Finding out that your partner has cheated is a special kind of hell. From the incessant questions that plague your uneasy mind to the sense of rejection and unworthiness, an affair causes pain like no other.
It was only later, once I had gained some perspective on that period in my own life, when I realized that I was unintentionally doing some things that made my torment even worse.
Could you be doing the same and not even realize it?
One of most common side effects of being betrayed is an obsessive drive. This can take the form of wanting to hear every little detail about the affair or the affair partner. It can manifest as a relentless need to analyze the marriage and cheating spouse. Perhaps it takes the form of a fanatical attempt to perform CPR on a struggling marriage.
Regardless of the form, these compulsive thoughts and actions only serve to magnify the torment of infidelity. Fortunately, you do not have to allow these obsessive tendencies to take root and thrive. By making sense of why you’re responding that way, you can begin to find new ways to cope that don’t make you feel even more miserable.
Infidelity is an ugly pain. And one we would rather not face. Often, the obsessions act as a distraction from the true issues at hand. This is often the case when the betrayed spouse becomes a self-appointed private investigator tasked with finding out every little detail about the affair partner.
This need for knowledge is driven less by necessity and more by a fear of looking at the cheating spouse and the troubled marriage. The problem is that when we try too hard to avoid something, we unwittingly give it too much power over us. Busyness may keep you from exploring the pain head-on, but it also prolongs the pain as its presence is always felt.
Slow down. Allow yourself to feel. Breathe and trust that you’ll be able to handle whatever emotions come your way.
Being cheated on is like discovering that you’ve been a blindfolded passenger in a runaway train. And a common reaction to this discovery is an intense need to control everything. This relentless drive can manifest in a variety of ways, from an obsession with a new diet or exercise program to an overwhelming urge to know every detail about your spouse’s location and actions.
There is some comfort felt initially by exerting this control. It makes the world feel a little less scary and a little more predictable. Ultimately, however, this need for control becomes it own source of misery because control always has its limitations.
Rather than trying to keep the unknown from ever happening, strive to build your faith and confidence in yourself. You may not be able to stop it from occurring, but you can survive it.
One of the cruelest aspects of infidelity is that the unfaithful spouse holds most of the power – they can decide if they want to end the affair or continue to pursue it, they can commit to working on the marriage or they can elect to keep hiding behind lies and misdirection.
And a sense of purpose helps to counteract the awful feeling of waiting. Purpose in life is important. It gives us a reason to keep going even when the going gets tough. It gives us a sense of the bigger picture and the connection between ourselves and others.
After an affair, purpose is often misappropriated. What feels important is really just noise and the all-consuming drive can overwhelm. Obsessive purpose often mutates, taking on a life of its own. And taking over your life with it.
Rather than making the affair and its components your focus, shift your purpose to yourself and your own wellbeing. Put your energy into making you better. That’s never a waste.
I think every betrayed spouse utters the words, “How could you do this?” at least once. And the need to understand why and how can easily become a neurotic obsession. A belief that once that question is answered, everything will again make sense and moving on can begin to happen.
Yet the truth is that no explanation will ever suffice. There is no reason that will excuse the pain or the betrayal. And strangely enough, accepting this can lead to a place where you are able to view the entire marriage and affair with a more rational eye, which is where you can find some insight into the particular environment that allowed this betrayal to grow.
Understanding doesn’t happen when you aggressively demand it. It comes when you are ready to listen and accept with an open mind.
Being betrayed is scary. It throws everything into doubt and makes you question your own perceptions and sanity. And all of that fear has energy. Energy that demands to be released.
Undirected, that energy will often find its way out through obsessive acts – refreshing your ex’s Facebook page in an attempt to find information about their new relationship, endless talking and thinking about the betrayal, or planning ways to spy on your repentant spouse.
Find healthier ways to release your energy. Move your body to free your mind.
There is no easy road back to happiness and trust after an affair. The pain is real, the impact significant. So be mindful that you’re not adding to your burden by tormenting yourself. You’ve got enough of that to deal with already.