Ask the Counsellors: Struggling to Get Over the Affair.
Every month the associates at Aspire Too will answer your questions in our “Ask the Counsellors Feature“. Please submit your questions confidentially to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Aspire Too,
It has been over six months since I learned that my husband cheated on me and I can’t seem to get over it. Every day I think about it and it gets me so upset, sad and angry. We have been to counselling together and have worked through a lot of it, but I find that when I see reminders or have too much alone time my mind goes straight to what he did and I can’t get past it. Even though our relationship has improved, my angry outbursts are affecting us both. I also lose focus at work and sometimes find it hard to get out of bed if I have been awake thinking of it. I love my husband and we are both wanting to remain together. Please tell me what I can do.
Dear Struggling Wife,
When there has been infidelity within a marriage for those affected, their world as they know it and view it changes. Similar to a traumatic event, we can become affected and can experience grief, anxiety and depression. Our emotions take hold and we can find ourselves in a negative downward spiral that can feel as if things may never recover. It sounds like you are both committed to working through this traumatic event and the good news is that you can recover and move forward!
For those affected by infidelity, aftermath symptoms can include: triggers, flashbacks and/or intrusive thoughts. When these occur, our minds are in survival mode and we can be flooded with the fight or flight mentality; where our brains perceive us to be threatened or unsafe and we become highly charged. Triggers can often cause us to have an emotional reaction as strong as the first day we learned of our spouse’ affair.
Our brain houses all of our memories. Those memories that have the strongest effect and that are easily recalled are the ones that have the largest physiological component or emotional reaction. When we become triggered by something associated in some way with the infidelity, we can feel the exact same things we felt before and the part of our brain that alerts us to the threat becomes activated, creating our need to react.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open and allow those feelings to be released. Talking with a counsellor can help you to facilitate ways to create open communication with your partner that is safe, and allows you to work towards rebuilding the trust that was lost. A counsellor can also help to provide you with tools to be able to manage the anxiety that those triggers create, develop new thinking patterns that allow us to be able to redirect the negative emotions attached to those triggers and eventually lessen the impact on our bodies and minds.
At Aspire Too we have counsellors trained and experienced in helping individuals and couples to manage the anxiety, depression and anger that can be a part of the side-effects of learning of an infidelity. Our counsellors are proficient at teaching you self-help strategies, communication skills, and cognitive behavioral therapy to aid in the healing process so that rebuilding the relationship can occur. If you would like to consult with a counsellor or to book an appointment to aide in your healing journey, contact us at 306-382-2391 or www.aspiretoo.ca.
Leanne Leedahl, BSW, RSW, CLC
Clinical Social Worker and Certified Life Coach