HELP! My Spouse Has Had An Affair!
Affairs take many shapes and forms. Modern day affairs are often different than they have been in the past. With the advent of the Internet, spouses may find themselves giving in to the temptation, excitement, anonymity and novelty of an online emotional affair. Sometimes that is as far as it goes. Unfortunately after frequent online communications, rendezvous are often made and eventually discovered by the other spouse. Whatever form the affair takes, one thing is for sure, affairs are devastating. They are what noted marriage researcher John Gottman calls “weapons of mass destruction” for your relationship. The important thing to remember is that the relationship/ marriage can still be healed. Be kind and gentle on yourself and acknowledge that this type of healing takes time. Almost everyone faces strong emotions when they find out about an affair. There are common emotions that often accompany the discovery of the affair and are present during the healing process. This is natural and normal.
Below you will find a list of eight of the emotions associated with surviving an affair. If you get to the bottom of the list and you think you are only feeling one or two of the eight emotions listed you could be in a bit of denial. I know this hurts, but you’ll move on more successfully after you face your own turmoil and pain.
8 Common Emotions After the Discovery of an Affair
The Emotion Of Betrayal
Any committed relationship is built on trust for each other. Marriage vows include the concept that you both agree to ‘forsake all others’. Betrayal is the sense that someone has intentionally taken advantage of your trust. Betrayal is one of the first emotions to surface and it is the BIG one! Betrayal is at the very root of infidelity. It is what causes many of the other emotional problems that come up when you find out your partner has cheated on you.
The Emotion Of Guilt
Many people feel guilty when they find out about an affair. On some level they think that the affair is their fault. They might think, “If only I had been a better partner, this would never have happened.” No matter what kind of partner you were, or are, you did not choose to have an affair and take advantage of the trust that was established between the two of you. You did not choose for the other person to hurt you.
The Emotion Of Disappointment
When you have spent years building a life with another person and they come home and tell you that they have cheated on you, you are bound to feel disappointed.You will likely feel disappointed in them. But you might also feel disappointed in yourself, in men or women (depending on the cheater’s gender), in humankind as a whole, or even in life itself. These reactions are normal. But be careful not to let your feelings slide into the despair of hopelessness. If you do that, you’re going to hit the roadblock we talked about above.
The Emotion Of Anger
Anger is a close relative to the emotion of betrayal. When you feel betrayed, you almost immediately feel angry. You may feel hurt. If you are feeling a sense of betrayal and you aren’t feeling any anger, look to see if you aren’t hiding something from yourself. Think about and answer these questions: What makes you so angry about the affair? What are some of the angry scenarios you dream about? What are the particular concepts about the affair that anger you? Are your angry feelings related to other experiences in your personal history? How do you feel your anger in your body? How do you express your anger?
The Emotion Of Vengefulness
This emotion is usually associated with anger. Many people want to take revenge on the cheater, on the person the cheater was involved with, or both. They envision hurting the cheater as much as they have been hurt. Instead of actually enacting your vengeful fantasies, try writing about them. What kinds of vengeful fantasies do you have? What would you hope for out of revenge? What does this reveal to you about the way you feel in this situation? How do you experience the vengeful feeling in your body? Were there other times or places when you had these feelings? How do these earlier experiences (if there were any) impact your current feelings?
The Emotion Of Fear
When you find out your partner has had an affair, there are so many things to fear. You might be afraid that the life you once knew is over. You might be afraid that you will never be able to repair your relationship. You might be afraid that they will do it again.
The Emotion Of Frustration
There is no question that having someone cheat on you can cause frustration. You likely will be frustrated with the cheater, frustrated with the person they cheated with, frustrated with yourself, and frustrated with the whole world. After all, something has been done to you and to your relationship that was and is out of your purview. This feeling of frustration is often compounded by the fact that you now have to cope with so many painful thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it might feel like you are heaping frustration upon frustration.
The Emotion Of Suspicious Feelings
Suspicious feelings include a deep fear that someone or something is out to get you or is engaging in some activity that will cause you pain behind your back. It is quite easy to see why the injured person in an affair situation might feel suspicious. Overwhelming feelings of suspicion can be destructive to your peace of mind if taken too far. But a bit of suspicion or, perhaps, skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You deserve to have the cheater prove to you that they are not carrying on with the affair and will not get involved in another one. Be suspicious enough to get that need met. If you don’t, developing trust will be that much more difficult.
Marriage Can be Healed after an Affair
It will take time to heal from the aftermath of an affair. You can expect to experience many emotional ups and downs. Things may seem to be back to normal and then something may occur which ignites one or more of these eight emotions. This is part of the process of healing. Marriage counseling with an experienced therapist can help speed recovery and healing from an affair. I have helped numerous couples move towards health in their relationship and the bond between them is stronger than before.
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