Devastating doesn’t feel like a big enough word– but it’s the best that the English language has to describe the effects of an affair on the injured partner. We hear from so many men and women who are trying to make sense of their world after finding out about physical or emotional infidelity, that it might be helpful to offer a few guiding principles that can help keep your life between the guardrails.
First, a few don’ts:
- As much as you want to scream your anger from the roof-tops of your neighborhood, do your best to not put your spouse on blast publicly. You’re going to need to support– not a bunch of nosy, gossip-hungry people adding to the chatter.
- Do not call your parents (or their parents) immediately. Your parents love you. But can they love your partner during this process? Can they accept your partner later, if they know about the affair?
- Never tell your minor children. It’s hard enough to be a kid in 2019. They don’t need to be in the middle of their parent’s infidelity.
- Interrogate your partner about the affair, especially explicit details about their physical betrayals. I understand the normal desire and NEED to know what happened. Finding out ALL the information is a false sense of security. I’m telling you now, there are mental pixels that you just cannot unsee. Almost every couple we work with in affair recovery has at least one question they wish they could take back.
- Isolate yourself. One of the major sources of hurt in infidelity is the sense that your partner and another person have a secret that you are not part of. You’ve discovered that you are isolated in their world– and you don’t need to also be isolated in your own. If you don’t have appropriate support for friends and family, reach out to professionals to help.
Now, let’s talk about what you can do:
- Find your people. Get in touch with the friend or loved-one who can listen, won’t be overly reactive, and can support you all along the roller-coaster of emotions that are coming.
- Enlist support from your parent(s) if they can come along side you with your goals, support your hurt, and would be open to any possibility of reconciliation later.
- Get support for your kids if they find out. As much as it’s rocking your world, I can assure you it’s turning their world upside down to know that one of their parents has been unfaithful.
- Make a list of all of your questions. ALL. OF. THEM. Then sit with the list and evaluate them like this: does this question get me closer to building trust? Or does this question serve my anxiety and make me feel more unstable? If it gets you closer to understanding and trust, keep it. If it serves fear and anxiety, mark it off the list.
- Find good, professional help. Not all therapists are trained and experienced in affair recovery. You’ll want to vet any professional that you contact to ensure that they have the specific training that you need. Emotionally Focused Therapy is the gold standard in couple counseling.
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