Join us in celebrating a woman who ended her affair:
“I don’t want praise or congratulations. I just want to share. Today, I officially broke it off with other man. For the past six months I was sinning and I never once felt good about it. I did contemplate leaving my husband, but I can’t. Just… Can’t do it.
Finding the Marriage Helper site early on let me know that I wasn’t alone. Reading all the material and all your posts really have saved me from making a series of monumental mistakes that would’ve ruined the lives of the people I love the most.
I hope with all my heart and soul that everyone’s spouse will feel what I feel today and KNOW the pain they’ve caused. Every time I read a post about what a straying spouse has done, I imagined my husband was saying it about me and I’m heartbroken. It’s excruciating to know what I’ve done, and how others are feeling on the other side.
I have great fear for what will happen in the coming months. Healing. More pain. More regret. But I have to face my consequences. It’s the price of losing sight of what’s really important.”
The Journey After An Affair Ends: What’s Next?
As one who has been where you have been, I applaud this Marriage Helper follower for sharing this. It helps people whose spouses are currently in affairs to see hope. Also, it helps people who may currently be involved in an affair to see the struggle that others in the same situation are going through. It also gives strength to carry on for those of us who work so diligently to help others, and it touches us deeply to know that we at Marriage Helper played even a small part in your decision.
Now, may I tell a little about what may happen next when an affair ends abruptly? Not saying it will, just offering it in case.
The Grief Process: Mourning the Loss of a Relationship
Though it hurts some whose spouses are in limerence to hear this – and I hate that it will hurt them – I wish to speak to your emotions, not only for you but for others who read this who are in similar situations.
Though limerence by its very nature is relatively short-lived – typically lasting somewhere between 3 months and 36 months – it is a very real and intense emotion. When a person decides to leave a limerent relationship, or if they are the one abandoned by the other, the emotions don’t immediately disappear. It’s not unusual for either or both parties to go through a type of grief process. We humans grieve when we lose something or someone we valued deeply.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross proposed a five-step grief process back in 1969 with which many are familiar. Her work was important but, like all theories, it doesn’t apply to every person in the same way. Some experience it the way she described, others differently. However, there are some things that it may help you to understand about the process.
1) Allow Time for Recovery
Some days you will feel strong and very good about your decision to end the relationship. Other days you’ll wonder how in the world you ever thought you could leave it and that you desperately want it back. Recovering from this is often a three-steps-forward-two-steps-back kind of thing. If you have these vacillating emotions, contact someone to talk to or have coffee with until you get your emotions back in control.
2) Be Aware of Triggers
There will be “triggers” that will flood you with emotions about the relationship you ended. A song. A place. A line in a movie. When you discover what these are, avoid them. For example, the dial on the radio can change to another song very, very quickly. Switch immediately without allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by continuing to listen.
3) Find a Friend
Jealousy may hit you hard, especially if you hear the paramour is seen with someone else, or if you see him with another woman walking through the mall. If you feel it, that doesn’t mean you aren’t sincere or real in your decision. It just means you’re human. When it strikes, if ever it does, don’t be alone. Find that person to talk with or have coffee with. Make sure it’s someone who will listen, but who also can help you think of other things in life. Someone who will hear your pain and gradually move you to more pleasant things. How do you find someone such as that? I suggest you find a happy older woman who has learned from life and still has a sense of humor, as well as the ability to empathize.
4) Dreams Are Not Reality
You may dream about the affair partner. The dreams may have a sexual nature, but more than likely will not. Instead it will be about the friendship part of the relationship that you lost. The sharing, understanding, and transparency. When you wake, don’t ponder the dream. Accept that you miss the friendship and move on.
5) Do Not Contact
Every once in a while you’ll feel you have a very good reason to contact him. It might be to check on him. Maybe to tell him happy birthday. Whatever the reason, don’t. Never. Not once. It will make things worse for both of you. It will definitely make the healing process longer and cause you to feel pain you don’t need to feel. Also, it hurts him because it will give him hope.
6) Get Rid of the Affair Partner…Completely
If you are part of anything that causes you to be in his presence – work, church, social groups, whatever – make arrangements as quickly as you can to end that. Tell your pastor the situation and ask him to recommend a good church. Start applying for a new job TODAY. If you can, quit immediately. But, if you cannot, do everything you can to keep yourself from direct contact. If in the same room, be polite, but do not do anything – tone of voice, lingering look, whatever – to open the door for him to think he may have a chance of getting you back. If you’re married and it’s possible, have your husband drop you off to work, meet you for lunch, and pick you up after work.
7) You are not alone.
Your decision was a good one. If you believe that there is a devil, then expect the “bad guys” to come at you to do anything and everything to make you want to contact your paramour again. Don’t be surprised if something happens that creates within you an almost overwhelming desire to talk with him. It may happen to you or in your life. It may happen to him or in his life. If something happens in his life that causes you to want to help him or be there for him, you must leave it to others to care for him: You’ve lost that right. He’s also lost his right to take care of you. Find your sustenance in your marriage, if you are married, and in your family and friends. He must do the same.
8) Time heals.
The limerence will fade with time. There will come a day when you no longer feel at all the emotions you once had. You’ll have some good memories about him. Don’t dwell on those memories. Don’t ever expect to be friends with him. Not ever. For his sake and the sake of your own marriage, that can never happen.
9) Forget the Past
On bad days, don’t look back and wonder what it would have been if you had stayed with him. You’ve made the right choice. You can never know what would have happened if you had remained with him. We can tell you that the odds are extremely high that it would have ended badly. However, your mind will want to assign good possibilities. Don’t let it. It’s over.
10) Help Others
When you heal enough, reach out to others who are in limerence and hurting their own marriage or the marriage of their paramour. We who have been there are the ones others will listen to because they know we understand. We don’t judge them, we empathize with them. But we also let them know the benefits of doing the right thing….even when it hurts.
If you are still in an affair…
The Affair Toolkit provides you with specific help about deciding to end an affair, understanding what happened, and determining what to do for your future
For the spouse who did not have the affair but was the party hurt by the affair, please understand a few things.
1. Understand the Grief Process
Understand the fact that your spouse will go through a grief process. This does not mean that your spouse is going back on his/her decision to salvage the marriage. Instead, it means that your spouse is going through a normal process to be able to cope with everything that happened. Don’t try and stop the grief process or make it worse for your spouse. Allow the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance to run its course.
2. Forgiveness is Key
In the process of this reconciliation of your marriage, there will be a lot of raw feelings and hurt emotions. Harboring resentment or anger towards your spouse (or anyone else involved for that matter) will only make things worse for you. Instead, forgive often and forgive quickly. Does that mean you let your spouse off the hook for what happened? No. However, what good will it do to force your spouse to live in agony and guilt over what happened?
3. Just Because the Affair Is Over Does Not Mean The Marriage Is Good
While the affair was the climax of what happened, there were some predicating factors in the marriage that possibly led to the opening for an affair. Those still need to be fixed. Just because the affair is over does not things will get better immediately. Quite the contrary. It will take time…and if you don’t fix what went wrong, it could get worse than before.
If your spouse is still in an affair…
The Affair Toolkit can teach you what steps you need to take next to save your marriage…while also helping you understand what your spouse is thinking.
Once the affair has ended, know that your marriage CAN be good again.
Your marriage can be good again. In fact, your marriage can be better than ever before. Not because of the affair, but because of the trial that your marriage went through and survived.
We want to help you be the hero of your marriage.
We do this through our Marriage Helper Workshop. This in person workshop is held monthly. It is for married couples, and it boasts a 70% success rate at saving marriages (even if your spouse doesn’t want to save the marriage).