Recovering From Affairs & Infidelity: First Things First
© 2014, by Linda J. Engelman, Licensed MFT
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After an affair / infidelity has been revealed, you may find yourself going through a vast array of emotions. If you're feeling confused, and wondering if what you're feeling is normal, take a look below at what partners often feel in the intial days, weeks, and even months, after an affair has been discovered.
What if you're the partner who did the betraying? >
Betrayed Partners Often Feel Some or Many of These:
- Overwhelmed, tearful
- Angry - How could you betray me this way? Why don't you seem more remorseful? Why doesn't my pain impact you more than it seems it does? I feel like I want to tell everyone in our family, all of our friends, what you have done to me.
- Scared / Vulnerable / Defenseless - what if there's more that you haven't told me? Do I really want to know? Should I leave or stay?
- Embarrassed - What if my friends/family find out?
- Confused - I don't feel like I love you anymore - will those feelings ever return? I'm totally out of control - you have all of the control here.
- Empty - You shared intimate moments with another person, and I feel like the outsider. How can I ever depend on you again?
- Lonely - Feeling isolated. Why wasn't I enough? You don't find me attractive anymore. What did you share with this other person that I'll never be a part of?
- Panic - What does this mean about our marriage? Was it all a big lie? Primal panic - I'm going to be all alone. I'm going to have to start all over again.
- Conflict - The person that hurt me the most is the person who I most want to comfort me! You are both the source of and the solution to my pain.
- Unfamiliar parts of personality - I feel like I'm going crazy. I want all of the details, but when I hear them, I freak out. I've never seen myself this way, and it's scaring me. I keep reading and listening to the letters, emails, voicemails.
- Depression / Hopeless - You want me to move forward, and I'm not ready. You want me to stop asking questions, and I'm just getting started. You're angry at me, and you're the one who had the affair!
- Clinging / Desirous of Contact - hold me, reassure me, don't leave
- Fear that if I don't get over it quickly, you'll get frustrated with me and will go do it again.
- Hypervigilience - obsessive thoughts; ruminating
The Partner Who Had the Affair Often Feel Some or Many of These:
- Initially, sad, emotional, remorseful, shame, asking forgiveness - Will my partner leave me? I don't like who I am. I'm reminded of childhood shame / wrongdoing.
- Scared - How much should I tell my partner? There's still more that I haven't told. I'm panicked - I've been caught, need to flee or numb out, do something to stop the pain.
- Embarrassed - Who else knows about this? I can't believe I actually did this. What if the kids find out?
- Confused - It didn't mean anything to me. It was just something on the side. I never stopped loving my partner while it was happening.
- Want to move forward - Let's live in the present/future, not in the past. Frustrated that partner wants to discuss, and ask the same questions over and over again.
- Anxious - I've already told you I'm sorry. I don't know what else to do. Will you ever trust me again? Will you be bringing this up every time we have a fight for the rest of our relationship?
- Angry - It's crazy that you want all of these details - you're only hurting yourself! I don't want to make you more hurt by giving you all of the specifics of what we did and where/how we did it.
- Frustrated - I've already answered those questions - why do I have to keep answering them?
- Singled Out / Defensive - Why is this all MY fault? When do I get to talk about what YOU were doing that led me to have the affair?
- Numbing Out - I don't know what I'm feeling - sleeping more, or drinking/smoking more, withdrawing more.
Linda Engelman, MFT, practices Emotionally Focused Therapy (a scientifically backed model of therapy developed by Dr. Sue Johnson). This framework of couples therapy effectively helps couples recover from affairs, and re-establish trust and safety within the relationship.
CALL for a confidential consultation: 925.295.1036
LINDA J. ENGELMAN
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, MFC#46255
Psychotherapy and Counseling Services for Individuals, Couples, & Families
Office Located in San Ramon, California
(Contra Costa County, San Francisco, East Bay Area)
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