Tip 1: Take time for yourself
Healing from an affair can take a toll on you mentally, physically and spiritually. I recommend taking time to yourself to get back in touch with being grounded in your self. Take time for yourself to do things that energize and fill you up energetically.
The energy drain that occurs for those going through the betrayal involved in affair requires you to refuel. Some ideas include: yoga, exercise, read a book, drink a cup of coffee mindfully in the moment, take a class in something you desire to learn, meditation, see a counselor to focus on you, etc…
It takes time and positive energy to heal in a healthy way, so make sure to take care of your self.
Naomi Doriott, http://www.collaborativemn.com
Tip 2: Try going “Opposite George”
Did you see the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza realizes that his life is not working because of every decision he has ever made? He decides to do the opposite of his habitual inclinations, in the hopes that results will be better. If things are feeling stagnant or stale, why not prescribe the same for yourself and your partner (if willing)?
Have a different meal than the usual. Go somewhere new. Consider giving an alternate response. Mixing it up a few times does not mean that you can not go back, but it can give us a better perspective on how we are in relationship, and how we got there.
Elizabeth Baum, http://www.elizabethbaumintegral.com
Tip 3: Seek help through counseling
Individual counseling is a must for someone who has been cheated on. Yes, friends and family are helpful, but you need an objective, unbiased person who can listen to you, validate you, and who is trained to do so in a way that is productive for you.
Additionally, if you are trying to reconcile and work through your relationship with your spouse, your family and friends may not be as eager or able to forgive the way you will. They may hold onto things you have told them, even after you and your spouse have moved through things with professional help.
Natalie Chandler, http://www.imaginehopecounseling.com
Tip 4: Know that it is not your fault
First, you need to know is that it is not your fault. Your partner has not strayed because of a shortcoming, an action or inaction on your part. Certainly you are not perfect; nobody is without fault in any relationship. Your partner’s decision to get their needs met outside your monogamous relationship, however, is a reflection on them and not on you. If your partner was unhappy in your relationship, there were several options available to them including: getting therapy, talking to you or separating. Surround yourself with the people that love you and feed your soul.
Gloria Bannasch, http://www.gjbhealthservices.com
Tip 5: Embrace your fury
Immediately after finding out about an affair, the emotions felt by the hurt partner are simply overwhelming. If you are the hurt partner, well-meaning people will try to help you forget about it, try to distract you from your sad emotions, and hope that they can somehow make you feel better. The truth is, there are emotional stages of processing an affair similar to those of dealing with death, loss or grief.
There are three states of mind that everyone has. Reasonable Mind (using logic and intellect), Emotion Mind (thoughts and behaviors controlled by emotion), and Wise Mind (a healthy balance of the previous two). The eventual goal is to arrive at Wise Mind in order to deal with all of the issues that accompany an affair, however the road that leads to that starts with intense, overwhelming emotions whether you like it or not.
My advice is don’t fight it. Take some time to notice how you feel during this Emotion Mind State. Do some healthy things to explore and really grieve. Journal. Vent to trusted friends and family, but ask them to just listen. (Advice can come later.) Go running. Go to a secluded field or road, and yell, scream and cry.
Allow yourself to be a mess. It is normal and necessary. Letting yourself fully experience and process theses terrible feelings is actually a very self-loving act. After some time, you will have processed the emotions enough to incorporate the Reasonable Mind and begin to pull yourself back together.
Remember to avoid self-destructive activities that may sound good at the moment. They just won’t help. And if children are present, try at all costs to not involve them at all.
Brandy Brown, http://www.brandybrowncounseling.com
Tip 6: Take back the power
When you find you your partner has cheated on you it may leave you with a sense of powerlessness. Feeling betrayed, angry and wanting revenge as well as feeling why me, how could they have done this, and how come I didn’t see it, are all part of the commonly felt responses on discovering your partner has been having an affair. Ranging from blame to self-blame, the spectrum of emotions can keep one stuck in feelings of anger and rage.
However, if you want to heal, the best thing you can do is to take really good stock of your life and decide to take back the power. In other words, take control of your life and take yourself seriously. Do what you need to do to close the gap between how you feel about your life and how you would like to feel about it.
Start at the beginning with yourself. This is where you can change. You can become a whole lot happier and you can create more peace and joy in your life, if you are prepared to take small steps, one at a time, to close that gap.
So start today, write a list of all the things you want to do and all the feelings you want to feel. Begin with the end in mind as Steven Covey used say, and create a really clear picture in your mind’s eye of the life you want to live. Use all your energy to focus on what you can change, one step at a time. In doing this you will be heading slowly but steadily towards recovery, and towards creating the life of your dreams.
Margie Ulbrick, http://www.margieulbrickcounselling.com
Tip 7: Strong thinking
When catastrophic or horrible things happen to us, it is natural to personalize it. In a relationship, or in the case of an affair, it seems almost impossible not to personalize it as we are washed over with emotions and heartache. This is a vulnerable time, and a time to take good care of the thoughts you’re telling yourself about it. An affair might trigger some core negative beliefs such as “I’m unlovable, I don’t deserve love, etc” or it might spur other over-generalizations such as “All men are pigs” or “I will never find a loyal woman to love me.”
Take note of the thoughts you are telling yourself and practice re-framing them into rational, factual statements such as, “I am deeply hurt by this and I need support right now,” and “I need and deserve love…I still have many people in my life who love me.” When we use balanced thinking, our emotions will follow suit.
This is a time to lean on life-long friends who have been with you through everything. You need first-hand reminders that you can trust and rely on others, and that they love you no matter what. Spend more time with these close, loving friends. If you still feel a lack of support, there are many support groups in the community to seek out. Nurture you. Build on what makes you strong and resilient. You are much more than a partner.
Cheryl Thapa, http://www.evolvtherapy.com
Tip 8: Be wary of blame, seek out trust
Ruminating on your spouse’s indiscretion may cause you to blame him or her for all of the problems that exist in the relationship. Thinking of what you could/should have done differently can become blaming yourself. While remorse is an important, guilt is not. Guilt leads to blame, not solutions. Feeling remorse leaves room for healing. This applies for the partner who was unfaithful, as well.
How to do it:
Give yourself time to process your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist before making drastic decisions about the relationship. Expressing your sadness and hurt this way can help reduce the chance of damaging arguments with your partner. It is important for you to access relationships (non-romantic) where trust is strong, in order to help you stay hopeful that love exists in your life.
Kristine Gottesman, http://www.kristinemft.com
Tip 9: Put yourself back on the priority list
After an affair your life has been turned upside down and much of your time is spent trying to make sense of how things went so wrong. Your focus turns outward to you as a couple and what can be done to move past the betrayal. While this processing and analyzing is important, it can also lead to personal doubt and shame.
Create a list of self soothing activities that bring you joy and the ability to recharge. Take a walk, call a friend, get a massage, read a book or anything that makes you feel peaceful. Do one or more of these activities when you start to feel overwhelmed. Have the list handy to reference when need be. Commit to your mental health by making YOU a priority.
Allison Cohen, http://www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
Tip 10: Embrace support from friends and family
On many occasions, friends and clients have told me that, “You quickly find out who your real friends are” in the aftermath of being left for someone else. Identify those friends and family who are for you, no matter what, and who accept you without trying to change you, offer pat solutions, or second-guess the situation. People who empathize with words, touch and helpful gestures, and who don’t say things like, “That reminds me of when Uncle So-and-So ran off with a showgirl, blah, blah, blah…”.
People who listen well, but also give you space, and don’t pump you for information. Keep a list of these supporters handy, and make contact every day with at least one of them. Allow them to help you feel lovable again, and able to move forward with your life.
Judy Cares, http://www.judycares.com
Tip 11: Time is a great healer
When healing from an affair, a reliable ally is time. Until that time comes, you have an opportunity to be mindful and creative. Start healing by doing something fresh and new. Think about things you’ve been meaning to try or wanting to finish. Change your hairstyle, rearrange furniture, start a project, learn something new. Giving yourself a fresh start can feel as though you’re moving forward in a positive direction. Committed action is often the first step in alleviating feelings of depression.
Dr. Kelly Schinke, http://www.alternative-pathways.com
Tip 12: Shift your perspective
Life’s obstacles contain opportunities for positive change to occur. Our perspectives reflect our mindset. Once we shift our perspective, we can make room for tremendous growth. A simple exercise to transform our perspective is to imagine your unhealthy relationship as weeds. Your talents, intellect, and potential are symbolic of the rose garden, which is surrounded by the weeds.
You are the gardener in your own life. To tend to your garden, you must extract the weeds from the root and ensure they do not reappear. Your unhealthy relationship is a gift for you to tend to your rose garden. Shifting our mindset promotes healthy problem-solving skills and our ability to adapt to hardships, which helps us prosper as a result. You are the gardener and the rose garden; the weeds were present to help you remember that truth.
Brooke Campbell, http://www.creativekinections.com
Tip 13: Look at the situation from multiple angles
It can be easy to blame yourself entirely for your spouse’s affair, or to feel like a complete victim. More likely, there are many different stories about how and why this happened. Take some time to look at the role you played in the state of your marriage before the affair. You most likely have a lot to be proud of, and some things you may wish you had done differently. No one can make someone else go out and have an affair, but you can look at what part you may have played in creating distance or disconnection in your marriage. Your spouse must take 100% responsibility for the affair, and you need to take responsibility for your contributions, both good and bad, to your relationship before the affair, and to how you respond now that you have learned about the affair.
Allow yourself to express your pain, your fear, your anger and your outrage. Allow yourself to express your love, your hope, and your vulnerabilities. You only have control over your part of the relationship, so make sure you can look back and feel proud of how you handled things, which sometimes means “being the bigger person,” sometimes means following your own voice over those of your family and friends, and sometimes means allowing yourself to have a voice with your spouse even if it doesn’t come out completely rational or healthy.
If you want something more concrete: Spend time with people who will not judge you no matter how your choose to handle the relationship with your spouse post-affair. Many people who love you will have an agenda to keep you safe, stable, happy. They will say, “You can’t leave him, give him another chance.” Or, “You have to get out now. She is evil for cheating on you.” This advice comes from a place of love for you, but it can feel like an enormous amount of pressure. Allow yourself to spend time with people who understand no one knows your situation fully but you. Be with people who respect your right to figure this out in your own way.
Shelby Riley, http://www.shelbyrileymft.com
Tip 14: Follow these steps
1. Put yourself first! Love yourself!
2. Give yourself closure – you close the case! Do not wait for anybody to do that for you.
3. Make peace with yourself now!
4. You were hurt – acknowledge it! It’s painful and associated with feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, self-doubt, disbelief, and finally acceptance!
5. Yes, your world crumbled – yet there are no guarantees in love.
6. Get up and do it over (a toddler falls but gets up and tries walking again!)
7. Remind yourself you deserve the best! Otherwise next!
8. Choose freedom over angerafter you expressed and worked through your feelings!
9. Give yourself permission to move on and to be happy!
10. Stop chasing a dream – instead cherish yourself.
11. Remember love appears when and where you least expect it.
Daniela Schreier, http://www.drdaniela.com
Tip 15: Don’t blame yourself for the affair
The individual in a couple who finds out about an affair will often blame themselves. You might tell yourself, “If only I had lost more weight, paid more attention, or had more sex with my partner this wouldn’t have happened”. It is important to remember that each individual in a relationship has his or her role. For instance if your partner felt lonely but never communicated that to you how are you to provide more affection if you are not aware. When an affair happens it is crucial that you do not take full responsibility; as your partner is just as much to blame for the affair occurring.
Lyndsey Fraser, http://www.relationalconnections.com
Tip 16: Empower yourself
Finding out that your partner has cheated on you can be a devastating blow. It can rock the very foundation of your self-esteem. Therefore, it is important at this time to promote positive self-care. It is time to do what you need to do to rebuild your self-confidence. This can be done in many ways. Counseling, a new look, spending time with positive friends, exercise, taking an interesting class, a vacation or whatever positive endeavor you think will help you feel good about yourself.
Even though this is hard, it isn’t very helpful to wallow in self-pity or depression. These things will only make you feel worse. Empower yourself by taking positive steps to remind yourself how wonderful and special you truly are. It will help you heal and improve your relationships.
Vicki Langemo, http://www.betterlifetoday.net
Tip 17: Allow yourself to feel
It is natural to want the hurting to stop. We strive to avoid pain and embrace pleasure. The unique gift of being human is through pain, we can actually become a better person. We must experience what we instinctively wish to avoid.
Make a list (actually put pen to paper and write them down) of your hurts, resentments, and fears. Confront them by studying them and you might be surprised to find how your brain will begin the work of self-healing. It’s not magic and not necessarily quick, but it will help.
David Baker-Hargrove, http://www.drdavidbakerhargrove.com
Tip 18: Self care
The most important step in self-healing from an affair has to do with self care! Thoughts of being not good enough are very common as you heal. Some people even feel that they are defective. Remember that you are ok, just the way you are. Focus on self care and self improvement rather than beating up your straying partner. Your partner probably feels ashamed for having cheated anyway, so it is best to focus on yourself. Pay attention to your strengths and do the things you love that fill you up.
Renee Segal, http://www.mplscounseling.com
Tip 19: Be patient
First, allow yourself to feel the range of emotions from grief/loss to sadness to anger, etc. Find a trusted friend (preferably someone who has not been a victim of cheating and still believes in love) or a therapist to talk this out so you do not carry this burden (emotional baggage) into the next relationship. Finally, do an honest self- assessment and look for ways to better yourself by focusing on things other than the hurt (i.e. hobbies, children, school, improving your health, etc) and prepare for the next person who gets the opportunity to meet a healthier you!
Dr. Angela Clack, http://www.clackassociates.com
Tip 20: Invest in yourself
Now is the time where you get to be a little bit selfish. Anchor your metaphorical ship into a firm set of convictions about the direction in which you want your life to go. The path you will find yourself on may be a new, invigorating, unexpected path that you never dreamed possible for yourself. Allow yourself the freedom to find out who YOU truly are, independent of the relationship, and then you may come to decide the next steps you will take in life.
An affair is never fair. My advice is to figure out how to improve yourself (and your partner can do his or her own self discovery if they choose) and then you will be able to clearly see if you can make it work as a pair or if you are better off starting anew. All of this cannot be discovered until you have a clear vision of what kind of person you are becoming and the person you want to become. Can you and do you want to change, and do you know the unique passions that purposes that define you as an individual? Though an affair could be a door closing, walk through to other side and refresh your spirit in the vigor and vitality that life provides, because you cannot know what waits on the other side of the door until you walk through it. My final advice is to not only walk through it, but to jump with joy at life’s strange chance at a new beginning.
Rima Danielle Jomaa, http://www.arimatherapy.com
Tip 21: Invest in yourself
After an injury of this type, first take your time to recover and allow normal emotions that reflect the sadness, loss, disappointment underneath your anger in order to face your fears. Find appropriate outlets for expression for as long as needed. Restoring a sense of self-respect and self-value can be a difficult road. How can you build more value into your life? As you do this, you will connect with others who can affirm your self-worth. Also ask, what does keeping or ending your relationship solve for you and what does it not solve? Future safety is critical.
By Dan Blair, http://blaircounselingandmediation.com