Healing after Infidelity
Healing is possible after infidelity. Though you may feel swept up in a marital affair you did not ask for, you can heal with God’s help. These are the steps we recommend for healing from an affair. Consider inviting a Christian counselor to advise you on this healing journey.
Pray Without Ceasing
The most important thing you can do to heal from the affair is to pray. The more often you pray, the faster the healing process will be. God has promised to be near those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). He will draw near to you as you cry out to Him in prayer.
Prayer is the safest place to share your deepest hurts over the infidelity. God will comfort you and lift you up as you pour your heart out to him. Pray constantly, day and night, over your hurts. The burden will lift a little more each time you pray.
Know that God understands how you feel. The Bible uses words like “betrayed,” “rejected,” and “turned against” to describe how God felt when his own people strayed away from him to worship other gods. He knows what it feels like to have a broken heart. Only God knows exactly how you feel about what happened to you. He will draw close to you in your most intense times of suffering.
Pray morning, noon, and night over your situation. Consider writing down your prayers in a prayer journal. That way, you can look back and see how God is working in your situation to bring healing over time. God will help you as you voice your hurts to him.
Don’t Hold Your Feelings In
Anyone who endures an affair has many strong feelings to sort out. If you bottle those feelings up, you are at high risk for more problems to develop. You could explode in anger and frustration later, unintentionally hurting others and causing shame for yourself.
By holding feelings in, you could experience many of the physical symptoms associated with stress, including weight gain or loss, disrupted sleep, lack of concentration, heart problems, and other life-threatening illnesses.
However, giving full vent to your feelings can be equally damaging. Right after an affair, you may experience a wide range of emotions, like shock, hurt, anger, guilt, confusion, fear, and depression.
You may not know whether to blame yourself, your spouse, or both. If you spill all of these emotions onto your spouse, children, family, or friends, you may overwhelm them and drive them away from you. Give yourself permission to not know what to do after this traumatic experience. The answers will come over time.
You may feel tempted to cover those feelings with unhealthy behaviors, like overindulging in food or drink, boomeranging into another relationship, or isolating yourself. Though these are common temptations, they are not healthy, and they don’t help you deal with your feelings.
Consider journaling. A journal is a safe place to vent your feelings. Let them flow freely so the feelings don’t destroy you. Use your journal to inspire your prayers. You can also discuss what you write in your journal with a qualified counselor, who can help you sort through those feelings with wisdom.
Slow Down and Live Intentionally
After an affair, you may face many choices all at once. This can feel overwhelming. You may have many questions that cry out for answers, such as whether to separate, what to do about your children, who to tell, and how to address the financial situation. While these are important matters to consider, they don’t all need to be handled in one day.
Resist the pressure to make hasty decisions. Take one day, one hour, one moment at a time. Slow down and breathe, inviting God into each decision. You won’t regret taking the time to think about important decisions before you make them.
Use the time to intentionally consider the options and moving forward in peace. It’s wise to consult with trusted friends, your pastor, and your counselor before proceeding. Trust God to lead you forward one step at a time.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Many people who experience infidelity put their physical and emotional needs on the back burner. But this choice can stall your healing process. Treat yourself right each day. Work for a daily balance of rest, healthy eating, exercise, and rejuvenation. Do one thing every day that makes you feel good, whether that’s a long, hot bath or a walk in the park. Working on this balance can provide a healthy framework for your days.
Remember that it takes a lot of energy to not only survive but thrive after an affair. This is probably not the best time to tackle new projects. Reserve your energy for taking good care of yourself. By prioritizing your physical and emotional needs, you will heal deeper and faster.
Walk Through the Grieving Process
No matter what happens in the future with you and your spouse, you will need to grieve the affair in order to heal. You will have to go through the steps of denial, anger, bargaining, and sadness to reach acceptance. It’s necessary to let go of your dreams before you can embrace a different future.
Most people don’t move through the grieving process in a linear fashion. You may go back and forth in the grieving stages before you reach acceptance. This could take many months or even years to achieve. A caring Christian counselor can help walk you through this process.
Talk It Out
Talking about your feelings can help relieve the intense emotional pressure you feel after infidelity. But it’s not wise to talk to just anyone. Your friends and family may be able to offer some support, though their loyalties between you and your spouse may be divided. If you have children, it’s not wise to tell them all your feelings, because they are sorting through their own, and you could overwhelm them with your pain.
A Christian counselor is a safe person with whom you can talk about your painful emotions. Your counselor is a trustworthy, non-judgmental, objective person trained to help you sort feelings out. You will receive no criticism or condemnation in your counseling sessions. Talk therapy can help you navigate all the changes that come after an affair.
Choose a New Path
Though you didn’t ask for the problem your spouse created through infidelity, you must decide how to move forward. Do you forgive your spouse and resume the marriage? Do you separate for a while as you both work on your issues? Or do you divorce and go in different directions? The bottom line is that these answers are between you and God.
Choosing a new path after infidelity may be one of the hardest things you have ever had to do. As you pray about your options and consult with a Christian counselor, you can make the best choice for your unique situation.
Know that though the Bible is clear that affairs are a valid reason for divorce (see Matthew 5:32, 19:19), God does not mandate that you divorce after an affair. You may need to consult with your pastor and/or an attorney, in addition to your counselor, before you arrive at your final decision.
If you choose to stay with your spouse, you will both need to take new paths in your marriage. This is nearly impossible to do on your own. A caring Christian counselor can help you heal your marriage after an affair and learn what you can do to prevent another from occurring. Contact us at Seattle Christian Counseling today to choose a healing path after infidelity.
“Singles Awareness Day”, Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Burning Rose”, Courtesy of Caleb Shong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Praying at Dawn”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reach for the Sun”, Courtesy of Aaron Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License