How To Recover From Infidelity
& Emotional Affairs

Dr Kathy Nickerson

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There is nothing more painful than the discovery of an affair.

If you were the one who strayed, you are probably full of guilt, shame and regret. If you were the one who was cheated on, you must be in so much pain.... and feel so hurt, sad, and betrayed. I am truly so sorry for both of you and the pain you are in.

It's so hard to believe, but this may be the best "worst thing" that ever happened to you...

And your marriage may come out of this stronger and better than it was before.

So let's talk about how to make it better...


What To Do Now - If YOU Had An Affair:


If your affair has just been discovered, follow these steps to start rebuilding trust right away...

1. Offer to talk, but don't push.

  • Your partner may or may not want to talk. Don't push, allow them to do what feels right to them. If they want to yell and scream, that is ok.
  • Take breaks as needed. Do things to calm yourself down when you're taking a break. Reassure yourself that this is a very upsetting, but temporary, situation. It will get better.

2. Be very soft, gentle and apologetic.

  • As you talk with your partner, focus on listening and let your spouse vent their frustration, anger, and hurt. Where you can, be soft, apologetic, genuine, and empathetic. Say things like, "I can only imagine how hurt you are," or "It makes sense that you'd feel that way."
  • Your partner is craving empathy and support.... give that to them. Now is not the time to explain why you did what you did or what it meant to you. It's all about your partner at first.

3. Take frequent breaks, but don't leave.

  • If things are getting very heated, ask for a break, but don't leave the house. Leaving sends the message that when the going gets tough, you get going.
  • Your partner needs to know that you're not going to give up and leave. They need to know you're going to stay with them, even when it's hard. The only exception is if there is any physical violence.
  • Rarely, someone will become so upset that they become violent. If this happens, tell your partner that you want to stay and help them feel better, but you have to leave. Remove yourself from the violent situation; say that you will be going out for a while and will be back in a couple of hours. If necessary, take any children or pets with you. It is not common for someone to become violent, but just in case, I want to make sure you know what to do.

4. Become as transparent as possible.

  • Once the initial shock has passed, you can start to offer more information to your spouse. I'd like you to become an open book, where you become as transparent as you possibly can.
  • Share your email, your passwords, your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. ), your phone, and anything/everything you use to communicate.
  • This may seem like an invasion of privacy, and candidly... it is. You acted in a way that broke the trust in the relationship, you must take some drastic steps to show that there are no more secrets and that you're willing to do whatever it takes to be trusted again.
  • Click here to download your free copy of the Affair Recovery Repair Kit for an exact list of all the ways you can be more transparent.

5. Prove you have stopped communicating with your affair partner & that there are is no more contact.

  • You absolutely, positively need to break up with your affair partner to start healing your marriage. You can call or email the other person and let them know not to communicate with you any further.
  • If you need help figuring out what to say, click here for our blog post on how to end an affair, including a sample break-up letter.
  • Discuss how your spouse would like you to handle breaking off contact and any future contact that could happen.

6. Download your copy of the Affair Recovery Repair Kit.



    What To Do Now - If YOUR HUSBAND, WIFE OR PARTNER Had An Affair:


    If you've just discovered that your partner is cheating on you, I am so sorry. This is such a shocking realization. You probably feel like you're living in a nightmare.

    You must feel shocked, devastated, betrayed, horrified, blind-sided, and profoundly hurt.

    Many people who are in the same spot as you come to see me and say, "This wasn't supposed to happen to me!" and "This is the most painful experience ever!" I know it is, hang in there, you can get through this...


    I want to reassure you: you CAN get through this, this doesn't mean your marriage is over and that your partner doesn't love you.


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

    You are panicking right now and you are 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!


    Here's exactly what you need to do now to start healing:


    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 or soda drinker, it's ok to still have 1 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 thoughts, feelings and questions 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.
    • If you want more ideas, check out this blog post on how to cope with relationship problems.





    Dr. K's NEW Book on Infidelity Recovery

    The Courage to Stay - How To Heal From an Affair & Save Your Marriage


    More Affair Recovery Articles

    What If My Partner Is Having An Affair With Co-Worker

    How To Get Your Partner To Stop Talking To the Affair Partner 

    I Just Found Out My Partner Cheated, Now What?

    Why Do People Have Affairs?

    How Do I Tell Him That I Know He Cheated?

    How To End an Affair - Sample Break Up Letter


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