testimony and it is sort of like "working out." In that analogy, you break down your muscles through sometimes, painful exercises, but they rebuild and are stronger. Try to come from that perspective-- you had to break down your walls and recognize how to meet needs and also communicate effectively. Trust him... He is putting that faith in you by forgiving you, so put your faith in him to be honest with you. You guys sound like you have a good foundation.....
Here is a pretty good article that is a positive story about surviving in marriage despite past hurt.
I think that you should communicate with him about your insecurities-- don't be afraid to be open with him and hopefully it will create an atmosphere for him to recognize how he can also provide more assurance to you. You don't want to fall into a habit of suppressing your feelings, and you want to make sure that you don't actually project your feelings onto him-- like thinking that he is suppressing, but actually you are keeping your feelings to yourself.
I have to step away for a client in the clinic, but if you need anything, please feel free to respond. My goal was to provide you with excellent service and if you feel satisfied, I hope that you will provide a positive rating. Of course, communication can continue after a rating is provided also! I want to continue processing with you and will be available shortly, but I do have to go and get my client from the lobby :) Please let me know how I can further support you!