You hear about the survivors after a storm. You hear about the survivors after a plane crash or car crash. People want to talk to them, to get their stories. How they were so close to death but were somehow able to make it through. We all love a good survivor story.
Except when it comes to infidelity. No, those survivors keep their stories to themselves. People don’t think to even ask them their stories. They are the quiet, unsung survivors who still get up every day, who battle the moments of fear and sorrow, and try to see rays of light amid the clouds that plague their lives. Who are the survivors? The spouse who was cheated on, the children of the couple, the baby who is a result of the infidelity, friends, extended family—infidelity leaves a strong wake.
If you spouse has been unfaithful to you, and you feel unheard, you’re not alone. So many are suffering in silence, just trying to get through each day and construct their new life. You don’t have to go it alone. Here are some essential steps to surviving infidelity.
Get a Little Help from Your Friends
Some friends may shy away from you right now, and that will hurt. But you simply can’t be alone right now. Reach out if you have to, and be grateful for those friends who are there for you. Schedule regular coffee meet ups, movies out, shopping trips—anything. You need to know that someone cares regularly. Realize that some friends can’t be what you need, but they can help in some way. Perhaps a long distance friend can help by texting inspiring messages, or another friend could help motivate you to go to local events. Build your team to help you survive.
Join a Support Group
There are others out there who know what you are going through. Even if the circumstances are different, they will know that the hurt you feel is all encompassing, and they will be way more open with you about your own experience than anyone else. You need to share your story and know that others are surviving. Join a support group.
Be as Open as Possible
Your feelings are probably all over the place. One day you may feel ok, and other days your mind may play tricks on you. It’s important to be as open as possible. When you need assurance, or details about the affair, don’t hold those feelings in. Ask your spouse as calmly as possible, but do ask. If you’re frustrated, angry, scared, etc., say so. Your spouse needs to know how you feel during this process.
Find Ways to Reconnect
If your spouse has cheated and is willing to work things out, then it’s time to figure out how you both can reconnect. After an affair, you will feel so disconnected, you may not even feel like you know your spouse at all. You may not feel ready to do things that you used to do together. So maybe find something new. Definitely go on regular dates so you have alone time to talk. Be sure to designate this time as “non-affair talk” time. It’ll be hard to reconnect and move on if that’s all you talk about. Venture into new avenues.
Take a Break If You Need To
If you simply can’t be together right now, then take a break. Agree to a certain time limit, and revisit your relationship then. Sometimes a break is necessary so things don’t get worse, and also so you have some time to think and process. Just make the terms of the trial separation clear so you don’t have to stress about it.
Pour Energy into Exercise
Lift some weights, swim some laps, whack that tennis ball across the court—doesn’t that sound cathartic? That’s because it is. And you need that now more than ever. Your physical body and your emotional state are connected. When you feel good physically, it will lift your mood. Exercising can also help take your mind off your life for 30 minutes or more. Exercise can help alleviate anger, sadness, and stress. You can also be around others who are positive, which can help you feel better, too.
Automate What You Can
Order your groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered; hire a housekeeper to come in once a week; pay the neighbor kid a few dollars to mow your lawn. Your life is in upheaval at the moment. You simply can’t take care of all the things you need to. So find ways to delegate, hire out, and automate.
Figure Out How to Laugh Again
You may feel like you’ll never have the ability to laugh again; but slowly you’ll smile, chuckle, and then full out belly laugh again. And it will feel good. Welcome happiness and laughter with open arms. You are a survivor, and that means you are moving past what happened. In this case, laughter really can be the best medicine. So spend time having fun with friends, watch a funny movie, go to a comedy club, etc.
Go Somewhere Completely New
Everything reminds you of your past and what happened. So go somewhere completely new to you. It could be a coffee shop in your town that could become your new place; or perhaps you could take a quick road trip to a nearby town where you could be a tourist for a day or two. New surroundings distract our minds and take them to better places.
Forgive as Best as You Can
You simply won’t be able to move forward with your life until you let go of what happened. This will be difficult and will take some time, but it is possible. An affair can be a huge weight on your shoulders that you are carrying around—so let it go. When you are able to forgive you will feel liberated and able to move on.
Go to Counseling
There are therapists out there who have professional experience helping infidelity survivors like you. Find a good counselor and visit regularly. They can help you make sense of your feelings and process what has happened. Also, they can help you survive in the best possible way.
Finally, Spend Some Time in the Sun
Get outside and be in nature, and be sure to get a little sun here and there. You may just want to stay inside and cry in bed—that’s normal. You can certainly do that. But balance it by pulling on your sweats and going for a walk. Smell the flowers, look at the trees, and soak in some Vitamin D. It will help your body feel better and lift your spirits.