Fidelity First Aid
The AFFAIR has been discovered, NOW WHAT?!
If you’re like me, you had no ‘road map’ for what to do after your husband (spouse) confessed the unfaithfulness. First, please know, you are NOT ALONE! Of course I was aware of affairs, infidelity and unfaithfulness- I didn’t live to be 46 years old without being exposed to this unfortunate circumstance. Yet when it happened to me, to my life, I felt like I was the only one it had ever happened to! The pain was so excruciatingly foreign. My heart felt ripped right out of my body with no anesthetic, shredded and tossed to the curb. Looking back now, I understand why the body (mind & spirit) goes into shock- to numb the senses for repair and healing to begin. Here’s what I (we) did to recover:
‘Fidelity First Aid’
Engage your COMMUNITY. As hard as it may seem, surround yourselves with good friends, family, your church elders, pastors and small group people you trust. Do not let shame keep you from receiving the love and prayers of people who know you and want to see you do well. This is a vital LIFE-LINE. Let them bring you food, look after your kids, go shopping with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out at weird times ( I’ve had friends come over at 1am, 11pm, 6am- whenever it got really bad). Most people may not know how to what to say; but that’s okay. They can offer to listen. You need to share your feelings otherwise those feelings will eat you up. Be vulnerable- this is a sign of courage, not weakness.
PRAY! Like your life depends on it- because it does! Pray alone ( even when you don’t know what to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede Romans 8:26), pray with and for your spouse, pray with friends, ask the clergy of your church to pray for you and over you. And be very specific with prayer requests: for your health, sanity, your kids, your ability to focus, for clarity, wisdom, etc.
Get a COUNSELLOR immediately! The morning after my husband confessed, our pastor was in our living room helping us map out a plan for healing. The first thing he did was encourage us to seek a marriage counsellor. We found an amazing one, Carrie Fleetwood of Meadowbrooke Counselling in Markham. She was tough. Called out some very significant things that we each needed to work on. It was hard, but WORTH IT!
Cut off all CONTACT with the affair partner. All- including emotional contact ( pray that all bonds are broken). Lose the phone numbers and emails. Block contact from all social media. Open your passcodes on all devices and be willing to have your spouse feel free to do a spot check at any time.
The unfaithful partner should WRITE A LETTER or make a phone call to say it’s over. That it was wrong and never should have happened. That he ( or she) is working on the marriage. Allow your spouse to be a part of this process. My husband did this, in his own words. He asked me to read it and then had it delivered to her via our pastor.
Commit to being 100% HONEST with each other. There will be a lot of confusion, questions, disillusionment- don’t hide from it. Deception & deceit got you into this mess, don’t let it keep you there. For the betrayed spouse ( in this case me) it was vital that I understand how my husband did this and why. Without knowing these basic things I couldn’t even think about rebuilding TRUST. I also needed to know where I contributed, if any, to the straying. That said, I know that the choice to have an affair was entirely his. As bad as a marriage may get ( and ours was not a bad one) there is never any good reason or excuse to break the marriage vows of “ to you and you alone.” Yet, when I got really honest with myself I saw where I had treated my husband with a lack of respect and more importantly where I needed to make some behavioural changes in my own character.
QUESTIONS! There will be lots and lots of them. I suggest that you carefully think about what you really need to know ( as opposed to what you want to know) because once you know, it’s really hard to ‘unknow’ and some of these details are really haunting and take a long time to delete from your memory. Ask yourself- “Why do I need to know this? Will it be helpful to my recovery? Is it a detail I can live without?” Even better is to ask them with your counselor present.
ATTEND in person or on-line marriage recovery retreats, workshops, conferences, seminars etc. I recommend:
READ & LISTEN to articles, blogs, sermons, programs that offer comfort, advice, and steps for recovery. A few favourites of mine are:
ANYTHING ON FORGIVENESS AND GRACE
Memorize SCRIPTURE for when you can hardly breathe, when you feel attacked and just general everyday comfort, hope and peace. The struggle is real – you need armour on! Cling to the promises of God: that He will never forsake you, that He has a plan and a future for you, that He’ll meet you where you’re at, that you will see goodness in the land of the living, that your pain is not in vain, that you are precious, worthy and loved more by your Creator than by any man, that He knows your hurt and heart intimately and will carry you through it.
Attend a recovery group ( and my husband is now a leader of a men’s group): CELEBRATE RECOVERY. The one near us is at Summit Community Church in Richmond Hill
Please know that you really are not alone and healing takes a while. Our counsellor said 2-5 years. At first I resented that. Thinking it was so unfair that I got thrown into years of work that I didn’t cause yet, dare I even say, the growth and deepening of faith has been worth it. Give yourself grace, lots of it and permission to let it hurt. Lean into it when it washes over. The ‘flooding’ happens often and triggers will appear without warning.
Choose to trust yourself and God even though you may not or cannot trust your spouse yet. Know that there is hope when it feels dark, heavy and overwhelming. It does get better. You have the opportunity to re-write your story. Understand your story. Then share your story-if you want. To bring hope to others. Know that God is IN THIS WITH YOU! He feels your hurt and pain the deepest. He holds your tears and your heart in a tender space and He’s not surprised by any of this. By giving myself to Jesus, all of me, especially the parts I used to keep away, I gained a clearer picture of the true me.
My pastor said this, in a very relevant sermon he preached just a week after the affair came out, “Your greatest ministry may come from your deepest area of pain.” My purpose now is to see people heal from infidelity. I am a trained Co-Active life coach with a focus on restoration from relational struggles in order to have a very fulfilling (renewed) life. I may not know you personally, but I am praying for you. For all who are affected by infidelity, for redemption, restoration and a renewed life in Christ and your marriage.