A resource-filled article on surviving the holidays after infidelity.

surviving the holidays after infidelity

By Linda & Doug

We think it’s safe to say that the holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year for those who are trying to heal from infidelity. 

When you should be looking forward with anticipation to all the joy, family gatherings and traditions that are a part of the season, many of you are instead feeling anxious and dreading the arrival of the holidays.

As we’ve done for the last few years, we want to try and provide you with some information that might help you to make it through this time of year with a little more ease, a little more joy and a lot less insanity.

So consider this our Surviving the Holidays after Infidelity reference post. In it we’ll share an article or two as well as provide some links to other holiday related posts, videos, audios  and/or guides.

Surviving the Holidays after Infidelity

First, we wanted to share an excerpt from an article/post by Anne Bercht, author of “My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.”


by Anne Bercht

1. Put your affair recovery journey on hold over the holidays. Decide to put your “healing from the affair” discussions on hold for a couple of weeks.

2. Use this as a time to make deposits into your spouse’s love account with you. This means aim to have positive experiences with your spouse, like you used to in the past. Whatever you used to enjoy doing together, do those things again.

3. Don’t say anything negative about your spouse over the holidays. If you are tempted to criticize them, hold your tongue and say nothing at all.

4. If you have struggles, things you feel angry about, things that need to be dealt with, journal about them over the holidays, but don’t initiate discussions about these hard things. When the holidays are over, you can go back to your journal and bring up all of these things, so you are not overlooking them, instead you are merely putting them on hold.

5. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life.

6. Make a list of your spouse’s strong points. What attracted you to them in the first place? What good qualities did you notice about them when you first met?

7. Take at least as good care of yourself as you take care of others. What kinds of things do you do for your children? For your friends? When is the last time you did something kind for yourself? Treat yourself as a person of value. You are worth it. Maybe it’s time to treat yourself to a spa treatment, a hot bath, or a day off. Are you eating right, exercising and getting enough rest? How can you be effective in all the things you are required to do, if you don’t take care of yourself? Do you change the oil in your car when it needs it? What makes you think your body can run without proper care then? Have you thought about giving yourself the gift of a coach for 2009? A coach can help you gain clarity and start to live your life by your design instead of like a ship in the ocean with no motor and no sail, left at the mercy of the currents of life. Don’t leave it to chance that your life will get better. Be intentional about making your future what you want it to be.

See also  Q&A With An Unfaithful Wife

8. Take quiet time out to meditate. A few quiet moments before your day by starting to read something inspirational and prioritize your day around the things that are important rather than the things that are urgent can make all the difference. A few moments of quietness in the morning can help you feel peaceful and centered all day, even in the midst of the storm you may be in. You are only one person. You can only do so much. Stop striving to reach the impossible goal of making everyone happy. In order to do the big things, you have to be willing to let some small bad things happen.

9. When you think of things you wish someone would do for you, do that thing for someone else instead. Phone someone and tell him or her you care. Send a card with some words of encouragement.

10. Laugh. Make it a point to have as many deep down belly laughs as you can. Be intentional about getting some humor in your life. People are hilarious. Look for the things that happen that are humorous. Best of all, laugh at yourself whenever you can.


Christmas calmOne Couple’s Efforts to Ease the Holiday Pain…

Here is an excerpt from a post on the Affair Recovery site from an ex-cheater who shares a little bit of what he and his wife did to make the holidays more bearable:

“…when January 1 rolled around, Jill admitted to me that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it was going to be. Now, don’t get me wrong – she was not saying it was easy. It was still hard and painful at times. But she did say that it wasn’t as devastating as she had originally anticipated. In looking back, we both agree that there were some things we did that helped to ease some of the pain. I will share them here, and maybe you will find them helpful as well.

  1. We lowered our expectations. We decided that we were not going to pretend that everything was all right when it wasn’t. That took the pressure off Jill to do Christmas as she always had done it in the past (e.g., decorate the house, have people over, bake a lot, etc.).
  2. I stepped up and took on most of the responsibilities around the house. I planned the days with our kids and parents who came in from out of town. I acted like an adult – instead of the self-indulgent, self-centered, spoiled child that had created this problem. I chose to be responsible. Jill says that this was the number one thing I did that helped her during this time. This alleviated the pressure she always felt around the holidays, as well as helped to build trust for me.
  3. We talked a lot. We checked in many times a day with each other. I asked her how she was feeling and she was honest in her response. Of course, I wanted to hear that she was feeling good, but I rarely heard that. And instead of trying to make her feel “happy” I just let her be what she was – sad, scared, miserable, and sometimes “not as bad as the day before.” I allowed her to be honest with what she was feeling without insisting that she be anything different.
  4. We did do some Christmas things. Whereas the level of our activity was a lot lower, we still did Christmas shopping, Christmas Eve service, rented some Christmas movies, and went to church. Some of these were distractions that helped to relieve the intensity of the pain. And some of these helped us to focus on Jesus – the healer of our hearts. Knowing the miracle of Christmas gave us hope for the miracle of healing in our lives.

These were some of the things that seemed to help us make it through the holidays. It wasn’t perfect and not without pain, but it ended up being a lot better than we had expected…”

You Have the Power – Staying Empowered Through the Holidays and Beyond

David Feder

12 Tips for Surviving and Celebrating the Holidays After Infidelity

We thought it was appropriate to talk to our good friend and therapist, David Feder, MSW, RSW, CSAT, EMDR (levels 1 & 2) Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist.

See also  The Trauma After Adultery

In this audio session, David shares 12 tips to better cope through this stressful time and to help make this holiday a little better. 

Click the audio player below to listen to the session now.

If you prefer to read, you can download the session transcript in PDF format with this link:  12 Tips for Surviving and Celebrating the Holidays After Infidelity


Here are some other articles and guides that may be helpful…

Christmas Survival Tips After Infidelity – A post from 2 years ago where we put together some quotes and other tidbits of advice of our own and from others who have experienced infidelity. They should be helpful to you during the holiday season.

Handling New Normal During the Holiday Season – Guest post by Sara K. from November 2012 where she offers her take on how to survive the holidays, having gone through this herself.

Emotional Affair Recovery – Learning From the Holiday Triggers – Another post from two years ago – but this one was written just after the holidays had ended. Linda shares her thoughts on what she learned while experiencing her own holiday triggers.

Surviving the Holidays: 7 Tips – Rick Reynolds, LCSW offers his tips for surviving the holidays. He says the holidays can be a good time for making progress if you choose to make it so by taking the right approach and applying the right perspective.

Here’s a video version:

Don’t Let the HO-HO-HO’s Ruin Your Holiday – Four years ago we did a webinar with therapist Jeff Murrah, LPC, LMFT, LCDC  that you might want to check out.  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.

See also  11 Rules of Fair Fighting - Taming the Incredible Hulk

Surviving The Holidays During or Post-Divorce – This audio comes from the Recovery Library in the Affair Recovery Movement where Nicole Feuer and Francine Baras discuss topics includiing: Putting your children first, reinventing holiday traditions, reaching out to family and friends for support, dealing with holiday parties, know that things will get better and that the first year is the most challenging, and more.


PTSD and the Holidays: Tips for How to Reduce Your Stress this Season – Trauma survivor Michele Rosenthal shares  tips about how to make it through, plus some additional advice from other survivors. (This is a PDF download)

A Better Way To Deal With Holiday Emotions – Life coach Christine Bongiovanni shares her best tip for handling all of the holiday related emotions that are about to come your way – if they haven’t already started flooding on in.


Lastly, but certainly not least, it would be wonderful if you could share your own experiences with surviving the holidays – what worked, what didn’t and what you are hoping for this holiday season – so that those who are struggling can gain some additional insight. 

Please share below in the comment section.  Thanks!

*Originally posted on 12/8/2014 and updated 12/14/2021

    26 replies to "Surviving the Holidays after Infidelity"

    • Doug

      Any success stories or experiences to share when it comes to surviving the holidays?

      • antiskank

        I am not doing a very good job of getting through Christmas. Due to some more revelations recently from my CS, I can’t seem to stop the triggers and terrible memories and graphic thoughts. I know that since the first D Day, this has been a very difficult time of year for me. I’m not sure whether it’s because of that or the fact that things are going so badly in our marriage but I can’t seem to pull myself out of it.

        Some of the advice I have seen suggests that you make yourself stop the bad thoughts when they start. Others suggest that doing so is avoiding the problem and only makes it worse in the long term. That what you need to do is let the thoughts in and face them, so that after frequent exposure they won’t seem as bad. Nothing seems to work for me. I am at the point where I don’t see any chance of the marriage working, he just doesn’t seem interested, engaged, enthused, etc. I don’t think that financially we can split and I don’t want it to end but can’t settle for staying together just because I don’t want to be alone or dead broke. I really don’t know what to do next. Maybe things will look different after Christmas?

        • Strengthrequired

          Antiskank, don’t forget honey, you have been through a terrible trauma, such terrible pain, isn’t so easy to forget, or even get over. I’m not sure about the frequent exposure, because how much more pain do you need to go through, before it makes you get over it. I think more it would just make you not care anymore, just make you want to give up and not give a damn about anything anymore, because you just get tired, tired of being sick and tired. Trying to be happy is hard to do when you feel so miserable. Please though start focusing on yourself, do things that make you feel good, things that make you feel good about yourself, things that bring your smile and happiness back, I think that’s your first step. Hugs to you.

          • antiskank

            Thank you so much for the words of encouragement, Strengthrequired.

            You’re right that you get to the point of caring about nothing and – oh yeah – tired of being sick and tired!!!! I’m so there right now. The constant barrage of lies and rejection sure does take its toll. I think it changes us in so many ways. I have become a little cynical, distrusting, and withdrawn. These words could neve have been used to describe me in the past!

            I am trying very hard to give myself a kick and stop the painful thoughts from overwhelming me completely. It is a beautiful day today and somehow I will get through it, right? … one bad thought at a time, one good thought at a time. I hope there is an end to the pain somewhere in the near future. First get through Christmas, then take on the world! Why do all of those cheesy Christmas movies have to end with everyone so much in love and living happily ever after!! Just makes me a little sad:(

            Thank you to all for sharing your most painful experiences and triumphs, large and small. It is a comfort to know that others have gone through it and survived. Some have even come out the other side improved if somewhat battered. Thank you to Doug and Linda so much for establishing this connection and sharing your story. It gives me hope and inspiration. Sometimes we all need a boost and this is where I have been coming to get mine. I know it may seem a little flippant to wish you all a Merry Christmas, but if we focus on the good things in life like kids and family, I am hoping it will make us open to the possiblilites of better things to come.

    • Ruth

      My best advice is to do whatever it is you need to do, but try to strike a balance. The first Christmas after d day, I stressed myself way out trying to make Christmas “perfect”. There were several reasons for that. One, I wanted things to be “normal” even though logically I knew they were anything but. Second, I think I wanted to show him what he almost lost. He has always loved the effort I have put into our holidays over the years and how special it makes them. I wanted him to feel the burn of what it might have been like if he had missed out on it all with our kids. Third, I wanted things to be normal for the kids. The whore had outed the affair to our older two via social media and I wanted them to see that things were the same. We were still a family and always would be.

      In truth, I placed too many expectations on myself and was very stressed. Looking back, I wish I had chosen to focus on a few special things instead of going all out manic Christmas. The second Christmas after d day was much better. I had more perspective, we had a lot of counseling under our belts and I was more focused. For me, focusing on the true meaning of the season is what helps me the most. How can I give to others? How can I use the time to connect with my kids over a game, movie, or a drive to see the lights? How can my husband and I make time just for the two of us? This year is our third Christmas, and I am more firmly than ever focused on the people in my life and staying in the moments.

      Stay strong friends. It gets better. For now, when the holiday triggers hit try to focus on your kids or other loved ones. Stay present. Tell yourself you are HERE. This is NOW. Let THEN fade back.

      • Doug

        Excellent advice Ruth. Thanks for sharing!

    • gizfield

      Ruth, the slag exposed the affair to your children on social media? Your husband must have been so proud of what he chose to involve himself with. Shaking my head on that one. What a gutter snipe.

    • Mollymagee

      It’s been four years but I’ll put my reply here. Please weigh in if you want to… I can’t remember the first one after Dday three years ago. I think I sent my son w/my husband to my in-laws and they met our young adult daughter there. I stayed home alone and just relaxed and probably watched a lot of tv. I have no memory at all of what I did. And the saddest part- Thanksgiving is the anniversary of when my husband and I met thirty years ago. Now it still feels flat and ruined by his affair as a sweet memory. It’s not as painful as three years ago but things are not the same. For Christmas, that next post Dday holiday, I went w/our kids to visit extended family out of town and my husband was basically told… not to come along; there was no invite by me though he tried. Plus, I needed him to stay home and take care of our pets. My extended family was probably more miffed at him then my immediate family and they knew I needed the space from him and respected that. I shot guns at target practice that year w/my male cousins and thought of her and him. LOL. I had a good Christmas with my children and my extended cousins, etc but my heart was heavy too. I skipped celebrating Hanukkah with the in-laws; I could not sit around with my in-laws pretending nothing happened and putting on a “good face” or good “show”. I felt such shame and humiliation. It was also particularly tense because both my MIL and SIL, and my SIL in particular, were horrible to me when his affair came out four/five months earlier… their son/brother is my husband who cheated. The week I found out that he had full blown affair was also the week his sister married for the first time. Was she compassionate new bride marrying for first time at almost 60 when she learned what had happened? Did she reach out to me in sympathy? Hell No – went for the jugular and she dumped all her pent up rage and disrespect for me and said I basically deserved being cheated on due to my character flaws; she also said my husband basically had no other choice but to cheat given my issues. Nice, huh? Namaste indeed. I told my husband, the day I found out what she said about me, that my relationship with her was over as a SIL. I respect her as my kid’s aunt but that’s it… I can’t be around her. To this day, I do not trust myself to be around her and not wallop her one. So in order to preserve my own dignity and not act out toward her and to be a woman of grace and dignity – I don’t go to any in-law gatherings that include her – which are pretty much all of them. I can’t and wouldn’t ask my in-laws not invite their own daughter, so I take a pass. And if my husband doesn’t like this, well, these are some of the unforeseen, long term consequences of cheating and he has to find some peace with it. It’s certainly not my job to fix or make things nice for him. I am working in therapy and Al Anon to accept that some people are just toxic and it’s okay to be an adult woman and say “No thanks but thanks for thinking of me” to invites from his family. And here’s the grace of all of this: for years my MIL and SIL were active thorns in my marriage especially my MIL and now her daughter is, as she ages, a chip of the old block and gunning to replace her in her role as prima thorn. I respect my inlaws as my kid’s grands and aunt but they do NOT and have not respected me for decades. I also see and hear how they speak of their other son’s/brother’s ex wife and I know if me and my husband split, I’ll get the same treatment. They are pretty transparent. But I practice dettaching if not w/love then w/o conflict. I don’t engage. Their emails go to spam (blocked) and I turn down any invites to ‘hash over our issues’ that my MIL extends because no good will come of it. And let’s be honest – she doesn’t really want to hear how her son hurt me – so what’s the point? And it would require her willingness to hear that for us to do that mending so I take a pass – because she doesn’t want to think of him that way. I’ve learned that drama is not the state I want to live in w/them as I did for many years – some their bad; some mine. I take responsibility for where I behaved poorly in past as young mom, wife, DIL and SIL but that doesn’t mean I want to be around them a lot now. My best self does NOT come out around them and vise versa. Sometimes we have to accept that not all people are meant to be in our inner circle or even the circle after that – even if we did marry their child/sibling. It’s really okay to take a pass. And God parted the clouds on the day I found out how horrible they were to me on the very same week I was reeling from learning the depth and breadth of my husband’s affair; for years I had doubted and blamed myself and questioned if it was just ME that was the problem. That day, their cruelty confirmed it was definitely not. My main responsibility is to be in the best shape I can be for my remaining teen child at home and to keep my soul, spirit, health and mental health well. They are an afterthought now. I don’t wish the ill will or harm but I also don’t wish to be around them. This is what affairs can do to families and the cheating spouse has to just suck it up. And finally for the new year that year I traveled to see a dear old high school/college friend who was marking the one year of discovering her husband’s affair – yes… on new year’s eve -the same way I did: with a text from his nit wit affair partner. So I went to comfort and support her thru her one year d-day anniversary. You can’t make this stuff up. Peace to all going thru this… be as good to yourself as you can be even if that means staying in your pjs all day and pulling the covers up to your neck, sipping hot cocoa and crying your eyes out. Call good friends or relatives who can listen well and be compassionate. Pray, watch stupid fun tv shows (I recommend Divorce and Girls Guide to Divorce – even if you aren’t divorcing) and embrace nature – get out and walk in trees and parks and let nature heal your weary soul cause you’ve been through a major loss. I hope for all of us that we can build new meaningful traditions that give us the peace and rest and joy that we so richly deserve at the holidays and all year round. Peace…MM

    • True_Love_91

      Best sentence in that article:
      “Don’t Let the HO-HO-HO’s Ruin Your Holiday”
      I hope all of us BWs can have a big belly laugh about that. Let it be your mantra! I’m going to make that an ornament! Or at least a meme.

      • Mollymagee

        Hope it works…we are on our way to divorce so this is probably our last holiday season together. I told him… since he’s not religious or even remotely respectful of religion and trashed Christmas for years that the “kids” now young adult and adult… are MINE for Xmas every year if they so choose. I don’t care if he marries or dates a Born Again Christian, Jews for Jesus, or other pro-Christmas woman… I put up with his crap for 30 years and criticism and you know what… he said, “You are right… I was an asshole.” (My thought: what do you mean… were?? LOL.) And that would be a yes… you were! He’s learned not to do it to my face but I know he writes and texts anti-religious and anti-Christmas stuff still with his obnoxious sister and her husband. So he hasn’t changed…he’s just learned to say “never mind”…. I am looking forward to Christmas and Hanukkah’s and Thanksgivings when I don’t have to hear his complaints anymore. He can call up his AP from the past or new gf and rant to her. I’m done with it. Free at last … hopefully this time next year. I’m not super religious but I do believe in God and honestly, even more than his affair, at this point… it’s our disconnect on our basic values that has me ending this. Be tender and good to yourselves this especially difficult 2020 holiday season. Embrace the little moments. Do self-care.

    • Brenda

      I don’t recall Christmas 2020 except that I had not found this site yet, and I had just discovered my husband’s infidelity, and I was very mean to him – I suppose I was trying to make him see how absolutely devastated I was and to make him feel the pain I was experiencing. He denied, lied, lied about lying, then finally admitted that he had an affair but drew the line there. I was on my own to get through and over the pain by myself – he refused to discuss anything at all about “them” or what he was feeling then or currently. We struggled through the year until July 15th, when I had a stroke. Thank God it was a mild one and I recovered, but he was appalled that this might have been brought on by the stress I was so obviously under. I felt that he was just staying with me because he was afraid to be on his own – we got together when he was just 20 years old – 36 years earlier.. So I would understand if he felt like he needed to have some experiences that he had missed in his youth – just communicate with me – he would not. Then on July 28, he went to the emergency with a pulled groin muscle that turned out to be cancer – lung, bone, bone marrow and leukemia – he was dead by August 31st, 2021. I feel so bad the way I treated him last Christmas instead of appreciating that he had chosen to stay and try to work things out in his way. He felt that I had betrayed him at that time by not continuing to trust that he would not do anything like that again, and that should be good enough. I am still having a hard time with everything as now I will never have any resolution. Appreciate what you have, set boundaries, and communicate with each other. I had felt he was becoming distant but was afraid to try to talk to him about it – until it was too late and he was already in the midst of an affair. I still love him and miss him terribly – this holiday season is one that I am dreading spending alone after 37 years.

      • Shifting Impressions

        My heart goes out to you. I also discovered my husband’s EA after almost forty years of marriage. We were twenty when we got married. I understand the depth of your pain. The sense of betrayal was overwhelming. Your reaction to his betrayal is totally understandable.

        The first few years after d-day were absolutely excruciating. It’s not uncommon for the cheating spouse to deny, lie and gaslight. Mine was no exception. Mary has given you some really sound advice, in my opinion. Don’t turn this inward against yourself. Yes, your husband chose to stay but at that point in time he wasn’t really doing anything to “work it out”. He was actually making things more difficult for you. Mine did the same….as do many cheating spouses.

        It took a few years before I actually saw true remorse. I am so sorry your husband passed away so suddenly……before you had a chance to really work things out between you. He was absolutely deflecting his own guilt by saying you betrayed him by not trusting. He is the one that broke the trust….not you.

        Do you have anyone that you can confide in? Some individual counseling might also be really valuable. This is a lot to carry on your own.

    • Mary

      Brenda…. try to not be hard on yourself. You are mourning two things: the end of your marriage as you knew it post his selfish affair (one kind of death: mostly of your innocence and trust in him) and his actual physical death. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. What you did, you did in great pain: pain he inflicted on you and on the marriage. The resolution is allowing yourself to just be you and pour tenderness and forgiveness into yourself. Find little ways to celebrate the season alone or with those you trust. Or just skip the season… take a trip, rest a lot, go to a spa or have a facial, hide in your bed and binge movie that let you cry or laugh. Do you. Do what’s right for you. You had no way of knowing last Xmas he’d be dead by this one. Maybe his cancer flared to all the stress of lying and gas lighting he was doing to you. He was deflecting his own guilt by saying he was the one who was betrayed. Only one person did that and it was him. He was speaking out out of fear and anger… you don’t have to own his anger and keep turning it on you. Guess what…. you will be fine. Tell yourself that. It’s true. The happiest women I know are widowed and divorced older women. It will take time. Be gentle and forgiving toward yourself. Remember the good times you shared. Or don’t. Take good care, MB

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