People have no idea just how painful and difficult
surviving infidelity really is, unless they have been there themselves.
During the initial stages one seems to be literally teetering between
life and death. This is not just a bad day or something you will
'just get over.' It is worse than death. It is living through your
Recently I watched a documentary on television
regarding 'the unforgivable sin.' I wondered what the unforgivable
sin according to Hollywood might be. The program was about a man
whose wife and child had been killed in a motor vehicle accident
caused by the selfish, thoughtless and negligent behavior of a teenager
engaging himself in streetcar racing. I thought to myself, how much
more devastated would that man have been to find out it had not
been a stranger who had caused his pain, but rather his own wife
who had secretly gone out and given away the most intimate part
of their marriage and then had proceeded to lie to and deceive him
regarding this betrayal for who knows how long. I admit the redeeming
factor regarding surviving infidelity, is that people don't usually
die physically. (They certainly do emotionally.) Therefore there
is hope of rebuilding life on the other side of infidelity, but
this man will never see his wife and child on this earth again.
Imagine a smooth glassy lake on a beautiful sun
shiny day. Then imagine that someone manages to drop a gigantic
bolder right into the middle of the lake from a considerable height.
Kursplash!!! Peace now destroyed, the water splashes up out of the
lake and back down creating a ripple, a wave, and it continues one
ripple after another getting bigger and bigger until even the outer
edges of the lake have felt the effect of the giant bolder. This
is the way that it is with affairs. Chaos where there once was beauty
and calm. Sure in some marriages there were problems before an affair,
but affairs happen in good marriages too. However, unlike many other
wrongs human beings are capable of committing, marital infidelity
creates far reaching consequences of pain and destruction. It doesn't
just hurt the person who has been betrayed, it hurts children, friends
and family members. People who are surviving infidelity begin scapegoating,
that is taking out their anger, frustration and pain on others who
have nothing to do with it. Then there are those left to cope with
STD's including one woman in our group who saving herself for marriage,
was a virgin on her wedding day. Her reward, the pain of venereal
disease, a wedding gift from the man she saved herself for. What
about pregnancy? What about the children who grow up feeling that
they don't really belong, because they are the product of an affair?
In the initial stages after discovering a spouse's
betrayal, it is very difficult to cope. We go into shock, sometimes
anger, we can't think straight. Some of us behave like obsessive
neurotics, doing all we can to win back our spouse (as if it were
our fault in the first place). 'Surviving Infidelity.' This would
be an appropriate term because that is exactly what we are doing,
surviving one moment at a time. Most of us reported the inability
to eat or sleep and significant weight loss. We were unable to cope
with our regular jobs. One woman reported being on the edge of an
emotional break down. Another remembered having to go to her job,
only to find herself racing out of an important meeting to vomit,
and then returning, attempting to appear somewhat composed. Embarrassed,
ashamed and not free to share the truth, she commented to those
concerned, "I must have gotten food poisoning."
We must live through this mess. We have no choice,
but how? How can we go about the overwhelming task of surviving
infidelity? One day at a time? No, even that is too much. When I
was going through it, I survived only one moment at a time.
Guide to Surviving Infidelity
1. Treat Yourself
Buy yourself a new outfit. If ever there was
a time when you deserved a comfort purchase it is now, when you're
surviving infidelity. Buy yourself flowers too. You need to be reminded
in the midst of your blackest hour, even though your whole world
has become ugly and dark, that there still is beauty in the world.
It doesn't feel like it today, but there is actually still hope
for your future. Visit a tanning salon, a short treatment in the
soothing light is good for your mood. Doctors often recommend tanning
to patients struggling with depression. Make an appointment to treat
yourself to a luxury service at your local spa. This will give you
something to look forward to. You may also want to consider getting
your hair done. Treat yourself, today! You deserve it. You need
all the mood help you can get. A nice walk in a park is not a bad
idea either. Do things you normally enjoy doing, even though you
don't feel like it.
Take vacations. If you have any possibility for
getting away on a holiday, take it, even short holidays, a long
weekend perhaps. Do not underestimate the value of mini vacations
one can take in the midst of even a very busy day, like stopping
to smell a bouquet of roses, to pet a dog, to have coffee with a
friend or to laugh at a good joke.
Word of caution: When I say treat yourself, I
don't mean junk food. You probably won't be able to eat today, but
in case you are, eating foods that are bad for you will only make
you feel worse as soon as their temporary high wares off. If you
struggle with weight issues, comfort food eating is going to increase
not decrease your feelings of despair and depression. Treat yourself
in healthy ways.
2. Take Care of Your Health
You may not feel like eating while surviving
infidelity, but your body needs to have basic nutritional requirements
met, now more than ever, because you are going to be making important
decisions that are going to have a huge impact on your future. Don't
try to make these important decisions while you are starving yourself.
If you can't eat, then drink a quality meal replacement beverage
and take some good nutritional supplements.
3. Nurture Your Spirit
I recommend some time in spiritual reading and
in quiet, meditation and prayer. (Well, maybe not so quiet, screaming
at God could also be helpful. If I remember correctly, I often prayed
loudly during this time!)
4. Don't Make Final Decisions While in a State of Emotional
Do not make a life altering decision while you
are in the initial stages of surviving infidelity, still in a state
of emotional trauma and shock. Even though it may feel as though
there is no hope at all for your relationship, there may still be
hope. Even though your spouse has done this awful thing, it is possible
that he/she still loves you very much and perhaps you still love
your spouse as well. You can leave your relationship if you want,
no one will blame you, you have every right to do so, but I recommend
you give yourself time before you create absolute finality. Many
people have completely ended their relationships in the emotion
of the moment, only to find themselves later in a 2nd marriage to
someone who is 2nd best. Later both spouses realize that they both
had actually loved each other more than anyone else and they could
have worked it out, had they only tried. Don't doom yourself to
a future filled with 'what ifs.'
5. Tell People Who Can Offer You Support
Go and visit a friend. Do not attempt surviving
infidelity all alone.
6. Plan Your Time
Plan your first day. How are you going to live
through this? Schedule appropriate down time, but don't allow yourself
to stay in bed crying all day, all week. The reality is that if
you are in the process of surviving infidelity, you are in the middle
of a war, whether you like it or not. You have no choice. You have
just been invaded by a great enemy who is bound and determined to
ruin your whole life. You are going to have to stand up and fight
for your own survival. Do not let the enemy win. Fight to survive.
So if you choose to allow yourself a down time, that's okay. A time
of grieving is quite appropriate. Schedule your down time. Plan
it. How long will you allow yourself to stay in bed? A day? Three
days? A whole week is probably too long. Of course you may have
times of crying daily for a while, but make it that, times of crying,
not whole days in bed.
When surviving infidelity, give yourself permission
to mourn. Something has been stolen from you. You can never get
it back. Something has been lost forever. You will never again be
able to know that since your marriage you are the only one your
husband/wife has ever been with. The most important promise, a vow,
has been broken. Life will never be the same again. And it's okay
to cry about that.
Then force yourself to get up, dress nicely and
do something constructive every day. I know you don't feel like
it, but I'm cheering for you. I believe in you. You can conquer
this great evil that seeks to destroy your entire existence. You're
7. Educate Yourself About Affairs Through
There are many helpful articles available on
this website, and a list of helpful books on the Resources page.
8. Join a 'Beyond Affairs' Support Group
You need all the support and perspective you
can get from people who have been there and understand.
This is a quality of life issue. Many people
have found counseling to be an invaluable help in surviving infidelity.
The best way to find a good counselor is through referrals. If you
don't have one referred to you, you may have to resort to the yellow
pages. Just remember you don't have to stay with a counselor that
you don't like. If you find one is not helpful, don't hesitate to
look for another. They are not all the same. This is for you. Now
more than ever go with what works for you. Drop what doesn't work.
It can also be a good idea to make an appointment with your medical
10. Laughter is Good Medicine
Watching a good comedy or spending time with
someone who's got the gift of humor can be invaluable when surviving
infidelity. This week I found humor in this woman's honest sharing;
apparently her husband had to stop by her home to drop off a check
which belonged to her. He is now living with the other woman. "Don't
you dare bring that other woman to our house," Jane (not her
real name) warned her husband. Jane's concerned friends warned her,
"Jane, you've got to be on your best behavior." Jane seriously
considered this advice. She considered what her best possible behavior
would be if her husband brought this other woman to her home. Her
'best behavior' would be to go out there and smash their car in
with a cane!!! (She is normally a gentle, quiet and calm lady.)
We are happy to announce that her husband heeded her warning and
left the other woman in the car down the street.
A final word of advice:
Stay strong and be brave. Life is a continuous battle, but when
an enemy strikes the hardest, it is no time for weakness. It's a
time to stand up and fight with everything that is within you. You
can make it through this, but it will take time. Give yourself time
in surviving infidelity.
PS - Don't hesitate to contact us for help. We've spent the last 10 years doing what others have called "impossible." We can help you achieve "impossible" too!
Our contact information is at the bottom of this page!
©Copyright 2011 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.