Posted on June 20th, 2019 in Uncategorized
Written by Dennis Daupert

How Writing Rapidly Soothes your Emotions After an Affair

Dealing with your emotions after an affair can feel somewhat like riding a roller coaster. You can expect to feel moments of sadness, depression, anger, moments of disorientation like your world is spinning.

While having a strong support system and learning different stress-reduction techniques can help you deal with your emotions, there’s a different technique you may want to try that can soothe your rawest emotions quickly – writing.

Writing for just 15 to 20 minutes a day for only four days – according to therapeutic writing expert, Dr. James Pennebaker – can soothe turbulent emotions and have long-term beneficial impact on both emotional and physical health.

You don’t have to be an avid, talented writer in order for this technique to help you in dealing with your emotions. Grab a pen, take a deep breath, be mindful of your feelings, and put those thoughts to paper.

Writing to Heal

Dr. Pennebaker’s basic therapeutic writing assignment is amazingly simple. His instructions are as follows:

“Over the next 4 days write about your deepest emotions and the emotional upheaval that has been influencing your life the most. In your writing, really let go and explore the event and how it has affected you. You might tie this experience to your childhood, your relationship with your parents, people you have loved or love now, or even your career. Write continuously for 20 minutes.”

When you “really let go,” you give voice to parts of yourself that need to be heard. Your strong emotions speak out, of course, but then other parts of you are emboldened to step up and speak out: your deeper wants, needs, and values.

Here are a couple of tips as you move through the process.

From time to time shift your perspective between first and third person. If your name is Molly, sometimes write, “I feel…,” and sometimes, “Molly feels….” Doing so helps you get that all important distance that helps put things in perspective.

As with any technique, food, or medicine, use what works for you. That means pay attention and notice how it goes for you. Ask yourself, “Is it helping, or not?” If so, great! You’re onto something. If not, this may be too soon, or just might not be right for you.

Dr. Pennebaker does caution against letting yourself get mired in “your deepest emotions and the emotional upheaval.” This is not journaling. You don’t go on and on day after day with this technique. So if you find yourself feeling stuck with it or not getting the distance and perspective you need, back away.
You’re in charge. Only you know how it’s going for you.

Wisdom from Abe Lincoln

There were times when Abe Lincoln became so angry about someone doing something that he would sit down and write that person a scalding hot letter boiling with emotion. He would then tuck the unsent letter snugly in his desk drawer.

Lincoln never meant to send the letter. He said that channeling his emotions into the unsent letters allowed him to manage his emotions better and deal with the actual person in a much more grounded way.

This wisdom from Abe Lincoln is really important. It can be tempting to take out your honest feelings of anger and hurt on the offending person using scalding hot words. But that seldom pays off for you in the long run, and often backfires.

Writing to Heal the Relationship

Emotions after an affair are usually disturbing, but in different ways for each partner.

One may feel guilt, divided loyalties, and longing for the affair partner. The other may feel stabbed to the heart, sudden loss of trust, and the hurt and confusion of a life turned upside down. Each will need clearer thinking, deeper understanding, and healthy relational changes. If they are to survive as a couple, change will be needed within each person and the relationship itself.

Another writing study shows how focused writing can be remarkably useful for couples. 120 married couples were given instructions to write about some marital conflict:
“from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for all involved; a person who sees things from a neutral point of view…. How might he or she find the good that could come from it?”

Results were quite positive for couples who took the instructions to heart. They showed greater improvements in marital happiness and greater ability to manage negative emotions constructively than those in the control condition who did not write.

A couple of points stand out.

First, notice again the shift of perspective from first person to second person. That shift can really help pry loose from a fixed viewpoint and stuck emotions.

Second, there is a gentle nudge to inject a bit of goodwill into the picture. A person who wants the best for all involved will likely find the good that can come out of their situations.

Change Your Story

After an affair, it’s easy for your emotions and feelings to feel completely jumbled and unorganized.
But a quick dose of writing about ourselves and our stories can help soothe even the darkest emotions. Writing out your own personal narrative can be therapeutic.

Writing can “nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself,” according to Timothy D. Wilson, a University of Virginia psychology professor who studies the impact of writing on behavioral health and happiness.

When you are mired in emotion, writing can be a way to gain much needed distance and perspective that helps clarify things and connect with your inner resources.

Writing down emotions after an affair can help you to make more sense of them. As a result, you can start to process your feelings with a clearer head. That’ll make it much easier to feel better, take stock, and get perspective.

When Will the Hurt Stop? A Basic Affair Recovery Timeline

When you’ve been betrayed by an affair, it might seem as though the pain will never go away. There is no one affair recovery timeline set in stone since everyone heals differently. However, it’s important to know that the hurt will eventually start to fade away.

Understanding your own affair recovery timeline can make the entire situation feel less overwhelming.

Some people make the mistake of trying to hide their emotions. Others expect to feel better too quickly, while some can’t let go of the pain for years. Having a basic idea of when the raw and intense pain might start to subside can make it easier to deal with the effects of an affair.

Recover Your Relationship with Time

If you want to salvage your relationship after an affair, it’s important for both parties to understand that it can take quite a while. Some people, but not all, do struggle with the pain and betrayal for years. For the partner who has been hurt, expect at least two years of recovery and growth to feel somewhat “normal” again.

There is a general affair recovery timeline both people in a relationship can follow and depend upon. By using this as a guideline, you can help each other move past some of the greater struggles and painful moments that can happen post-infidelity.

The good news? This timeline can start almost right away. If you’re the victimized partner, a basic affair recovery timeline can help you to better understand your emotions. It can also allow you to work through them in a healthier fashion and move through the steps of recovery as smoothly as possible.

What Is the Timeline for Recovering from an Affair?

Again, the affair recovery timeline starts almost right away. That doesn’t mean things will feel great immediately, but it can help to give you hope. Use this timeline as a basic guide for what you can expect throughout the recovery process:

  • 0-6 weeks: The first six weeks after an affair is disclosed are usually a tumultuous time for both parties. But, they’re especially painful for the person hurt by the infidelity. You can expect a rollercoaster of emotions because you’ve just been through a serious trauma. The best thing you can do for yourself in these weeks is to take care of your physical and mental health as much as possible. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise.
  • 6 months: Anywhere between 3-6 months is a good time to start dealing with the core of the affair. It is a grieving period, and it may also be a time of heavy discussion or arguing between spouses. But, it’s important to start understanding the root of the problems that caused one spouse to cheat.
  • 12 months: Sometime between 9-12 months after the affair, it’s time to start accepting what happened. It’s a difficult thing to do, but certainly not impossible. Use these months as a time of forgiveness and reconciliation with your spouse. If you initiated the affair, take the time to ensure your spouse knows that you’re committed to them, and to your relationship.
  • 18 months: From 12-18 months and onward, you can start a rebuilding process. Trust is a hard thing to rebuild in a relationship. But, if you’re both committed to it, the relationship is salvageable. What’s most important in these months is open communication and knowing how to resolve conflicts with each other in a healthy way.

What Is the Long-Term Timeline for Recovering from an Affair?

After about two years, you’ll enter more of a maintenance mode with your partner. Don’t take this phase lightly. You shouldn’t just ignore all the rebuilding you’ve done in the earlier stages of the timeline.

Maintenance is about staying open with one another and resolving issues as they come up. Letting relationship problems build up again will leave you both on edge. It could also lead to old negative feelings creeping back in.

An affair is a difficult thing to get through for any couple. The timeline suggestions listed above are only an outline of what to expect in your personal and relational growth. Some people take longer, while others may move on faster.

Remember, you don’t have to go through these stages on your own. Sometimes, guidance from one area to the next can be helpful and will strengthen your relationship.

Guardrails and Guidelines for Surviving Infidelity

Surviving infidelity isn’t always easy when the trust in a relationship has been broken. Many times, couples call it quits before even giving themselves a chance to try to work things out.

Sometimes, ending the relationship is the best thing to do. But, if you’re committed to your partner and believe the relationship can be salvaged, there’s hope.

Keep in mind that surviving infidelity is about both partners. Both will struggle with different things through the recovery and rebuilding process.
There are certain guidelines that can help you get through an unfaithful period in your relationship. If both partners are willing to make things work, you may even get through this dark period together stronger than ever.

How Can I Survive Being Betrayed by My Partner?

If you’ve been hurt by your partner’s cheating, understand that it will take time to fully recover and heal. But, if you want to make your relationship work and get through the pain, there are things you can do to make the process easier. Follow these tips to help you work through everything:

  • Focus less on your anger, and more on the feelings underneath your anger. Expressing those underlying feelings can be hard at first. But, they’ll help to open the lines of communication. You’ll feel better talking to your partner about these feelings, and your conversations will be more productive.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. This will start out as a grieving process. Take the time you need to process the infidelity itself. Then, commit to working on the marriage over a suitable stretch of time, too. Rushing things or trying to “fix” things quickly can end in disaster.
  • Before you decide that you want to rebuild your relationship, you have to be able to forgive your partner. It doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow. But, stick to the idea that you will eventually forgive them. Keeping that in mind will allow you both to move forward. It will also help you to heal in a healthier manner since you’ll be shedding those layers of pain and bitterness over time.

How Can I Survive if I Was Unfaithful?

If you’ve been unfaithful, it doesn’t automatically mean your relationship is doomed. People stray for a variety of different reasons. If you’ve realized your mistake and you want to remain fully committed to your relationship, there are things you can do to help the healing process, too. Some useful tips you can put into practice include:

  • Stop any and all contact with your affair partner. The affair must come to a complete halt if you are committing yourself to your relationship.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. This isn’t the time to make excuses or try to make the situation seem lighter than it actually is. If your spouse is angry and hurt, they have every right to be. It’s up to you to listen to them, understand what they’re saying, and own up to the things you’ve done.
  • Commit to being as open and honest as possible with your spouse. This is a two-way street that needs to happen in every conversation. Some conversations will be easier than others. But, open communication is one of the biggest keys to rebuilding a broken relationship.
  • Be empathetic and patient with your partner. Understand that it will take time for them to heal, and that trust will come slowly. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re doing each day. Some days will be better than others, and showing patience with how your partner feels can make a big difference.

Surviving Infidelity as a Couple

Unfortunately, there is no “magic solution” for surviving infidelity. But, it’s possible if both partners are willing to make the relationship work.
By following some of these guidelines as individuals, you can use them to become a stronger couple in the long run.