Finding out about an affair is devastating. As the fear of the ultimate abandonment comes to life, the storm of self-blame, insecurity, and self-doubt can spin into oblivion. Sometimes even a bit of temporary insanity can be expected. Affairs can spin a spouse’s fears and insecurity into unhealthy levels. The various responses to affairs are as unique as the complexity of each individual.
Some beliefs a spouse might experience:
I’m not lovable
I’m not good enough
I will be left again
I’ll be alone
I’ll lose my friend, lover, spouse
I’m not valuable
I don’t matter
I’m not okay
I’m not enough
I am bad
I am shameful
I must’ve not done enough
I did something wrong
So many emotions can come through after finding out about an affair. Even self-blame for the other person’s choices. It’s common for people to go through several months of mistrust and anger. The loss and shattering betrayal triggers insecurities and fears. Affairs are a poor choice to address personal issues, much like abusing alcohol or drugs. So why do some people have physical and emotional affairs? It would be presumptuous and irresponsible to label people who have or have had affairs. It’s more truthful to say that everyone’s reasons are unique and part of the complexity of who they are as people. Plan on having a safe and open dialogue to discover these reasons. Labeling and making assumptions wouldn’t work here.
What to do after?
Get some distance between you and the issue. Don’t immerse yourself in it anymore than you can manage. Emotional separation is healthy.
Ask for help by creating a support system. Doing this alone will only create more isolation and negativity.
Educate yourself by reading books
Make a counseling appointment for yourself
Join a support group
Keep your feet securely planted on Earth
What are some warning signs?
Living a secret, separate life
Lack of transparency
Lack of security
Lack of safety
Missing or lapses in time and accountability
Lying or omission of information
The pain of affairs is severe, triggering the deepest insecurities and fears. This is not a time to be making major decisions or life changes. Patience is required to deal with the betrayal and it takes hard work, not just time, to build trust back up. Therapy can help guide you through this painful ordeal and help you develop a stronger, more intimate relationship. Some relationships may not survive the ordeal. Either way, the choice is yours to make. May you find peace and hope.