Reconnecting Emotionally After the Affair

One essential element in surviving infidelity and repairing your marriage is to heal and deepen your emotional connection with your spouse after the affair.

Obviously, the emotional connection between a man and wife is severely broken after infidelity.  Quite often it can be the final blow to a marriage.

Prior to my emotional affair, Linda and I had an emotional disconnect of sorts.  Looking back, I can say that we really didn’t grow apart as much as we temporarily lost sight of each other due to a variety of factors.

If I were to rate the most important factor in our success in recovering from the affair, it would have to be how we have been able to reconnect on so many levels—especially on an emotional level.

It wasn’t easy at first, and when we realized that we wanted to save our marriage and wanted to survive infidelity, we wondered how we were going to get back to some form of common ground with each other so that we could honestly say that we had a wonderful, strong relationship.

We questioned how we were going to get from where we were at to where we wanted to be. We questioned if we were always going to have to talk about the affair.  Linda questioned whether she would ever be able to forgive, much less forget. She questioned whether she could trust again.  I wondered if she would ever get over the pain.  The list goes on and on.

There were doubts for both of us and reconnecting emotionally seemed like an insurmountable task as the devastation and pain seemed too much.

We realized that it wouldn’t happen overnight as there was a lot of work we both needed to do before we could even expend the energy to work on healing our marriage.

As I look back, there were a few ideas that we adhered to as we worked to regain our emotional connection.  In our case, the emotional reconnection was fueled by effective communication.

We both started to practice total honesty and transparency in our communication. Our hearts and minds became open books.  This was a little bit easier for Linda to accomplish at first, as I have always been somewhat guarded with respect to my feelings and such.

It did help that since we have known each other for so long, each of us can tell when something is bothering the other, or when the other may be holding back when they really have something on their mind.

By being totally open and honest it eliminated doubt, which ultimately helped to rebuild the trust.

We set some communication rules. While practicing transparency, there were times when Linda may have held back asking me certain questions that she may have not been quite ready to hear the answers to.  So we decided one rule was to not ask if she’s not prepared to hear the answer.

Another rule was never use honesty as a weapon.  That is, Linda never used it to make me feel guilty or feel otherwise as a bad person.  She understood that the goal was to save our marriage, survive infidelity and move forward in our marriage, and that this type of vindictive communication would not be constructive to our healing.

In addition to being honest, one rule for me was to keep my emotions in check when talking about the affair.  I would often get frustrated when discussing the affair.

Basically, we used common sense, good judgment and a little bit of diplomacy.

Set aside the time. We discovered that it’s not always a good idea to talk about the affair or other marital matters whenever we felt like it.  There are times after all, when one of us might have had a bad day, and talking about it at that time would be counterproductive and actually stifle the effectiveness of our discussions.

What we did instead, was set time aside where we could focus on each other and talk about what we needed to talk about.  This allowed us not only the appropriate time to talk, but also gave us the opportunity to prepare emotionally and psychologically and to clear our minds of other matters so that we could focus our attention on each other.

These are just a few things that worked for us.  Even though they did take some time and patience to implement, they did help us in communicating better and allowed us to reconnect emotionally after the affair on a much deeper level.

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15 Responses to Reconnecting Emotionally After the Affair

  1. Jeffrey Murrah December 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    Doug,

    You are ‘on the money’ when you address the importance of re-connecting emotionally after the affair. Restoring the intimacy and connectedness is critical.

    I like the rules that you and Linda developed. They are practical and effective. There are times that putting some of those types of structure into the relationship makes all the difference.

  2. mil December 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    We did reconnect but I think it’s all going wrong again. A prime example….my H used to text her about feeling randy which one would attribute to her effect on him.
    Nowadays all he says to me is how tired/sickly he feels and I retort with ‘oooohhhh that’s not what you’d have said to her 2 years ago when you were always randy’.
    I think the whole thing has made us both so ill that his health has suffered to the extent he DOES feel ‘ill’ all the time. I feel sick every day at the thought of their EA and replay their texts etc. over and over in my head from the minute I awake.
    It’s made it very hard to maintain emotional bonding with this wedge between us all the time. I think at first the shock value of it made me cling onto my marriage and leap in with emotion but now the stark reality keeps hitting me, I feel resentment and distrust. It’s a bit like when someone dies, at first you are in shock then reality hits.
    I know I will never recover from this and the emotional connection is slipping away again which is what caused this mess in the first place.

  3. Norwegian woman December 22, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    Linda and Doug. I read your blog regularly, and sometimes I translate into Norwegian to my husband (He is`nt that good in english) and it is much help for us, because you are som similar to us in many ways. He is often amazed about how similar your experience is to his and he thinks that you express yourself accurately, in ways he has problems in doing.
    You talked about honesty and beeing transparent this time and that is an issue that is difficult for us. I feel like we stand on the same spot and can`t move foreward. He just wants to move foreward and get on to working on the marriage. As you said, that can`t be done until I feel that he is totally honest with me. There are details that doesn`t feel right in his response to me. For example, I asked him if he got mail from her after D-day, and he has denied it everytime I have asked. A week ago, he confessed that he got one e-mail from her that he did not answer…. There have been many half-truths and lies, and I need some help to make him see that doing this only stands in the way of trusting him. I need to know that he is telling me the truth when I ask him, even though it is painful to hear. Can you please give me some advice about making him see that not beeing truthfull is only making this process longer. I feel that what`s preventing us from getting further is that he is not to be trusted in his answers. There are so many things that isn`t right or logical and mu gut feeling has been right about almost everything.
    So, how can I get him to be truthfull about the affair so that we can move foreward? I will translate the answer for him.

    • Doug December 22, 2010 at 7:41 am #

      Norwegian, I understand where you are coming from. Being able to trust again is imperative to your healing and to the over all health and strength of your marriage. If he continues to tell the lies and half-truths it is impossible for that trust to happen. He probably thinks that he’s protecting you by not telling you everything or by deceiving you, and you need to make sure he is aware that as long as you’re prepared for the truth, that it is OK for him to be completely honest with you. And you are correct, if it is his goal to move on, then it would be best for him to lay it all out there and tell the truth and get it over with.

      On the other hand, you need to make sure you are prepared to hear the truth, and when he does tell you, do not become combative or fly off the handle, even though you may feel like it. Try to be as calm as you can. Unless you two enjoy fighting, chances are if his telling you the truth causes a massive fight, then he probably won’t open up much ever again.

  4. Lostinlove December 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    This was a hard holiday to survive…It had been one month from my hus, EA…Driving with the kids and him thru a local town, I was doing my best to put that happy face on, the holiday songs, laughter…all of us together..then we passed her car. It wasn’t so much that we passed her, it was that we had taken a short cut my h suggested, down a residential street I did not know..There was her car, parked outside a home. I didn’t see it at first, but on our way back down the street…It hit me like a sledge hammer in the gut, I was trying to drive and I felt my heart on fire. I couldn’t breathe, I could feel him sitting next to me, feeling me cracking under pressure. Not a word was said, the kids kept singing, he kept talking..and I couldn’t breathe. We arrived at our destination, a large store, I couldn’t see, my heart was burning, my hands shaking and he walked away from me, I swallowed the hurt and continued to shop. When he came back he asked me whats up. I couldn’t talk, I just looked at him and told him I could have really used a hug. He held me, I cried..nobody in the store existed. We were able to get thru, the holiday was nice. The kids never knew anything was wrong. I am breathing again…I guess it’s going to take one day at a time.

  5. stupidandtrusting December 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Lostinlove – I can completely relate. It was a very difficult holiday for me, I wasnt expecting it to be so hard. I kept swallowing the pain, the hurt, the memories….it was tough. I wish I knew how to make it stop.

  6. eshmal February 26, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    my h is having an emmotinal affair with a co.worker.he always talked about his vertual love…i have found hi e.mails and msgs…no friendship he says i love you..my love is rAISING towards madnes and on valentienday i found a msg .,flowers r very niece…stil he says we r just friends…its a unique and specail relation…and i love u but u r not my love..now he is also facing stress and sometimes sits 3 or 4 hours at sea view…how can i reconect him ???he does not allow me to talk on topic even he leaves the room..i want to love him but he always remains infantcy..sad love song..sad love poetry or texti ng.now they does not cal but texting with rut and love feelings and love poetry is dangrous..its going on from 3 years.he says if i does not like this then leave me but i wil not leave her..plz dough and linda send me ur special advice throug e.mail..i want tobrek his fantcy then we can have trust

  7. elph April 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    this is something im struggling to get the concept of right now. my wife is still in the fog. and has uttered the famous phrase “i love you but not in love with you”…every other component is there for s sucessful relationship….i learned what i did wrong to push her away .(i was too critical-learned to let things go, a little neglectful- mind our time spent together more..etc) our sex is good, she referes to me as her best friend still and shes mine….its just that she doesnt currently feel the connection/passion/in love feeling for me….

    of course its because shes “in love” with someone else right now.

    its just hard to see the light at the other end of the tunnel, when i know we can fix it….

    the only plan i have right now is to become the guy she fell in love with and hopefully shell see the light…but she works with the OM and leaving her job isnt possible….i dont know…i guess im just looking for something..

  8. Alone October 9, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Elph – I had an EA on my husband as well. How you are describing your wife’s actions, that’s how I am acting too. There is a lot of emotional distance between my husband and I. It’s been 4 months since D-day. I have been distant and very much struggling with the loss of my affair partner. I did not want to admit that I was in love with this other person. But my husband knew, we could feel the distance. I now realize that this other person never really loved me. He is a dead-end. I am now really out of the fog and ready to devote myself fully to my marriage, but now my husband has pulled away and is emotionally distant. It doesnt feel like he is trying to get me to fall in love with him again on any level as you were doing. What Should I do? What happened with your wife? what can I say or do to help my husband? Can you tell me what you think is going through his mind? I would appreciate any words of wisdom. Thank you.

  9. Lineman October 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    My wife had an emotional affair over about the past year that became physical several times. It has been almost 2 months since she told me, and we are just beginning to put things back together. She is still living separately, she has cut off the other relationship, we made love again for the first time last night. But, she is not connected to me. I feel connection and love for her, but she does not seem to for me. It seems like she would value my forgiveness and willingness to not kick her to the curb, but it feels like she still has a problem with me.

    I now understand some of what I did that led her to seek someone else, but I am frustrated by what I see as her inability to see me. It’s like she sees her image of me, but not the real me. I can’t help but fear that she is going to lose herself because she can’t “see,” if you know what I mean.

  10. Alone October 11, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Hi Lineman –

    I feel terrible for you. My husband is in the same situation, although I did not have a physical affair, it was headed that direction in a fast way.

    Why do you say you feel she is not connected to you? What is she doing or not doing to make you feel that way? I think my husband can feel my disconnect because I am very quiet. I’m not “happy”. This is not my usual demeanor, so he feels this disconnection from me. He knows I am not fully engaged and doesn’t understand why “he is not good enough for me”. And I guess I feel disconnected because I am depressed at the loss of the relationship with the other man. And on some level still confused.

    I am 100% sure that your wife is very grateful that you have not kicked her to the curb. I even told my husband those words EXACTLY. And I am sure she does value your forgiveness very much.

    I guess here is the deal, speaking from my own situation: she wants to choose you. She is just VERY side tracked/confused by the affair. She is trying to figure out why she can’t feel that way with you again, why is she still torn and distracted by the other man. Why can’t she focus? She wants to choose you… to turn her heart towards you… but she can’t do it 100%. It’s not that you aren’t a wonderful and loving man. She just can’t seem to get this other man out of her mind, for some reason. And she probably hates that, a lot.

    I would like to ask you, what could I/your wife do to win you back, be more connected? If I can get an understanding of how my husband feels, that maybe I can help us move in the right direction.

    Thanks for posting!

  11. Lineman October 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Thanks for posting.

    To answer your first question, I think you actually answered it best. “He” is still there, between us, even though they no longer have an ongoing relationship. It is like she still feels that she belongs to someone else, not to me. Like she’s betraying him and her own feelings by showing love to me.

    To answer your second question, for me it’s, “Show some damn effort.” I can accept that you’re fighting a war inside, but does it have to be so obvious? Do you have to make it seem like I am so hard to choose? How disrespectful can it be taken by your husband when he reaches out, shows love and forgiveness, and is met with seeming indifference? Show some effort to make me know that NOW, I am number 1 and do not need to compete. What more can I give than forgiveness and acceptance in the face of this devastation?

    I am still angry that my wife has forced this situation into our lives. I was not a perfect husband by any stretch, but I was not a bad husband either. My actions did not merit betrayal, and I feel that she has no conception of how I am doing with this. She seems to only see how hard it is for her, but not for me.

  12. Mark October 12, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    I am still angry that my wife has forced this situation into our lives. I was not a perfect husband by any stretch, but I was not a bad husband either. My actions did not merit betrayal, and I feel that she has no conception of how I am doing with this. She seems to only see how hard it is for her, but not for me.

    I so agree with this. I am just past one year from the original D-Day…(there were two more instances 6 and eight months later) . I still struggle tremendously. My wife seems to have completely changed. She has immersed herself in her faith. Listens to Christian music and says she’s forgiven…. by God. I don’t know what to do with my feelings. I still have so much crap buried inside of me and don’t know how to deal. She asks me what’s wrong all the time and I say “nothing”. I want to ask her specifics about everything, but she always gets defensive if I do. … So… I just push it down. I really don’t know what to do.

  13. Lineman October 12, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Mark,

    My absolute first suggestion is to read “Love Must be Tough” by Dr. James Dobson. It will help you to set boundaries and expectations for your wife in a loving way that both protect you and force her to choose. I got it on the Kindle reader for my iPhone for about $8 USD.

    I am a Christian also, and my wife is supposed to be. After I found out about this, (and my D-Day was an “informing,” not “confession”) I sought God intensely over what to do; praying, and reading Scriptures on divorce. (Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, also 2 Samuel 11-13, the story of David and Bathsheba) I came to the conclusion that divorce was only an option if she was unrepentant – i.e., she did not want to change.

    I don’t know your faith, but all I’m saying is that, like Linda and Doug’s story, a rebuilt marriage (I am trying so so so hard to believe this) can be better than the marriage ever was in the past, before the affair. But, it has to be both that want it. Should I say that again? BOTH HAVE TO WANT IT. If her actions demonstrate not just that she is not as committed as you, but is uncommitted completely, it may be time to tell her to move out, and that if she gets things straight you will “consider working on the marriage.”

    In my case, I am frustrated and angry because my wife says with her mouth that she wants to make our marriage work, but her actions seem to display that she doesn’t – at least, not as much as I feel she should. Those actions have not extended to a new affair or reacquainting with the original affair, (she just now cut it off 9/23) but she seems to just think that she can take as much time as she wants to feel better about herself rather than exercising her will to focus on rebuilding my trust. I may just be re-stating what I already said, but that’s what makes me angry. This whole affair was about her, and now it seems that the rebuilding is all about her as well. When do my feelings get validated?

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