When you first learn about an affair, it is completely devastating. I’m sure that many emotions ran through your head like anger, grief, frustration, a total loss of self-esteem and that you’re world has been totally ripped apart.
From our own experience we can tell you that getting over an affair takes time, dedication from both spouses, and a lot of hard work. You can heal from an affair, but it means making an investment and spending the time you need to heal. However, at first you may not have the strength, energy, or interest to think about it in these terms. You need something that will help you start to heal and save your marriage fast.
Dr. Frank Gunzburg PhD, a marriage and family counselor in Baltimore, and author of “How to Survive an Affair”, says that “There is no magic pill that will make it all better. However, if you truly want to rebuild your marriage and make it better than ever, there are some ways that you can start processing your emotions effectively during the early stages after finding out about the affair.”Dr Gunzburg has three tips that will help you process your emotions and move toward healing in the days immediately after you learn about an affair:
1. Let the Cheater Have It. Communication is very important. Learn how to talk with your spouse and share information in a way your spouse understands. Also, learn how to listen to what your spouse is really saying. These skills can help save your marriage.
However, immediately after you find out about an affair, you probably won’t have the skills, the patience, or the emotional fortitude to calmly tell your spouse how you feel. And that’s completely understandable. You shouldn’t have to be calm and composed when the person you love and trust most in the world has just told you that he or she has betrayed your trust. That isn’t reasonable.
“When you first find out about the affair, I recommend you let your spouse HAVE IT!” says Gunzburg. “Get your feelings out on the table. Don’t worry about how your spouse might feel. And don’t worry about rocking the boat or making the situation worse.”
Dr. Gunzburg does advise that you avoid talking about or mentioning divorce at this point, don’t call your spouse names and don’t react with violence. However, you can certainly speak strongly, and tell your spouse exactly how you feel. In fact, he says that if you don’t do this, you run a terrible risk later on because this will cause you to resent your spouse even more, and will likely cause even more problems in your marriage.
Either your relationship will survive this or it won’t. Dr. Gunzburg has found it’s much more likely that a relationship is able to survive if the couple is able to make it past this initially painful phase in an open, honest way. That means laying out how you feel to your spouse very explicitly. It means opening up those painful feelings, and not burying them inside. And it means telling your cheating spouse how you feel in no uncertain terms. If the two of you can survive this, it’s that much more likely you will be able to save and rebuild your marriage.
2. Cry Your Heart Out. Dr. Gunzburg’s says that crying is “one way your body was designed to process extreme emotion, and, in this way, it is a wonderful blessing.”
There is nothing shameful about crying when you are emotionally distressed. There is no reason to fight back those tears and try to show a stoic, stern face. When you find out your spouse cheated on you, you have every reason in the world to cry your eyes out.
“If you want to process these intense feelings and get over the sickening emotional cocktail you have been made to drink, you need to let the pain out–and crying is one of your body’s natural outlets.” Gunzburg says.
3: Let Your Emotions Come and Go Naturally. When you first hear about an affair, it feels like the pain will never go away. But eventually, with time, your feelings will subside. When they do, you may be tempted to try and hold onto them. You may feel like you are “giving up” if you let go of your feelings. Or you may feel that you “should” still be angry.
Thoughts like these usually aren’t productive. There is a natural ebb and flow to your emotions. Some days you might feel like it’s the end of the world, and at other times, the intensity of your emotions will be slight. Dr. Gunzburg recommends that when this happens, you let this natural reduction in intensity take place and allow yourself to be free of the pain you are suffering.
“You don’t have to wallow in your pain. Everyone changes and heals at a different rate. Let your internal emotional monitor and your instincts be your guide as you wind your way through the healing process.” Dr Gunzburg adds.
After the initial stage of the healing process, it becomes important to manage your feelings and not let your spouse “have it.”
Clearly, there’s a lot more to getting over an affair than the tips above. In fact, this only begins to cover the very first phase of the healing process.
Dr. Gunzburg’s program “How to Survive an Affair” gives you a complete, step-by-step treatment program for how to completely heal from an affair and make your marriage better than it has ever been. This program has been one of the integral resources that Linda and I have used throughout our healing process. We highly recommend that you check it out.