The consequences of an affair are overwhelming and horrifically painful. The realization that you are in a place that you never expected to be can feel devastating. Here are a few things that can help you navigate this unwanted, unfamiliar territory, as you find a way to continue doing life.
1. Choose a friend.
It is helpful to choose one or two close, trustworthy people to include in your confidence. You will need support to walk through this. Make sure this person can keep a confidence and is a source of trustworthy emotional and practical support. This will give you someone to talk through your decisions with. Make sure to keep your circle of confidence small. Don’t tell everyone. You can always broaden the circle as needed, but you cannot make the circle smaller once confidences are shared.
2. Develop a plan.
Your plan will depend on the timeline in your journey. Is this the first day you found out, the first month, or one year later? Your plan may include things like getting kids picked up, getting dinner on the table, being kind to yourself, etc. Further into the process you will need a plan to make important decisions. Take control, don’t just let it unfold. Make informed decisions, taking in to account both rational thoughts and your emotions; both bring wisdom to your decisions.
3. There are no right, wrong, or easy answers to the question, “What do I do now?”
Some people have pre-set answers before they find themselves in this situation. They might say, “I’d change the locks, if that ever happens.” But when faced with their new reality, they love their spouse and want to work things out, if possible. The decision is yours alone, not those surrounding you.
Here’s one couple’s story of their amazing journey to forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
4. Make sure you eat and get rest.
If you can’t eat, get some nutritional drinks to keep your body going. You need to stay strong to make decisions and work through this. You may need some time off work. Take the time to take care of yourself.
5. Allow others to help you.
If you need child care, rides for kids, or meals, let others do those things for you. Don’t allow pride to rob you of much-needed help during this difficult time.
6. Let some of your expectations go.
Focus on getting through today. You will not be able to accomplish your normal standards during this time of crisis. Lower the bar for yourself until you can develop a coping strategy. I recently heard someone say, “Right now I am focusing on breathing in, and then breathing out.” I love it because, in crisis, breathing is enough (and has calming effects, too).
7. Get some resources to help you.
Books, podcasts, and a counsellor are all available to help. It’s important to educate yourself as you make decisions. Hearing stories of others will help, too. Also remember: you are not alone. And it will not always hurt this intensely.