my spouse just had an affair - now what? | Relationship advice from Dr KathyIf you've just discovered that your spouse had an affair, I am so sorry. You must feel shocked, devastated, betrayed, horrified, blind-sided, and profoundly hurt.

I want to reassure you...

You CAN get through this. This doesn't mean your marriage or relationship is over. This doesn't mean your partner doesn't love you. You are not going crazy. You are just very, very hurt.

Something traumatic has happened to you and your first step is to cope... Then in a little while, you can make some decisions about what you want to do about your relationship.

Your first instinct might be to throw your spouse out...

You might want to kick your spouse out and tell the whole world what a jerk you' married. I understand this impulse, but please don't do that.

You are panicking right now and probably not thinking clearly. Your brain is in crisis mode and you are making decisions based on fear, not logic.

Again, you're not crazy or sick, you're just very hurt. We need to help your brain calm down so that you can make a thoughtful decision, not an impulsive one.

The first thing to do is to take care of yourself... we'll worry about your spouse later.

You also might also be feeling some pressure from friends or family to do something dramatic. Please don't.

Most people think they should do something to punish their spouse because they think that's what they're supposed to do.

Let me tell you that what most people say they'd do if they found out their spouse was cheating is NOT what they actually do.

Most people don't smash headlights, or take a bat to the gaming system, or start throwing things around the house.

So please don't give in to any kind of social pressure: do what's right for you, take as much time as you need to think about this situation, and take action when you're ready. Don't let anyone push you.

For most of us, this is a very complicated situation.

We love the person that hurt us and while we want to hold them accountable, we don't want to completely push them away.

Feeling this way doesn't mean you're weak or foolish, it means you truly care about your spouse and it's really hard to know what to do when you have so much conflicting, confusing stuff in your head.

The right thing to do right now is to focus on caring for yourself.

You need intensive care for your heart and mind. Just like if someone had been shot, we wouldn't expect them to do anything other that rest and recover, the same is true for you.

You've been emotionally "shot" and we need to get you the care you need to heal.

I'd encourage you to take one full week to care for yourself before you make any decisions about your relationship.

Get yourself in a better headspace, then think about what you want your next step to be.

To start healing, please follow these steps:

1. Get lots of rest.

You will not have much energy for the next couple of days. This is normal, your energy will return. For the next week, try to take naps, relax in a comfortable spot and think about how you're feeling, try to sleep a little longer at night.

If your mind is racing, it's ok to take an over-the-counter sleeping medicine (follow the directions on the bottle exactly) to help you sleep. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

2. Avoid alcohol, drugs, caffeine.

Your brain is flooded with stress chemicals right now and adding alcohol (a depressant), drugs, and/or caffeine (a stimulant), will only make matters worse and slow down your healing.

If you're a coffee drinker, it's ok to still have 1 small cup per day, but less is more. Soothe your brain by drinking water and herbal teas.

3. Eat healthfully and get a little exercise every day.

We want to calm your system down and give your brain the fuel it needs to recover. You may not feel like eating, but please push yourself to have a little bit of nutritious food (i.e., yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, salad, chicken) every day.

Avoid fast food and junk food. Some of us feel like eating a bit extra during this time to help soothe our feelings. Focus on eating healthfully and normally, try to avoid doing anything to the extreme.

Also, please get out for a little fresh air, some sunlight, and exercise each day. A 10 minute walk is perfect. Taking a small walk, even if you don't feel like it, will help your brain recover (we make healing chemicals during exercise) and you'll get better faster.

4. Write your feelings down.

You are going to be thinking a lot about what has happened. You'll be thinking about how you feel, you'll be remembering good things, you'll recall some bad things, and you'll probably have a million questions.

All of this information will keep floating around your brain unless you write it down. Once you've written down your feelings, your brain can release them and you'll start to feel calmer. I suggest you buy a small spiral notebook for yourself - dedicate one page to positives, one page to negatives, one page to questions.

Write your thoughts on the appropriate page and add more pages as necessary.

5. Think about blessings and gratitude.

After you've written in your notebook about your painful feelings, take a few minutes to think about what's good in your life. A terrible thing has happened to you, but there are still good things all around you.

Look at your life, your friends, your home, your family, your kids. Think about what you are still blessed to have (i.e., a best friend who'd do anything for you, kids who adore you, etc.), think about what you're grateful for (i.e., I am grateful for this comfy home I have, grateful I can take a day off to take care of myself, grateful for my dog who will sit with me as I cry).

The more you think about your blessings, the better you'll feel and the faster you'll recover.

6. Ask for the support you need.

Taking care of yourself takes time and energy, which means you'll have less energy for the other responsibilities in your life. Ask for help where you can. If you need more time for yourself, ask a friend if they can help pick up the kids from school this week.

If it's hard for you to focus on work, let your boss know you're dealing with a personal issue (you don't have to say what it is) and ask for the help you need.

You can also make a deal with a co-worker: if they can cover a little bit for you this week, you'll be happy to return the favor when they need it. You might also consider taking some time off.

7. Distract yourself.

Do things to take your mind off of your situation. Go to a movie and really try to lose yourself in the experience. Read a book from an author you love and try to really get into the story.

Go volunteer at a local animal or homeless shelter. Doing something to care for other people makes us feel better and distracts us from our pain.

8. Open up with a close friend.

We all need someone to talk to about how we're feeling. Right now, you can't talk to your spouse as openly and candidly as you'd like, so I suggest you choose one very close friend to talk to.

Choose a friend who is a good listener, who can be open and honest with you, not someone who is going to push their opinions on you or tell you what to do.

Please avoid telling a family member because they're often biased and once they know about the affair, they may never think about your spouse the same way. If you do decide to continue with your marriage, you don't want your family thinking badly of your spouse.



More Free Resources For You

The Relationship Repair Kit - Straying Spouses

The Relationship Repair Kit - Hurt Spouses


Dr. K's Blog - Infidelity

See All Our Affair & Infidelity Articles


You Might Also Like

How To End An Affair - Sample Break-Up Letter

Why Do People Have Affairs?

The Diamond Strategy - How To Get Your Spouse To Stop Talking To Their Affair Partner

The 3 Most Important Things You Can Do For A Happy Marriage


Tags: infidelity


  • Posted by Michael Evans on

    A narcissist will never change. They always will blame it on you. My wife cheated on me for years and I always took her back. This last time I finally ended it. I realized that for my own sanity, I had to take control of my life. My advise is to cut ALL ties. No more texting, phone calls, block her/his number. Be strong. You have to start a new life. You can do it!

  • Posted by lost on

    my wife of almost 2 years has been talking to other men. I have found out about 6 of them. She started this behavior 2 months ago. Its been a week since I found out. She has since blocked them on social media as well as their phone numbers from her phone. I dont know if I can ever move on from this with her or not. I love my wife unconditionally but this hurts so bad. I dont know how to move forward and deal with this hurt. Is it even worth it at this point? She says it never got physical just emotional as well as flirting and talking sexual online but I have seen evidence of her trying to actually meet these people. She swears up and down that she never did. I dont believe her. I dont know if I ever will. She said well its ok bc i never physically did anything with them but the emotional side of things is by far worse in my eyes. Can anyone give me some advice on how to move on with my relationship and if it is even worth it to do so? If I do move forward with her then will I ever get over this pain and mistrust?

  • Posted by Nicky on

    My husband cheated on me. He had an affair with his old divorced friend. She works with my husband & she came to my house and told me everything that my husband with her for last one year, they got physical many times, even I was pregnant that time & my husband went to that lady home to meet her to leave her pregnant wife alone. Now I know everything & he is saying that he wants to live with me, it was his mistake, he was distracted, that lady pushed him.. but i am feeling betrayed, hurt.. many questions keep floating around my mind.. I don’t know what to do.. should I give him a chance? Though I love him a lot .

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