Every now and then I browse online and enlighten myself about other affair recovery approaches. Every time I do that I come away shaking my head. I always recognize anew that the work Andy and I do is not only needed on a vast scale, but is unique in its approach.
My heart goes out to the people that ask questions online and in infidelity forums. My heart also goes out to many of the people who give their opinion about what will help the Betrayed Spouse recover; or on what life after an affair should look like; or on how they should react to the third party; or how they should make their unfaithful spouse pay.
If you are reading this article as a Betrayed Spouse, I’m writing directly to you with the hope that you will understand what you will find in these online spaces.
Misery loves company.
Infidelity forums are full of hurting people who evidently have no better outlet to share their pain, no better place to look for advice. Infidelity forums are full of people who are in so much emotional pain that needs to be heard that they must share it, even if the place they are sharing it is full of people they have never met. It’s true that part of the healing process is sharing your story and having others listen to it without condemnation or judgment, but it’s extremely risky to make decisions for your life and marriage based on the opinions of unvetted people.
Thousands of questions regarding infidelity have been posted on various forums. Thousands of ill-disposed, misguided and just plain wrong pieces of advice have been given. Yet how much of that advice has been followed because the person reading it was so distraught they didn’t know what else to do?
Most advice is unhelpful.
You have no idea who is really responding to your questions. What if Joe the Porn Addict pipes up and responds to your serious question about how to feel safe making love to your spouse again? What are the chances that his advice will have your best interest in mind?
What if Jane the Chronic Liar gives her two cents about restoring trust in your marriage? Will you take action on her advice and be devastated when it does more harm than good?
If you’ve already browsed some of these online venues then you’ve already seen the misguided advice. But just in case the advice seemed well-meaning and was well-written and had five stars, let me be clear:
- It is not helpful to tell off the third party in person or on social media.
- It is not helpful to give your unfaithful spouse a piece of your mind.
- It is not helpful to tell your spouse what a poor choice he/she made for an affair partner and then insinuate that he/she obviously couldn’t get any better candidates.
- It is not helpful to tell your spouse’s boss what a louse he/she is so they get fired.
- It is not helpful to make sure the kids know what a jerk their father/mother is, even if you think it may help in a future custody battle.
Just because someone on the forum reacted to their situation one way, doesn’t mean it will work out for you without repercussions. A piece of advice that worked in one person’s situation is not necessarily going to work in your situation.
Why is so much of the advice on infidelity forums so unhelpful? Because…
The advice often comes from people who haven’t healed properly from their own betrayal.
When you’re recovering from an affair, everyone and her sister has an opinion about what you should do. If your affair discovery was more than a few days ago, you’ve likely heard all kinds of advice and some of it contradicts each other.
On an infidelity forum, opinions fly like fish swim. Most of the time they are well-meaning, but advice-posters can speak only from the experience that got them where they are today. You have no idea if they are still in mental anguish (though you can assume so from their answers). You have no idea what level of resentment and bitterness they deal with. You have no idea what level of closure about the past they have experienced. You have no idea what their current relationship is like.
In the aftermath of an affair, it can be tempting to just take the advice that is the most readily available. When you are up at 2am crying, the internet is certainly readily available to you. Some of the advice you read at that time and in that frame of mind may even seem like a good idea. But put in a little extra effort for yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat your child if they were in this situation.
Seek advice that truly helps you and your spouse. Good affair recovery advice will help you:
- Pursue clarity about what is realistic to be feeling and expecting at this stage of recovery.
- Seek the answers to how and why the affair happened.
- Find out if the affair has truly ended or how to handle things if it hasn’t.
- Decide what information you really need to know about the affair and what information you would be better off not knowing.
- Discover how to build trust again.
- Learn how to reconnect sexually in a healthy way.
- Define what marriage will look like moving forward.
Please don’t sell yourself short when it comes to affair recovery. There are no quick and easy fixes to this huge problem in your life. In fact, many situations will be exacerbated by quick and thoughtless words and actions. Take the time to take good care of this situation.
The best help I can give you immediately is for you to download our Survival Guide. It is a guide for both the betrayed and the unfaithful. Click the red button on the sidebar to request the guide.
Second, schedule a free 30 minute clarity call with us. When we hear your story, we can give you hope and direction. firstname.lastname@example.org
Third, we just launched a new facebook group specifically for those who are in the midst of affair recovery. This group is open to you if your affair crisis is recent or was years ago. Please request by clicking here.