Discussion: Dealing With Obsessive Thoughts After the Affair

Hello Everyone!

It’s time for our weekly discussion. Here goes…

We’ve discussed negative thoughts before, but today we wanted to delve into the world of obsessive thoughts.

The mind is a powerful thing. Unfortunately, after the affair the mind can manipulate your thinking to the point that you can obsess about your spouse’s affair and/or the affair partner. These thoughts and images can be both destructive and controlling. But they are there. And we all need to learn how to deal with them.

With this in mind…

What’s playing in your mind today?

How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?

What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?

Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?

Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?

Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?

Please respond to each other in the comments.

Thanks!

Doug & Linda

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10 Responses to Discussion: Dealing With Obsessive Thoughts After the Affair

  1. anaffairtoremember March 16, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    What’s playing in your mind today?

    I try very hard to not let thoughts of what happened invade my mind, but I realize that there will always be good days and bad days. Mostly, I just feel an inner sadness that any of this ever happened, disappointed that it was ever an option for my husband.

    How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?

    My situation is unlike most, in that the OW was tragically murdered by her husband, so she was forced out of my husband’s life for good. I often wonder if that is why he decided to stay, because there was no option left. It makes me feel like I was his second choice. Then at other times I wonder if he stayed out of guilt. When he told me about the EA I asked if our vows meant anything to him and said that a divorce is going to devastate our kids who have always been taught to respect their mother – when their own dad didn’t even respect me enough to never let this happen. Perhaps I guilted him into staying because of the hurt I was feeling? Mostly I just think about how the OW was manipulating my husband and torturing her own husband. She was going around telling all her friends about her “friendship” with my husband and how she was going to leave her husband, they were planning a divorce but had agreed to wait until their son graduated from high school. But she had decided to leave him sooner, even though my husband made it clear that he was going to try to work on his marriage and did not want to be the reason she was leaving her husband. (She lived in another state and they never did physically meet since high school). Sometimes that makes me angry and other times it makes me feel like he didn’t really want a PA, just the thrill of someone thinking he was a great catch again. My therapists says she was fitting people into her life for the role they could help her fulfill. It makes me angry that my husband couldn’t see this. So to answer the question, the thought and images that come to mind about this woman are that she was a black widow. I get filled with hate when I think about her and anger when I think about my husband falling for her “friendship”.

    What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?

    Some days these thoughts truly hold me back – I just wait until I am alone and cry until I don’t think I can cry anymore. Then I pick myself and move on. Other days, I tell my self that the OW is no longer welcome on my journey and I visualize myself slamming the door to our lives in her face. I have more good days than bad as time goes on, but it will forever hold a place in my mind, never knowing when it wants to come out and try t0 ruin my day.

    Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?

    For me, they have lessened with time, but I think they will always be apart of me. I just need to learn to have more control over them. Happiness is a conscious choice and in the words of Henry Ford, “whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right!” I think I can over come this. So far my marriage is finally what I had always hoped it would be. I truly enjoy my husband again and I know that when I’m having a bad day, it hurts him to know that he has caused me this pain. I try to keep him from knowing my pain as much as possible, yet I know that when I just can’t get it out of my mind, I can express what I feel and we will work through it together.

    Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?

    I feel I have the power to control these thoughts, but it is very hard. I wholeheartedly recommend the website http://positive-thoughts.typepad.com/ . It does me good to get positive messages in my inbox every day. Some days it makes me realize that I am very lucky – even to have experienced this – because it has made me realize all that we were missing in our marriage and all that it can be if we just make the choice to make it happen.

    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?

    Prayer, exercise (especially when I’m really angry, I pretend I have on boxing gloves and just punch away at the air, every punch knocking her further and further out of our lives, or kickboxing her to the moon!), communicating with my spouse instead of building up walls, and learning to let go, forgive and move on. I can’t change what happened, but I can change MY future.

  2. Yuki March 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    What’s playing in your mind today? — Thoughts of him sitting at lunch with her, completely captivated by her and enthralled with her, holding her hand and singing to her “From This Moment On.”

    How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair? — At first they were overpowering. I could not function. Little bits of information I had could be blown into an entire scene in my mind. Now they disturb my focus, but most of the time I can still function while they are running in the back of my mind. It’s exhausting, but I do it daily now to survive.

    What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward? — I am sad most of the time. For a few minutes at a time, I can push it all away and be happy with my family, but not for long. Life is not fun or fulfilling, but at least I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I was drowning in mud for a while there.

    Have they lessened with time, or strengthened? — They are just as strong as ever when I come across a trigger. At other times, their effects are slowly diminishing.

    Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts? — When I come across a trigger, yes. I go back to Day 1 and I am overwhelmed. But I am getting better at keeping them at bay.

    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you? — Prayer, reading the Psalms out loud, keeping myself so busy I don’t have time to think, going out with friends and family, workouts. I usually don’t feel like doing these things, but if I can I force myself to get started, then I find I’m feeling better as I get into it.

  3. mil March 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    My H’s EA has severely ruined my quality of life and ability to function and after 2 years I am obsessing even more to replace the truth I think he is not telling. After the discovery we tried hard to reconnect and did so very much but as time goes on the desire to love him after what he did to me is becoming hatred.
    I hate the fact that if I drop the subject he can have a nice, peaceful life but I will never be happy or at peace.
    It’s very much like a murderer who has served his setence and the victim who will never get their life back.
    My incessant references to the subject upset him as he knows the pain he has caused but I can’t let it go as I will never know the truth.
    It’s his 59th birthday tomorrow and today he told me he wants to be dead (not for the first time but so have I lots of the time). I upset him very much this morning by texting that I’d cried all the way to work over an Adele song on the radio called ‘Make you feel my love’ and it made me think of what in my mind is their great love affair of the century.
    I can see him fading away before my eyes, he has gone thinner and his health is worsening (he already has heart problems and a pacemaker). Today he said he had chest pains at work.
    I don’t think he can see any optimism ahead because I can’t accept what he’s done. I know he adores me but I won’t let it go.
    I like to think he is upset because he feels so horrendous about what he has done but always at the front of my mind is the fact that he CHOSE to do this plus his OW told me he’s done it before and I’ve since found out he bought the first one a Tiffany&Co heart pendant so he’s betrayed me at least twice that I know of.
    I’m sure he is suffering as much if not more than me and we are both in a very dark place.

  4. HurtingHubby24 March 16, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    What’s playing in your mind today?
    Today what’s playing in my mind is how my life might look if I stay with my wayward wife, and how it might look if I leave. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore, and I’m just tired of being hurt and feeling unloved. Last night I had a very vivid dream that I had divorced my wife, and that I was dating someone new and loving it. Never had a dream like that before, and it’s been plaguing me all day. Is my mind trying to tell me something? Is it just something that happened? Who knows?

    How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?
    I think like most people I’ve made the affair bigger in my mind than it probably was. Not that it wasn’t a big deal – but rather than imagining them as two immature people talking like highschoolers, I imagine this amazing love affair like those of Hollywood lore. So my thoughts and images are of them so in love, so passionate for one another. I’ve also really struggled with thinking about them kissing (happened) and thinking about them sleeping together (supposedly didn’t happen, and I have some evidence that backs this up, but it certainly wouldn’t shock me if it did happen. Doesn’t help that she did write a letter about how badly she wanted to sleep with him – to “make love to someone she feels so strongly about” – something “she’s never had before”….) Finally, I have obsessively thought about all the ways that I wasn’t good enough for her that would lead her to go after some young college kid.

    What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?
    They have certainly hurt my quality of life, and I have allowed them to feed into my codependent tendencies. Since I imagine this perfect relationship between them, I’ve felt the need to perform – to be perfect. If I’m not perfect in bed, I’m not good enough. If I don’t write great love letters, I’m not good enough. If I’m not in tip-top physical shape, I’m not good enough. Basically the obsessive thoughts have led me to try to be someone I’m not, or to at least feel like I can’t ever be tired, sad, or anything less than a stellar lover. Hard to move forward when you don’t even know who you are or what you are worth. My recent/current endeavor (1 and a half weeks of pulling back and having space from my wife) is really, really helping me to get things in perspective and see that I am worthwhile. Long ways to go though.

    Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?
    Yes. Both. Some have lessened (imagining them together doing stuff), others have strengthened (obsessing over whether I am good enough). Though these last 9 days have been much better overall.

    Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?
    When I don’t respect myself, yes. Now that I’m pulling back and taking care of me, I feel like I have a lot more control.

    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?
    See above.

  5. Fiorastar March 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    What’s playing in your mind today?
    It always goes back and forth…my D-day was last September, but my knowledge and attempts to change things go back for at least three years as I watched my partner be enthralled and light up whenever OW–who is part of our community of friends and who worked with her husband for us at a large festival we do every year, camping in our intimate family camp and caring for MY children while I was working the festival–ever showed up in a room, party, etc. So what plays in my mind is that he spent YEARS hearing my distress about it, told me over and over I was “imagining” it, and STILL really hasn’t acknowledged to himself that he really hurt me and us by giving his emotional and spiritual self to her while taking it away from me. He says he “didn’t do anything wrong” because he never had sex with her or kissed her–but I watched as he became more and more attached to spending stolen moments with her while completely cutting me emotionally from his life. I can’t seem to let go, even though both of them swear to me they aren’t even talking to one another now. I watch for signs of communication that they may just have hidden more deeply now that they know I’m watching.

    How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?
    I imagine them using a privately set up email or facebook account that I don’t know about to chat with each other, laughing at me for believing them. I imagine them sending one another any written emailed messages I’ve sent either of them, telling one another how to respond so I will be “placated”. I imagine them finding ways to communicate through other friends in our community, or even talking about me to those members–though there’s no evidence of that, it’s what they did in the past. He would chat on email or facebook, or text her, when I was in the next room or the bathroom taking a shower! And then I imagine them, even if they aren’t actually doing it, WISHING so much that they could meet and spend time together that it doesn’t really matter whether they are or not–because I’m still less important. There was so much dishonesty!
    Every time he’s on his laptop or sending a text message on his cell phone, even if I’m in the same room, I have an urge to grab it quick and see what he’s sending, who he’s chatting, whatever–and I find myself wondering if he’s still doing that with her whenever I’m unable to see. No place and no outside contact that I’m not directly seeing feel “safe”.

    What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?
    Every time I see my partner in a social setting, I find myself watching him so closely for any signs that he is “sparkling” at some attractive or interesting woman, and possibly not noticing me. My self esteem with him is high when he’s paying attention and letting me know he cares, and low when we’re in a social setting together.
    In one way, it’s helped me…I have lost weight with all the stress and dropped at least one clothing size, so I’m looking more and more like the slender thing she is, and he’s finding me more physically attractive. It’s also made me much more willing to open myself and care about his feelings and needs, which maybe I’d started to take for granted a bit when he wouldn’t talk to me anyway. So there’s been more flow between us.
    And, it’s put me in a position where, sometimes, I just HAVE to tell him I’m triggered–which after some counseling about it, doesn’t immediately get his empathy, but as we work through it, does at least empower me to tell him what I need and expect and he doesn’t tell me I’m wrong anymore.

    Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?
    I don’t know that they have lessened with time…this has gone on so long and my D-day was simply a confirmation of what I already knew that became undeniable to him. He could no longer claim I was making it up–although he still tries to, I can point out specifics to bring that around again. But the truth is, he hid from me very effectively and he still can. The only thing I can do is try to just forget about it as much as possible.

    Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?
    I do. Sometimes I have very good days, and sometimes I’m triggered. I don’t seem to be able to change the thoughts or redirect them when they happen. They happen less often, mostly because I’m simply exhausted and can’t spend all my time thinking about it, but I have difficulty focusing on anything else without that intruding too.

    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?
    Communication with her, which we have done by facebook messages, but not talking in person, has helped somewhat. She tells me she wants to be my friend and she is not a threat and has backed off completely. That does settle things down.

    Him writing and singing love songs for me (I found one he wrote for her last September at a time when he was not ever playing music with me or for me at all, though that was our primary thing we came together with and he has written many songs for me over previous years.) Making love. Having him include me in his emotional/spiritual life again. Doing good things together that feel bonding. Hearing him acknowledge the pain he caused me–which he does eventually when I tell him about being triggered.

    And sometimes, just doing all I can to focus on myself, my kids, or whatever–though I’m afraid that’s what got us into this mess in the first place.

  6. Anonymous March 20, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?
    First timer here, so there could be a rambling…:)
    I am trying everything on my end to lessen the thoughts and react less to the “triggers”. However, we live in a very small town and I see the OW everyday. At my work, on the road, talking with my friends, and most recently I see this woman and her family at sporting events that both of our children play.

    Although I have been reassured by my husband that they were “just friends”, I will always wonder otherwise. This woman will not leave me alone and thinks that she needs to talk to me or sit by me as if she wants to be my friend again. I am doing everything I can to ignore this person and not experience the hurtful feelings that she and my husband have caused me these last 3 months. This wall that I have built up around myself and my family is for my protection and sanity. Knowing that I can deal with what has happened in my life on my time and terms brings me peace (at home, etc). But when these thoughts are now right in my face, they are taking control again.

    An example of irrational thoughts was a few days ago at a tournament. I made a conscious effort to not sit by this woman and her family. I literally packed up my family’s things and walked across the area to avoid having to deal with this situation, especially on a day when I want to focus on my life and kids……… Well, my other friends followed me and guess who else packed up and sat two rows in front of me? What is she trying to prove? Then she constantly turned around and tried to join the conversation. This is making my time hell and I don’t appreciate this and am afraid I am going to blow up and let my kids see a side of me they don’t deserve to see.

    My husband is supportive now and is confused to why this woman is zoning in on me. He does not talk to her or look at her. When she talks to him, he gets up and leaves. I am tired of this. I wish that these two people would have never put me through this. My husband gets upset when I get upset because he doesn’t want me feeling so bad and knows that he is the reason why. I really want these feelings to end. This is supposed to be a healing process and when this person is around me incessantly, I am not healing.

    Thanks for letting me vent….Have a nice day. 🙂

  7. Joanna March 24, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    My husand finally asked if he could move back home after being away since late November after I found out about his EA. He has been back for about two weeks now. We’ve had good days and bad. The good days are when I don’t bring up his affair. He has agreed to go to marriage couseling with me, but it seems that he wants to hold discussion about the affair until we are in a counseling session. Whenever I bring it up, he always says he didnt go looking for someone to have an affair with — that she actualy pursued him and that it just happened. Like this somehow absolves him from responsibility. He obvously responded to her advances. Recently he went away by himself to think about things (supposely about us because he kept saying he missed me and his old life), but what I was able to get out of him tonight was that he was actually only thinking about her when he was away because I found a receipt for jewelry he bought her in the city he was visiting —- and all this despite the fact the the OW had alreaudy broken things off with my husband (said she was committed to staying with her husband), and this jewelry purshase wasn’t the first gift he gave her — he gave her another piece of jewelry at Christas and also bought her a $175 gift certificate for her to get her nails done. The latest piece of jewelry was also purchased two weeks before he asked to move back in, and it makes me think that the only reasons he wanted to come back are (1) the other women dumped him; and (2) he found out that although he will be spared a company mass layout in May, he will take a substantial paycut —- and what it is they say ? It’s cheaper to keep her. I think he doesn’t want to deal with living a different lifetyle than we’re using to living and with two daughters in college and supporting two households, he’ll have to give up too much of what he has. It makes me sick to think he was using our joint earnings to buy gifts for her, and my “spending” money had to be used to buy new work clothes after losing 25 pounds struggling to deal with his betravel, and splurging for once in my life on as trip to Jamaica that was meant to help our daughters and I recover from the six months of hell we’ve gone through since his affair was discovered. Since I found his checkbook laying in pain view today and looked through it and found the purchases he made for her I can’t get it out of my mind. My husband works with the OW and they see each other nearly every day (though he claims to avoid/ignore her), which also gives me obsessive thoughts. What if she decides she wants him back ? What will he do if she does? There is no chance that either of them will look for other jobs —- particularly since they will soon be going through a round of layoffs. My husband has been told he’ll keep his job, but I don’t know what the status of her job will be. My husband told me he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me trying to make up for the things that he has done — but he still has another password protected cell phone and an email account that he wont share his password to. This wasn’t his first EA — he had one four years ago, and he is still in contact with her. How do I ever trust a man who’s already had two affairs when he still communicates with one OW and still works with the other OW? Meanwhile my husband seems to want to forget the past 6 months and just move on as though nothing ever happened. I have encouraged him to read this site, thinking that he will see the agony and despair the EAs cause and then will perhaps understand more where I’m going from. But I guess that’s just wishful thinking. I told him I just can’t deal with the pain anymore and am beginning to think it’s just time for me to accept that this is over. I don’t know how betrayed spouses ever get through the pain. My college-aged daughters told me I was making a mistake letting him come back and I’ve come quickly to the decision this week that perhaps they were right. I tried to tell myself that I couldn’t give up on 28 years together, but the toll it’s taking on me mentally and physically isn’t healthy. I’ve lost so much weight on my relatively small frame that my youngest daughter thinks I look anorexic.

  8. Just found out April 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Whats playing in my mind today?
    My H still works in the same place as the OW. Every morning when my H leaves for work my anxiety level goes to another level. I want to beleive my H has nothing to do with the OW but it is really hard when the lies where so easy before. Maybe when the trust starts to come back I won’t have that fear. I still see them in my mind talking on break in her car laughing. I still see him talking to her on the phone in my mind and texting her it is still all to clear. My non logical side just wants to kill her or hurt her bad as much as she has hurt me. I don’t think I have ever hated anyone so much in my life as I hate her. I also have a big fear if not with her he might have an EA with someone else. I SHOULDN’T FEEL THIS WAY! I know that I’m a beautiful person inside and out I know this why do I feel so insecure????
    The whole time the EA was going on I never knew anything was going on. I never found out till it was over but she was still sending him forwards on his phone and I intercepted one and when I asked about it, it was all lies. Deny, deny, deny then he makes me think I’m paranoid and takes me to the Dr. OMG that hurts that he went to that level to hide his EA maybe PA.
    My H is being totally transparent with his phone and clock in and outs but I dont have access to his work computor and that is where he has his email so still kinda unsure about that. I really want to trust and beleive again just don’t know when that will be.
    I just want my life back again! I know that will never happen the EA changed that. My H and the OW did that!!!!! I love my H and we are working very hard at our relationship. My H thinks our relationship is going to be better than before. Things are good when I’m not thinking about my H EA and my anxiety isn’t on another level. Weekends and Eve. are usually pretty wonderful its just when my H is at work when I’m not ok.
    Thanks for letting my ramble

  9. kc May 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    It’s been a year now since I discovered my husband’s three year affair with his high school crush (30 years ago), who at the time, dumped him because he kissed like her brother.

    Now 30 years later, after losing his job due to layoffs, he had the time to reconnect and pursue her on the internet. Now, every 10 weeks, he flies out to California for his consultation job and he stays with her, and has a grand time wining and dining her, hiking with her, although he denies it through lies of ommission.

    You know what? After 12 months of this continued betrayal, I’ getting on with my life. I don’t care anymore, since I learned that everything he tells me when he’s out there is always a lie. Now I will take control of my life and not waste any more of my precious energy on trying to figure him out and where I fit in. He is not going to destroy the plan I have for my life. If he wants to come around, fine. He’ll have to do the work. I’m not the one who broke vows and strayed. I continue to forgive and release him to the Lord for healing and restoration. He is out of my control. The Lord and I got along fine before the 30 years I knew him, and we’ll get along fine now. I told him no one tied his hands and made him propose to me. And I won’t hold him now. I don’t want him that way. I only want a free and willing partner if he wants to recommit to our marriage.

    My focus now is on me and getting on with the important relationships in my life such as my newly married son, daughter in law, and future grandbabies. I will never again give him the control over how I react and hang on every indescretion of his. I’ve learned to no longer trust him, respect him, or honor him. I’ve learned to respect and trust in the Lord and in me.

  10. Fenix March 13, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    What’s playing in your mind today?
    Did I do the right thing taking him back? I fought for him hard and I forgave him without question. Even now I do not know the full story. When I asked he told me it didn’t make a difference how it happened because it is over now. Am I better off without him? Was it fear of being alone and without him that forced me to forgive and stay? I have changed for him but he has given me nothing in return.
    How would you describe the thoughts and images that have come to you after the affair?
    I imagine he is still seeing her. That he meets her when he goes to visit his friend because they used to all work together. I imagine him still emailing her – writing words to her that he used to say to me. It seems bigger in my head that it really was and I know that but I can’t seem to stop these thoughts most especially when I am alone. He gave her the best of him and for months I got the cold hearted version who never touched me, never told me he loved me or that I was beautiful or spent any time with me.
    What affect have these obsessive thoughts and images had on your quality of life and ability to move forward?
    I feel broken inside. I thought I could get past it but I don’t know if I can. I feel I love him less because of what he has done. I feel there is a slow building hate towards him. That he is not the man I thought he was. He wore his wedding ring while he was doing it – it makes me sick. They both got away scot free with no consequences. We saw a marriage counsellor who told me to forgive and move on. There will always be a scar but to continue to bring it up will be the undoing of our marriage. I feel there is this hurt in me that I have to carry around secretly because it was something that we were supposed to “leave in the past” and yet I can’t get past it. I feel less confident in myself as a woman. I feel the spark in my heart and my love for life has gone out.
    Have they lessened with time, or strengthened?
    Strengthened. I trust him less and don’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth. That he lied to me once makes me feel he will do it again.
    Do you feel powerless to control these thoughts?
    Yes. I feel like I have lost myself. I feel like I am a slave to these feelings and that I am not who I was. I feel the innocence in our marriage has been destroyed and I don’t know where to go from here.
    Has anything helped in your efforts to lessen these thoughts and their control over you?
    Bettering myself as a person. Loving me. Feeling worthy of life and love. Knowing that he is lucky to have me. Knowing that if it all turns to hell that I will be okay.

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