Some tips for expressing your feelings in a more meaningful way so you can begin to let them go and work to survive infidelity.

survive infidelity

By Linda

In our first article of this two-part series, we discussed the 3 reasons you may be holding on to your anger.  Today we are going to offer some tips for expressing your feelings in a more meaningful way so you can begin to let them go and work more towards surviving infidelity.

Once again, we will be referring to the work of Dr. Frank Gunzburg, author of “How to Survive an Affair.”  His course is certainly one of the most comprehensive resources we’ve found on surviving infidelity.  

Dr. Gunzburg offers 3 tips to better express your feelings with your spouse:

Tip #1: Control the Inner Cave Man

Before you even begin talking to or listening to your spouse you need to control your inner “caveman.”  That is, the beast inside of you.

Dr. Gunzburg reminds us that the cheating spouse whom you are talking to is not your enemy. You want this person to be your best friend.  This may be hard to keep in mind when you are trying to discuss feelings of anger and betrayal, but it is critical that you do so.

If you think of your spouse as the enemy, you will let out your inner caveman. Doing this will start the cycle of anger all over again and you will feel the desperate need to win and conquer rather than heal and repair.

See also  How to Regain Control After the Affair

You can control this beast inside you and choose to act differently.  The control is in your thinking and in your attitude. The thinking and attitude occur before you have the resultant feelings.

You contain yourself for a reason: It’s the best way to move forward with your marriage. You choose to change your attitude to one of friendship and accept your feelings and not act out in rage so you can save your marriage.

Gunzburg says, “If you won’t do this, if you make excuses about it being too hard, you are essentially giving in to your inner caveman and creating justifications for further unproductive (and perhaps even destructive) arguments with your spouse.”

This isn’t an easy step by any means, but it’s the first step in getting past your anger and surviving infidelity.

The Big Five: Gottman’s Communication Techniques to Talk about Infidelity

Tip #2; Use “I” Statements

In order to communicate your feelings to your spouse effectively, you have to talk in a manner so your spouse can hear what you are saying.  When it comes to communicating anger and resentment, the most important thing to remember is to use “I” statements.

Instead of saying “you did this” and “you did that,” Gunzburg recommends you focus on your personal experience and your feelings.

For instance, you might say: “I feel crushed, I feel sad, I feel disappointed, or I feel resentful.” You can then tell your spouse why you feel these things. But the point is to focus on your experience. Tell your spouse how you feel, not about what “he or she did.”

See also  Cheating Spouses - 6 Reasons Why Their Affair Won’t Last

Tip #3: Manage Your Feelings So You Can Truly Listen

This one is more for the cheating spouse, but does apply to the injured person as well, and it is one of the most important pieces of the whole communication process.

You need to learn to manage your feelings so you can listen to your spouse.

That means identifying him or her as a friend instead of an enemy as mentioned above. It also means no defending, no editorializing and no argumentation.  It means accepting what your spouse is saying as his or her experience, even if you don’t agree with or like what is being said. It means assuming your spouse is a rational person with good reasons for thinking or feeling the way he or she does. And it means you make an attempt to understand your spouse’s perspective even if it doesn’t match your own.

Forget about the idea of someone being “right.” Instead focus on the experience your spouse is describing.  Allow your spouse to develop his or her thoughts and feelings in real time. Ask questions. Be attentive. And don’t hold your spouse to previous statements made in the conversation.

3 Communication Secrets to Build Trust After an Affair

This was hard for me…

I struggled with this aspect at first, to be honest with you.  When Doug and I would discuss his emotional affair, I tended to let my emotions get in the way and consequently, I heard what he was saying but I wasn’t really listening.  It didn’t sink in.  I’d always end up asking the same questions over and over.  Eventually, using this technique, I was able to put aside my emotions and have deep, meaningful, calm discussions with Doug so that I could truly understand where he was coming from.

See also  More Mistakes Made After Infidelity

It also helped me to move past having to know all the details of the affair and instead allowed us to discover the underlying reasons that existed within our marriage that caused it to happen in the first place.

The bottom line is to really listen to your spouse. Understand his or her perspective. Don’t stay buried in your own perceptions.

These tips are only a small part of a larger step-by-step program for managing angry feelings, discussing them, and improving your communication skills overall.  But if you incorporate these tips, by themselves they can make a dramatic difference in your marriage and in your chances of surviving infidelity. These are ways you can move beyond your anger and continue down the path toward acceptance.

Holding onto anger and pain damages you more than anyone else. Make a commitment to yourself to get rid of it. Please go to: www.surviveanaffair.com and get started receiving Dr. Gunzburg’s information.

 

    4 replies to "Surviving Infidelity: Expressing Anger without “Getting” Angry"

    • Jeffrey Murrah

      Some of these techniques sound good. My own experience is that people often misuse them. For example “I feel, that you are a jerk” is there version of an “I” statement.

      The techniques are good, yet when a couple has a history of conflicts and not communicating, it is hard to implement these items. It often feels awkward as they try to put them in place.

    • Scott M.

      If I am “backing Off” as I am supposed to do, then how can I communicate, listen and let my feelings be known? “backing off” means the least amount of friendly interaction I deem necessary? If she wont talk to me in any subject other than the children or the weather or the dogs or a tv show, how am I to uncover the true nature of what is in her head? Do I try?

      Can I ask questions like: Do you feel vindicated in some by doing this? Do you beleive that this “in love feeling” you are under will last? What do you hope to accomplish by continuing to interact with this person? Is this thing a replay of a woulda, coulda, shoulda exersice you feel have to go thru? Do you see that the empitness you are trying to fill is overidding your sense of right and wrong? The polarity in our life is making you feel how? Have you given any consideration to the kids in this thing ?

      Can I tell her that:

      I am her friend
      She is not my enemy?
      I am angry
      Iam hurt
      I am resentfull
      I am crushed
      I am dissapointed
      I am trying to understand the process that got us here

      keep going if you have any comments for me. questions or statements. Thanks

      • Linda

        Scott, yes she needs to know all of these things and your questions are very good. The mistake I made was that was the only thing I focused on, my existence was trying to be the perfect wife and make him stop the affair. It didn’t work, they will end the selfishness when they are ready and I just prolonged the agony by constantly questioning, talking and trying to persuade him that he belonged with me. I was afraid to give him the space and time to figure this out on his own, but I will tell you time is on your side. Doug resented my changes, questioned my motives, and in turn gave more fuel to the affair. Do not allow her to make you think that you need to prove to her that you are worthy, she will only throw your changes in your face. It will confirm what she had been thinking all along, that you were all these terrible things. Be a person who displays integrity, honesty and truly cares about his family. Eventually she will see those things and come out of her fog. Linda

    • suzie suffers

      Linda/Doug, I read almost all your posts, and it sounds like “talking” about the affair is in almost all the survivor’s posts. Getting the husband to hear the pain. My marriage was lost to how much I obsessed about the affairs on almost a daily basis, primarily because my self esteem (like the others) was crushed. I couldn’t stop asking about how much he cared about me vs. her. He had told me after about 6 months that he didn’t even think about her. All the triggers I saw…..he didn’t even feel anymore. They were a building, a street, a restaurant…..but he didn’t feel any connection to her regarding them, yet I had a problem letting go. Some of this is codependency and my low self esteem…..but it sounds similar to many of the BS’s. I’ve read alot of things about steps to take to build self esteem, deferring discussions by writing questions down and waiting 24 hours, setting a time each day for 15 minutes…..how many weeks should that go on? I know you did something on obsession but it wasn’t really a step by step suggestion or process. This is for the BS’s that the CS is out of the fog and open to discussion but need guidance on how to “discuss” the details, BUT more importantly how the BS’s discusses their feelings with the CS and what steps they can take specifically to work through those discussions…how long both in time for the discussion and “days/months/years that it can come up daily…..or a tier down of daily for 6 months for 15 minutes…..2 times a week for next 6 months. I know that ALL affairs need the help of a marriage counselor and we just never got their (mom was sick with cancer) and we were in different cities with visits back and forth for over a year…..which created great fun like an affair between us, but it was surface interaction with the constant loming discussions about my insecurites….triggered by lack of trust. So maybe a trust suggestions, self esteem building suggestions, affair discussion step by step blog!!!

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