Feelings After Infidelity
After Infidelity


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Feelings After Infidelity

feelings after infidelityTHE HEALING JOURNEY
by Jim Jackson

No words adequately describe the trauma a person suffers when a spouse's affair is exposed. Many report that it is the most dreadful thing they have ever faced—more excruciating than losing a parent, being diagnosed with cancer, or being fired. An affair inflicts a vicious wound to the heart of a faithful spouse. One man told me he would have rather taken a bullet and been paralyzed than to face his wife's affair.

At the same time, the unfaithful spouse is also forced to deal with emotions that will in many ways shape the future of their relationship.

The Wounded Spouse. "While I may look the same on the outside, inside I'm hemorrhaging and I can't stop it." Most betrayed spouses feel as if they are going crazy—especially during the initial stages of shock. Throughout the counseling process they invariably ask, "Am I going crazy?" My response is always the same: "No, you're not going crazy. What you're feeling is normal for the kind of experience you're going through." This reassurance doesn't stop the emotional roller coaster that's roaring through their world, but it does confirm that their feelings are normal.

There are at least four categories of emotions that wounded spouses experience:

They Feel Lost. Gone is the sense of being intact and whole. They feel as if they've lost their voice in the world. They feel fragmented, shattered, confused, and disoriented. They don't know where they belong. It isn't unusual for them to be driving somewhere and either forget where they were going or how to get there. Self-respect is shattered, and they commonly ask themselves, "Why didn't I speak up earlier when I sensed something was wrong?"

They Feel Betrayed. Betrayal can strip the heart of any sense of constancy, security, and meaning. Feelings of being used, discarded, and rejected replace feelings of being chosen, special, and valued. Their ability to trust is undermined. Everyone, not just the unfaithful spouse, is now suspect. Even God's goodness and protection are questioned.

They Feel Powerless. The statement "No matter how hard I try, I can't fix it" indicates a loss of control. Anger grows out of a loss of control. They feel as if their life is slipping through their fingers. There is often a loss of control over their thoughts and actions. Obsessive thoughts and dreams of their spouse with a lover invade their days and nights. Compulsively driving by the lover's apartment every 30 minutes to see if he or she is there isn't unusual. They lose hope that life could ever be good again. Usually anger and depression aren't far behind. Statements like "I give up," "It will never be the same," "I want to die," "There's nothing to live for anymore" are normal.

They Feel Ambivalent. A host of competing emotions all screaming for attention rips them apart. These competing emotions are common: shame and contempt, joy and sorrow, hurt and vengefulness, fear and relief. A wife will miss her husband and yet feel glad that he's gone. She will fluctuate between wanting to hug him and wanting to beat him, wanting to forgive him and wanting to make him pay. Ambivalence results in one's shutting down internally—causing an emotional numbness that paralyzes any productive movement toward healing.

The Unfaithful Spouse. The emotional response of the ones who are unfaithful can be varied, depending on whether they feel guilty over the affair or justified in having it. If they feel justified and are upset about having been caught, they will be more belligerent. If they feel guilty and are willing to give up the affair and restore the marital relationship, their response will indicate brokenness and humility.

Janis Abrahms Spring provides a list of intense and contradictory feelings that fairly describes the ambivalence of the unfaithful spouse:

Relief—"I'm tired of lying about all this and wondering when I'd be discovered."
Impatience—"I said I was sorry and gave her up; what more do you want from me?"
Chronic Anxiety—"If I just keep busy I'll be okay."
Justified Anger—"I'm doing what I want to do, and it feels right."
Absence of Guilt—"I did what I did and that's that."
Isolation—"No one's there for me."
Hopelessness—"There's no way this relationship will ever work."
Paralysis—"I feel torn. I don't know what to do."
Self-disgust—"I'm such a fool. Why did I jeopardize all that I love?"
The unfaithful spouse may also experience guilt over hurting the children and grief over the loss of a lover.

After an affair is exposed, marital partners need to take personal responsibility for seeking help to wade through the quagmire of feelings and necessary decisions that must be made so they can make progress in their healing journey. It is virtually impossible for individuals to work through all these issues on their own. They need a counselor or pastor with training and experience to help them sort through and resolve these issues. They desperately need the emotional support and prayerful involvement of friends, family, and the church community if they are going to take on the task of rebuilding.

Courtesy of: : http://www.rbc.org/, references: After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring


I know its hard to let go of the memories of your cheating spouse, you visually see them together in the act, etc. Most resentment is connected to the memory of the incident. When these unexpressed feelings build up, they become resentment. When we stuff our feelings we build up resentments. Resentments are victim feelings - the feeling that somebody is doing something to us.

If there was other issues such as your spouse leaving you for the other person, then coming back, abandoning you, always flashing the affair in your face so to speak, continuous lies, the more there is to resent makes it harder.

In fact if they had another affair, if would be much more intense and harder to recover. It depends on how many painful experiences one has to deal with but over time resentment should fade as marriage grows.

Do not torment your spouse by continuously mentioning the infidelity. Grief, shame and sorrow will be unbearable. Don't spend your good energy on bad feelings. Work on your future, resolving and let go of the past.

If you are full of bitterness and resentment then it is hard to forgive them. Replace those feelings of resentment with forgiveness and peace. Forgive your spouse and let go of resentment you have towards them then your resentment will fade.

To learn more about letting go of guilt and resentment, read the books, How To Heal A Painful Relationship and Heal The Hurt That Sabotages Your Life click here.

"So I would suggest that when we feel resentful it is a sign that we need to keep studying resentment, and keep studying how to manage it so we can prevent it from building and leading to even more toxic emotions. We also need to study how we can stop creating more of it. I want to emphasize that the best time to study resentment is when we are actually feeling it. As I have written, true understanding requires feeling. We can't just read about resentment. We have to feel it, and while feeling it, look deeper -- look for the underlying feelings, the primary feelings. Then we have a chance to learn from it and become wiser with our new knowledge and understanding. And with this new wisdom we can help ourselves and others, while preventing the resentment from poisoning either us or those around us." from David Caruso

feelings after infidelity
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Please note: The suggestions and advice offered on this web site are opinions only and are not to be used in the place of professional psychological counseling or medical advice. If you or someone close to you is currently in crisis or in an emergency situation, contact your local emergency 911 or a Counselor nearby