Healing After An Affair
This is the final post in my series about the topic of infidelity & healing after an affair.
Over the course of the blog series, I’ve discussed common marriage reconciliation mistakes to avoid after infidelity.
To read the first 4 mistakes, head over here.
To learn about 2 important ground rules to set, head here.
To gain insight into 2 common boundary mistakes after the affair, go here.
The final 2 mistakes I’ll be examining are regarding common misperceptions of healing after an affair.
Setting realistic expectations around healing after an affair is critical… for both the unfaithful and the betrayed.
It’s common for the unfaithful partner to need the betrayed partner to hurry the process.
It’s also common for the betrayed partner to believe that life will never get better.
Today, we’ll be examining these common misperceptions.
Before I begin the topic, I want to emphasize something that I wrote in the last blog post because I think it bears repeating:
If you are desperate to take immediate action regarding the infidelity, pause to consider before you make a decision to act:
“Will this be helpful or hurtful to me, my children, and those I love?”
Healing After An Affair: Mistake #1
"I’m stuck in constant rumination.
It feels like I have PTSD; I’m miserable.
I don’t think these feelings will ever end."
- If you are the betrayed, you have experienced trauma. You are in fight or flight mode constantly looking for danger.
- A betrayed spouse will most likely exhibit symptoms of PTSD including an increase in rage, shame, anxiety, and depression- as well as a sense of having been victimized.
- An important note: It is normal for the betrayal of trust to be far harder to move through than the actual affair.
Know that these feelings are NORMAL and will pass…
but there are many things you CAN do to calm your nervous system down. They are ridiculously easy AND incredibly effective.
I’d encourage you to work specifically on your trauma- that is- dealing with PTSD and residual symptoms.
EMDR and brainspotting can be highly effective treatment modalities for the betrayed partner.
Healing After An Affair: Mistake #2
"I’ve said I’m sorry to the betrayed 100 times and they still are angry- I’m getting frustrated!"
- In order for the relationship to heal, it is essential to express remorse genuinely… and you may have to do that over and over and over and over again.
- The person who has been betrayed needs to be able to express all the emotion that they have for being betrayed but that doesn’t mean expressing contempt, criticism, or defensiveness.
Saying things like “You're a dirty rat, you're horrible, you're the worst human being on the face of the planet. I hate you…” are NOT appropriate.
What it does mean is that the betrayed is able to say (over and over and over again):
“I am destroyed by this. I feel like my whole world has cracked in two. I don't know who you are anymore. I'm living with a stranger…”
The betrayed must be able to react in ways that may be very powerful and dramatic but are not tearing down your humanity
- As the unfaithful partner, you need to listen to those feelings while expressing empathy and expressing remorse deeply and sincerely.
- While you, the unfaithful partner may become frustrated with your partner’s emotions, it is essential to sincerely express empathy and remorse each time the topic is brought up. After all, if the betrayed person stuffs down their emotions, it will only elongate the problem.
- At the same time, after you’ve answered the same questions many times, it’s okay to state:
“I’ll answer any question you want for the rest of my life- but will the answer really make you feel any better?”
The betrayed partner has felt like their life has been shattered by your actions. It’s important that they have control over getting questions answered.
I hope you have found the blog series to be helpful in examining common issues that come up after the affair has been exposed.
Trying to create a new life after an affair can be very difficult.
I’d encourage you to seek professional help. Life is hard enough to navigate.
Getting professional guidance can help you navigate the difficulty while maintaining your values and beliefs and growing in resilience and strength.
Are you ready to give therapy a go?
Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.
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As a marriage and family therapist, I also offer: