There is a list of very strong emotions that a betrayed partner might have to confront, but there will also be a more pervasive sense of irritation with what your partner has done. As a spouse, you may just want to say to yourself, "really, could he/she be that stupid!" This isn't just forgetting to put a stamp on the electric bill before sending it out; it's a big lapse in judgment and behavior, and the mistake directly affects you. For good reason, you had higher expectations for your mate. Your partner's behavior affected everything going forward and you know it's just plain annoying!
Many people who discover a partner's affair had sensed that something had been wrong, but weren't able to figure it out. Some have been seeing signs of it for months. Now that it's in the open, you can finally begin to work on it. You didn't want an affair to happen, but now that it's out in the open, you and your mate can start to confront it.
All emotions are possible when you find out your partner has cheated on you. You were thinking that you were crazy — now you know you aren't. Can you do something about? Sure! In The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity, I help couples process emotional turmoil. Here are some tips:
1. Give yourself permission to feel. Don't fight the emotions that you experience, try to identify them, understand them and respect that they are normal.
2. Make room in your mind for feelings. Sometimes people are so busy with day-to-day activities that they really don't have a chance to reflect on where they are emotionally. It's good from time to time to clear your head of clutter: physical exercise, prayer or meditation or a simple walk in the woods can help.
3. Don't dwell. If you continue to get stuck, then something as simple as journaling or talking to a friend can help. If the negativity is unshakable, then it may be time to get professional help.
4. Talk to your spouse. Yes, it's true that your mate was the cause of your emotional firestorm, but you may not be able to move forward until you can have meaningful discussions together about what you are going through. If your connection grows after the affair, you may feel comfortable speaking up. If the relationship is still tenuous though, you should not give up on having a heart-to-heart. The best way to get started is to tell your spouse that you want to talk about how you feel, but you only want him or her to listen.
Strong emotions are your mind’s way of letting you know that something outside of the ordinary is happening. You wish the event of an affair had never happened in the first place, but understanding, accepting and processing your feelings will bring you closer to healing.