Here’s a spot-on description of an affair: “a sickening cocktail of anger, grief, frustration, and a total loss of self-esteem.” You could probably give this description your own personalized twist.
What you need in a post-affair situation like this is some emergency intervention.
Read on to learn 3 tips to jump-start your post-affair healing process.
The Effects of an Affair Revelation
Obviously, healing from and surviving an affair takes time, dedication from both spouses, and a good deal of effort. You can heal from an affair, but it means making an investment and spending the time you need to heal.
When you first find out about an affair, you may not have the strength, energy, or interest to think about it in these terms. It’s too much at once, and you’re thoroughly miserable.
One thing that affair victims report is their inability to focus. Let’s say you’re trying to hold down a job, or care for children or elderly family members. All of these require attention. If your mind keeps veering off into negative thoughts and images, you can’t concentrate on the tasks you need to get done.
In addition, you are probably not getting any sleep immediately after learning of your spouse’s cheating. So, now you’re sleep-deprived on top of being unable to focus due to runaway thoughts and rollercoaster emotions.
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The longer you stay in this cycle, the worse it can be for you: if it affects your job, you could find yourself next called into your boss’s office for a talk about your performance. If you’re trying to take care of your kids and you are distant, they will surely sense something is wrong – which will add to your emotional distress because you want to shield them from the pain you’re experiencing.
You need something that will help you get started on the healing track – fast.
Jump-start the Healing Process
There is no magic pill that will make it all better. However, if you truly want to get on the fast track for healing, there are some things you can do to that form the basis of a plan for jump-starting the healing process.
This initial work will also help the work you do later when you reach the point where you’re ready to rebuild your marriage.
Here are three steps to help you move forward and heal more quickly:
Tip #1: Don’t Ignore Your Emotions
You need to get your feelings out! In this past Monday’s blog, I told you to let your spouse have it. Why should you try to be calm and composed after the affair revelation and learning that your spouse has betrayed you? That initial onslaught of emotional upheaval needs to be vented. Let your spouse know how you feel.
One of the top healing delayers is the avoidance of these emotions. Trying to pretend you aren’t feeling as awful as you are doesn’t mean those emotions aren’t there, boiling just beneath the surface. As much as you may want to ignore them in hopes those emotions will just go away, realize that they aren’t going to go anywhere until you deal with them.
Also, ignoring your feelings will probably only cause you to resent your spouse even more, and will likely cause even more problems in your marriage. It’s better to experience your emotions, giving them the release they need.
Tip #2: Cry Your Heart Out
Crying is a physiological response that sometimes occurs as a reaction to overwhelming circumstances – particularly emotionally overwhelming circumstances. It is one way your body was designed to process extreme emotion, and, in this way, it is a wonderful blessing.
There is nothing shameful about crying when you are emotionally distressed. There is no reason to fight back those tears and try to show a stoic, stern face.
Quite the contrary. When find out your spouse cheated on you, you have every reason in the world to cry your eyes out. Stuffing your feelings and holding back the tears can create more problems later.
It’s perhaps ironic that to process difficult feelings, we have to get in touch with them. It’s the way we are designed.
If you want to process these intense feelings and get over the sickening emotional cocktail you have been made to drink, you need to let the pain out – and crying is one of your body’s natural outlets.
Crying is like sucking poison from a wound. You may feel raw at the end, but there is a cleansing aspect to the crying as well. Let the tears cleanse you of some of the pain you are feeling.
Tip #3: Let Your Emotions Come and Go Naturally
When you first hear about an affair, it feels like the pain will never go away. But eventually, with time, your feelings will subside – difficult as that may be to imagine right now.
When they do, you may tempted to try and hold onto them. You may feel like you are “giving up” if you let go of your feelings. Or you may feel that you “should” still be angry.
Thoughts like these usually aren’t productive. There is a natural ebb and flow to your emotions, like the ocean, just not with any predictable pattern.
Some days your emotions will be overwhelming, a flow, which is understandable. At times like these, let your feelings out as I discussed above.
At other times, the intensity of your emotions will fade into the background. When this happens, I recommend you let this natural reduction in intensity take place. During those ebb times, allow yourself to be free of the pain you are suffering. Let your painful thoughts and memories pass to the back of your mind, instead of forcing them back into the foreground by focusing on thoughts about how you “should” be angry.
You don’t have to wallow in your pain. Everyone changes and heals at a different rate. Let your internal emotional monitor and your instincts be your guide as you wind your way through the healing process.
My best to you as you recover from post-affair trauma and begin to heal from affair pain.
Have you processed your emotions, or have you tried to bury them?
When you first learned of the affair, how did you react?
Do you feel that you are healing, or are stuck in a place of pain?
Please share your ideas and personal experiences on this topic with other members of the community.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,