Healing from Affairs
I’m devastated. I just found out my husband’s having an affair, and I can barely function. I am shocked. My husband was a good man and we had a good marriage. I’ve been completely blindsided by this and I feel like an utter fool. I guess, I’ve always judged others when this happened to them. I thought affairs happened to people who’d neglected their marriages or didn’t really love each other. I don’t even know where to start. Probably the most devastating thing for me right now, is the fact that the other woman thinks she is going to marry my husband, and my husband seems like he is leaving me for her. I just don’t know what to do. Where do I start? Is there any hope for my marriage? What in the world am I supposed to do?
NOTE: As I answer this person who is obviously a woman whose husband had an affair, the advice is the same for men whose wives have been unfaithful.
I’m so glad you’ve found us, because we can help. I understand how you feel. I was there once. I can assure you, that there is indeed hope for your marriage. One of the themes that runs through my book, “My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” is “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
WHERE DO I START MY PERSONAL HEALING FROM AFFAIRS JOURNEY?
The first days, weeks and even months after finding out tend to be a time of chaos, numbness and shock. Most betrayed spouses suffer with mild levels of PTSD.
As scared as you might be, the best thing you can do is slow down, because slow is fast when it comes to healing from affairs.
I wish I had a pill I could give you that would make all the pain go away. But there is no such pill. In fact, the truth of the matter is, as much as we may want to escape the pain, there is no escaping it. The way out is through. Face what is happening to you head on. Lean into the pain.
1. The first thing you need to do, to begin your journey of healing from affairs is to take care of you. Eat. Make sure you get some nutrition into your system. You are going to be facing some of the biggest decisions of your life over the coming days. Your brain is not at it’s optimal when it’s starved for nutrition.
Then you need to get some sleep. For most this is a problem. So do whatever you need to, to address this and get some rest.
2. Get support. Suffering in isolation makes it much more difficult. We recommend 3 – 5 support people. The can include a good friends, a counselor or coach, and possibly a pastor or other spiritual advisor. A good rule of thumb is if you feel better after speaking with them, this is a good support person. If you feel worse after, find someone else. You can always pick up the phone and call our office for support. 360-306-3367. You may also want to check and see if there is a BAN support group in your area.
3. Don’t make any major decisions while you are in the emotion of the moment. When emotions are heightened, judgment is impaired. Wait at least 3 months.
4. Treat yourself. Okay, it’s not going to make the pain go away, but it will help you cope. Here are some ideas: buy a new outfit, get a massage, take a walk in a park, buy yourself flowers. Do something you used to like before this happened.
6. Educate yourself about affairs. Healing from affairs is greatly expedited when we begin to put aside the myths we’ve previously bought into, and start to understand the patterns, what to do, and to see the whole mess as something much larger than your current personal situation, but rather a symptom of a society and culture that is sick. You will find on this website, more than 100 free articles and teleseminars to help you, covering every imaginable topic from should I stay or go, to dealing with your obsessive thoughts, to getting your self-esteem back, the list goes on.
HEALING FROM AFFAIRS – THE BIGGEST PROBLEM
Here’s what we’ve learned. At the end of the day, it is not the affair itself that does the biggest damage to a couple, but rather all the mistakes that husbands and wives make after disclosure, and I do not say this lightly. An affair does unspeakable amounts of damage to a marriage. I’m just saying, the wrong reactions after do even more damage. Unfaithful spouses continue to lie, because they are afraid to tell the truth. Trickle truth we call it. Betrayed spouses lose their dignity in their angry responses, and do and say things in their anger, that often cause further damage to an already broken heart, life, marriage and family. You just can’t hurt your way to healing.
HOW DO I TALK WITH MY HUSBAND (OR WIFE)?
Ahhh the problem! It’s a problem because to the betrayed spouse the unfaithful spouse has no credibility right now. They’ve broken trust with you, so you feel you can’t believe a word they say. It feels that your whole marriage has been a lie. However, the reverse is sadly also largely true. Neither does the unfaithful spouse receive what the betrayed has to say. They think you are overreacting, too emotional, and kind of scary in your anger. Most importantly they feel that you don’t understand them. They feel you aren’t listening to them (which probably is true).
And remember, they’ve engaged in a huge amount of self-deception to get themselves into this situation in the first place.
Every person wants to see themselves as a good person. In order for a good person to have an affair, they have to deceive themselves. Never mind the fact that they’ve been lying to you. They’ve been lying to themselves. Truth has become distorted. Black is white and white is black.
The line we most often hear from the unfaithful spouse when they first call is, is “my situation is different.” With all due respect, yes, every situation is different. That said, there are definitely patterns that follow affairs, and it doesn’t take long to realize you weren’t quite as different as you thought you were.
Another problem with healing from affairs communication is that husbands and wives end up having dual monologues, meaning both people are desperately trying to express their point of view and be heard. Nobody is listening.
You ask, how do you communicate?
Stop talking and start listening … even if it seems like nothing but lies and craziness. If you can help your spouse to feel safe, and genuinely cared for, you will start to become their ally instead of someone who just seems to be “difficult” and “not understanding”.
Really this task is so big, emotions so heightened. Let us help you.
Because each situation is in fact unique, to win your spouse back when they are sitting on the fence of the marriage, you are going to need a lot of wisdom and guidance.
If ever there was a time to reach out for help, now is that time.
To book a coaching session call 360-306-3367 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Anne Bercht, author of My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me, Director of BAN - Beyond Affairs Network, and Co-creator of the Healing from Affairs couples intensives by Passionate Life Seminars
©Copyright 2014 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.