Self Care: How to Survive an Affair
Recovery after an affair is a marathon – NOT a sprint. If you don’t take care of you – EVERYTHING gets harder.
If you are going to survive the affair, whether or not your marriage does, you are going to have to be super disciplined about taking care of yourself. Taking care of yourself through the journey gives you the best shot at a positive outcome.
In This Article
Self care is taking care of yourself so you can show up well in your life. This includes caring for your spirit, your body, and your mind.
Surviving an affair will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. If you do not take care of you – everything else gets harder. It is harder to make good decisions. It is harder to stave off depression and anxiety. You won’t be able to adequately care for those who depend on you.
Even though you may feel frustrated, confused, disappointed, or angry with God, you are going to need His help to get through this. If you are isolated from the body of Christ (i.e. The Church) you are cut off from one of the primary sources of support God has for you. This leaves you vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. We would encourage you to:
- Connect in some way with support from a local church.
Your body needs fuel in order to function well. You probably won’t feel like eating or you will want to eat a ton of junk, neither of which is helpful to you. Do your best to feed your body regular, healthy meals.
You probably won’t feel like exercising. However, regular, mild, cardiovascular exercise is one of the few homeopathic things you can do to fend off depression that is actually supported by A LOT of medical research.
You may not feel like sleeping or you may struggle to get out of bed. Having a regular sleep schedule, getting 8-9 hours of sleep, is very important to your brain function. If your brain is not functioning well even small things feel overwhelming. Big things make you want to die. If you are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep it is very important that you address this quickly. You may want to talk to your doctor to get some help. Your counselor can also help you troubleshoot this.
Taking Care Of Your Mind
You are going to need space in your life to process. You won’t be able to think through all the questions, sort through all the feelings, or address all the issues if you don’t make space in your life to do so.
Identify Safe Friends
You are going to need people. You cannot get through this on your own. While it is not helpful for everyone in the world (I.e. Facebook) to know what is going on, some people do need to know. It is important to identify the right kind of people to “bring into the circle with you.” You need people who love you and who have the kind of relationship with their spouse you wish you had with your own. People who are good listeners and will not be quick to tell you want you “should do.”
Connect With A Helper
Whether it is a trusted pastor, a professional counselor, or an affair recovery intensive workshop do connect with someone experienced in helping others get through these difficult situations.
Giving Yourself Permission To Be…
Finding out that your spouse has been unfaithful is one of the hardest things any human being has to deal with. It is normal to feel an array of intense emotions.
It is important at this stage that you avoid judging your emotions, “Should I be feeling this?” or “Is it okay for me to be feeling this?” Instead, accept that you are feeling what you are feeling, good, bad, or ugly. Not wanting to feel something doesn’t make you not feel it.
There will be time down the road to sort through all the different things you are feeling. Right now you need to try to be aware what you are feeling, acknowledge what you are feeling, and try to take care of your heart.
It is normal to be really, really, really angry. Like enraged. It is normal to think about ending your spouse’s life or the affair partner’s life. We strongly encourage you don’t. However, you are not crazy if the thought crosses your mind. From a Christian perspective, God gets really angry about sin, so for you to feel really angry about your spouse’s sinful choices is consistent with the heart of God.
A few things are more world rocking than the betrayal of a spouse. It is normal to be terrified about the unknowns and doubt the past.
Give yourself permission not to answer all the questions right now.
Fear and confusion can lead us to doing some odd things. For example, sometimes people feel the need to be really close to their spouse after they discover what has happened. They feel the need to “fix it” by doing whatever it takes to “save the marriage.” This is normal and may or may not be something you feel.
Sometimes there is a sense of relief. You may have suspected something was going on, but could never quite put your finger on it. Maybe you felt crazy, but now you understand.
It is impossible to go through betrayal by a spouse without experiencing some level of depression. The severity and duration of depression you experience depends largely on how well you take care of yourself through this process. It is normal to feel all the emotions above and more. Feeling them intensely does not necessarily mean you have to act on them. When you feel like killing your spouse or harming yourself you do not have to act on that impulse. Sometimes we get caught trying to figure out what is right, what we have the right to do, or what is justified. A better question is: What is going to be helpful? While attacking your spouse verbally or punching the affair partner in the face may be what they deserve, will it really help the situation? A good counselor will help you answer the question: What is going to help me reach my goals?
Don’ts Of Self Care
- Post on Social Media
- Binge eat, drink, shop
- Make major life decisions (divorce, change job, move)
- Tell family prior to talking to a professional
- Take responsibility for your spouse’s behavior or choices
- Snyder, D. K., Baucom, D. H., & Gordon, K. C. (2007). Treating infidelity: An integrative approach to resolving trauma and promoting forgiveness. psychologist psychologist, 12. 
- Glass, S. P., & Wright, T. L. (1997). Reconstructing marriages after the trauma of infidelity. 
- Lebow, J. L., Chambers, A. L., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). Research on the treatment of couple distress. Journal of Marital and Family therapy, 38(1), 145-168. 
- Gordon, K. C., Baucom, D. H., & Snyder, D. K. (2005). Treating couples recovering from infidelity: An integrative approach. Journal of clinical psychology, 61(11), 1393-1405. 
- Learning to Love Again After an Affair – The Gottman Institute
- AffairRecovery.com – First Steps Bootcamp
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