It can feel like your heart has left you or you are watching your life shatter right in front of you. You say to yourself, “How could this happen to me? We have the perfect marriage!” or “What is wrong with me that she or he had to find someone else? How could he flat out lie to me for weeks/months/years?!” Your world has been turned upside down.
Some people call this D-Day. The day of discovery. Everything in your life has exploded because of one secret being revealed.
“I will never forget the day I picked up his phone and saw the text messages. At first I could not believe it. Something has to be wrong about this. But then it sank in and my heart cracked. My husband was cheating on me.”
Discovery is painful. It hurts in a deep way and you can feel completely lost. Slow down and take a deep breath and know there is support. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do now.
- Give yourself some space to process what has happened
- You know best what this should look like – getting out of town for a weekend by yourself, talking to a friend, going to your therapist, etc.
- Talk with your partner about it
- Ask the questions that you want answers to
- Be clear about what you do not want to know
- Give your partner time to talk
- Tell your partner how this situation has impacted you
- Continue processing what has happened
- Try to avoid blaming your partner, their affair partner, or yourself – there is no single cause
- Have further discussions with your partner as needed
- Continue processing what has happened
- Talk with a professional counselor about your next steps.
- Begin couples therapy and possibly individual therapy sessions
- Come up with a plan for reconciliation and creating boundaries and routines to prevent this from happening again
- Do nothing
- Sometimes we just need to wait. Get ourselves together to make a decision that is right for us. If you need time it’s okay to take it.
But I feel crazy. Are all these feelings normal?
The short answer is yes. Your feelings are normal. Intimate betrayal causes trauma, and with trauma causes an array of different and difficult emotions. While it might feel like you are drowning under the waves of anger and hurt, normal reactions can include:
- Light headed and Unbalanced
- Relief that you now know
If you find yourself in this position, knowing the secrets of the person who you thought you trusted more than anyone else, know that there is hope. Though the road to reconciliation after a betrayal like this is long and bumpy, there are others along the way who can help you heal.
Reach out to:
- A close friend can help you process and cope with the manifold emotional trauma that you are experiencing
- A marriage therapist or couples counselor
- A in-person or online support group
Know that you may begin to question or doubt even the most foundational things about your life. It is normal and understandable to shift from blaming your partner for their actions to blaming yourself for pushing them to that point or for not seeing the signs that your relationship was in trouble. But remember that this is not your fault.
- End the affair immediately, if you want to save your relationship.
- Delete their number from your phone
- Take a different way home so you won’t pass their house
- Don’t go to the same bars and restaurants where you used to go with them
- Give your partner some space
- Take this opportunity to evaluate your life, your beliefs, your attitudes, and your actions
- Determine if you truly are who you want to be or if you have lost yourself during the daily grind of obligations and responsibilities
- Also consider the characteristics that attracted you to your partner initially
- Be empathetic and honest
- Answer the questions that your partner asks you honestly
- Be respectful of the things that they want to know and those that they do not want to know
- Understand the hurt and confusion they are feeling
- Do not cast blame or justify your actions
- Discuss the future
- Begin couples therapy when your partner is ready – let them dictate the time frame
- Potentially begin individual therapy sooner
- Set up a plan for your daily life to will limit your temptation to have another affair
- Remember the commitment you made to your partner, and recommit to them when they are ready
- Maintain open communication with them and let them know when you are struggling
- And most of all be patient with your partner.
- Try to understand the trauma they are facing
- Let them have moments of anger, as long as it is not abusive
- Give them time
Even though your partner feels betrayed and is likely experiencing a level of trauma as they process your infidelity, following the right path to reconciliation and seeking forgiveness can result in renewed mutual trust. This will take time and energy and you will have a lot of emotions and logistics to work through, but the satisfaction that can result from saving your relationship is unparalleled and it is worth the effort to find healing.
If you are struggling with infidelity in your relationship please reach out to us. Our counselors can help you overcome the hurt and pain and find a path towards healing.
Call us today.