Aftershock - What Was I Thinking?

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Distorted Thinking

Distorted thinking can ease the pain of your husband’s sexual infidelity for a short time and fool you into believing that you’re coping well, but it will ultimately fail to produce real peace. At first, distorted thoughts enable you to distance yourself from unpleasant feelings, but sooner or later, your distress will resurface.

That may sound like bad news, but it isn’t. Exposing distorted thinking makes room for healthy thinking and effective actions.

Let’s examine five kinds of distorted thinking many women struggle with.

1. Denial

The ability to see the best in people and circumstances is an admirable trait, but only if those perspectives are firmly grounded in truth and reality. You may cling to an idealistic dream of a perfect marriage and ignore glaring evidence of problems. You may view your role as an adoring, supportive wife who excuses her husband’s imperfections and forgives his indiscretions.

But your denial is likely driven by innate fears and a desire to avoid unpleasant experiences. This kind of distorted thinking is rife with danger. Over time it will result in more denials of the truth, and you’ll become increasingly out of touch with reality. This can lead to full-blown anxiety and even clinical phobias. Compliantly accepting your husband’s deception and lies may keep your illusion of the happy family alive, but it isn’t healthy and will cause you more problems in the long run.

The solution is simple but not easy. Choose to be honest, first with yourself and then with your husband. You will likely need to include other trusted and safe members of your family in the conversation as well. It would also be helpful for you to talk with a counselor or spiritual adviser about the best way to navigate any necessary family disclosures.

At this point, disclosing the truth about your situation to your family might be too frightening to pursue. No matter the extent of initial sharing, it’s vital to face the truth, be honest with yourself, and let your husband know that you no longer believe his denials. As you come out of denial into reality, you’ll find that coping with the truth is much better than believing lies.

Next, we’ll look more closely at rationalization.