I am always so touched by the messages and comments I receive here on the blog. I can't tell you how much hearing from you has meant to me, and I am so honored to spend a little part of your day with you!
Today I'm sharing from my heart about a question that I hear pretty often... How do you heal after infidelity?
Each one of the messages that I receive about this pulls at my heart. I want to reach out and give each of you a giant hug. I would fix us some comforting tea, and then I would sit down next to you and share the ways that helped to heal my broken heart.
When I found out about his unfaithfulness, my heart raced, my veins turned to ice, my stomach revolted, and I couldn't breathe. Every time I discovered a new aspect of the betrayal, feared for my safety, or relived the hurt - it felt as if an elephant were sitting on my chest. I purposely let myself slow down enough to concentrate on breathing in for five slow counts, (1...2...3...4...5...), and then out for five slow counts, (1...2...3...4...5...), until the feeling passed. My world was crumbling and spinning around me, but when I spent a few minutes throughout the day on my breathing, I felt a little more in control of my situation.
Do the next thing.
Write out a list of routine activities you need to do today, and just concentrate on one thing at a time. Walk the dog. Read your little one a bedtime story. Take out the trash. Go to the grocery store. Pay the electric bill. Try not to focus so much on the unknown future – but continue on the little normal tasks in front of you. These might feel small and nearly impossible at the same time. You may feel easily distracted, but these will help to keep your body busy and your mind on track.
Take care of yourself.
Shower. Brush your teeth. Fix your hair. Go for a walk at sunset with a friend. Eat something, even if you don't fee like it. These might sound simple, but when you are truly wrestling with such devastating news, it can be hard to gather enough focus and energy for even something as routine as shaving your legs.
I know it doesn't feel like it, but each time you do something to take care of yourself, it's another step forward on your journey to healing.
Make an appointment to see your doctor.
I hate this part, Friend, but I can't stress how important this step is in your healing. You need to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Call your doctor's office and set up a time for you to be seen. Take a supportive friend with you, if you can. I was so lucky to have a friend there holding my hand, and a caring doctor who got me in that same day for a whole panel of tests.
Once you have the results, a large weight will be lifted off your weary shoulders. If the tests are negative, you can move forward. If something does turn up, you can be treated as early as possible, and then continue moving forward.
*I would also highly recommend requesting that your partner be tested for the same large panel of STDs, and have the results printed out for you to see. They may not like it, but you have every right to know if they brought anything concerning into your bed.
Allow yourself to grieve.
You've just been through so much, Friend. The news that your spouse has been unfaithful is one of the most devastating betrayals that you could ever experience. Take the time that you need to process what has happened. There will be so many moments when you will need to be strong, but it is okay for you to let yourself crumble sometimes. Just don't stay down. Allow the tears to fall, but then get back up again. You really will smile again. You will get through this... I promise.
Explore healthy ways to vent your anger and frustration.
No good can come from taking, "a Louisville slugger to both headlights," like the country song. As much as you might want to hurl obscenities or your wedding China at your spouse, I promise that it won't help.
This is the time to remain calm - almost businesslike - around him. There are other ways to release some of the frustration, anger, and hurt that you are feeling. Write in a journal, write a letter to your husband or to the other woman, talk to a friend, go for a run, or join a kickboxing class. Lock yourself in a room and scream into your pillow. This way you won't do something that you will later regret.
Surround yourself with love and support.
Seek out family and loving friends right now. Find a support group through a church. This is not the time to shut yourself off from the world. It's hard to let down your guard and say the words out loud, but I think you will be surprised at the love and understanding that you will find. I will be forever grateful for the support of my family and friends. I couldn't have done it without them.
Keep things as normal as possible for yourself and your kids.
Whether or not you talk to your kids about what is going on, they need stability. Keep your routine as normal as possible, and it will help you and them as you process and heal. If your children know about the betrayal, please consider having them go to counseling where they can express and work through their confusion and hurt as well.
See a counselor by yourself.
I've shared before how important therapy was in my healing. I grew so much during my time in counseling. Having someone comfort, guide, and challenge me on this journey was incredibly helpful.
I've also recently learned about peer counseling. Infidelity Counseling Network is a wonderful FREE resource for women who need to talk over the phone to someone who has been through it, too.
Attend counseling together.
Making an appointment for marriage counseling was one of the best things that I could have done, even though our marriage didn't survive. A good couple's therapist will listen, see through the hurt, and identify ways that the two of you can start to heal.
Your spouse will learn how to begin earning back your trust - cutting off communication with their lover, calling you throughout the day, being home when they said they would be home, reading books with you about healing and marriage, attending a support group for men with a lust addiction, and living transparently before you. This isn't about punishing him - it's about him respecting what you need as he works toward restoring broken trust.
Don't rush. Work through healing slowly and intentionally.
As hard as it is right now, try to be logical and reasonable in your decisions without letting emotions get the better of you.
Don't rush things back to “normal.” So much healing needs to take place, and that will take time, patience, and hard work by both of you.
Don't rush into seeking separation or divorce either. Only time will tell if your marriage will survive. It takes two to tango, and to be restored, but you can do everything in your power to facilitate reconciliation. There is no rush when it comes to ending a marriage. Getting a divorce will not suddenly make everything better. Only healing, time, and forgiveness can do that - whether or not you stay together.
Don’t seek to get even.
You might feel desperate for them to know the searing pain they are putting you through, but do not look for comfort or revenge in someone else’s arms. It's not worth it to bring more devastation into the relationship.
I believe this the most important way that you can heal after such a devastating betrayal. You can go down the list and check everything else off, but if you do not forgive, you will not feel whole again. Forgiveness is not a gift that you give to them - it is a gift that you are giving to yourself. Forgiveness releases you from their power over you. It frees you from the pain that bound you to them. Once those chains fall away, your heart will be free to heal once more.
Sometimes forgiveness is a daily practice - every time he comes to pick up your kids, when you see him with another woman, or even if he blames you for his affair - you can take in another deep breath and remind yourself that the worst is over. You have come so far on this road to healing, and you should be deeply proud of yourself.
And you are not alone... I promise.
What about you?
Do you have any advice for our friends? Can you think of other ways that we can heal after such a dark time? I'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Can I ask you for a big favor? Do you know anyone who might be encouraged by this blog post? Would you please consider sharing it with them? I want nothing more than to help others to know that they are not alone in this journey.
As always, thank you so much for spending a little bit of your day with me. Your encouragement and comments mean the world to me! You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,