Surviving the Worst-
How to Recover from an Emotional Affair
By: Raychel Chumley
Emotional affairs. Whether you are having one, a spouse is having one, or you are trying to recover from one, emotional affairs are causing devastation and turmoil in so many marriages. Today we are going to explore the steps it takes to overcome and heal from this kind of betrayal in your marriage. The good news is there are some steps you can implement today to start the road towards healing and recovery.
These steps are not easy but it is possible when both spouses are committed to rebuilding their relationship. They are:
- Give Yourself Time
- Get Some Help
- Seek to Understand
- Extend Forgiveness
Give Yourself Time
No matter what kind of emotional trauma you might be experiencing in your marriage it is ludicrous to think you can recover and heal quickly. Truthfully, it can take YEARS to heal from an emotional affair for both spouses. You have to give you, and your spouse, the time you need to deal with this kind of betrayal.
The pain and the emotions you have to deal with will be excruciating. This is not a simple six week process of “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” and you move on with your lives in happiness. There is some serious work that needs to be done. You will need to give yourselves time to not only deal with the circumstances that led to the affair in the first place but the emotional turmoil you are facing now in the aftermath.
Don’t give yourselves a time limit or become discouraged because you want to start feeling better yesterday. It doesn’t work that way. Relationships take work and fixing a broken relationship takes time. Just to be brutally honest with you, my emotional affair was over nine years ago and it took me nearly four (after a year or two of denial that is) years of slow painful steps to get to the point of healing in my marriage.
Get Some Help
Do not rush this process and don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of a qualified professional who has helped couples deal with this kind of infidelity. Surround yourselves with supportive friends and family members who agree with your decision to stay together who can pray for you and be understanding during this process. Do what you have to do to make your relationship the priority; and, don’t be afraid to cut out what you need to in order to get to that point.
My husband and I had to move away to start healing. We had to get away from the same group of friends, the same lifestyle, and the same circumstances if we were ever going to be different. We surrounded ourselves with people who we knew would pray and stand in the gap for us and our marriage. We relied on the strength of others when we could not find our own.
Seek to Understand
Learn everything you can about infidelity and why it is so hard to overcome. You might not even realize how much brain chemistry had to do with your emotional affair. It is amazing to me the kind of biological components that are in play when you are dealing with this kind of situation. This is why many experts believe an emotional affair is much more dangerous than a physical affair.
The brain chemistry that is affected when we become infatuated with someone can cause you to do crazy things you wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. It is like someone being addicted to drugs or alcohol-it affects the brain the same way! I was reading an article about this drug-like state yesterday and came across a quote by Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University. She is the author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love,” She says:
“Love is a drug. The ventral tegmental area is a clump of cells that make dopamine, a natural stimulant, and sends it out to many brain regions [when one is in love]. …It’s the same region affected when you feel the rush of cocaine.”
Ask any cocaine addict how easy it is to get clean and sober and you will start to understand what you are up against when you try to kick this “habit”. The more you learn, in a safe and caring environment, the more you can heal. Give yourself and your partner some grace to deal with this in their own time and their own way and learn as much as you can.
You will have to deal with forgiveness some time along this journey. This was probably the most difficult step for me…and the one I put off the longest. I was able to forgive my husband for the things he had done wrong in our relationship. I was even able to forgive the other man and restore our friendship.
What I was not able to do was forgive myself. I couldn’t deal with the overwhelming sense of failure I felt about myself. I felt I was not worthy of forgiveness. It wasn’t until I started opening myself up to the truth of who I was and the truth of who God was that I was able to start forgiving myself.
Forgiveness is huge! So many people are stuck on this issue. They refuse to forgive and are slowly killing themselves from all the pain and bitterness they stuff inside. They don’t have any idea how much damage they are doing to themselves when they refuse to forgive. Un-forgiveness is a destroyer of relationships.
Forgiveness is a choice and a process. Your feelings do not have to align with your willingness to forgive. You can make the choice to forgive long before you feel like you want to. You can do all the others steps mentioned in this article but you will never heal completely until you’ve taken the steps to forgive.
To those of you reading this whose spouses have had an emotional affair I would like to say something to you. Understanding your partner, giving them time, and allowing them to feel the emotions they need to process is one of the best gifts you give your spouse in this healing process. It’s also SO important that you extend yourself the same grace. This is just as hard on you and you have every right to take the time you need to deal with this kind of betrayal. Understanding is not easy! Nothing about this process is easy…but it can be done.
I know this because I’ve walked this road. Reach out for help if this is you! Countless others have walked this road and you are not alone. If you need some direction and help I would love to chat with you and see how we can walk this road together.
To learn more about Raychel Chumley, her ministry, and the services she provides visit her at here!
Raychel Chumley, aka “The Wife Coach”, is a Wife and Mother, a Marriage Coach, and the creator of This Beautiful Life. Her story, her transparency, and her motivation, inspires many to pursue their dreams in spite of their circumstances and to create the fabulous marriage they never thought was possible. Raychel encourages women, men, and couples to live their lives more physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually healthy. She resides in North Dakota with her amazing husband, Brandon, and their two children, Claire & Eli.
Raychel Chumley| 3200 N. 11th St. Bismarck, ND 58503| Phone: 701-202-3607|