The holidays can be a tough time for people who are trying to recover from an affair.  The affair triggers can be overwhelming this time of year, especially if your spouse was involved in his/her affair while the holidays were going on in the past – or if he/she is still currently involved.

Even if the affair is “over,” the holidays often bring memories of what happened and suddenly you are re-experiencing the pain all over again.

Instead of looking forward to time together with friends and family as you always have, you worry and dread what this time together may bring. Instead of creating memories that last a lifetime, the holidays bring horrors you cannot forget. The fights, lies and deceptions turn each get together into a traumatic experience. You may find your hopes, dreams security and health crashing down around you.

Even if you are surrounded with loving family, enjoyable friends and good times, cheating turns it all into a nightmare for you and makes it even more difficult to recover from an affair.

You may still feel that you cannot trust yourself completely.  The trust you had in your spouse has been shattered.  You may feel that you cannot trust enough to share your plight with friends and family. The cheating turns everything it touches in your life to suspicion, hurt and blame.  Basically, the affair is ruining a time that should be one of the most special times of the year.

Last year, we did a webinar with therapist Jeff Murrah that you might want to check out.  We called it “Don’t Let the HO-HO-HO’s Ruin Your Holiday” and you can listen to it by clicking here.  If you would rather read it, here is a transcript of the webinar that you can download.

In the webinar we talk about the following:

  • 10 ways of telling if the cheater is lying
  • 10 signs that an affair is still going on
  • How to confront the affair
  • What are the holiday high-risk factors and what you can do about them.
  • What are “triggers” of past pain and what you can do about them

So take some time and either read the transcript or listen to this audio as it might give you some nuggets that will help you get through the holidays with your sanity and might provide you with some valuable thoughts to help you recover from an affair.

We’d also like to hear from any of you who have experienced the holidays during or after an affair and how you were able to cope and get through.

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    19 replies to "Recover From an Affair – Surviving the Holidays"

    • Helena

      My SO swears that he has cut the OW off completely. I wish I were enjoying the holidays, but I go around with this huge fear that the OW will use the holidays as an excuse to give him a call and wish him Happy Holidays and whatnot and insinuate herself into his life again. He said that in such a case, he would tell her to never contact him again. But knowing what I know of her personality and his, and the nature of their interactions, I imagine she would take issue with that and press him about it; and he would respond to her by complaining about me and my insecurity instead of standing up for me and our relationship, which is the very kind of thing that led to this mess in the first place. And she would milk it like the vulture she is, though he believes she’s just a dear friend with a pure heart who checks in to make sure he is happy, which includes inquiring into whether he is happy with me sexually. Their emotional affair was characterized by his complaining to her about his sexual dissatisfaction with me, among others of his dissatisfactions with me.

      By the way, this is a “dear friend” of his with whom he had a sexual relationship at the time he and I started dating, though he swears their sexual relationship did not continue after he and I started dating. Their relationship did continue to flourish on an emotional level at the very least, in parallel with his relationship with me. I discovered this by snooping in his cell phone text messages and email; if it weren’t for my snooping, I would never have even known she existed, though apparently she has been privy to the most personal intimate things about me.

      My SO and I are not married. I know this site is geared towards married people, so I’m not sure how much of it is supposed to apply to me. For instance, snooping in the cheater’s cell phone, email, etc. seems to be something that is deemed acceptable on this site. However, the general consensus on other sites – namely sites that are not particularly about affairs – is that I am in the wrong for having snooped in my SO’s cell phone and email, especially with regard to the fact that I am not married to him, even though it did lead to my discovery that he’d been having interactions with this OW that are extremely inappropriate in my view. My SO maintains that the overriding issue is my invasion of his privacy. Nevertheless, I find this site very helpful.

    • Helena

      I just want to add: Part of my frustration and anxiety is that my SO seems to sincerely believe that the OW is just a deeply caring soul who is concerned for his welfare, and at the same time he admits that she is infatuated with him, which clearly she is. She has continued to send him text messages telling him he is the perfect guy for her, and taking subtle digs at me (e.g., “I hope she knows she’s lucky and is good to you”), and making references to their past physical intimacy (e.g., “I liked the way you kissed me”), though they have not been physically intimate since over a year ago according to him.

      Yet he does not see – or refuses to acknowledge – that possibly she has ulterior motives. He says I am projecting my own mean-spirited propensity onto her. And I feel like he thinks I’m an irrational shrew for forbidding him and this special friend of his from wishing each other Happy Holidays.

      • Sam

        Wow, Helena. I can totally related to a lot of what you’re experiencing. I don’t think being married to your SO matters. A commited relationship has to be built on trust and transparency, whether or not you’ve signed a paper.

        To this day, my H maintains that he and the OW were “just friends” and that my jealousy and irrationality tainted what could have been an innocent friendship. (An innocent friendship that included coffee dates and daily e-mails and Christmas presents behind my back! I knew nothing about this “friend”.)

        I also feel like my H didn’t stand up for me or our relationship. I think it might be a personality type. I’ve told my H several times that I feel that even if he had no intention of seeking a physical relationship with this woman, I can certainly see how his attitude led her on. I can see why his emails would make her feel “special” and cared for. What woman doesn’t respond to something like that?

        The OW is married, and she was finding ways to meet with my H. Sometimes she’d leave her toddler with a baby-sitter so that she could go have a coffee date with him! Her husband is in the military and out of town a lot. What kind of mom/wife does that kind of crap? Yet my H maintains that she’s sweet and vulnerable and was just looking for a little comfort. Well, what about MY comfort?

        I made it through Thanksgiving and I was feeling really well. I’m in a dark place now – and have been for a few days – but I’m hoping the holiday cheer, my family, my children, and all the celebrations will bring me joy. I wish the same for you!

    • Elizabeth

      I so want this holiday to go well,i was a walking empty shell last year,we were doing so well untill my cs said a few things to me last night that has left me numb again,and i can feel myself drawing in again,ive always loved this time of year,My childrens excitment,the lights ,the tree,,the food,midnight mass,even the music that drives us mad playing in every store,am i being selfish in letting this drag me back down,am i being un festive,am i just being negitive in letting his justifications do this to me.

      Deck the Halls…….all i want to do is Deck him
      any positive feed back will be most welcome

      • Sam

        Oh, sweetie! I don’t think you’re being selfish. However, I’m going to tell you something my sister told me: If this was your last Christmas to share with your children and family, how would you want to spend it? Life is so full of twists and turns and we just never know what will happen tomorrow. Enjoy what you can, as much as you can – today.

        Easier said than done, I know. I can feel myself sinking in depression again, as well. I’ve never been particularly fond of Christmas music, but now everytime I hear it on the radio, it feels like a blow to my chest. I feel so blue.

        On the other hand, I do see the value in letting the past go and enjoying the NOW. Think of your children. Focus on their faces, their smiles. I’ve been hugging my kids a lot lately. Feeling them close makes me feel alive. Think of how excited they’re about this time of the year and try to feel the joy for them if you can’t do it for yourself just yet. You might find that once you start practicing your smile it comes back to you. 🙂

        • Elizabeth

          Thankyou i read your post and what your sister said is so true,so i re-read some of my old posts and read the link on this topic,and you know what, i felt a wee spark of fire back in my belly,so i re Addressed what my cs said to me,He did not like it,and still tried to turn the blame back but i stood my ground and at the end i softly said,i am not doing this to cause you pain thats not my thing.So now i am looking forward to the Holidays because he finally gets it! and so help with the triggers when they raise there ugly head.

      • ifeelsodumb

        Elizabeth,
        I’m sorry you are going through this…heck, I’m sorry for all of us, but I have to tell ya…what you said about decking him instead of decking the halls…well, that made me laugh out loud!! LOL!! I think we NEED to keep a sense of humor about us, or we will go mad!!
        Just try to do what your sister said, and be happy for your kids, and look where you are NOW, as opposed to last year!! You HAVE gotten better, even though it might not seem like it!

    • Paula

      Good luck all, our OW has already started texting my OH again, on the pretence that her son would like something that we have. I still can’t believe he hasn’t changed his number, to just stop that so easily, it will be the end of us, I know this, as he’s had two and a half years to change it. We are not married, either, Helena, however we have lived together for 24 years, 21 of which were blissfully happy, and have three teenaged children, so no difference, except the piece of paper.

      All times of the year are hard for me, as his affair went on for about 15-16 months. I clearly recall the Christmas they were “together” though. I had no idea, but I now know why he kept leaving the house to “go for a walk, to walk off the food,” etc, time to check in with the other “missus.” At one point she was receiving Merry Christmas texts and well wishes from me at the same time as he was telling her how much he wished they were together!

      I come from a large extended family who always celebrated together, however, after my parents divorced, when I was a young adult, this stopped, as my mother is not from the country I live in, so no family. As a young adult, travelling, etc, this didn’t bother me too much, it was probably a relief not to have to interact with my Dad’s family, as they are a pretty closed minded bunch! When OH and I met, I loved that we had huge extended family Christmases again. However, he made some business and lifestyle choices the year before he started his affair, that cut us off from his family, and so we were facing our first Christmas as just our little nuclear family, with my Dad, as well. We went on holiday to our lake house, I made a huge effort (had been working 70 hour weeks for the previous 4 months, and was exhausted) to decorate beautifully, plan, order for and prepare, a sumptuous menu, get the Santa gifts bought, wrapped and there before our arrival (not to mention I did all this alone, as usual, despite my frantic worklife, my OH didn’t help with any of it) and try to relax. He has (in hindsight) made Christmas a very difficult time of the year for me, as the triggers just keep snapping off. Our holiday home was a place he took her for overnight rendez-vous, twice, the place where all of us, including OW, holidayed several times together over the course of the next year and a half, and it was the place it all started at, in my eldest – then 16 year old – daughter’s bed, while my children all slept!!! (Not in that room, of course!) The place where he refused to make love to me – for the first time in all those years we’d been together – whilst she was holidaying with us, in case we made too much noise (??? – we’d been parents for a couple of decades, we knew how to be discreet!) I can’t bear Christmas now, but I grimace my way through it, for our kids, pretending like mad! This will be my third since DDay, and it hasn’t got any easier yet.

      I’ve told him I will never celebrate Christmas again in that lovely place, that I spent months over, designing with our architect, and we both laboured on, as builders’ labourers, painted, sanded, varnished, etc. It has been tarnished for this purpose now. I have reclaimed it as MY sanctuary, she is not pushing me out of there, but I won’t do Christmas there ever again.

      All that said, I work really hard at enjoying my family at this time, and I will eventually reclaim it as a somewhat joyous time, for this too shall pass – eventually, lol!

    • Anita

      Paula,
      This other woman just doesn’t give up. It will have to be your
      husband who has to make the choice to ignore her. He should
      have changed his number a long time ago. What is his reason
      for not doing so? It seems like he’s up on the fence gazing into
      both pastures. He knows you and the other woman both want
      him, so along as he can keep this up, he will play it for all its
      worth. He has no reason to change, its not painful for him.
      Only when you put your foot down, and tell him you have had
      enough, this will change. The flip side of that coin is are you
      ready to give him a ultimatum, and except what happens
      after giving it. This will go on, until the other woman gives
      up or you do.

      • ifeelsodumb

        I have to agree with Anita on this one, Paula…I can’t believe he hasn’t changed his number, especially when he KNOWS this bothers you! My H didn’t change his number until 5 mos after DDay…and to this day, that still causes me pain, that he wouldn’t do this for me when I constantly asked him to, me, his wife, the one he says he loves unconditionally!!

    • Paula

      Anita,

      I know, I have asked him to change it on many occasions. I told our counsellor that it just proved to me that he doesn’t take my needs seriously. I gave him a week to sort it out recently, the deadline has passed. Whilst I really, truly believe he has never contacted her first since Dday, he has replied to the odd text, and I have witnessed these replies, they were never loving or terribly kind, just “leave us alone, please, to heal.” He has not replied to any of the ones recently (I track the phone, if necessary – I know how it works, and he is a technophobe!) I don’t believe he has another phone, and he can barely turn a computer on! None of that is the point. As I told him, I asked you to do one thing that would make me feel valued, precious and SAFE, and you didn’t do it. I have cut myself off from him emotionally (and sexually, of course) now. I am not leaving before Christmas, in fact, I am not putting my children through that, and will stay here, as the best ECONOMIC option, but have withdrawn my love and support for him, as I cannot afford to leave at present. I have explained all of this to him. We remain good friends, cordial and civil, but I am no longer the number one fan, and his biggest support. This is a new way of life for me, I was a VERY loving and loyal partner, but I NEVER want to be with anyone ever again, this was a “good guy” all our friends are horrified, they can’t believe it, we were so bloody close, and so bloody in love, but he can’t help me anymore. I’m quite able to do this by myself, I am just choosing to do it without putting myself under severe financial restrictions! Separation by staying, lol! I am definitely okay, just not as fabulously happy as I once was, YET!

      • ifeelsodumb

        Paula….has your OH gone to counseling by himself, to try to understand these destructive behaviors?
        I mean, here he has a GREAT woman in his life, and he is causing you to shut down, remove your love, and yet, he STILL does these things to you?
        It has to be something in HIM that is causing him to do this! He really needs counseling to figure out why he went BACK to the OW when you separated, and I know, you told him to get out…but to GO BACK to the one who caused all this pain and betrayal in the first place?? He HAD to know how that would make you feel!! My Gosh!!!
        I know for my H, he had a terrible childhood, an alcoholic, cheating father, with a bitter mother, who had her favorite child, my H’s younger brother. My H was “the punching bag” for the dad, since his mom protected her favorite!
        Btw, all of this has come out since DDay…he never told me just how bad it was for him, I just knew about the drinking and cheating….he buries things really deeply! Now I understand why he left home at 17 to join the military, why he NEVER calls his parents, and we have only been home to visit about 5 times in our 26 year marriage! They are not close at all!!
        I’m praying for you Paula….I know you can get through this, you are a wonderful woman…anyone can see that through your postings…((HUGS))

      • ifeelsodumb

        Paula,
        Can I ask you how your children are doing? I’m assuming they know what has happened, since you have separated in the past?

        My youngest is 11 and he has really been acting different since THEIR DDay last April…I feel so horrible that they even know about this, and I’d take it back if I could…sigh…

        Anyway, he seems very insecure at times, is showing more of a temper than he ever has shown, and he’s always telling me how beautiful I am, and asking if I’m alright, and telling my H and I that we should go out to dinner, because parents need time alone, when we are sitting on the couch to watch a movie, he’ll take my hand and place it in his daddy’s hand, etc……just things that most 11 yr olds are not concerned about, you know?
        Anyone else who wants to chime in here, please feel free to do so! I’m just concerned because in the months after DDay I was so wrapped up in MY feelings, I never really thought about how my boys might be feeling!! I feel so stupid!!! Of course this is going to upset them!! Any advice would be welcome!
        Oh, and he has stated a few times, most recently in October, that if “that woman tries to talk to his daddy again, me and him are going to get on a plane and go to her house and he’s going to tell her to leave his daddy alone”!!! How sad, right?
        My H and I have sat down with him and explained that we are doing great and that daddy will NEVER talk to her again…but is that enough?? Again, any suggestions would be helpful!

        • Paula

          IFSD

          My kids seem fine. I have only talked to them about this when I made arrangements to leave, about 9-10 months into my journey. There were some quiet tears, and we chatted, I asked and answered questions. I have asked them a couple of times since if there is anything they need to discuss, etc. They are either in denial, or my acting is outstanding, I think the latter! Even my best friend has no idea that I am still in this hell.

          • Paula

            Oh, and my youngest just turned 13 the other day, so I know what stage your “baby” is at. My kids have always been my responsibility, more than their Dad’s, which is a bit sad, but I think it’s why they are “okay” – because they know that no matter what happens, I will still be there for them, to hell with Dad!!! Harsh, but probably the truth. My parents divorced when I was in my late teens, and I know that it affected me, of course it does, but I was fine really, I understood it all, I wasn’t lied to, the reason wasn’t covered up, etc. I felt my family coped extremely well, until now! The counselling is making me feel like I have to drag all this up again, especially my rape, which I thought I had dealt with really well, but the nightmares are now proving ridiculous. It annoys me, as I don’t know how I could have coped any better, but the old thing is everything that happens to you affects who you are now. I think part of my hurt and probably anger, is due to the fact that I shared all of this hurt with my OH, hoping it would mean something to him, a double insurance against him adding any more baggage to my load!! Didn’t work, and now I’m furious at myself for ever trusting any bloody man at all! Sounds bitter and a bit stupid, but that’s how I feel. Oh, and he is changing his phone number today – I told him that is nice, but it could be too little, too late. I’ve obviously become pretty hard to please, lol! IFSD, I wish you well in comforting your son, just lots of reassurance that you will be okay, and that you both love him, together or apart, it doesn’t matter, as long as he’s safe and loved.

    • csb

      I agree with Helena…I’m living in fear that the holidays will be the OW’s reason for contacting my H. My D-Day was about 2 1/2 months ago, the EA went on for 1 1/2 years. Just like Sam, H insists it was never more than a friendship, but admits he got “scared” toward the end of the way it was heading. After he got “caught”, I asked if she came to town to visit, would he have met her again and possibly have sex (it was all email/phone/text with one secret lunch meeting)… he said he didn’t know.

      As far as the holidays, my children are grown and on their own, so I don’t really have them as a distraction. It will be him and I and I just hope I can see beyond the OW in the room with us!

      • Sam

        I’m getting a little nervous about the holidays as well. My H’s “friendship” with the OW went on for about 3 years or so. It was mostly e-mail, but they did meet for coffee a few times. There was contact between them every holiday: Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, New Year, etc. (At least they had the decency no to aknowledge each other on Valentine’s Day! Or at least, I didn’t find any evidence of that. Phew.)

        I know they always took the time to wish each other happy holidays and to find out how things were going in their family life. She contacted him back in October, after a 4 month hiatus. My husband didn’t reply to her e-mail and she didn’t persist.

        I’m just wondering if she will use the holidays as an excuse to write to him again. I hope not. If she does, I think I’m going to finally confront her, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ll tell her exactly what I think of her!!!

    • Lynne

      Paula-

      I’m curious as to what he has said to you about why he does not change his cell number??? Is it related to his profession? In other words, I’m wondering whether there seems to be a valid reason from his side–certainly he must have told you why he’s not changing it, yes?

    • Paula

      Lynne

      He actually did it today, crazy, huh? His excuse was to do with his business, which was nonsense, can always fix that with a group text from new phone number. Since then, we have discussed it further. I am firmly of the opinion that he felt as long as he had some method of contact with her, he could “control” the damage. I kinda get that, knowledge is power. I even felt almost relieved when she kept texting even years later, as it proved beyond doubt we were dealing with a psychopath – no exaggeration, she matched almost every point when I looked at the definition of one. Therefore there is no “victory” in him doing this today, once again, he thinks this will make it all okay, but he didn’t do it when I asked him to, he’s waited until HE wanted to, in my opinion, no respect for me.

      IFSD, OH is in counselling now with me, and he is discovering a lot about why he is the way he is, even though he feels guilty “blaming” his past. He feels it is a cop-out because everyone knows that cheating is gutless and the losers way out of problems. He is as disappointed as anyone in the way he acted, and the way he didn’t understand how important it was for him to try to make me feel safe and heard.

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