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.
You aren’t proud of yourself. The double life you’ve confessed to is out in the open and you can’t pretend to be innocent. You can’t blame your partner for not trusting you. You are branded as the unfaithful partner. A cheater. Someone they don’t even recognize now.
Does it do any good to divulge more? Should you dodge all the questions, swallow the details, deny the parts that will hurt them too much?
Won’t it all just compound the damage and make it too hard to ever recover anyway?
Maybe you can just convince your partner that it’s all over. In the past. Persuade them to just leave it behind and move forward now for the sake of your marriage.
Maybe they’ll agree?
“I’m having an affair.”
No one wants to be the oblivious wife who gets her world rocked.
Or the faithful guy who has a sneaking suspicion but hopes for the best, only to get served the same explosive phrase.
Or the partner who doesn’t get any words at all. Just the shock of accidental discovery.
Infidelity is that worst case scenario many of us pray we never have to face. “Betrayed partner” is something you never wanted to Google. But it happens. To a lot of us.
Affairs are certainly hazardous to your relationship health.
The deception of the unfaithful partner drives a wedge into the relationship. The resulting effects of infidelity do such damage that the faithful partner is left confused, reeling, uncertain of the future and questioning every detail of the relationship’s past.
The pain is a crater between them. The fallout stretches far and wide.
Any couple who has had an infidelity grenade drop into their relationship knows the kind of destruction, loss, and grief that can overwhelm the connection they once had.
Are you and your partner suffering these common effects of infidelity?
Searching for good relationship therapy is, in one way, a little like looking for a good, honest auto mechanic. When your car starts making some weird new sound, you want expert help. You want a good, honest mechanic, someone who knows how to fix your car and will not rip you off. He might be a little rough around the edges, but if he’s a good, honest mechanic, that’s what’s most important.
If you need major heart surgery, you probably won’t care if the surgeon is undeniably arrogant, as long as she is at the top of her game. You want to live.
I’d like to tell you about an early therapy experience that shaped my entire approach to individual therapy.
One of my earliest individual therapy clients was a distraught young woman who came into the Stress Management Clinic experiencing a very painful headache. She was a college senior, nearing the graduation mark, when just at the last few weeks of school, her headache appeared.
She had been an A-student all through school. But at the moment, she couldn’t study, couldn’t write her last papers, couldn’t prepare for final exams. The clock was ticking, and she was scared.
There always seems to be at least one person in our lives with whom we don’t feel we can share our true thoughts and feelings about. There can be several reasons for this. Maybe we want to be liked. Maybe we’re embarrassed, or we’re simply afraid of what might happen if we tell them. If you were to confront the person or people with whom you have an issue, just imagine how this would free up space in your brain to think about other things.
There are three ways in which people often communicate that are NOT effective. One is not saying anything and letting resentments build. This is called being passive. Another is aggressive communication. This might seem obvious, but aggression doesn’t really do anything for us either, except maybe land us in jail. Aggression can take the form of verbal or physical violence. Trying to control someone else is never the answer, nor should this be an option.
You may have heard the word, “Codependent,” but do you really know what it means? Definitions and descriptions of a codependent person can be expansive. Occasionally, I hear people mistakingly believe this term applies to only those who are within some type of addicted or chemically dependent relationship. They aren’t completely wrong. In fact, the original term for this concept was “co-alcoholic,” as researchers initially examined settings where addiction was present and they found a variety of behavior patterns in the family members of these chemically dependent people. In looking closer, they noticed a range of emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual issues in these family members and loved ones. As the concept continued to expand, it was not long before we realized that these patterns continued even after a relationship with an addicted person ended. What’s more, these things were also being exhibited in non-addicted relationships and families.
Mindfulness is one of the four core skills introduced in a highly effective type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). DBT incorporates the Eastern practice of mindful meditation into talk therapy. The combination of practicing mindful meditation and evaluating negative thought patterns can significantly increase relaxation and help one cope with strong emotions.
So what exactly is mindfulness and how do we become more mindful? Being mindful is a state of mind that can be achieved with regular practice. Mindfulness is the act of simply observing our thoughts and feelings without imposing judgement on those thoughts or feelings such that they are “good” or “bad”. Let’s be honest, to refrain from judging and criticizing our own thoughts and feelings is a hard feat to conquer. We judge ourselves constantly throughout the day; therefore, it will understandably take a fair amount of practice and time to eventually master this art.
Like most adults participating in any sort of small talk with someone you’ve just met, I often am asked what I do for a living. It’s curious to me that some individuals seem to struggle with my answer. I say “I am a therapist” and they say “oh yeah?, like physical therapist?” or “cool, my sister is a massage therapist” or “I thought about going in to speech therapy too”. Then I usually say something like “no, no, I am a psychotherapist”. “Oh, okay”, they reply. And, then, this is usually the end of the conversation. So this leaves me wondering – are we still not comfortable, even in 2016, with the idea of tending to our mental health? Is there still such a strong stigma attached to mental illness or even just emotional struggle that it’s a conversation ender or a small-talk buzz kill? Unfortunately, it seems like the answer is still yes.