No one gets married so that they can get a divorce. And definitely no one expects an affair to rock their marriage. So how do you move on if this happens to you? You may feel pressure from external forces, like your family, society or even your spouse to stay in the marriage. But only you know if this is possible — for many, the broken bonds and breach of trust are irreparable. Moving on from your marriage won't be easy, but if it's the right thing for you, it will be worth the journey. Luckily, there are many ways you can ease the pain and make the process as healthy and productive as possible.
Here, relationship expert Anita Yok Sim Ho offers her top 10 tips on dealing with the aftermath of infidelity.
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1. Accept that the marriage is over. Stop emotionally investing in the past. The more you hold onto the past, the more you will recreate it in your present moment and in the future. Go through the logistics of separating your lives. Take off your wedding ring. Ask yourself honestly: Are you stalling the divorce process? Why? Do you feel scared to let go?
2. Allow yourself to feel. You cannot heal what you do not recognize consciously. Be aware of your thoughts, bodily sensations, and reactions. This is a time when you may think you're going crazy with mood swings and harsh self-criticism. Feel and dive into the pain without denial of its presence. It won't go away if you constantly shove it aside.
3. Know that feeling afraid is normal. Learn to face and overcome your fears by taking a close look at your anxiety over the marriage ending and ask yourself if it is truly valid. Usually the majority of what you think you're afraid of has no real basis. If you are afraid your next partner will cheat on you, ask yourself if you are just telling yourself this because it's what you experienced in the past.
4. Learn what nurtures you. Accept yourself completely — all that you are, and all that you are not. Spend time alone joyfully by journaling, reading, and meditating. Now is the time to do that one thing you always meant to do but kept putting it off. You have the power to create a life of your own making. Be proactive and take full responsibility for your happiness.
5. Learn to express emotions instead of just talking about them. Deal with the anger constructively, without harming yourself or others. Find a support system with a trusted friend or professional who can give you the space to just be with your feelings.
6. Express yourself authentically. The energy it takes to keep up pretenses is not worth it. By being real with people, you will find yourself connecting to others in a way you never had before, which speeds up the recovery process. If you feel betrayed by your spouse's infidelity, express that honestly and constructively. If you feel scared or relieved, do not be ashamed to talk about that, either.
7. Forgive. Realize that forgiveness is really more for your benefit than for the other person's. As the famous saying goes: "Holding onto anger is like drinking the poison and expecting the other to die."
8. Trust the process. Keep going. Every step, no matter how small, is moving you forward. It may not always seem that way, but you're making positive progress toward a healthier future without infidelity.
9. Set long-term goals for yourself. This is a real indicator that you have let go of the past and are ready to move on. Start to sow the seeds for your future, and create some exciting plans for yourself.
10. Realize you always have a choice. Life can seemingly throw stuff at you out of left field. With every circumstance that comes your way, you have a choice in how to deal with the situation. Where there is life, there is always hope and possibilities to come.
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