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.
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When we think of a married person having an affair, we think of lack of integrity. Some may consider adultery to be caused by a spouse falling out of love or failing to provide the love that is deserving or satisfying in a marriage.
However, Jesus tells us that “…out of the heart come evil thoughts…adultery, sexual immorality…” (Matt. 15:19). So the real question is, “What is in your heart?” Are you the sort of person who tries to blame their sin on others? In short, are you a covenant keeper or a covenant breaker?
Excuses People Make for Having An Affair
1. My spouse doesn’t look good anymore.
There are some who believe that when wives “let themselves go” they are to blame, in part, for the adulterous behavior of their husbands. However, first, one should consider the reasons that these wives “let themselves go.”
Is there something happening in the marriage that causes these women not to feel the need to look nice anymore? Typically, wives do not simply stop trying to look good because they have “caught” a husband and think that he is now obligated to stay in the marriage despite how they may look.
They may be less motivated to present themselves to the best of their ability for other reasons. Perhaps they are too exhausted with the demands of a marriage or family to put forth the effort.
They also may feel that their husband does not appreciate their efforts anymore. Whatever the case may be, reacting to marital neglect with passive aggression should not be the solution to the problem. Out of respect for the marriage covenant, wives ought to do whatever it takes to strengthen their relationship with their husband.
This is no less true for husbands. Next time you feel the temptation to place the blame and responsibility for your own sinful actions on your wife’s failure to conform to your own (probably worldly) standards of beauty, ask yourself what you are doing wrong in the marriage that makes them not care about taking care of their looks for you anymore.
2. I feel better than I have in years.
There is a reason why many think this way. The passion and romance that you first experienced at the beginning of your relationship were never meant to last, though you ought to still feel a sense of attraction and feel affectionate toward your spouse even after many years of marriage. Even so, this feeling may not be as intense as it was in the beginning.
You may get a thrill from watching this new person walk into the room, as opposed to your spouse. Basic biology can be to blame for this. Researchers have amply demonstrated that the exhilaration of infatuation lasts less than two years. Those same exciting sensations that you may have with this interloper will eventually die down in the same way that they did in your marriage. The cycle repeats itself.
Even though you get the ego boost of falling in love with someone new, this feeling is nothing in comparison with the deep satisfaction of knowing and being known by your spouse for who you truly are and unconditionally loved.
A marriage can reveal a person’s true colors when they are at their worst. Each may know their spouse’s strengths and weaknesses and yet still commit to each other entirely.
This type of love will not be entirely without passion, but the passion won’t rank as high on the scale as it once did in the beginning. The early fiery romantic love cannot be compared to the love that is strengthened through struggle and everything that you have been through together.
3. I don’t love them anymore
It should be noted at the outset that love is only about 5% feeling and 95% commitment. Though it may be shocking to think about, some spouses remain in their marriage because they made a covenant with their spouse before God and firmly intend to hold true to their promise.
Emotions will wax and wane over the course of your marriage and some days you may not like your spouse as much as you do on other days.
Situations change, and the stresses of life can be overwhelming in a marriage that cannot seem to navigate through what this life throws at them. However, that doesn’t mean you stop loving each other.
What if the feeling has faded?
Keep covenant and love them! Continue with the same loving acts that you did at the beginning of your marriage, in spite of any whatever feelings you be lacking. You may not feel like being as loving, tender, ready to please, or sympathetic as you once where, however, your actions should reflect these feelings, even when you do not have them.
Showing that you understand and are forgiving and helpful will get you through the flat times in your marriage and will render these times infrequent and less intense. Correspondingly, your feelings will become more consistent. All of this will be a result of deciding to love through it all.
It doesn’t require a lot of faith to serve someone that you love. Christ served others on this earth, despite ridicule, persecution, and death. His love for us was still strong throughout it all, and most importantly, forgiving.
“You see, at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Matt. 5:6-8 NIV)
It is no accident that the Bible ties adultery very closely to idolatry. Adultery is essentially the worship of a false god. The passion that God intended for marriage and commitment is shared with one without bowing the knee to the one whom we were called to love. It is also covenant-breaking of the first order. It is intimacy without commitment and a soul-damning alternative to the work implicit in the marriage relationship.
Let a professional Christian counselor help you and your spouse restore intimacy, trust, and healing to your marriage.
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