When you first learn about an affair, it is completely devastating. I have head clients refer to it as “a sickening cocktail of anger, grief, frustration, and a total loss of self-esteem.”
You may feel that you’re world is being totally ripped apart, as though a hurricane made it’s way through your home and your relationship and has left you holding the tattered remains of your life.
What you need in a situation like this is some emergency intervention.
Obviously, healing from an affair takes time, dedication from both spouses, and a lot of hard work. 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. You need something that will help you start to heal and save your marriage fast.
There is no magic pill that will make it all better. However, if you truly want to rebuild your marriage and make it better than ever, there are some ways that you can start processing your emotions effectively during the early stages after finding out about the affair. This initial work will also help the work you do later.
So in this article, you will learn three tips that will help you process your emotions and move toward healing in the days immediately after you learn about an affair.
Tip #1: Let the Cheater Have It
If you’ve been following my writing for any time at all, you know that I place a lot of importance on communication. Learn how to talk with your spouse and share information in a way your spouse understands. Also, learn how to listen to what your spouse is really saying. These skills can help heal your marriage.
However, immediately after you find out about an affair, you probably won’t have the skills, the patience, or the emotional fortitude to calmly tell your spouse how you feel.
And that’s completely understandable. You shouldn’t have to be calm and composed when the person you love and trust most in the world has just told you that he or she has betrayed your trust. That isn’t reasonable.
When you first find out about the affair, I recommend you let your spouse HAVE IT!
Get your feelings out on the table. Don’t worry about how your spouse might feel. And don’t worry about rocking the boat or making the situation worse.
Just get your feelings OUT!
The one thing I DO recommend you avoid talking about or mentioning at this point is divorce. AND, whenever possible, avoid calling your spouse names you might regret or names that might haunt your spouse.
It’s also important that you keep this only to verbal expressions of your feelings. No matter how hurt you are, violence is not the answer. You should NOT feel justified in acting violently.
However, you can certainly speak strongly, and tell your spouse exactly how you feel.
If you don’t do this, you run a terrible risk later on.
Stuffing your feelings will probably only cause you to resent your spouse even more, and will likely cause even more problems in your marriage.
Either your relationship will survive this or it won’t. I have found it’s much more likely that a relationship is able to survive if the couple is able to make it past this initially painful phase in an open, honest way.
That means laying out how you feel to your spouse very explicitly. It means opening up those painful feelings, and not burying them inside. And it means telling your cheating spouse how you feel in no uncertain terms.
If the two of you can survive this, it’s that much more likely you will be able to rebuild your marriage.
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.
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.
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. That’s 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.
At these 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.
After the initial stage of the healing process, it becomes important to manage your feelings and not let your spouse “have it.”
Clearly, there’s a lot more to healing from an affair than the tips above. In fact, this only begins to cover the very first phase of the healing process. There is more to learn about this first phase, and there is more to learn about the phases that come after this.
In the meantime, I hope these tips help you process the overwhelming storm of emotions that comes after an affair, so you can move past this difficult time and look forward to a marriage that is truly healthy and happy.
Let me know how it goes with you. I’d love to hear about your marriage. Post a comment to this blog by clicking the comment link below.