As the date of your affair Discovery Day (Dday) approaches on the calendar, you feel that all too familiar knot in your stomach. You start to obsessively think about the affair again. You get agitated and depressed and angry all over again. You are not alone in dreading the anniversary of the day you discovered your spouse’s affair.
You can’t stop the day from coming and you can’t make yourself forget the date when your world fell apart. What can you do to make your feelings surrounding Dday better?
1. You can reframe the day in your mind.
Instead of viewing Dday as the day your world imploded, you can think of it as the day that opened up the opportunity for you to take a deeper and more meaningful look at who you are. No one stays the same after being betrayed. If you have been actively working through your emotions, trying to understand your spouse and the affair, and adding to your understanding of humanity, then you have broadened who you are as a person. That’s a significant accomplishment. It all began because you were faced with a crisis, but you handled it with courage.
If your marriage has improved since Dday, then you have undoubtedly learned a lot of helpful information about your spouse, patience, communication, hope, and a list longer than your arm of other important things.
If your marriage has ended or is in the process of ending since Dday, then you have also learned a lot about yourself, your spouse, relationships, honesty and other important things. It hasn’t been easy or fun, but you can still be a stronger person as a single person on the other side of an affair. Your life isn’t over. Dday marks only the ending of life as you once knew it. It has become the day that gave you the chance to start a new and improved life. If you cannot yet view Dday with that perspective, make it your goal to be able to have that perspective by the next anniversary of Dday. Spend the next twelve months getting the help and support you need to have such a perspective.
Regardless of where your marriage stands today, Dday was the first day of the opportunity for you to understand and learn about yourself, life, love and relationships on a whole new level. If you can reframe that day into a mindset that respects personal growth, you can face the anniversary of that day with an improved perspective.
2. You can give the day new significance.
If you have anxiety around the anniversary of your Dday, you and your spouse may want to be intentional about giving Dday a new and positive significant meaning. Perhaps you could make it a day when the two of you exchange an annual love letter. Write to each other about what you have learned about each other and grown to appreciate more about each other over the past year. Do it every year and you will significantly alter your feelings around Dday’s anniversary date. You will begin to look forward to reading what your spouse has come to love and appreciate about you even more that year. In time, the date will be less of a negative emotional trigger for you.
Another idea is to make a short video about the two of you and watch it together on you Dday anniversary. You can take photos and video clips from throughout the year and set them to music or a narrative about your year together. This is another thing you can turn into an annual occasion.
Also, consider taking an overnight trip or at least a date night together on your Dday date. Changing your normal routine is one of the best ways to make a new memory and a new association. Make the day about the two of you.
3. Recognize that your feelings around Dday’s anniversary are normal.
You experienced a personal trauma on this date. It will stand out in your mind, especially if you are a person who is always good with remembering dates. Give yourself some grace that the date will cause you some anxiety. But remember, you survived Dday the first time. You will survive its anniversary as well.
The thing about an anniversary is that you know when it is coming up. You will not be taken by surprise by Dday’s anniversary as you were with the initial Dday. This time you have the ability to change the feeling of the day by planning something special for yourself or as a couple.
4. Use Dday’s anniversary as an emotional health check up reminder.
If your anxiety around Dday’s anniversary is really through the roof, perhaps you would benefit from a few sessions with a counselor. Did you ever really get the help you needed processing the grief and anger you felt from the affair? Did you just suppress it and muddle through?
Feeling the emotions of betrayal all over again at Dday’s anniversary may be a good prompt for you to finally get the emotional help you need to work through your feelings. Feelings don’t get better with time. They only improve if you deal with them in a healthy way.
The betrayal caused you to feel so many emotions that you never wanted to feel. The anniversary of finding out can be a day that makes you relive the trauma or reminds you of all the progress you’ve made.
There’s no avoiding that day each year. Honestly, you will probably never completely forget the significance of that date. But you do get to choose what kind of significance it will hold for you. For you and your story, will Dday mark the beginning of your personal growth journey? Or will it mark the beginning of your decline and despair? It’s never too late to choose the path of recovery and growth.