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The emotional impact of discovery infidelity is usually profound. Days and weeks of sleeplessness, rumination, fantasies (many sexual) and unproductively follow. It typically takes 2 – 4 years to "work through" implications. A good coach or therapist can accelerate and mollify process. I don't recommend "marriage" counseling, at least initially.
The devastating emotional impact results from a couple powerful dynamics. Trust is shattered – of one's ability to discern truth. The most important step is NOT to learn to trust other person, but to learn to trust one's self. Another is power that a secret plays in relationships. THE secret exacts an emotional and sometimes physical toll that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.
How can you help?
Those in midst of their affair crisis told me they need this from you:
1. Sometimes I want to vent, get it out without censor. I know sometimes I will say what I shouldn't be saying. It may not be nice, pretty or mild. Please know that I know better, but I need to get it off my chest.
2. Every so often I want to hear something like, "This too shall pass." Remind me that this is not forever.
3. I want to be validated. I want to know that I am OK. You can best do that by nodding acceptance when I talk about pain or confusion.
4. I want to hear sometimes, "What are you learning? What are you doing to take care of yourself?" I may need that little jolt that moves me beyond my pain to see larger picture.
5. I may want space. I may want you to be quiet and patient as I attempt to sort through and express my thoughts and feelings. Give me some time to stammer, stutter and stumble my way through this.
6. I want someone to point out some new options or different roads that I might take. But before you do this, make sure I am first heard and validated.
7. When they pop into your mind, recommend books or other resources that you think I might find helpful.
8. I want to hear every so often, "How's it going?" And, I may want this to be more than an informal greeting. Give me time and space to let you know exactly how it IS going.
9. I want you to understand and welcome ambivalent feelings and desires. I would like you to be fairly comfortable with gray areas and contradictions about how I feel and what I may want.
10. I want you to be predictable. I want to be able to count on you to be there, listen and speak consistently or let me know when you are unable to do that. I will honor that.
Extramarital affairs are powerful. Affairs are costly. They affect family, friends, colleagues and employers. Infidelity is also an opportunity – to redesign one's life and love relationships in ways that create honor, joy and true intimacy.
Dr. Huizenga, the "Infidelity Coach," hosts the free Website: http://www.break-free-from-the-affair.com , which helps couples deal with emotional infidelity and Extramarital affairs. If you think your spouse is cheating, visit today.