Nobody ever thinks they’re going to experience infidelity. If people really thought that was the case, fewer people would probably get married. That is the pain of betrayal — you never see it coming.Then, one day you discover messages from your wife to other men on a hidden phone application or find unexplained receipts from your husband’s recent work trip. You can try to ignore it, but the truth will come out one way or another. You are left questioning everything and wondering when your spouse is actually being truthful with you.
When infidelity is finally discovered, it’s one of the most painful experiences of your life. Your person, the person who promised to be yours, has turned to another. Facing the truth can be overwhelming, even crippling. It might feel like you are lying in bed with a total stranger because you don’t even know who they are anymore.
While the pain might seem unbearable, moving past infidelity is possible. But moving on after the affair might not look the same for every relationship. It depends on your spouse’s response to their behavior. Are they repentant? Or unrepentant?
After the Affair: Tips for Surviving Infidelity
The posture of their heart after the affair will determine what your relationship will look like going forward. Here are seven tips for getting through a marital affair.
1. Get Help
Don’t go this road alone. You will need the support of trusted friends, family, counselors, and pastors to walk you down this road. That being said, don’t just reach out to anyone.
Make sure the people you talk to are people you trust and know that they care about you. For example, find a reputable Christian Marriage counseling center in your area to find someone you can connect with and begin the therapeutic steps towards healing your hurts. You will need people to help you process your emotions as you walk through your marital affair.
2. Ask for Honesty
Living in uncertainty is very hard, especially when you are experiencing uncertainty caused by infidelity. If your spouse is repentant and willing, then it will be helpful to seek the whole truth.
This may take some time, and the process should definitely be mediated by a counselor, probably best reserved for Christian marriage counseling. While it will be painful to hear the fullness of your partner’s behavior, it will provide you the closure you need and give you the right footing to rebuild your relationship.
It is not necessary to have intricate details of your partner’s actions, but it is important to have certain questions answered, such as how long has the affair been going on, where did they meet, and what led to the behavior.
If the truth unravels little by little as you are trying to recover from the affair, it will prolong the pain and continue to stir mistrust as you are continually taken back to the first moment of betrayal.
3. Experience Your Emotions
As you process life after the affair, don’t be afraid to feel weak. This might be one of the hardest and most vulnerable experiences you will ever have.
That being said, you don’t need to let your emotions inappropriately bleed out on your children or friends, but you need to find people who you can be genuine with. When you’ve found your trusted people, let your emotions out. Share about your pain, your hurt, and your sadness.
They say that sadness is the healing emotion, so if you stifle your feelings it will only prolong the process as you move forward. Also, be sure to let your spouse know how his or her actions have affected you.
Letting them into your experience isn’t punitive, rather it will show them the real consequences of their actions. Sometimes seeing the one they love in pain is the greatest motivator to change.
4. Take Care of Yourself
In this season, you may be tempted to be overly focused on your kids or your partner’s recovery (counseling, rehab). But don’t forget your own trauma. You’ve experienced a difficult betrayal, which is going deeply affect you emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
If you don’t take this seriously, then you can prolong the process of moving beyond the circumstances. Remember that you have experienced a traumatic event and will need to take intentional time to recover.
5. Know it’s Not Your Fault
No marriage is perfect. Everyone will have tension and arguments, but infidelity is never an appropriate response to a troubled marriage. After a marital affair, you may be tempted to blame yourself for what happened or maybe your spouse is the one blaming their decisions on you.
Either way, it is important to remember that the choice to commit adultery is a volitional choice. You are not the cause of their bad decision. Only they can, and will, answer for their behavior. Even in the most troubled marriage, no one is ever justified in breaking their vows. So, remember, this is not your fault.
6. Anger is an Appropriate Response, But Not a Way of Life
Betrayal should make you angry. It is an injustice committed against you, and anger is a natural and healthy reaction to injustice. That being said, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to process your emotions.
Screaming, yelling, hitting, and throwing things at your spouse are not appropriate expressions of anger. Venting to a therapist, blowing off some steam at the batting cages (or your preferred physical expression of anger), or writing an angry letter you never send are all ways you can process and express your anger in a healthy way.
If you don’t acknowledge your anger after the affair, then it will leak out or remain unresolved. While anger is an appropriate response to injustice, as Christians, we are not supposed to live from a place of anger.
If your spouse remains unrepentant after the affair, you may never find reconciliation or peace from them, but that doesn’t mean you should live from a place of constant anger. Instead, as time progresses in your affair recovery, part of your journey will be to forgive them, letting go of your anger.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean things going back to the way things were, but it does mean you will consciously choose to let go of the anger and move on.
7. Acceptance, Moving on After the Affair
In the beginning, surviving infidelity might seem impossible. The pain and uncertainty of life may seem too great to overcome. However, if you surround yourself with people who you can be real with, process your emotions, and take care of yourself throughout the process, then recovering from infidelity is possible.
It won’t be easy, but it is possible. The final step of the process is coming to terms with what has happened, accepting it, and moving forward. This is much easier said than done. It will take time for you to get to this place, and you shouldn’t rush to get there.
To truly come to a place of acceptance, you will need time and space to process everything that has happened. But, in time, you will be able to accept what has happened and move on.
Christian Counseling for Healing After the Affair
Nobody ever thinks their partner will betray them. That’s what makes an affair so devastating. One of the foundational truths of your life is ripped away from you. You go from living a life with your trusted person by your side, to not even knowing who they are.
Once trust is broken, it cannot easily be rebuilt. But, as Christians, we are called to seek to rebuild our broken marriages. This is by no means easy. For some, this won’t be possible because their partner will refuse to repent and instead choose to leave.
Others will begin down the long road of rebuilding a relationship from the ground up. For either person, the journey will be long and painful, made moist by many tears. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk these roads alone. Jesus is with you in the darkest moments of your life, walking with you. He promises to never leave your or forsake you and will be with you as you process your pain. And He never breaks His promises.