12 Critical Tips For Surviving Infidelity & Divorce At The Same Time

Not only is your marriage over, but so is your ability to trust.

Last updated on Jun 10, 2024

Woman getting over infidelity and heartbreak after divorce alinabuphoto, frantsev | Shutterstock

Surviving infidelity is tough. The divorce devastated you. The affair and cheating that caused it all but destroyed you. Knowing how to get over a divorce and an affair, at the same time, seems all but impossible. It’s a sobering reality that we just take for granted given the 50 percent divorce rate in the US. Even worse when you consider the higher rates for subsequent marriages or the percentage of divorces prompted by infidelity. But those are just statistics — pragmatic pie charts of connubial destiny in America. They tell you nothing about the feelings, histories, and struggles of the people who make up the numbers. And, they show you nothing about coping with divorce and surviving infidelity.


The list of collateral damage from getting a divorce will come as no surprise. There is the plummet into sadness, anger, confusion, and all the stages of grief. There are financial ramifications and short and long-term trauma to children. Add to an already painful experience the rip-your-heart-out scourge of infidelity, and those consequences become amplified and even more complex. When infidelity leads to divorce, both the betrayed and the betrayer are left with heavy consequences. How to get over a divorce and an affair will look similar for them in some ways and vastly different in others.


If the cheating spouse has left the marriage for the affair partner, the betrayed spouse may have a much more difficult and lengthy journey recovering. Going through a divorce after an affair can cause you to lose your whole sense of self — your home, friends, identity as a spouse, security, and future. You will have to overcome several major issues to move on and have a chance at a happy, connected life. Some of those issues are:

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  • Mistrust: Who can blame you for believing you will never trust love again? Infidelity naturally causes doubt in your own reality, your own judgment, other people, and yourself.
  • Triggers: Divorce doesn’t remedy the problem of emotional flooding. If you don’t actively address and process your experience and emotions, you may be vulnerable to triggers for years to come. Simple things like a future partner or spouse coming home late from work can trigger a massive flood of memories and connected feelings.
  • Hypervigilance: It only makes sense that you would have trouble trusting again. The danger is that your mistrust could lead you to fear the faithlessness of future partners and not give them the space to be themselves.
  • Risk aversion: To avoid the risk of future pain, you may stop short of true intimacy in future relationships.
  • Negative viewpoint: You may end up feeling bitterness toward and mistrust of the opposite gender.

Here are 12 critical tips for surviving infidelity and divorce at the same time:

1. Accept that your marriage is over

You don’t have to reach the final stage of grief level of acceptance to stop fighting for what’s not going to be part of your future. Learning how to move on and let go isn’t easy — it will likely feel unnatural, even impossible. But, if you can accept what is and stop investing in the past, you may find doors opening to even greater opportunities for love.

@mrrevolutioncoaching 5 signs to know when your marriage is over | Relationship Advice for Couples | Mrrevolutioncoaching 5 signs to know when your marriage is over. When a marriage is over, sadly, it might be the end of the emotional journey for both individuals. A few couples live together as roommates. There is clearly no emotional attachment between them. #loveadvice #marriageadvice #women #men #relationshipadvice #datingadvice #relationship #relationships #marriage #education #mrrevolution #mrrevolutioncoaching ♬ original sound - Rev Coaching & Counseling

2. Remember that you didn’t cause the affair

Of all the inevitable feelings that you will have — shame, embarrassment, confusion, loneliness, anger, and fear — guilt doesn’t need to be one of them. We all have choices as to how we communicate and behave in relationships. The responsibility for the affair belongs to the ones who chose it.


3. Consider your role in the marriage

Assuming the blame for the affair isn’t your responsibility. Doing so will only add to the weight of your confusion and pain. But courageously examining your role in your marriage will be liberating. It will allow you to learn and grow, making your divorce a gifting experience that can lead you into a more mature, lasting love. It’s also the first step to forgiveness — for your ex and yourself.

4. Expect to grieve

When figuring out how to get over heartbreak caused by an affair and divorce, grief is inevitable. Embrace it as a reality of evolution. It’s a tunnel through the mountain of loss. And if you are willing to turn on your headlights and head into it, you will spare yourself the futile effort of climbing the mountain.

RELATED: 10 Reasons You Should Divorce Your Cheating Spouse

5. Fake a smile if you have to

This isn’t about denying your feelings. It’s about tricking your brain into lifting your mood and lowering your stress. Sometimes, learning how to get over a divorce and an affair is made easier when you’re smiling. Try it!


6. Be grateful for every little thing

When you are drowning in the memories of all you have lost, finding reasons to feel grateful can seem ludicrous. But healing doesn’t happen overnight. And sometimes just getting through the night comes down to whatever little things you can do to love yourself into tomorrow. Put your hand on your heart and feel it beating. Through thick and thin, it beats for you. Fluff your pillow and lay your head down. Think of that simple comfort. Eat your dinner with mindfulness and contemplate how God, the Universe, your Highest Self is sustaining you in the present...and will sustain you in the future.

7. Don’t drown in legalities

If you live in a "no-fault" state, no amount of wishing for recourse is going to make your ex pay for having an affair. You must have a wise representation and a fair divorce agreement. But, letting go of ongoing court battles will give you a head start on healing.

8. Get tested

Yes, it’s insulting that you have to walk into your doctor’s office and ask for an STD test. But, if your ex was with you while also being intimate with someone else, you need to protect yourself. Ask any future partners to do the same, and be transparent with the results. This is about your health and safety.

RELATED: 6 Cruel Ways His Cheating Affects You (That Nobody Talks About)


9. Build your village

As old friends drift away (some will and some will stick by you like Velcro), fill those open spots with new, supportive friends. Find a therapist, coach, support group, and/or online support system. Welcome into your life others who have been where you are and can assure you of the light at the end of the tunnel. They can help show you how to get over a divorce and an affair. Just don’t isolate yourself, no matter how alone your experience makes you feel.

10. Set long-term goals

You will know that you are at least on the road to healing when you start envisioning your life down the road. Short-term goals may be steeped in survival. But, long-term goals require a vision of thriving. Go ahead and write them down. Dream a bit. You are always allowed to change your goals as your heart heals and your mind opens to new possibilities.

11. Forgive

You will never forget. But, you can release the ball and chain of relentless anger and bitterness. Forgiveness is never about a disregard or diminishment of harm done. It’s about choosing to walk out of bondage into the light of hope. Remember to forgive yourself, as well.

@colezesiger Forgiving your ex is 100% necessary if you want to move on. That doesn’t mean you have to let them back into your life. It doesn’t mean in anyway that what they did was OK. And, it doesn’t mean that they earned it. The forgiveness is for you, it is how you feel better. Follow for help with your breakup!#ex #forgiveness #breakup #divorce #movingon ♬ I Wanted to Leave - SYML

12. Take good care of yourself

No matter what...Just. Be. Kind. To. You. The key to getting over a divorce and an affair is strategically buried in the process of developing a positive, forward-moving mindset. But in the context of the wind being kicked out of your life, that positivity may sound dismissive. Know that every little step you take — first for mere survival, then for a little more — is a courageous step into that mindset. Hanging on takes energy and an inner voice that says you are worth the effort. And you are most definitely worth it.

RELATED: The Most Important Question To Ask Yourself After Your Spouse Cheats

Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.