One email question I receive frequently from the betrayed spouse is: how do I cope during the early stages of discovery when my mind refuses to settle down? Here is an excerpt from a longer article that I wrote a few years ago. The full article is located at www.aftertheaffair.net/article01.htm

And now – how do you cope when you can’t eat, sleep, or think straight? Here are some tips that might help to make your life a little easier right now:

Force yourself to eat regularly and in a healthy manner. Treat yourself just like you were your own child – you wouldn’t let your kid skip breakfast, have beer for lunch, and a bag of chips for dinner, would you? Don’t let yourself do it either – take your vitamins – and eat even if you aren’t hungry. You will have more energy to deal with this crisis if your body is not exhausted from lack of nutrients.

Do not abuse substances or medication. Do not choose this time to start drinking a little more than usual – do not double up on your prescription medication dosages – and do not smoke more than you usually do. In the middle of a crisis, it is not uncommon for a pack-a-day smoker to indulge in two or three packs a day – or – for a light drinker to have a couple of extra glasses of wine at one time. Don’t do it! If you catch yourself doing it, refer to tip number one and treat yourself as you would your own child. The same goes with coffee – because all of these substances will impair your body’s ability to rest properly.

Get plenty of sleep. If you’re having a hard time sleeping because of reoccurring bad dreams or trouble getting to sleep because of reoccurring negative thoughts – give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and temporarily forget them. You do this by keeping a journal at your bedside and writing down everything that is troubling you – especially things that you don’t want to forget. Because you will have written these thoughts down, your subconscious will give you permission to forget them temporarily – because a hard copy is available. This really works – so do not dismiss this strategy! You can also trick your subconscious by only allowing yourself specific worry times. For example, make an appointment for 6pm to worry for an hour. During that hour – brainstorm everything you have to worry about and write it all down in a worry journal. If you come up with a new worry before 6pm or after 7pm – quickly jot your worry down in the journal and promise yourself that you will evaluate it during your next worry appointment. I know this sounds silly – but try it, because it really works to free your mind so that you can both rest and concentrate on other things.

Clarify your priorities. Free your mind and your schedule by clarifying exactly what is a priority to you – and doing only priority projects. When you do this – realize that each and every chore that faces you during the day shouldn’t be a priority. For example: the car doesn’t have to be washed for it to get you to work tomorrow, the kitchen will not be condemned if its floor isn’t mopped, your teeth will not fall out just because you cancel one dentist appointment, and your friend really will forgive you if you stay home and nap instead of going out to the movies with her, etc. Decide exactly what is important – and do only that which is important.

Do the least amount of work possible to meet your priorities. This step is almost as important as clarifying your priorities! For example, if your kids need to be fed dinner and it’s a priority – then you can make them sandwiches or order a pizza instead of spending an hour cooking and washing dishes. If your kids are begging for attention and this is a priority – curl up on the couch and watch their favorite movie with them instead of walking to the park. This same concept applies to employment as well as home situations. For example, if your boss asks you to write a report – the report needs only to be accurate and concise – it doesn’t have to be good enough to win a writing contest, etc. If you have the option of not working overtime – go home, instead. There will be time to play super hero when you feel better – and right now, you need to take care of yourself.

Ask for Help! It is likely that you have several people in your life right now who could ease your burdens considerably – and telling them that you feel overwhelmed is often enough to get them to volunteer assistance. This doesn’t mean you have to tell them about the crisis you’re dealing with, you can just say, “I’m worried about something that I don’t feel comfortable sharing, but it would sure help me if….” Then ask for specific favors: get another mom to pick the kids up from school for you, ask another family to baby-sit for you overnight, ask your coworker to cover your shift, get the kid next door to cut your grass, etc. You can always return favors when your life settles down – right now, you need to concentrate on getting some rest, coping, and grounding yourself emotionally.

See a counselor. Even if your spouse refuses to go to counseling with you – go alone! Talking to a counselor will help you to weed out destructive thinking and self-blame, especially in the beginning.

Give yourself permission to not make any important decisions. Guess what? You don’t have to decide whether or not to continue the marriage right now. You probably don’t have to move right now. You probably don’t have to make any decisions right now – so give yourself some time to grieve first and then make your decisions after you’ve regained some emotional balance. If you’re worried about financial issues – get a temporary order forbidding disposal of any marital assets along with a support order as mentioned above. Be firm with your lawyer – tell him or her that this is just for your peace of mind and that you do not plan to make any decisions soon.

Set boundaries with friends and family. Just because your sister wants to know everything that is happening in your marriage – and just because she has strong opinions about what you should and shouldn’t do – it doesn’t mean that you have to listen to her. It is okay for you to say, “I know you want to help and I am thinking about these things on my own, but I don’t really want to talk about it, so please respect my wishes.” If she insists, then tell her, “I know you want to help – but do you know what would be most helpful right now? I need someone to watch the baby for a few hours. Are you up for that?” Change the script to fit your individual circumstance but remember that well-intentioned people who insist on giving you unwanted advice usually do want to help in some way – so assign them alternate chores to free your time and mind.

Give yourself permission to make your own decisions. Do not feel obligated or pressured to act on anyone else’s ideas and opinions. If you want to forgive – forgive. If you want to work on your marriage – do it. If you want to end your marriage – then make sure that it is your decision and not a decision that is pressed onto you by an outside party. Everyone and their brother will come out of the woodwork to give you advice right now so be true to yourself – because in the end, this is your life and not theirs. I’m going to make an exception here, though – if your friend is reminding you of spiritual issues that you have held dear in the past, pay special attention. Sometimes we have a tendency to blame God for the behavior of other people when we’re hurt. Remember the footprints in the sand – sometimes we can only see God’s faithfulness when we’re looking backwards.

Clear your calendar for feel-good activities. Be sure to pencil in some “normal” time with your kids, your friends, and your family members. Such times should be free of tension and affair or relationship discussion – give yourself permission to take a break from your worries. Take your kids to the zoo, see a movie, go out to coffee, etc. and get back in touch with your world outside of affair discovery. This might seem easier said than done at first, but allow yourself time to concentrate on what is good and right in your life – there is something in your life to be thankful for. Relish those things with regularity.

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Katie is the author of “Infidelity Crisis: How to Gain Forgiveness and Respect After Your Affair,” available at www.aftertheaffair.net She began this blog to publically address some of the questions and issues she receives via email.

Retaliatory Affairs

2010/05/25

I received the following email regarding a retaliatory affair:

My affair happened 3 yrs ago on a business retreat. I knew & communicated with the man for a year leading up to the affair. We live miles apart in two seperate states. After the one incident I never spoke to him again. When I returned home my husband suspected something. I denied it then & for the next 3 yrs. Fastforward 3 yrs to today. I confessed about a month ago during an argument that we were having about my husbands possible affair. A little over 3 months ago I found out that my husband had a “friend” that I’ve never met or spoke to. I asked him to dissolve the “friendship”. He said that he had, but a month later I found a cell phone that he was using to speak to her. He never apologized or said anything other than she’s just my friend. Meanwhile, she’s saying that she loves him, I’ve caught him at her house @2am, & he’s not staying at our home with me & our 2daughters. He claims never to have had sex with her so he doesn’t see it as wrong.

In a section of the book you talked about [retaliatory] affairs; however, I feel that his affair is in conjunction with & not a result of what I did. I feel like the unfaithful spouse as well as the betrayed. Believe me, I’m completely wrong in my actions & jepordized the family that I so longed for. I’ve admitted my mistakes, but my husband insists on moving into his own place. If this is what he needs to feel comfortable & safe I’m in total agreement. I’m confused on whether my acceptance of this decision is doing my part to rebuild my marriage or enable his unproductive behavior. Because of the situation I Feel as if he should be taking the same steps as I am to regain my trust & forgiveness! Is that selfish of me? I’m hindering the progress by feeling this way? The steps in the book make perfect sense, but it’s really hard to do those things when you feel betrayed as well.

Here is my response:

Your email is very heavy on the word “feel.” You “feel” that his affair is not in response to yours, you “feel” that he should be working on the marriage to the same degree that you are now, etc. Your husband probably has feelings about what has occured here, too – and he was not allowed to fully work through those feelings when you were dishonest with him three years ago. Now you are expecting him to do something different than what you did, but you have given him plenty of justification for not doing any better. Your husband may have believed that your own affair was discovered three years ago, regardless of the denials you made, and therefor he may feel fully justified in his own conduct now. If he wants to leave, you really cannot do anything to stop him. You can ask him not to leave – that is all you can do. If he does leave, you can still work on your marriage by showing him through your actions that you are committed to healing your marriage for the long-term. Whether he will reciprocate is up to him. You feel betrayed but he does as well. He guessed (correctly) regarding your affair, and then you lied to him about it for three years. He has to digest this, regardless of what else he has been involved in.

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Katie is the author of “Infidelity Crisis: How to Gain Forgiveness and Respect After Your Affair,” available at www.aftertheaffair.net She began this blog to publically address some of the questions and issues she receives via email.

I had a common-themed email the other day, where a betrayed spouse indicated that his faith was in jeopardy because he could not understand why God would allow adultery to occur within his marriage. I’ve decided to post my response (slightly lengthened and altered) for others who may be facing the same challenge:

As for Christianity, we know that even a man after God’s own heart (David) is capable of depraved sin (adultery and murder). However, we also know that forgiveness was extended even for these sins. If you would identify yourself with Christianity, there must be some reason. Is it because you have given your life and heart to God in submission and gratitude for the sacrifice that Christ made, trusting Christ’s redeeming work on the cross to save you?

If so, although your future as a child of God may be secure, you need to understand that even believers are not immune to faltering faith at times. We know that there was no man born of woman better than John the Baptist. John saw (with his own two eyes) the spirit of God descend on Christ at Christ’s baptism, and even recognized Christ as the savior when he and Christ were yet in their mother’s wombs (John leaped for joy while inside of Elizabeth). However, when John the Baptist was in prison for a while, persecuted as a prophet, John sent his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you the one or should we look for another?” This is because John was expecting (in his human understanding) the Christ to wage an immediate war to subdue the nations for God. But Christ was not doing what John expected. God’s plan was not to wage an immediate war but to present Christ as a lamb, a sacrifice, to pay for the sins of the world first. Why? Because God was willing that all should be saved, and he was paving the way so that whosoever called on the name of the Lord would in fact be saved. Because John did not understand what had yet to be revealed – because his expectations did not account for God’s true plan – he doubted whether Jesus was the Christ.

When we are in our own prisons and trials, it is easy for us to lose sight of God because we do not always understand why God allows certain things to occur until well after those events are concluded. We can just as easily lose sight of God when things are easy and trouble-free for a long period of time – when we feel like we have no need for God, because we think we are handling things just fine on our own. However, although we may lose sight of God, he never loses sight of us. He has not told us that we will be without trials or hardship in this world. (In fact, he has told us the opposite – to expect trials and tribulation.) What he has promised is that when we belong to him, that we will not have such heartache and hardship in the next life, and that he “will never leave you or forsake you, even to the end of the age.” In fact, he proved his deep love for us (while we were yet sinners) by dying to pay for the sins we have committed, so that we would know just how deep and serious his love for us is, and recognize the magnitude of his desire that we be reconciled to him for eternity.

What God has also promised is that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. While love can manifest as an emotion, love is primarily a behavior. If we say we have love (emotion), but we do not act like it (behavior), then we do not really have love. To love God is to behave in love towards God. Christ said, if you love me, keep my commandments. What were his commandments? That we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. He did not command us to feel a certain way, he commanded us to act in a certain way. That is, to act in love: first, towards God completely, and then towards everyone else. This is his purpose, to which we are all called. And to those who do love God (in action and for his purpose), all things will work together for good. We may not understand what God has been up to in allowing anything for some time, but in the end we will know, just like Joseph knew. Joseph was horribly betrayed, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned, but after many years and much hardship, it was Joseph who said that what others meant for evil, God meant for good.

With all the news regarding Tiger Woods’ sex rehab stay, along with new revelations regarding Jesse James’ treatment after cheating on his beautiful wife, Sandra Bullock, I thought I would share some sex and porn addiction resources with the general public – for those who cannot afford swank  in-patient treatment.

Here are some of the most helpful resources, so I’ve been told, by a good friend who is recovering from sex addiction:

Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction

Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction

Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery

A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps for All People in the Process of Recovery: An Audiotape Workshop

Hope and Recovery: A Twelve Step Guide for Healing From Compulsive Sexual Behavior

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Katie is the author of “Infidelity Crisis: How to Gain Forgiveness and Respect After Your Affair,” available at http://www.aftertheaffair.net She started this blog to address some of the questions routinely received via email. If you have a question that you would like to see addressed in the blog, please email katie @ aftertheaffair.net and include the word “blog” in your subject line. Due to time constraints, not all questions or issues can be addressed – your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Warfare in Marriage

2010/02/09

The wayard spouse who does not 1) take responsibility for the affair, 2) allow the betrayed spouse time to grieve the affair, or 3) allow an appropriate time for the betrayed spouse to be angry over the affair, invites warfare into his or her marriage. Warfare may come slowly, but it is the stage where the betrayed spouse decides to dish out a little bit of hurt of his or her own. Sometimes this takes the form of a retaliatory affair. And sometimes that retaliatory affair happens years later, when the former wayward spouse least expects it.

To avoid such destructive game-playing, the affair needs to be dealt with – entirely – when the affair is first revealed or discovered. If the wayward spouse takes responisibility for his or her conduct in having an affair, and allows the betrayed spouse time to both grieve and be angry, a retaliatory affair is far less likely.

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Katie is the author of “Infidelity Crisis: How to Gain Forgiveness and Respect After Your Affair,” available at http://www.aftertheaffair.net/ She started this blog to address some of the questions routinely received via email.  If you have a question that you would like to see addressed in the blog, please email katie @ aftertheaffair.net and include the word “blog” in your subject line.  Due to time constraints, not all questions or issues can be addressed – your patience and understanding is appreciated.

Philandering husband Jon Gosselin (of Jon and Kate Plus 8) is in the fog and Nancy Grace does not let him get away with fog-speak on the tv show The Insider

What was most interesting to me is that Jon says he has had an epiphany and is working towards breaking cycles – cycles supposedly handed down to him from his father and grandfather.   I do not know what type of cycle he thinks he is breaking because he also said he remembers the trauma of his father and grandfather’s past behavior, admits that his children could be severely hurt by this divorce fiasco, and yet persists in pursuing it despite the cost to his eight children.  According to Jon, the most painful thing he has ever done was to tell his children about the divorce, but of course -like Nancy said-it is all about his pain, his needs…him, him, him. 

See the video.

A May 2009 Gallop Poll found that 92% of Americans think having an extramarital affair is morally wrong.

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