If you have recently learned that your spouse has cheated on you, you may feel like you are barely hanging on. However, you can experience affair recovery with help from Christian marriage counseling. Here are our seven best tips for surviving infidelity after the affair.
7 Tips for Surviving Infidelity
1. Commit Everything to Prayer
If there is ever a time to draw close to God in prayer, it is during affair recovery. The Bible promises that God is close to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). As you carry all your hurts and fears to him, he will comfort and sustain you.
God understands what it is like to feel betrayed by those he loves. The people of Israel strayed from him many times, breaking his heart each time. Only God can fully identify with your pain. He will guide you into the next steps to take and hold you close during your suffering.
Commit to meeting him in prayer every day. Take every matter of your mind and heart to him, and he will heal you. You can trust God to help you through this crisis and you will feel closer to him as you pray.
2. Let Your Feelings Flow
An affair causes a wide range of feelings to erupt. At first, you may feel shocked by the news and rightfully offended. You may move between anger, shame, depression, and worry. One moment, you may blame your spouse for everything. The next moment, you might blame yourself and feel deep shame.
To deal with this rollercoaster of emotions, it’s essential not to bottle them up. You could explode with rage and bitterness or destroy yourself with hopelessness. Let your feelings flow without judgment.
You may find journaling helpful. Simply record your feelings as they occur, not editing them as you write. By letting your feelings flow, you can release them so that healing can enter in. No one needs to see this journal; it is for your eyes only. Let God guide you as you write.
3. Take One Day at A Time
When you experience a marital affair, you may be overwhelmed by choices that need to be made. Should your spouse move out right away? Or should you wait until a calmer moment to discuss things? What do you do about finances?
How much should you tell your children, if anything? Do you tell your extended family members what happened? Do you need to begin divorce proceedings? These are important questions to consider, and you may feel pressured to answer them as soon as possible.
Your spouse’s decision to have an affair creates a world of choices for you. But you don’t have to make decisions about all of those things at once. In fact, it’s better not to make life-altering decisions when you are in the middle of a crisis.
Take one day at a time, making decisions only when you feel peace about them. You need time to pray, consult with trusted friends, and receive counseling. Don’t rush to make decisions that you may regret later. God will lead you on what to do next, and that takes time.
4. Practice Self-Care
Surviving infidelity requires a lot of energy. Don’t take on more than you can handle as you heal from the affair. It’s probably not the best time to start something new. Instead, find activities that bring you pleasure, and do them just for enjoyment.
You may enjoy a bubble bath, bike ride, walk in the park, or time to read. Whatever brings you joy should be a priority on your schedule. Your self-care activity will serve as an oasis in the hard times.
It’s also important to get adequate rest, eat right, stay hydrated and exercise during your trial. If you neglect your health, your mind and emotions will suffer even more. Make your health a priority and you will feel better both inside and out.
5. Give Yourself Time to Grieve
Whether you and your spouse reunite or not, your marriage will never be the same after the affair. You need to grieve the dreams you had that did not come true. Grieving is hard work that cannot be rushed, and you must make time for it.
It’s important to go through all the steps of the grieving process so you can fully heal. You will move back and forth between the grief stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and sadness before you reach acceptance. This could take months or even years to complete. Realize that as you allow yourself time to grieve, you open avenues for hope and healing.
6. Talk with a Trusted Friend
Talking with a friend after an affair can serve as a pressure release. However, don’t talk to just anyone during this difficult time. You need a trustworthy friend who will keep your secrets and not hurt you by spreading them around. It’s also essential to choose a friend who will comfort and encourage you instead of condemning or criticizing you. If you can find a friend who is also willing to speak the truth in love to you, you have found a treasure.
If you don’t have a friend that fits these descriptions, be sure to speak with a Christian counselor. By talking about your feelings, you can gain clarity and relief. Your counselor can offer a valuable and objective perspective on your problems. Talk therapy, whether with a trusted friend or counselor, can be a life raft during your affair recovery.
7. Consider Your Options
Sooner or later, you will need to take a hard look at your options. These all depend on your unique situation, and only God knows the best answers. Cover them in prayer, consult with trusted friends, and make choices only when you have had time to carefully think them through.
If you choose to divorce, know that the Bible is clear on this issue. An affair is a biblically-permitted reason to divorce (see Matthew 5:32, 19:19). This may be the best option for you after an affair.
However, it’s wise to consult with your pastor or priest, as well as a marriage counselor, before speaking with a divorce attorney. You don’t want to proceed with such a definite decision without solid counsel. If divorce is your choice, you can benefit greatly from divorce support groups.
However, divorce is not required after an affair. Many couples have healed and reunited after affairs. If you choose to reunite, there is much work to be done on both sides. You will need to set boundaries, rebuild trust, establish healthy communication, and set up accountability factors.
Most people are not equipped to take these steps on their own. To heal your marriage, consult with a Christian counselor. We can walk you through the steps that are necessary for restoration and prevention of another affair.
Christian Marriage Counseling for Surviving Infidelity
If your world has been shattered by your spouse’s affair, there is no shame in reaching out for professional help. If you decide divorce is the best option, a Christian counselor can help your heart heal.
If you and your spouse wish to reconcile, we offer both individual and couples counseling. Please give us a call to learn about the services we offer. We are ready to help you at San Diego Christian Counseling.
“Prayer”, Courtesy of Samuel Martins, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “One foot in front of the other”, Courtesy of Zack Minor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Grieving”, Courtesy of Wallace Chuck, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Decisions”, Courtesy of Kat Stokes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License