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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

After the Affair: When Does the Pain End?

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We think of it like a finish line.

Or a wall.

Some clearly defined boundary, delineating pain from not-pain.

After all, that’s how this all started.

You had that moment before the discovery of the affair when everything was okay and the world was as it seemed.

Then, you had that awful moment, that image or those words, that turned your world upside down. And every moment since has felt like a slow water torture of realization and grief, choking you while you somehow still manage to breathe.

And so we dream of that day when the pain will end, when the tortuous thoughts will cease and we can again sit up and breathe fully.

We place faith in the calendar, thinking that we can simply out-wait the pain as though we are in some staring contest.

Yet grief does not speak calendar.

We tell ourselves that once we receive an apology or altered behavior or a divorce decree that the pain will realize that it’s closing time and will make a dignified exit.

Yet pain does not leave when asked to do so.

We spend hours delving into our emotions, dissecting and processing, in the hope that eventually we can turn them into something of substance.

Yet betrayal leaves a lasting stain.

No matter how much time passes, what the person who betrayed you said or does, or how much you process what happened, you will always remember that you were betrayed. It is now part of you, woven into your very fiber.

Yet that doesn’t mean that you will hurt in the same way forever.

The pain of betrayal comes from two places – the treachery itself and the impact that it has on your ability to feel safe and loved again.

As you begin to trust again, in others, but even more importantly, in yourself, you will begin to heal some of that secondary wound.

As you begin to understand that the betrayal was not a rejection of you but an act of cowardice and selfishness, you will begin to restore your self-worth.

The pain doesn’t end.

It changes. It recedes. It quiets.

You will always remember.

But you will not always be submerged.

As slowly as the tide pulling away, you will again surface.

With the salt of your tears still clinging to your skin.

And the strength of survival encouraging you forward.



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12 thoughts on “After the Affair: When Does the Pain End?

  1. Made me smile, in that we wait for the finish line. As you say there is no ‘finish line’ it is one of the threads that weave your cloth of life. ❤️

    1. I’d hate to see the sweater woven by my life threads – it would look like it was made by a 6-year-old! 🙂

          1. Brilliant, so am I now. But look at us, cyber friends brought together out of pain & sadness that we now use to help others. That’s got to be in our wooly as well. ❤️

  2. Four years after my wife’s 2-year emotional affair was exposed, and I still have that stain of pain just sitting there. It pops up off and on, especially when I am having trouble communicating with my wife (which seems like it happens more than I’d like, especially since she has still remained disconnected spiritually, emotionally and physically).

    It’s very hard to deal with daily triggers and even suspicion now and again when she works late. It’s that agonizing pain of what could have been — a marriage that wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the mean on either side (I know I’m not perfect either), but a marriage that wasn’t bad and had more good moments than down moments.

    But now that is all in the past and these 7-plus years of disconnect continues to haunt me daily. Just had our 25th wedding anniversary in June. Haven’t celebrated an anniversary in I don’t know how long. Just another year — another notch on the belt — to say we are legally together.

    And the pain just dwell there, like a guest that has overstayed their welcome for years and years but you can’t find a way to kick them out.

  3. It is so painful. I don’t know how much more I can take. I’m grateful to have all of you for support and to let me know there will be a time when it won’t be.

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