Much as we are living in an extremely uncertain world due to COVID-19, there is also much uncertainty after infidelity that we must find a way to deal with.

uncertainty after infidelity

We’re living in some extremely uncertain times.

The world, for the most part, is on lock down. Millions of people have lost their jobs – some temporarily, many permanently. The financial markets are in utter turmoil. Personal finances are a huge concern. Many of us can’t connect with our loved ones and may be fearing for our own safety and for the safety of family and friends. The list goes on and on…

Who really knows at this point what life in this world is going to be like after this pandemic is over?

Life in general at the moment is one big question mark.

The thoughts, feelings, emotions and responses that many are feeling right now as a result of infidelity, are very similar to those that have been created as a result of COVID-19  – or any other anxiety inducing situation or incident.

Bryan Robinson in Forbes.com writes:

If you’re like most people, uncertainty can cause you tremendous anxiety. Why? Your survival brain is constantly updating your world, making judgments about what’s safe and what isn’t. Due to its disdain for uncertainty, it makes up all sorts of untested stories hundreds of times a day because to the mind, uncertainty equals danger. If your brain doesn’t know what’s around the corner, it can’t keep you out of harm’s way. It always assumes the worst, over-personalizes threats and jumps to conclusions. (Your brain will do almost anything for the sake of certainty). And you’re hardwired to overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to handle them—all in the name of survival. When certainty is questioned, your stress response goes haywire, instantly arousing your fight-or-flight reaction, kicking you in the pants in an attempt to spur you to action and get you to safety. Waiting for certainty can feel like torture by a million tiny cuts…

Sound familiar?

As a betrayed spouse, one thing that we crave, but is missing after an affair is discovered, is some certainty about the future.

The unfaithful spouse who is remorseful and repentant typically desires this as well.

A sense of certainty is not typically out there to be had, however.

To piggy-back on what Mr. Robinson states above, uncertainty can be described as the lack of ability to predict what’s going to happen next. Uncertainty can create negativity, anxiety, insecurity and can suck away all of your strength.

Usually, you are most uncertain right after D-day, but that doesn’t mean it just suddenly disappears after a few months. It can last for a long time for some people.

And since life is inherently uncertain, there is no way that you can totally eliminate uncertainty. You can only manage it.

There is Much to be Uncertain About

The betrayed spouse (BS) wants to know for certain that the affair is over and that the wayward spouse (WS) is committed to the relationship and the hard work ahead.  The gift of forgiveness may be something that is uncertain as well. The BS also need to be certain that another affair won’t happen in the future. They want to be certain things will eventually be better.

The remorseful WS wants to know for certain whether they will be forgiven and how their spouse’s healing process is going to play out. They also want to know what to expect from their spouse emotionally and mentally. There also might be some residual uncertainty with respect to their relationship with their affair partner.

These are just a few things that one may need to be certain about. Your list may be different and probably much longer depending on where you are in the recovery process.

The problem is that there are virtually no certainties when it comes to recovering and healing after an affair. And it’s very difficult for one person to have any control over the other in this situation.

There’s not a map to where either you or your spouse will get to or how long it will take you both to get to wherever that is.

Even if you had a trustworthy emotional roadmap and a timeline, your ability to affect – much less control – the pace at which your partner processes things would still be limited and indirect.

It’s better for you to continue to focus on the steps and changes in your own way of living that you can control directly.

Save Your Marriage by Saving Yourself

So How Do You Manage Uncertainty After Infidelity?

I tell a short story in our Crisis Management module to help illustrate how uncertainty after infidelity can work and how to possibly manage it…

“Several years ago while at home alone in the basement, I heard our door bell ringing over and over again and the dog barking crazily. Now, I had been running the vacuum sweeper so I gathered that I must have not heard the door bell initially and whoever it was must have been getting impatient and really needed for me to open the door.

As I ran up the stairs to the front door, I noticed right away that nobody was there. Then all of a sudden, I heard a massive pounding on our back door as if someone was trying to break in.

I quickly ran to see and sure enough there were two men trying their hardest to force their way through the door and into our home. I sort of froze for several seconds not really knowing what to do. Should I yell or should I scurry to the phone and call the police? (This was pre-cell phone days.)

As the door started to buckle I decided that yelling was the best course of action, so I yelled out, “Hey, what are you doing?” Well, you would have thought I pulled out a machine gun because those two men ran like a couple of scared deer.

Now, granted I was not hurt in any way and nothing was taken from our home, but that was one of the most frightening minutes of my life and the incident created a massive wave of uncertainty in me – and eventually in Doug.

It wiped out a lifetime of confidence and security. Nothing to that point had really prepared me for such a situation and I really didn’t know how to handle it, nor prevent it.

It also raised several questions. Was our house safe? Will this happen again? Do we need protection of some sort or an alarm system? What other preventative measures should we take? Should we just move?

Infidelity does the same thing. It wipes out a lifetime of trust and security which then can become a huge roadblock for betrayed spouses as they try to recover. Infidelity destroys the confidence in our own ability to protect or prevent certain things from happening.

So in our attempted break-in situation, I came away with the lesson that living in a home, as in life, entails dealing with various risks. That is a given. It’s how you deal with those risks that matter.

So instead of moving or worrying every day or doing something that goes against my nature, like purchasing a gun, we decided to manage the risk. To cope with what was handed to us.

We installed deadbolts, outdoor security lights and an alarm system. And best of all, we still live in that same house.

So what I’m telling you is that in order to face the uncertainties that go along with infidelity, you need to learn effective coping strategies – the key word being effective.

The more effective your coping skills, the better you will be able to bounce back from pain, trauma, adversity, and uncertainty.”

There is nothing for certain when recovering from infidelity, just like there is nothing certain in life.

The future of your marriage (and life) can change in an instant.

You are going to face uncertain times – like those that are before the world right now, but that doesn’t mean that you will never have a feeling of stability again. It can and will come back.

You have the power to create an outcome that can be better than the way things were before.

***********

Please share how uncertainty after infidelity has affected you  and your relationship in the comment section below.

If uncertainty after infidelity is an issue for you right now, you might want to check out the Crisis Management module where we provide you with a game plan for effectively coping with the affair so that you can better handle the uncertainty and all that goes with it.

*This was originally posted on March 13, 2015 and updated on April 14, 2020

    12 replies to "After Infidelity the Only Thing That is For Certain is Uncertainty"

    • TryingHard

      Linda, this was such a good post. You have hit the nail on the head of what is center in my life. It’s the uncertainty. Not forgiveness, not trust, not why, but uncertainty. Uncertainty if I even made the right decision to reconcile!!!

      Every freaking morning it’s what kind of hell will happen today??? Not just marital, but life in general, but certainly the trauma of his infidelity weighs in on my inability to handle life’s stresses. Business worries and stresses (and yes, only natural childbirth is more glamorous than owning your own business), putting our dog of 16 years down in November, family member in the hospital on and off for 6 months, son divorcing and the subsequent behavioral issues of my grandchild and him and his girlfriend having a child six months ago, our own health issues,….. Tra la la the list goes on so throw infidelity into the mix and well yeah uncertainty is def out there for me.

      Life is so hard and it must be so comforting for those who don’t question their spouses integrity and authenticity to face these daily challenges. But life does change in an instant. Matter of fact 4 years ago this week I was fat and sassy and pretty certain and “We have to talk…” walked in the door.

      So yeah life is uncertain and we deal with it the best we know how. All I have to say is SUCK IT UNIVERSE!!!

    • Tabs

      TryingHard-

      I remember asking someone on this blog how they could forgive their CS. At the time, it was 3 years after Dday and I still felt anguish. “It’s something we learn to live with” was the answer. But I think you’re probably closer to the mark. We are still married, so there’s forgiveness. It’s the uncertianty that’s difficult. Did I do the right thing by staying married or should I have divorced. The universe as I knew it before Dday, no longer exists.

      SUCK IT UNIVERSE!!!

    • TryingHard

      LOL Tabs!!! SUCK IT INIVERSE is right

    • CeCe Lenile

      You live with it, but you do NOT have to. The only way to not live with it is ending the marriage. I felt like you all 3 years out until I finally decided that there was another life out there waiting for me and that I deserved better even though my cs was doing everything he could to make up for his infidelities. You donkt have to stay stuck in a rut. Go live your lives. Prince charming is waiting for you out there and he ain’t your hubby…trust that.

    • Matt

      Looks like it’s been a few years since anyone posted on this thread, but I’m in pretty much the same boat as the previous posters.

      Working on 3 years since DD and the uncertainty for me is overwhelming. While there is no evidence that anything has continued it certainly could be. My wife says she ended it, all of it, no communication of any kind, she says the right things. However, I know her feelings for the OM are still intact as she has told me so. She says they won’t ever go away, she’s had them from before we met (he was a married former lover). Even her therapist says her feelings of concern and love for him will probably remain intact because it’s been such a long time. We’ve been married 20 years and she never dealt with her feelings for this married guy before moving on to me.

      With these feelings intact I really don’t see how I can ever let my guard down. I feel it would be very easy for her to slip back into that rut again and reopen communication with the OM. At what point is she going to feel “unimportant” again and for what reason and turn to him again? Just the fact that she has feelings for someone else churns my gut and my heart everyday. Especially after years of hearing, we’re just friends, I don’t feel that way about him anymore. Then boom, you find out that’s all total BS and that she’s even told some of her friends that this guy is her soulmate…… though she denies emphatically ever saying that.

      I feel uncertain everyday if she’s still being honest about no communication with him anymore and even so where is her heart…. truly. Like I said there’s no proof, but people are sneaky and I know she has at least one friend that would allow calls/texts through her phone to keep them hidden. When feelings are involved common sense typically goes out the window.

      I can say the only thing for certain is uncertainty and I hope at some point that may begin to transition the other direction, but I honestly don’t hold up much hope for that. Not with these feelings of hers still intact.

    • Exercisegrace

      Let me rewrite your example for a moment. Suppose you came upstairs and found that these people had actually gotten into your home, stolen every single thing you hold most dear and then ransacked the place on the way out. As you are frantically running from room to room, you come across your husband sitting casually on the couch. While you are sobbing and terrified, he seems calm and unconcerned! After some discussion, he admits that while you were downstairs working diligently for your family? He had opened the front door and willingly invited these people in, because they seemed nice and were friendly to him. Really! You’d like them if you had been up there to have some drinks and some laughs with them! Yes, he admits sheepishly, that’s it’s too bad how it all ended. But he never intended for the family home to be robbed and ransacked. He thought it was just an impromptu party with some new friends. Part of the problem here is you are just so focused on taking care of the house, you never cut loose and have some fun! Yes, it didn’t end well. He regrets that, but if you had just let the chores go he might not have been put in the position to be vulnerable to wanting to meet some new friends and he might not have let them in the house. So you see Linda, you are partly to blame for this! Then he gets up and announces and he is headed out to play some golf, promising to “help you” clean up the destruction when he returns.

      That’s kind of what the affair felt like to me in the early days, and I used this analogy in counseling. For me, it became critical to set my boundaries, and clearly communicate my expectations going forward. Including what my response would be if he didn’t address certain things or he failed to respect my boundaries.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I agree we are living in very uncertain times at the moment….not knowing how long this can possibly go on. I believe the difference here and the uncertainty that comes with infidelity is that, in this situation there is a “we are all in this together” mentality. Between checking up on friends and family and watching the news etc there is this sense community. Whereas infidelity is often shrouded in secrecy. The betrayed often feels a misplaced sense of shame and hides their pain and uncertainty! They often don’t feel safe sharing their grief and pain with anyone.

      I agree with EG…..IT WAS AN INSIDE JOB. I was very fortunate growing up knowing HOME WAS A SAFE PLACE! One of the rules I grew up with….come home when the street lights come on. When it’s dark come home. Home was safe….home was love and comfort. So no one came knocking at my door trying to break in….my husband opened the door. The people you love the most have the power to hurt you the most. And then when your heart is shattered in a million pieces you are some how expected to “Just move on”. On the pillow next to yours is the one that you trusted with everything….the one that broke you. Somehow you are expected lay down next to the perpetrator and actually sleep. NO the pain and uncertainty eats you up…..the safety of home is gone. Many sleepless nights are your story now.

      So yes there is terrible uncertainty but it is often faced in solitude, as the CS, will most likely rather NOT deal with things. As for the CS….yes I’m sure there is uncertainty as well. But in all honesty I can’t conjure up much sympathy. They are worried they won’t be forgiven….oh please….how about worrying how much pain they caused their partner. Or perhaps they are worried about who to choose…. Okay now I’m just getting pissed thinking about it. They brought the uncertainty on themselves and broke someone else’s heart in the process.

      There is another similarly with Covid-19 and infidelity it will take years to recover and sadly in both there will be many casualties along the way.

    • Lost

      Shifting, your comment could be my words. I am almost 4 months post DDay. The affair ended as soon as I found out, the remorse is there, the desire to fix things. But, he removed the safety of my home. I know longer find comfort in my bedroom, in my space. I am finding that facing all of this in the middle of a pandemic is only making it harder.
      I can’t have a friend over for tea or wine. I can’t meet a friend for a chat. It is making it all feel much more lonely. My H is not living here right now, while we try to work on this, and the pandemic is just making it so much harder.
      I’m struggling with the “where do we go from here?” How do we reconnect, rebuild when we can’t even go out for a coffee. It’s hard to talk and connect at home, we’ve got three teenagers who also can’t go anywhere.
      It’s all a lot to get through at the best of times, but the unknown about the world we live in is adding to the stress and anxiety of it all exponentially.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Lost
        I can Imagine how difficult this must be for you with everything else that is going on….and three teenagers that are housebound on top of it all. Do the kids know what is going on? Are you able to talk privately with him on phone? Perhaps some counseling will help…..I know counselors will talk to people over the phone etc during this time of distancing.

        In those early months I was a puddle on the floor. I didn’t have any answers. I didn’t know if we would make it. I hope you find someone that can support you through this. This is just too hard to go through alone.

        • Lost

          Thanks for that. I do have a very supportive circle. The kids do know, and are aware that we’re taking steps to fix things. We’re trying to work through everything amid the pandemic. Online counselling is definitely an option.
          I don’t know for sure that we will make it either, but I’m hopeful. Just feels like a very long road.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Lost
            I’m not going to lie….it is a very long difficult road. There just aren’t any shortcuts. This is only my opinion but often in our desire to fix the relationship it can be tempting to bypass what the trauma of discovering the betrayal has done to the betrayed spouse. Give yourself permission and time to grieve what was lost. It can be a roller coaster ride of emotions.

            I’m so glad to hear you have a very supportive circle. I did as well….and even with that it was so devastating!!

            Take care

    • Kittypone

      I am 3 years post DDay. My h affair was a cyber/phone one as he never met the harlot face to face, but exchanged plenty of nude pics and videos between them. Just a few weeks ago, he asked me what were my financial plans for retirement, as our job doesn’t provide a 401-K and we have 4 adult children. I looked him square in the eyes and told him “Dude. I am taking it day by day with you, as I do not picture myself with you 5 years down the road, let alone retirement altogether!! Do you not remember that I DON’T trust you? Why would I put my financial future in your hands when you have proven that you can’t handle my heart?” I know that he is “trying” to move on and make amends, it’s just that in my eyes, he has always expected to be forgiven as his right and hasn’t ever shown any kind of brokenness or regret about hurting me that bad….it doesn’t appear as if he has continued communication with the harlot, but I no longer trust anything he says anymore, I rather watch if his actions match his words…..

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