There will be a loss of your sense of self after D-day. And there will be feelings of losing the marriage you once knew. This is what grieving after an affair is all about.

grieving after an affair

By Sarah P.

I believe this idea should be explored more often in the infidelity community; the idea that being a betrayed spouse feels very disorienting and often causes a loss of one’s sense of self.

Even though my ex and I did NOT reconcile, I still live with the fact that there was a Sarah before being betrayed and a Sarah after being betrayed.

To some, infidelity can feel like a type of death and it certainly did to me. I think it is easy to agree that infidelity causes the death of the relationship that a couple once had.

But, for those of us who do NOT reconcile, we still have to deal with the person we were before being betrayed and the person we have become after being betrayed.

Every day, there are some betrayed spouses who find themselves mourning the death of the marriage they once knew while also mourning the death of the self they once knew. 

There is no line in the sand to neatly divide and compartmentalize these experiences.

When it comes to these matters, almost everyone loses something of the person they were before D-Day. Additionally, everyone loses something of the marriage that existed before D-Day. It is just a matter of the degree of loss.

Some people are very resilient and I am not one of those people.

It did not matter that I went on to marry someone else, I still had to process all of the events that occurred solely due to my ex’s betrayal. I had to deal with consequences such as developing cervical cancer due to his affair, losing my home due to his affair, and losing the life I once knew.

Meanwhile, he and the other woman lived in my house together and moved blissfully along with their lives while I was in treatment to ensure the cervical cancer did not spread.

That experience took a lot out of me in terms of health, finances, and emotional well-being.

Affair Recovery and the 7 Stages of Grief After an Affair

Relentless Grief

The mourning of the marriage that was can seem relentless. The mourning can feel like it will never end.

Your experience as a betrayed spouse is completely valid and indeed normal. The experience of unceasing mourning is one that most betrayed spouses go through at some point in time. 

This mourning experience is highly individual and cannot be rushed; the mourning must take its course. It is difficult for me to have patience with people who undermine the length of time it takes for a betrayed spouse to recover. 

The death of a marriage that a couple once knew has far-reaching consequences and these consequences are both irrevocable and irreversible. 

There are no do-overs in life; yet so many people live life as if their actions do not affect others.

For example, when wayward spouses are in the middle of an affair, they make excuses that cause them to feel entitled and help them continue the affair. 

Or, they assure themselves that what their family does not know will not hurt them. Or, they live their lives doing mental acrobatics to avoid the natural guilt that most people feel when they know their actions will harm others. 

There is no such thing as an affair that is harmless. The experience of an affair changes every aspect of a person’s life.

The writers at Rancho Counseling provide an excellent description of what life feels like from the perspective of a betrayed spouse on and after D-Day:

“Infidelity rocks your world and shatters what you thought you had into a million pieces. You may have trouble sleeping, eating, talking without crying, and you might feel as though you’re obsessed with thinking about your partner and their lover.

It might feel like you’re going crazy, trust me, you’re not.

What you’ve experienced is a trauma. A psychological trauma.

Having the person that you love do something that goes against all things that you thought were supposed to happen creates that same physical and emotional response.

There are so many things that you may feel you have lost through this trauma, and I want to assure you that they are normal.

The most common is the feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore.

This may seem strange because after all it wasn’t you that strayed. But you might find yourself reacting to your partner in heinous ways, snarling and spitting insults and anger as you struggle to cope and make sense of it all.

It’s normal to ask, “who is this person?” while staring at your angry, tear-stained face in the mirror. Reacting in ways that are completely uncharacteristic of yourself is a normal response to something that is completely uncharacteristic of what you thought your relationship was supposed to be like.

There is a certain loss of specialness that comes with the trauma of infidelity. Hearing that your spouse called another woman the pet name he gave to you, or used your vacation home for secret meetings with a lover will not only be upsetting but it leaves you to question whether or not anything you had was special.” (1)

Indeed, being betrayed changes everything.

grieving an affair

Grieving After an Affair – Will I Get Over It?

Yes, you will get over it. But, you must allow yourself to fully grieve what you lost. You must set strong boundaries with those who tell you to move on when you are not ready to move on.

To complicate matters, if a wayward spouse wants to do absolutely nothing to help you move on, this very well could triple the time it takes for you to heal.

Another complicating factor is if a wayward spouse boomerangs back and forth between you and the other person. You cannot begin the healing process until you are absolutely certain that your spouse’s affair is over AND that your spouse has no temptation to return to the affair partner.

For example, even if your wayward spouse broke off the affair, their affair fog could continue up to a year after they stopped seeing the other person.

Unfortunately, wayward spouses sometimes make it about them and expect you to feel sorry for them. Never feel sorry for your wayward spouse. He or she must rebuild his or her primary relationship with you and he or she must stop thinking about the other person.

You must focus on recovering the shattered pieces of yourself and moving through your grief. Proper grieving is an exercise in self-care. One woman described her grieving experience:

“Just as the care of a critically ill patient becomes a 24/7 endeavor, the care for my heart very much became a constant thing for me. But life did not stop and allow me time to solely focus on healing. I found that setting up specific grieving times in my day and week was very helpful.

At the very beginning of my grieving period I set aside every evening as my grief time. The evenings were particularly painful for me because that’s when my husband and I had typically spent the most time together. His absence was acutely felt after I sent my boys to bed. After the bedtime routine with the boys was done I would immediately go into the bathroom. After filling the tub with hot water I would light some candles and hit play on my favorite music. Sometimes I would sing a little, sometimes I would quietly listen. Often I would just sit in the tub and cry out my pain to the only One who felt stable enough to hang onto. I asked God why this had happened. I told Him how much it hurt. When I had no words to express the depths of my feelings I would simply cry without saying anything. I remember sensing His presence all around me as he listened to my broken heart. Depending on what had bubbled up that day or what memory or pain had been triggered that evening I would stay in the bathroom anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour. After I had worked through whatever I needed to work through that night, a sense of comfort would fall on me I would go to bed.

After a few weeks the nightly grieving sessions were no longer needed. Although it wasn’t a daily thing, I knew I still had a lot to grieve, so I settled on a weekly grief day. Tuesday from 9 – 2 became my grief day. For about a year I guarded that day like my life depended on it. Many times this day started out in my closet. I would play some music and fall face down on the floor. I have to tell you, this is where the healing began to take shape. It was in those quiet moments, alone in the closet that I truly learned how to expose my heart to be assessed for hidden hurts. I felt like God began to show me how to name what I was feeling (i.e. ‘I am feeling very insecure right now because’…). I cried over every fresh moment of pain that was triggered in my heart for as long as I needed to. Then, when I was ready, I felt like I could leave my pain in the closet with God and take another step forward in my own personal recovery and healing.” (2)

I love what this woman has to say about her grieving process. She listened to her body and her mind. She grieved in the way that she needed to grieve so that she could release her pain in her way.

All of us have our own way of releasing pain. Do not judge the way you release pain; you release your pain in your way.

Some of us are not closet criers; some of us are plate smashers and that is okay too. Someone recently directed me to a website where a person can go into a room with a hammer and smash plates and hit walls all day long.

All methods of releasing grief are valid, but try not to hurt innocent bystanders. Otherwise, let your pain out in the way you need to let it out.

Unexpected Trauma

Recently, I had my own trauma that I had to work through. My dog was maliciously killed by a so-called medical professional during the early morning hours during my 47th birthday. Not only was his death untimely, it was not supposed to happen this way.

To have Hero killed on my birthday, without me there to hold him while he died, was simply too much for me. Not only was it my worst nightmare, it also caused me to break my promise to Hero: that when it was actually his time, I would be there to hold him and let him take his time.

You see, Hero was a dog whom I had already rescued from the jaws of death once.

Hero was an adult puppy mill dog. He had been locked in a cage all alone and he was skin and bones. Then I came along. I rescued him and took him to the vet because Hero was not eating.

The vet showed me that Hero’s jaw had been split in half. The vet could physically move Hero’s jawbone back and forth due to the break. I asked the veterinarian what could cause such a break and his opinion was that it was likely a steel-toed boot. The culprit was long gone.

The veterinarian recommended I put him to sleep because Hero had suffered too much trauma, both physically and emotionally. He told me that even if he wired Hero’s jaw, that Hero suffered irreparable emotional damage.

I paid the veterinarian to wire Hero’s jaw back together and I set about the task of repairing Hero’s soul. I told the pet that there was and continues to be no greater healing power than the power of unconditional love.

Hero became a dog unlike any dog I had known. In fact, after I rescued Hero, he actually ended up rescuing me.

I have an extremely rare genetic illness that is sometimes active and other times not active at all. I rescued Hero during a time when I was doing very well.  

When my genetic illness is not active, no one would guess I have an illness at all. During these times, I have the energy of four people and go out and get things done.

Then the illness hits and sometimes I am bedridden for a couple of days or more. Sometimes I have been hospitalized. During these times, Hero, would choose of his own volition to lay by my side in bed. If I was so ill that I could not speak, he would wake up a family member by barking. No one trained him to do this; he just knew what he had to do.

The Potentially Long-Lasting Effects of Affair Trauma 

Hero chose to sit by my side in bed for long hours and he refused to move. I would have to call for my husband to take Hero outside and stand there with Hero until Hero went to the bathroom. Otherwise, Hero would run right past my husband and back onto the bed with me, without going to the bathroom.

My husband would have to remove Hero from my side until Hero would eat. I would not let Hero return until he had eaten for the day. If Hero had it his way, he would have laid next to me for 36 hours without eating or going to the bathroom.

So, I had to have my husband take Hero out of the bedroom until Hero ate and went to the bathroom. I cannot begin to tell you the number of willing sacrifices Hero made for me of his own volition. Hero became my furry angel on four legs.

Since I rescued Hero, I vowed that Hero would NOT die alone. I ensured he had the best medical care. He got many walks and lots of opportunities to be a dog and play in natural settings.

I vowed that when it was his time, I would be there. I would hold him and let him take the time he needed to transition out of this world and into the next one.

To have Hero die on my birthday was a blow that I have no words for. But, it was not his time to die either. I was also not there and it all happened during the early morning hours of my birthday.

This happened over two months ago and it is why you have not seen me on the blog. I have been hiding in the closet, turning on the music, and screaming into a pillow at the top of my lungs. I have had to scream out my grief until I have literally lost my voice. I still expect that I will be crying months from now.

I have also had to help my children who were both incredibly harmed by Hero’s death and his absence. He was the Guardian of Our House and he was also the guardian of any of us when we got ill with a cold or the flu.

Crying in the closet and screaming into pillows has been my way of grieving. I give myself permission to quietly slip away and cry my heart out in the closet when I need to.

You have your way of grieving and I ask you to give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to get your grief out. I ask you to give yourself permission to grieve on your timeline and not on someone else’s timeline.

What can you do when you are shattered by infidelity?

You can take your time to grieve, on your own timeline, knowing thousands have walked this same path and continue to walk the path now. But the most important thing all of us can do is this:

We Can Persevere.

I came across a video recently that encapsulates the message of perseverance.

Can you imagine swimming in the ocean on a beautiful, sunny day and being dragged underwater by a shark, almost dying, and losing a limb and your hand?

Neither can I.

But, this happened to a 17-year-old girl named Paige Winters. She serves as an inspiration to us all:

The thing that strikes me about Paige is that she has not lost herself throughout this experience, even though she has lost a limb. Instead, she has magnified who she is through this experience. Paige has kept going and in keeping going, her positive energy has drawn many to her.

She also serves as a model for forgiveness. She realized that she was in the shark’s home in the first place.

Summary

There will be a loss of your sense of self after D-day. And there will be feelings of losing the marriage you once knew. This is what grieving after an affair is all about.

It is important to move through the grieving after an affair process at your own pace and to let your body guide you as you go. You are an individual and you decide when and how to grieve.

Do not allow others to tell you that you should get over it. Don’t let others tell you when you are allowed to grieve and when you are not allowed to grieve. You decide when and how to grieve and it is all up to you.

Even if you are 10 years out from D-Day, it is very possible that something will trigger you to start grieving again. This too is normal. Don’t allow others to tell you that you should be over it because of (fill in the blank).

You are the one who has to live with the pain and you decide how and when you process it; even if it is not convenient to your wayward spouse. After all, your wayward spouse’s affair was not convenient to you. You did not cause the problem and yet you must live with the fall out.

Therefore, you dictate how you grieve, when you grieve, and what you need your wayward spouse to do to help you heal from the his or her affair. You are in the driver’s seat and you will conquer grief.

Sources:

http://www.ranchocounseling.com/blog/is-this-normal-losing-yourself-after-infidelity

https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/grieving-betrayal-after-infidelity

 

    44 replies to "Grieving After an Affair: When Will I Get Over It?"

    • Hopeful

      I am so sorry to hear about your dog. What a horrible and traumatic experience. Pets and I think especially dogs are a critical part of any family and he sounded special.

      I work really hard and use the exact word perseverance. It still is not easy. I have to work hard not to have the negative self talk start. It is easy for me to slip into that spot of blaming myself. I know everything intellectually but it often just comes over me. It takes a lot of energy and work. I also still find I am very guarded. It is easier to remain guarded and keep to myself. That way I do not get hurt. I find when I open up even a little I am disappointed and let down. I know it is not ideal but I just do not have the resilience to cope with the outcomes. I find that I am happiest when I am alone. I have always been that way but now it is to an extreme. My husband wants to be much more social which is the way he has always been but between being worn down and usually finding social outings not rewarding it is hard to want to engage. It is rough getting through this and I am forever changed.

      • Nearly Normal

        I am a lot like you, Hopeful. I don’t want to engage with my wife. When I have tried to get more intimate in communication, she sometimes reacts defensively and hurts me deeply. It is an ongoing battle to get closer. So much easier to be on my own.

    • Nearly Normal

      Hi Sarah. A fine article, as usual.

      So sorry to hear about Hero. it’s amazing how much we feel for our pets and feel the loss when they are gone, especially under bad circumstances.

      I was happy to hear you mention ME in your article:

      “To complicate matters, if a wayward spouse wants to do absolutely nothing to help you move on, this very well could triple the time it takes for you to heal.”

      Ok, that wasn’t specifically me, but it sure describes my healing process. The other day I calculated that I have been in a grieving/healing process on account of my wife’s infidelity for approximately half of my life. Would not recommend it.

      I am happy that I am in a better place than in previous years, and so is my relationship with my wife. Triggers do not create frantically jagged pain. When I feel an emotional dip, I can almost always identify what is causing it and deal with it. I am overall much more positive.

      But while I’m on this topic, it would be nice to see more online articles / videos and whatnot (not necessarily here) about people trying to recover when their healing went sideways. After fifteen years of struggling, how do you start over? That sort of thing. There’s tons of articles on “So you’ve just been betrayed. What do you do now?” – and that’s a good thing. But more articles on, “So you’ve totally screwed up your healing process. What the devil are your options now?”

      I was recently counseling with a man in the grieving process from recently losing his wife to cancer. Some of my advice was along the lines of “Healing is a gift of God. Pray for it, and work hard for it. But know that it will come when it comes.” That’s the frustrating bit, I think. “Time heals all wounds,” is a terrible lie. But “Hard work heals all wounds,” is not quite true either, for various reasons. Yes, we will heal, but not on the time table we wish it would happen. That’s so hard.

      Anyway, I think i’ve rambled long enough. Thanks again for your work.

      • Hopeful

        NN, Time did not heal anything for me but gave me perspective maybe… I think hard work had some to do with it but more for me it was just mind over matter type of thing. I just one day had to say I have to move forward in this way. I have to do what is right for me no matter what my husband does. I can only control and answer to myself. I can sleep at night knowing I did that. It is hard but I did not want to look back and have regret. One thing is I pretty much say anything to my husband. I am not mean about it but I don’t hold back or filter. Luckily he embarrasses it and talks things over with me. One thing we always agree on is that his betrayal, decisions and behaviors will always be part of us as individuals and as a couple. I am glad he holds the same belief as me on that. He says not a day goes by that he does not think about it. Same for me but nice to know he has not swept it under the rug after 4 1/2 years.

        • Nearly Normal

          Hopeful, it’s really great that he understands the ongoing effects of the affair. My wife is more of a sweep it under the rug kind of person.
          P.S. – almost 19 years here

          • Never be the same

            My situation is very similar to yours. My wife’s year-long affair was 20 years ago. She is also a sweep it under the rug person. I only reconciled because our two daughters were so young. Now that the kids are now married, I’m having a hard time just being the two of us. We’re just two people living together. No closeness or intimacy.

            • Nearly Normal

              NBTS,

              I really feel for you. I have pushed back to try to establish intimacy, and to some extent succeeded. But it’s so hard. From her prespective, why not just turn your back on the shameful past and move on? From yours, there is little healing or reconciliation unless the hard work is done. Hope things get better for you.

            • Shifting Impressions

              NBTS
              I feel for you as well. If the comments on this site are any sort of indication, it seems all too common that the CS wants to sweep it all under the rug and “just move on”.

              It does become more difficult once the kids are gone…..no crazy distractions etc.
              I’m also experiencing some of that lack of closeness and intimacy etc. But and it’s a big but, I think that even though I crave the closeness I also RESIST IT at the same time. I have put walls to protect myself and I’m just beginning to ask myself if this is really how I want to live. Those same walls that protect also isolate us. But oh the thought of taking some of those walls down…..

              The sudden death in our family reminded me once again how fragile life really is. Life is short and precious……to precious to put up so many walls of protection.

            • Never be the same

              She left me on my birthday to be with someone she thought she wanted marry. Five days before our divorce was to be final she asked to come home with barely an apology. When she left, she called me a crappy husband but I have come to realize it wasn’t true because I was trying so hard to be a good one. I reconciled only because I didn’t want to become a part-time father or have another man have a hand in raising my kids. I was given one opportunity to ask questions most of which she could not provide an answer or explanation. She refused counseling, was unwilling to talk about it and told me I just needed to get over it. I still think about things that were said and done every day. Until her affair, she was the one person I could talk to about anything but now there are so many things we can’t talk about. Did she really expect her affair to not affect me? I really feel like I’ve done my best given the circumstances but I too put up many walls and cannot allow myself to become too close and try not to ever ask her to do anything for me. My biggest fear is for her to feel like something positive resulted from her affair. It seems like she’s placed all the responsibility of making our marriage better on me but I’m not the one who cheated. I stayed for the kids and always planned to leave the marriage once the kids had grown but am finding that more difficult than I expected. Special occasions and holidays would never be the same and we have grand kids now. I long to be with someone who truly loves and appreciates me but starting over at 57 seems impossible. I have come a long ways in the last 20 years and in some ways am a better person. I know more about what I like and dislike and I’m not afraid of being alone.

            • Hopeful

              Never Be The Same, I am so sorry for everything you have been through. It makes me sad to read it. This is so hard what we go through. You have been so strong and understand the pull to do it for your kids. Have you gone to a therapist individually? I am asking because that is what really helped me. I took a long time to find the right one doing my research and talking with the therapist before I started. It was critical for me to get to where I am. One thing that my therapist was amazing at was listening to me and helping me figure out what to say to my husband, what boundaries and expectations I should set and the consequences. Honestly my husband had complete freedom since I thought I could trust him. We had been together for a long time so much of that was habits at that point. We worked really hard week after week replaying situations and conversations. And it made a huge difference. It provided me the confidence to see what I wanted from my marriage but also how to go about it. And I remember over and over my therapist reinforced that I could only control myself and to watch how my husband reacted. What were his actions and words? Did they match? It took a long time and a lot of work. And even as we neared the end of therapy I was cautious but my therapist said it was time and I should trust my husband. I kind of needed that push, validation and support. I also liked that it was someone just for me both support wise and someone that was on my side. After dday and everything that came out it was hard. I felt like the world was against me. For one hour a week I could complain, feel like a victim, be sad, cry and it was all about me and how I was feeling. Over time we worked to get figure out how to move from that point but it was really critical for me. You sound like an amazing person and so strong!

            • Never be the same

              Hopeful … Thank you for your response. I honestly don’t know where I would be today if not for my Christian faith, a pastor at my church, a dear friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in 20 years and a Christian counselor. I was completely devastated by my wife’s affair and my life and marriage has never been the same, but I am proud of the way I’ve handled the situation and have survived. The aftereffects of the affair remain 20 years later as I still wake up most mornings thinking about it. My pastor once said it would be easier to forgive than forget and I have found that to be true. I feel like I’m more selfish and more concerned about what I want than before. Memories are triggered if she happens to be late coming home from work, going to church together is uncomfortable and I rarely discuss my personal feelings with her. It’s completely unfair that showing affection is a reminder of what happened. Even watching a movie together where one of the characters is having an affair makes me uneasy. However, her affair has caused me to learn to lean on my faith, accept that somethings are out of my control, manage and not overreact to my emotions and grow as a man. I am extremely grateful that I was able to remain a full-time father to my two daughters. Who knows what their lives may have been like had they been subjected to a divorce and splitting time between parents? I am so proud of them. They have both grown to be incredible women and are constant reminders that I made the right choice. Credit for that decision must go to my pastor as he encouraged me to do everything in my power to keep my family together and reconcile with my wife should the opportunity arise and apologize even if I didn’t feel like I anything wrong. While I do not regret my decision, I also feel like I reconciled too quickly and made it too easy for her to come home. I also wasn’t able get answers to any of the questions I had and was forced make certain assumptions of what I believed to be true but made sense to me. However, after all these years, there are still some things that don’t make sense. She decided to leave our marriage to be with someone who had already been divorced twice. She said that my best was just not good enough and slept with someone else so that I wouldn’t want her anymore. When she told me she didn’t love me, I believed her. She wanted to marry him as soon as our divorce was final! I don’t know what made her want to come back to me if she had already decided I wasn’t good enough. Since she returned, I have noticed little things that maybe I missed before like how she only says ‘I love you’ if I said it first or how she doesn’t wrap her arms around me when we hug. I always felt like I would be the type of person that, if my spouse ever cheated, the relationship would be over. I think we both made that perfectly clear before we got married. However, having kids changed that for me. As my kids got older, I started thinking more about what I wanted for my life. I was tired of feeling like there was a cloud over my head and realized I probably needed to seek professional help. I felt like I needed a different perspective so I did some research and found a male Christian counselor who could relate to what I needed to talk about because his former wife had had an affair. It felt amazing to be able to talk to someone and I felt like he completely understood everything that was going on in my head. Our discussions helped awaken me to what for my life and helped to rebuild my self-respect and confidence.

            • Shifting Impressions

              NBTS
              My heart just hurts as you tell us your story of what happened. I totally understand what you mean about leaving being much more difficult than one would think. I too have little grandchildren and my family means everything to me.

              But the love for our family has given my husband and I more reason to fight for our relationship. Sometimes I think that love is what kept us going,

              Are you able to talk about any of this with your wife??

            • Never be the same

              Shifting Impressions … Unfortunately, we can’t talk about it. My wife asked for me to just forget about everything that happened. She said that I just needed to get over it and that she didn’t want me to “throw it in her face”. The only time in the last 20 years the topic of her affair has come up was when I sought the help of a Christian counselor a few years ago. She wanted to know why so I told her I was having a hard time dealing with her affair. She got really upset and accused me of breaking a promise. Being accused of not keeping a promise by someone who broke wedding vows is pretty ironic.

            • Shifting Impressions

              NBTS
              You sound like someone who doesn’t like to rock the boat (correct me if I’m wrong). You know…..some boats are worth rocking, no matter what the fallout.

              Taking care of yourself and dealing with the betrayal of an affair…no matter how many years ago….is not breaking a promise. Telling someone to “get over it” just doesn’t work. You are worth rocking the boat for.

            • Never be the same

              Shifting Impressions – You are correct. I try to avoid conflicts. That’s just who I am. I feel like, if I tell her exactly how I feel about everything, our marriage would end. Life as I know it would change dramatically. The home that I’ve lived in for the past 20+ years would need to be sold. I run the risk of having my kids blame me for wanting a divorce. And, I will likely be required to pay a substantial amount pf alimony every month. I’m unhappy with the way things are now but don’t want to make things worse. Before we married, I made it clear that cheating would not be a deal-breaker and feel like I compromised my principles. I feel paralyzed and unable to make a decision and like a wimp for not being able to make a decision one way or the other. Her affair was not a mistake or a one-time fling but was intentional over an extended period of time and I don’t believe it’s possible for the person who commits adultery to ever truly love the person they betrayed.

            • Never be the same

              SI – That should have said ‘cheating would be a deal breaker’

            • Shifting Impressions

              NBTS
              You know I think that many of us thought that cheating would be a deal breaker…..I know that I did. Years ago a friend asked what I would do if my husband cheated on me…..I flippantly said I would take him for all he was worth. I naively thought that was never even a possibility!! I don’t think that trying to put back the pieces of our relationship is comprising our principals but rather It takes courage.

              Also they say that the infidelity has nothing to do with the betrayed spouse….hard to believe but I have heard that said more than once. It’s more about something missing in their own lives than anything to do with us. Yet we are the ones that are shattered.

              I feel for you…..keeping your true feelings inside is a high price to pay for “keeping the Peace”. Is that something that other people in your family do in order to keep your wife happy or keep the peace with your wife?. Is it a pattern?? I know….I ask a lot of questions. It’s the conflict resolution side of me.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I think we need to give ourselves permission to grieve…..however long it takes. It might sound odd but I believe in embracing the grief……letting it take us where it wants. The tears, the anger, the pain, the questioning…..and even the numbness….it’s all part of the process.

      It was six years ago, today that I stumbled across my husband’s EA…..the resulting grief has been long and hard. But slowly it eases and I do believe that time has something to do with that. Was there hard work to be done….absolutely!!! Picking up the pieces of has been extremely painful. But I almost see that part as separate from the grief…..if that makes any sense. Picking up the pieces was the work I had to do……grieving was something I had to go through.

      This weekend we attended the celebration of life service for, a young family member, that died in a tragic accident. Close to eight hundred people attended (a tight knit farm community) The pastor reminded us how grief is cyclical. He compared it to a spring…..the grief goes around rather than a straight line. Just when we think we are “done” with a stage it can hit us again when we aren’t looking.

      I also find every time there is a major loss all the grief from previous losses seem to come rushing back. I’m learning that its better to face the grief than run from it. I just don’t think there are any shortcuts when it comes to grieving ……

      I think when a wave of grief hits……let it carry you where it wants rather than swimming against it.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Also, as I mentioned our family has just experienced a tragic loss…..it’s amazing as the family and community pulls together in their grief. This is something that does not happen when one is grieving over an affair. Often the affair is shrouded in secrecy. Even after d-day the BS keeps up the secrecy and is left to grieve alone. Hopefully they find a therapist to help them through. But there is no pulling together of all their friends and family. And if they do share, it has the potential of blowing up in their face…..causing divisiveness among the very people they need.

      I think this almost enforced solitude in the grief process makes it that much harder.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Everyone,
      Thanks for reading the article and taking the time to respond to it. I appreciate it.

      Hopeful, I can actually 100% relate to where you are at right now. I too spend a lot of time alone (with my dogs) when I can. Even though I did not reconcile with my ex, the “Sarah after” is a different person. I no longer enjoy social engagements. I hate going to crowded and loud places. I have chosen to live in a very rural area. The issue is, I have seen the “shadow side” or the ugly side of humanity. I have several close friends who I have known for years. I can kick back, relax, and be myself with them. (Unfortunately they are spread throughout the country and world, but one lives in my town). Yet, when I am on daily errands, I can appear to be an extreme extrovert. I can be chatty with strangers, but only on surface topics like the weather. Hopeful how are you handling these feelings? What does your husband say?

      And of course for everyone who emails me, or leaves comments here, or calls me, I adore all of you. You are all my “online family.”

      Nearly Normal, if you are still grieving, it’s because your wife never gave you closure. She may think that she gave it to you, or you may think you had it. But, if you continue to grieve it means there is something large that has not been processed and it’s keeping you stuck. Now some grief will always be with a person. But it seems you have been stuck for a while and that is NOT your fault in any way. You did not get something essential that you needed, even if you are not consciously aware of it. Feel free to email me. Very few men do and men grieve differently than women. I am attempting to find ways to help betrayed men. But so few speak up and since they don’t speak up, I don’t know how to serve the needs of betrayed men.

      ShiftingImpressions, big HUGS to you. I am so sorry for your loss. What a tragedy. Seeing someone young die is very difficult. I think it’s most people’s worst nightmare: for someone further along in life to attend the funeral of someone young they knew or knew of. Like an affair, it’s one of those things that should never happen. Like an affair it’s senseless and has no purpose or meaning. And you are right about the lonely road of affair recovery. When a person dies, we all grieve together and share the burden of the loss. But, when a spouse has an affair, the betrayed spouse has to walk a silent road. Quite often we betrayed spouses have to grieve alone because society is not yet comfortable tackling this in the open.

      To everyone: But I guess the bright light is that we all have each other here at EAJ. I care for each and every one of you who finds yourself here. We do have a place to process our feelings here and it’s anonymous and that creates safety. I don’t know who anyone is unless they email me and tell me. I like to stay neutral and focused on each person’s pain. I am here to help you all through this, no matter who you are. Being betrayed is the thread that binds us and that’s all I need to know. I am a friend to all who have suffered this lonely road of betrayal and I am here for you.

      Big hugs,
      Sarah

      • Nearly Normal

        Thanks for the thoughts, Sarah.

        Yes, I will probably be stuck more or less where I am for the rest of my life. Things get very gradually better, but I am able to accept that this is my life. It is certainly not as bad as it used to be, and will probably get a little better, but realistically not much. Yes, she did not give me what I needed, which is, any sort of responsibility for my healing. Virtually zero disclosure even on D-Day. What she has done is try to be a good wife and look back on “those years” as something she is ashamed and embarrassed by. And that is something.

        P.S. Probably won’t email. My contact here is something my wife does not know about, but she has access to emails. That is not the healthiest situation, but it does feel nice to have something of my own that helps my healing.

        • Shifting Impressions

          Nearly Normal
          I understand how having something of your own helps your healing. I feel the same way, But my husband knows I come here. Would letting your wife know that coming here to support and be supported open any sort of dialogue? Just a thought. The fact the my husband does not come here gives me more freedom to speak freely but I don’t mind him knowing that this is what I need.

          • Nearly Normal

            SI,

            Would it open any sort of dialogue? Experience tells me no, at least not a helpful one. I have been through a similar situation getting myself to counseling, and there was a lot of defensiveness that hurt me a lot. But thanks for the thoughts

            • Shifting Impressions

              NN
              I’m sorry to hear that. I know that the “thought “ that the CS should help the BS heal is out there but I believe it’s a fairly idealist point of view. I have let go of many of those expectations but if they can at the very least acknowledge the pain they have caused.

              I have waited for my husband to be more proactive in the healing process but that’s not going to happen. But he shows true remorse, acknowledges the pain and encourages me to get the help I need….whether that be counseling or talking to whoever I need to talk to. It took a couple of years but the defensiveness is also gone.

              Is it so hard for her to accept that perhaps you still need help sometimes?

            • Nearly Normal

              SI,
              Sorry it took so long to get back to you.
              Yes, it is hard for her to accept. If I love her and forgive her, then I should not hurt (not realistic, but she does not seem to get that concept).
              On the other hand, she has acknowledged that she caused me pain and expresses genuine guilt. But she still distances herself from who she was in the past. She is glad she is not that person any more. I know what she is saying, and to some extent I agree that she has changed her behaviors. But if she is a totally different person, then it is easy to simply sweep everything under the rug.
              Thanks for the response.

        • Shifting Impressions

          Nearly Normal
          It’s all so difficult isn’t it…..there just are no easy answers. No shortcuts to be had. Six years later I’m still struggling but still moving forward so that’s a good thing.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Sarah, thank you for your kind word and the hugs.

        I agree the fact that we have each other is extremely helpful!!!

    • Exercisegrace

      First, I am sending prayers to Sarah and SI for their losses. Lots of love to you both.

      Second, another great article Sarah! It’s been seven years since d-day for me, and time has changed some parts of my perspective and solidified other parts. My boys play football and there is a saying I love: “Football doesn’t build character, it reveals it”
      This is SO true. I have come to believe the same about an affair. The affair REVEALS the character of the both spouses.

      When my husbands affair came to light I felt blindsided. We had a good marriage, communicated, strong partnership, etc. I just never saw it coming. He was a good man, who had made a tragic choice. We entered therapy and exhaustively explored the issues that led to it (FOO issues, abuse, alcoholic father, lack of boundaries, and so on). But as time has gone on, I can look back and see parts of his character that were AWAYS there. That (to varying degrees) are STILL there. Character revealed, if you will.

      He tends to put himself first. As a stay at home wife and mother for almost two decades before his affair, I tended to prioritize his needs above my own as well. But for the most part, our goals meshed well enough that I never noticed his selfishness. I excused the glimpses of self-centered behavior that peeked out from time to time: he was overworked, under stress, and so on.

      Affair recovery is a journey. I used to think of it as a place I would arrive, sigh, and be “over” the affair. Instead I have found that it is fluid. There are days it feels distant and there are days it rears up raw and in my face. I see his selfishness in the way he handles this. He doesn’t want to be reminded. He will accuse me of wanting to “rub his face in it”. He will say he has shown his remorse and apologized many times and so he “doesn’t deserve to be shamed over and over”. I respond by saying he made his choices and now he doesn’t get to control mine.

      I work hard to put it behind me. I have techniques I use when reminded so it doesn’t drag me down. I remind myself that I am in control of my thoughts and my responses. Never let anyone tell you that you are grieving “the wrong way”. There is no wrong way and there is no right way. To combine two sayings I love? When you find yourself going through hell….keep going. And walk through there with your head up like you own the place!

      • Shifting Impressions

        EG
        Thank you for your thoughts and prayers….it means so much.

        I agree that the grief is fluid,,,,,just when you think you are done it comes around and knocks you flat again,

      • Hopeful

        I like the word “fluid” to describe the process. That is so right. My husband is more insightful and sensitive to all of this but his big blindspot is he says he knows he is not doing anything wrong and never will again. But he forgets that I am not next to him at all times and cannot always see what he feels. I do believe him but it is that trauma and physical reaction sometimes. How we deal with it is I can call or text him any time and he responds immediately. This helps me and he welcomes it. He has told me he does not want me worrying or being stressed. Not perfect but might be something as an option for others to suggest as an expectation and boundary.

    • Rose

      Sarah: Found this for you. Hero KNEW how much you loved him:
      https://www.outsideonline.com/2405340/grieving-dog-death

    • Rose

      I am mostly in between grief and numbness, this after 6-7 years. H has not changed at all and refuses to talk about anything. Weirdly, about 2 months ago he asked me why I looked so sad all the time. I was surprised he cared a lick about my feelings or how I looked, but I wrote it all down in a nice bulleted list so he wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. Did he respond? Nope. Nothing, nada, zilch, except his usual projection/blameshifting that I caused it all because of the affair I had, WHICH I NEVER DID.
      At that time, I insisted he go to counseling (I’ve been going for 2 years) and to my shock, he has been going.
      Now I have a question for you guys. Since I insisted he go, I guess I figured he might want to discuss some of it with me. I was wrong. He told me about a book his counselor suggested, but that’s it. I haven’t asked much except “How did it go?” and like a child, he says “Fine.” Do you think it is appropriate for me to ask what his counselor discussed with him and do you think he should tell me? H is a serial liar and I’m 99% sure he’s telling his counselor all kinds of lies, because he is a charming narcissist—not sure if counselors can see through that. But I feel like I should get some summary at least about what is going on. I haven’t seen ANY change in him so I doubt it’s doing any good.
      Here’s to healing for all of us.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Rose
        Good to hear from you.
        As much as you want to know what is discussed in his counseling sessions I think that might be a wrong expectation on your part….only my opinion. If he wants to share, that is an entirely different situation. As for whether the counselor can see through all that…..I just asked my psychologist daughter that the other day. She said they are trained to look for that.

        Would he be willing to go for joint counseling??

        • Rose

          SI, you might be right. I am just so frustrated. Our entire lives have been secrets that he has kept, and this seems like just another one. I guess I’d like for him to ask questions from me to the counselor like “Do you think it was a good idea to tell our kids that their mom had an affair, when she DIDN’T?” Because that happened. In secret. That they then told to me.
          No, I’m the one unwilling to go to MC. We have been 3 times. The first 2, we saw the same therapist who was useless. I always left feeling worse, and she never had anything to help us. The third time, a couple of years ago, he spent 45 minutes of the hour talking about himself, how HE was the victim, etc., etc. I barely got in a word. Upon my mentioning to the counselor his obscene EA with his cousin and him getting nude pictures, he said “Well, I liked it.” The counselor then told me he needed individual counseling before she would see us again. So here we are, several years later.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Rose
            I can understand your frustration……but individual counseling is just that. I doubt that there is anyway he is going to ask questions from you to the counselor. There is a good chance it would be counterproductive anyway. You would have no way of knowing what he told you about the sessions would be accurate. He does have a history of untruth.

            The biggest lesson I have learned from all this heartache is that I can’t control anyone else. My greatest power lies in my own response.

      • Hopeful

        It is my understanding from my therapist and my husband who is a mental health professional that they would not be allowed to disclose anything even if you urged him and wanted him to go. Unless a crime was committed or they are a danger to themselves or others. My therapist when I first reached out asked me if it was just for me, him individually and or couples therapy. My therapist explained that once I started therapy if my husband was not also starting at the same time and we decided down the line we wanted to have couples therapy we would need to seek out someone else. It was explained that I would have a therapy relationship of my own and due to it being at a different stage it would not be acceptable to start at that point with my husband individually or as a couple. My therapist said if I wanted my husband to come in with me time to time for support or brief work that would be one thing but no new long term therapy starting unless it started around the same time frame. This has checked out with what my husband has told me is standard expected treatment to ensure the best therapy relationships.

        Also I understand you wanting to know and not trusting him but I look at it the reverse. My husband urged me to go to therapy so I had someone to help me that was there just for me. If my husband had reached out to the therapist and shared what we talked about I would find that a breach of our patient therapist relationship. And when I was not trusting anyone at all that would been a huge hit for me.

        Have you thought about trying to find a therapist that is the right fit for you and your needs individually? For me that was really key. I needed someone just for me and that I could confide in and was only there to provide advice for me. In the end I knew I could not change my husband so I focused on me and getting to the point of what my best next step was and the decisions I needed to make. My therapist was critical in this process. I traveled far for therapy but I sought out someone that only focused on betrayal their entire career and who was in line with my overall perspective. Many therapist do not specialize or have specific training in this area.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello All,
      I am behind in answering comments and I apologize for that.

      I am very grateful that we have a safe place here where we can all share what we are going through and support one another with VERY HARD WON advice. We are all experts due to what we are going through.

      This is the club no one wants to join, but I am daily amazed due to the healing space all of you have cobbled together.

      I love how we all support each other and it’s genuine support. We live in such a fast-paced society that people often cannot get together in person for comfort. But, this is also a very difficult topic for many to discuss.

      I am grateful that EAJ is a place where we can talk safely and anonymously about what we are all going through and receive heart-felt support from people who have giant hearts and want to be here to help one another.

      Hope to catch up on comments soon. Big hugs,
      Sarah

      • Hopeful

        Sarah, I think of you often when I do not see you replying. Please do not take that as pressure. Your insights and comments are always excellent, supportive and welcome. I hope you are doing well.

        • SARAH P

          Hi Hopeful,
          You are very sweet. I have had a rough ride with my own health recently. The death of Hero created an enormous and negative cascade that rippled through my family. I have one child on the autism spectrum and another who was suicidal. Just as things were starting to look up, Hero died. BOOM. It seems all the progress my family made was erased in an instant. Losing a fur baby is always hard. But, this particular fur baby played a larger than life role in my family. My own health has been compromised by the ripple affect of stress that has befallen my family. But, I should not be complaining. Everyone here has suffered a more tragic loss than I have had.

          EG, thanks for your prayers.

          Rose, thanks for the link and I am SO SORRY about what you are going through.

          SI, you suffered a senseless loss and I am still reeling from the news of this tragedy.

          NN and Never Be the Same, I am glad that you are able to have a spot to work through your feelings.

          All feelings are valid and sometimes “time” does not always heal all wounds caused by infidelity. Unless all wounds are addressed in ways that are satisfactory to the one suffering, healing can be stalled and take years,

          Love to all of you on this cold, November evening,
          Sarah

          • Shifting Impressions

            Thanks for your kind words, Sarah These things are never easy are they.

    • Emma

      The 1 year anniversary of discovery is on Thanksgiving. I used a fake Facebook account and called the mistress out. Very rash and felt very good. Now, I have gotten threats from random people she knows. All today. The mistress is trying to be a local famous musician, very public, vocal, lots of social media bullshit. It makes it hard to suppress things. Did I handle this wrongly? Her friend wants to scare me into deleting my post…they messaged my real Facebook account knowing the fake one was me…saying all sorts of disgusting things in response to my truth telling one-liner post. Idk, I don’t get it. Their response when they are in the wrong…they keep saying I should kill myself especially due to my obscurity compared to her…although they don’t know much about me it seems…they think they do though…

      • Sarah P.

        Emma,
        These women are telling you to kill yourself? Screenshot that and send it to an attorney. That is called online harassment. People in the United States are being arrested for it. Some are sent to jail.

        Creating a fake facebook account is what many betrayed spouses do – for better or for worse – it is one of those things people do when they are shocked. I don’t judge you for it. I am sure everyone here has done something when they have been leveled by an affair. We are not robots; we have emotions.

        And your obscurity compared to hers? Don’t go down that road. It doesn’t matter what she does for a living, She had an affair. Obscurity or fame is not even an issue. You are a wife; she is not.

        But, you really need to screenshot these things the friends are saying, especially the part where they tell you to kill yourself. That is NOT OK.

        What does your H say?
        Sarah

        • Emma

          He says that I brought it on myself. However he thinks that I shouldn’t take anything they say seriously. I screenshot what they said and put it as a comment on the post that set it all off shortly after they messaged all that, just because I thought that they should be exposed for what they are saying. I feel like I never handle anything right—like this online fight with the mistress and her friends…I pretty much held back because these people don’t really know me and I don’t know them so I didn’t feel like tearing them down when they were saying a lot of disgusting things. The harsh post I put on Facebook pretty much said it all…but I don’t know if I should have put them down as well…I wish you could just look at the exchange to hear an actual helpful/knowledgeable thought on what occurred. There has never been any closure over anything. My husbands crowd does not take me seriously as his wife, but I’m also hardly around him during his job (he’s a musician too at bars)..I have a year and a half left of medical school and I have a professional reputation to uphold, I’ll probably go to residency here…and so I used the fake Facebook Because of that but I don’t want to be silenced because of my goals or standards of my profession. I think this woman needs to be held accountable. I was pregnant and delivered just weeks after finding out and for many reasons could not deal with the situation. My baby isn’t even a year,I also have a 2 year old, I have a lot on my plate, trying to get us stable and secure a good future for my family but his friends, his crowd, this woman….they all get to me…and no one is on my side. She hugged him in public a few months ago and I was not aware. I wanted to confront her in person. I have just had to suppress everything. He’s enraged anytime I bring it up and was extremely enraged when I posted on Facebook a few days ago.

          • Sarah P.

            Hi Emma,
            You will soon be an MD and I would like to speak to you about this over email. I don’t want this to back fire. Also if you feel as if you never do anything right, it tells me that you have been gas-lit for a long time due to his affair. You are doing a lot of things right: raising kids while in medical school and while recovering from an affair. I give a shout out to you, Emma.

            My email is: sarah.emotionalaffair.org@gmail.com

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