You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. For whatever reason, your spouse doesn’t want to heal the marriage. That doesn’t mean you can never get healing on your own..
It’s important that you do several things for your healing.
You will feel all kinds of emotions as you grieve. Shock, anger, sadness, denial, and many other emotions mixed in as well. Some of them will pass more quickly than others. Some of them will be easier than others to express. It’s important that you allow yourself to feel these emotions. There is no timeline for grieving, but if you try to suppress your feelings of grief, they will continue to linger and express themselves in your body. So try to work through them by talking to trusted people, crying, physical actions, and journaling.
Also, if you are healing from an affair without your spouse’s help, you will need to fit in your grieving around the other activities of recovery. That is, you need to take steps to move on with your life every day even though you are grieving.
You are more likely to become bitter, reclusive, and even physically weak or sick without other people in your life who care about you and understand you. You need to be able to express your breaking heart. You need to be listened to and understood. You need to be heard without judgment or blame.
Find a group online or one that meets locally. Make sure that it is geared toward support and not just bashing the cheating partners.
Beware of the people in your life whom you tell about your situation and they make you feel worse about it. Even if they are family or close friends, you need to create emotional and maybe even physical distance between you while you heal. Don’t add extra stress to your life right now with unhelpful people.
There are all kinds of books out there that will help you understand why the affair happened, how to heal from it, and how to move forward with your life. If you aren’t much of a reader, get the audio version.
Furthermore, there are online resources that you can read and watch for free. Just do a Google search for the topic you want to know about.
I can’t emphasize enough how much better you will begin to feel when you start to understand your situation better. Much of your anxiety is due to not understanding what’s going on. You need to learn about the effects an affair has on you and your emotions. You need to try to understand what type of affair happened. You need to try to understand what about your spouse’s mindset and thought processes could have caused him or her to cheat. (If your spouse is still in the picture, it’s best to ask lots of questions. However, if their answers simply blame you, it’s not helpful to ask any more.)
Ranting, crying, and feeling sorry for yourself gets old after a while. Those things only make you feel like a powerless victim. When you take the step of getting knowledge, you empower yourself and begin to feel like a survivor.
Take care of yourself.
Self-care is more important than ever after suffering the emotional trauma of an affair. Your brain, adrenal system, immune system, and sleeping and eating habits are all affected by the shock and pain of the affair. Your mental and physical health will decline if you don’t purposely take care of yourself.
- Get proper nutrition, including taking supplements.
- Exercise. You need the positive effects of having feel-good endorphins released into your system. You may find that your exercise time is also a good time to hang out with a trusted friend. That way you are taking care of your emotional and physical health at the same time. If you can exercise outdoors, even better.
- Spend time outdoors surrounded by nature. Feel the sunshine on your face. Take your shoes off and feel the grass or sand. There is healing power in feeling grounded and feeling nurtured by nature.
- Sleep. Your brain refreshes itself while you sleep. Your mind will be overloaded with obsessive and intrusive thoughts while you are in the aftermath of an affair, so be sure to allow it time to recharge. Use natural sleep aids or implement a sleep routine if you need help falling asleep.
- Breathing exercises. Take yoga if you are so inclined and you will benefit from both the breathing support and the physical exertion that it provides. You can even benefit from YouTube yoga classes if you wish to take them from the privacy of your home. If you would just like to learn breath control to help calm your racing thoughts, look up guided meditations and breathing exercises online. Stress has a tendency to play itself out in your breathing, so be sure to make time for controlled breathing and deep breathing.
When you’re married, you depend on your spouse for various kinds of support, from financial help to emotional help. If your spouse is no longer interested in providing that for you, it’s time to shore up your independence skills. Each situation is different so apply these tips accordingly.
Change your mindset. You may have convinced yourself that you need your spouse in order to survive. That is simply not true. You may have to work really hard and struggle for a while to become an independent person, but you can do it. This may be a mindset change on a very fundamental level for you.
Provide income for yourself. If you aren’t currently working, it’s time to update your resume and start looking for a job–as in immediately. I know you don’t emotionally feel up to job hunting, but it’s damaging you emotionally to feel stuck with a person who is cheating on you simply because of your financial situation. You have to become unstuck. You have to provide yourself with options. Money gives you options.
Check in to the employment assistance programs that your county provides. Ask friends about open positions. You need to exhaust every possible resource to get yourself equipped financially. Without money, not only are you at the mercy of your cheating partner, you can’t pay for counseling, legal help, or self-care.
If you are a mother of young children, this step will be most difficult for you. Your husband is required to support his offspring, so take legal action if you need to to make sure their needs are provided for.
Don’t get stuck in the mindset that you have to have a 9 to 5 job. You can often make more money working for yourself. Even if you start out cleaning houses or mowing lawns or babysitting pets, you will at least have money coming in the door.
You will feel ten times better about your situation when you are not financially dependent on your cheating spouse. No matter how hard it is to find work, it will be worth it to stop feeling stuck in your situation.
Free yourself from shame. No matter what the state of your marriage was, you did not cause your spouse to cheat. It is not your fault. Perhaps you both should have worked on some things, but those things didn’t make you cheat, and they didn’t make your spouse cheat either. Your spouse chose to cheat because of his or her own issues.
Free yourself from worthless feelings. Just because your spouse seems to have forgotten your value, doesn’t mean you don’t have value. Just because your marriage is breaking up, doesn’t mean it’s because you’re unlovable. You are not a failure as a person, just because your marriage fails. Marriage is not the totality of who you are. It does not define you. If you feel that it has defined you and become the primary source of your identity, then it’s time to take another look at who you are.
Become the person you’ve always wanted to be. Are you the person you always wanted to be when you were little? Are you even clear about what your “ideal self” looks like? When your life is falling apart it’s a really good time to be intentional about how you rebuild it. Write down what your ideal life looks like in the areas of spirituality, finances, physical appearance, vocation, hobbies, relationships, etc. Read the list every day. When you are informed about what you really want your life to look like, you will keep making decisions every day that move you closer to that ideal life.
Your situation may look completely hopeless to you right now. But that’s not reality. Your life is never hopeless. You just have to pivot from the path you were on and pick a new path. It’s up to you to make this path better than the last.