The discovery of an affair can be devastating.
Whether your spouse willingly told you about the affair, or you discovered it on your own, it is a painful and confusing time. It may helpful to understand what to expect in the days to come. While many experience a roller coaster of emotions, having some idea of what commonly lies ahead can be useful.
Everything you thought you knew about your spouse and your life together has been rocked to the core. Chances are you have been blind-sided by this dramatic event in your life. You are dealing with so much; the number one priority right now is self-care. Much like flight attendants tell us, you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
As jarring as life will feel at first, remember that the crisis phase is just that, a phase. Like a season, it will pass. The intense emotions you are feeling now will begin to dissipate in time. Now is not the time for making major decisions, as tempting as that may be. You will be best served by making well-informed decisions when your emotions are being managed effectively.
Instead focus on eating well, sleeping well and getting exercise. These simple things may seem daunting in light of all that you are faced with, but it is of critical importance. Without these basic aspects of self-care we have tremendous difficulty regulating our emotions and coping with stressors.
Let yourself feel all the feels, because you are bound to feel all of them. And have support for all those feelings.
One of the most challenging aspects of affair recovery is feeling isolated and not having emotional support. Your partner may feel like a source of pain, so not a likely candidate to comfort you during this time. It is important to be mindful of who you share your story with at this point knowing other people will bring their stuff to whatever they say, and may give you advice you don’t want to hear.
A therapist can be a key resource – counseling is a safe place where you can share your story and process your experience without judgment or advice. Therapy can help you learn how to manage painful flashbacks and regulate your emotions during this emotionally tumultuous time.
You’ll have plenty of questions for your partner, and that is okay. Your brain is trying to make meaning of this devastating change in your life. However, a good rule of thumb is to not ask about specific details of the affair – who did what to whom. You cannot un-know what you know and typically answers to these types of questions do not help in any way, but can become very painful memories. You will of course want to know who, when and where – but the ‘what exactly’ details may be best left unsaid for your own well-being.
Your primary focus in the days following the discovery of an affair are to take care of yourself and tolerate this painful time. When you find that you are able to regulate your emotions and can engage in difficult conversations with your partner you both will be ready to move into the next phase – Understanding, click here to learn more.