Where should I be on my healing journey one year after disclosure?
On my healing journey, we are now within a month of being a year since final disclosure. Most of the time I feel positive and believe I love my husband. I have days that I don't feel anything....on those days I wonder if I love him, it's like I'm not sure of anything. There are days I even consider being by myself and not with him at all. Is this confusion and mixed feelings and emotions still the norm for this time, a year later? (We have been to a wedding the last two weekends and that doesn't help!! I still struggle through weddings and vows.)
Yes, that’s pretty normal. Most affair-recovery experts agree that it takes a minimum of 2 years to heal from an affair in the marriage.
(That’s pretty discouraging if you’re early in the journey. Others reading this article need to note that the pain the woman expresses above no longer carries the intensity that it did during the early months. Some couples heal in as little as a year. Some take much longer. It’s different for everyone.)
It’s best not to get caught up in how long it’s taking, and certainly don’t compare your time scale to someone else’s. Doing so can cause you to unnecessarily obsess and scold yourself for not being in a better place, which will only serve to set you farther backwards.
Know also that the first anniversary of disclosure is a particularly difficult time for most people. Each season brings with it certain things that stay the same, and these tend to become triggers of our disclosure time, causing us to remember the pain we went through then, and to feel sad about it.
For example my husband disclosed his affair to me the day after mother’s day, so the first year post disclosure when the mothers day cards, flowers and advertisements started showing up all over, coupled with the beautiful spring weather, the season itself reminded me of the terrible pain I suffered the year before.
Depending on where you live, we’ve now got back to school, the start up of many activities that take a break for the summer, fall weather, Thanksgiving in Canada, and Halloween. If you are arriving at the anniversary of the time you found out about your partners unfaithfulness, these things will likely trigger you. Please know, however, anxiety over the upcoming anniversary tends to be worse than the day itself.
I recommend you distract yourself with some unusual activity on the anniversary day of disclosure. Create a new memory instead.
Yes. Weddings and wedding vows tend to be triggers too. If you have to attend a wedding, do your best to be happy for the bride and groom and refrain from mentally imagining an affair happening in their marriage a few years down the road. You may be filled with cynical thoughts, but remember you are now filtering their event through your painful experience.
Instead try to use weddings as a distraction. It’s a party. Laugh, dance, tell jokes, have a glass of wine, eat the good food, and try to engage in conversation that has nothing to do with marriage. Ask people about their work, children, and hobbies instead. By facing some of these events that are difficult and painful for us, we are actually working towards our own healing.
A year post disclosure, you should be in a better place than you were when you first found out. The initial heightened emotions and intensity should’ve subsided to some degree. That said, most would still be far from healed.
Some days you may feel pretty good about your spouse and marriage overall, but it’s normal to experience the mixed emotions described above; days when you don’t feel anything, days when you fantasize about life alone (especially if you’re a woman), and days when you feel uncertain if you did the right thing staying in the marriage. Sometimes you may also experience days when you remember and it’s like a wave of grief comes over you that you just can’t seem to control.
If you know these emotions are normal instead of focusing on them or worrying or fretting about it, just let them slide over you like a wave. If you don’t focus on them, they’ll pass. It’s normal. Tell yourself that.
You’re well on your way to complete healing. Keep up the good work and don’t give up until you get there.
A special note to the husband or unfaithful spouse:
You’re not fully out of the woods yet. Your spouse can’t help but feel these things some days. What makes us fall in love with someone is when that person cares for us, when that person shows us compassion. So hold your wife, let her talk about how she’s feeling. Don’t slide into feeling like a failure as a man, because then you won’t be able to be strong for her. Validate her feelings of pain. Ask her about them. She will get better because you’re caring. And you will feel better about yourself by caring for her.
Keep going with your daily loving acts reassuring her of your love; give her hugs, hold her hand, open the car door for her, tell her you love her, write or text her an “I love you message.” Bring her a cup of coffee in the morning. Do the dishes. Buy her a gift. In all the ways you can, touch, words, gifts, quality time and acts of service keep those messages of love coming in. She will get past this and you will reap the rewards.
PS - Don't hesitate to contact us for help. We've spent the last 10 years doing what others have called "impossible." We can help you achieve "impossible" too!
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