How Do I Be More Stoic And Stable After My Spouse’s Affair? I Can’t Seem To Toughen Up.

By: Katie Lersch: If your best friend were to tell you that she was struggling emotionally after her husband’s affair, I’d be willing to bet that you would be extra loving, supportive, and gentle toward her. You’d likely tell you that she should be kind to herself and to take her time in trying to sort through this. Most people would never rush their friend or tell her that she needs to toughen up and move on.

And yet, when an affair happens to us, this is exactly what most of us will do. Even though we would show friends, family, and even complete strangers unconditional kindness and patience in the wake of an affair, we are rarely able to give the same to ourselves.

The vast majority of us will beat ourselves up, will hurry ourselves, and will tell ourselves (and others) that we just aren’t managing quite well enough. Most of us feel overly-emotional and somewhat weak. Someone might describe it this way: “I mean no disrespect to my husband, but quite honestly, I have always been the strong one in my marriage. My husband has always been the emotional one and I am always the stoic, rational one who runs on logic and not feelings. I am always the one who can be counted upon to use my common sense and to not to allow my emotions to cloud my judgement or to get the better of me. But now that I have found out about my husband’s affair, I find that I’m expressing emotions like never before. I can not stop crying. I can not concentrate on every day things. Little things that I would never have noticed before set me off. I get overly emotional about stupid things of no consequence. I will tell myself that I need to toughen up and that I will get through this like I get through everything else, but so far this little pep talk isn’t working. How do I become more stoic? This just isn’t like me.”

I know how you feel. I too was frustrated with my feelings and my behavior after my husband’s affair. I didn’t feel as if I could control either. And this wasn’t like me. But I know for sure that most of us are just too hard on ourselves during this difficult time. Because let’s face it, you’re not experiencing your emotions the same as normal because things are not the same as normal. It is not every day that you find out your husband is having an affair. This is an emotional punch in the stomach. It can take quite a while (and a lot of healing) to be able to regain your footing. Because of this, it’s harsh to expect yourself just to be able to shake it off. It’s unrealistic and it makes you feel as if you are doing something wrong when you are not. It makes you feel as if you are not being strong enough when that just isn’t true.

Nonetheless, these feelings of being out of control can take a toll on you. There is relief in reigning them in a little. So below, I will offer some tips that helped me a little bit in this regard.

Give Yourself Set Times To Let It All Out: Honestly, I found that the harder I tried to reign in my feelings or to deny them, the more likely they were to come out. It is like when you’re a kid and you get punished and your parent screams at you to “stop crying.” What happens then? You start crying even harder, of course.

That’s why I think it is helpful to give yourself the opportunity to let it all out on a regular basis. If you try to hold it in, then it is going to demand to be let out. And this can contribute to that “out of control” feeling.

I found it helpful to either set aside time to journal, to talk to someone, or to even scream into a pillow or two. To be honest, I was very careful about who I confided in. I just did not want for well-meaning friends to constantly quiz me about my situation. I did not want them to change their opinions about my husband because I knew that, because of my kids, he would always be in our lives. But I did have a few people who I confided in and I did see someone professionally for a while.

Having this type of outlet on a regular basis is invaluable. Because you know that there will be a time and a place to let it out, you hopefully will not be as apt to let it out all of the time.

In addition to having a regular outlet, the passage of time is a comfort and helps with perspective. You begin to realize that the days still come, the sun still rises, and the world keeps going. One day, you look around and realize that despite it all, you are still OK and that you have endured. Don’t be hard on yourself.  You are plenty strong and tough.  You just need to be gentle with yourself and give yourself the same compassion you’d give a friend.

I know that it’s not easy. I struggled too. But I’m still here. I’m fine. My marriage recovered. It gets better. Once healing starts and you have a regular outlet, you tend to find your footing and you find your feelings regulating, at least in my experience.  There’s more about that on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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