Just Found Out -- for the Betrayed Spouse
Read this slowly. If this is truly day one, read this very slowly. Many of us here have walked in your shoes; we know how you feel. We are here to help. We are here to support. We are here to share and to listen and to understand.
Day One: Your emotions, a train wreck in real time.
One of your worst nightmares has come true. You discover that your mate, your partner, the person you wanted to trust above all others, has had, or is having, an affair, cheated on you, betrayed your trust. You realize through the grief, sadness and despair that the memories of the emotional pain that stabs your heart and controls your every thought, will be with you the rest of your life in some form or other.
And you don't really know what to do.
Yet you know you must do something. A part of you wants to throw things, annihilate the new-found enemy, go to bed and stay there, yell, scream, cry...any, or all of these things. You are literally walking wounded. You ask yourself, "How did this happen to me?" And there is no answer. Above all else, you want your life back. Please know the answers you need will come later--some of them, anyway.
Be still. Don't do anything for a time. Breathe. Try to calm yourself--nothing good comes from a heart and mind in distress. You must get a grip on yourself.
Questions pop into your addled brain, like: What about the kids? What are other people going to think? What can I do? All with no answers, yet. An alien force has taken over the mind and body of your spouse, the one you love, and in an instant, they have become someone you don't even recognize.
One of the main thoughts you have is, "How could he/she do this to me?" And again, no voice comes from out of the air to tell you why. For now, you must live with the question.
Be still. The details of a life and your responsibilities are still there. If you have kids who need feeding and have homework to be done, a little one to put in bed or helped out of a tantrum....those duties are still there. If you can call a friend, your mom or dad, your sister or brother--someone to help you--make the call.
Your task on day one is to regain control...of you. Take a walk, a hot bath or shower, run around the block, do the chores you must do for daily living; give yourself time to be calm. Hard to do? Of course it is. But it must be done.
Find someone who will listen. That might be your mom, your dad, a really trusted friend, a Minister or Priest, perhaps even here, now that you have discovered us. What you say here, stays here. This can be your secret refuge.
Those of us who have walked in your shoes, and have shared our stories with each other, know how you feel and can help you. We know that not everyone is the same; not everyone will have the same exact circumstances. No matter. We know what it is to go into survival mode while we try to make sense out of the new reality that has become our life.
Without our knowledge or consent, a new reality has been imposed on us. None of us asked for it. Just like you, we landed in a sewer of despair, depression and disillusionment that we must crawl out of.
Your first day and night are mostly going to be full of shock, grieving and uncertainty. The kids, if you have them, must be protected from the sight of mom or dad in total disarray or blowing a fuse. Your sick parent doesn't need to know what has just happened, at least not till you can settle yourself and develop a plan. You still need to earn a living... All part of reality.
Perhaps a good first step is to call in to work and ask for a couple of sick days. You probably will sound sick over the phone, so no involved explanation is necessary. OK to say you've had a family crisis.
Next, if you haven't already had a confrontation with your spouse, you should think about exactly how you want to manage that first conversation. It's okay to show your shock and devastation, keeping in mind that what you really want is information. Maybe, just maybe, if you show a glimpse of how badly you hurt, it will the be first dim light bulb to go off in your spouse's head that they might have done something that was a really, really bad idea. But don't expect it.
For most of us, our marriage is very much a part of who we are, our personal identity. The thought of losing that part of our identity is like a boat losing its anchor, or its rudder.
Somehow I knew that my own mourning for the life I loved would never be completely gone, but the focus had to change for me to continue my life from that point. And obviously that meant deciding whether to divorce or to exert myself to rebuild a new relationship with my spouse, if that was even possible. I chose the latter, but had no idea how to begin. My husband seemed lost to me.
Part of my process was to arm myself with information-- awareness of myself and my feelings as I sorted them out (for help with that, I turned to my doctor); information about the affair; and learning about the possible paths ahead of me. I turned to books and the Internet, to a therapist and even a marriage counselor, by myself. I even saw a lawyer, to defend against the worst.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The first step is to be still. Throttle as many of the obsessive thoughts as you can. The new path you will be forced to follow will not reveal itself except in the fullness of time and discovery. Don't be in a big hurry to make something happen, right now. There is so much to inform yourself about. Think before you act, or react.
Even though it doesn't feel like it, your life goes on, so the second step involves continuing to do the necessary. Chores, kids, job. You'll need to do the laundry, mow the yard and all the other parts of a daily life must be managed. Do what you can as best you can. Because you must, especially if children are depending on you.
Day Two, and Beyond: The planning phase
In the beginning of your struggle, knowledge is your friend, as painful as it can be. You will discover things that will help guide you. You will be told things you need to analyze through a lens of experience. And that experience is available here, on other web sites, in books and in counseling services.
The more you know about affairs, how they start and why they happen, the more you know about the one who entered through the door of your life uninvited, the more information you have, the better the decisions you can make. The less you know, the worse your decision process will be, and the more flawed and self destructive your life is likely to become.
You didn't ask for this mess in your life. Yet there it is, and to get out of the sewer you find yourself in, you must learn things you never wanted to study, find help qualified to provide it, develop a plan and, most important of all, do what must be done, period.
You will find an array of people on this site who have been where you've been, felt what you feel, and survived it. Some have reconciled their marriages; some have divorced. But they have all learned a lot along the way. Because they know the trauma of infidelity, they come back to share what they've learned with others who have just begun the journey.
Welcome to a club you never wanted to join. There is help and hope here.
Last edited by right here waiting; 06/30/11 01:43 AM. Reason: Renamed