4 Tips for Affair Recovery During the Holidays

The holidays are here and that can mean a lot of high emotions for some people; sometimes, they have difficulty with their family of origin, like their mom or dad, or maybe a sibling rivalry that just hasn’t ended. Affairs in relationships are even trickier to navigate around the holidays, but there are 4 tips for affair recovery during the holidays. 

For others, they might be going through something in their lives that they don’t really want under a microscope like an affair or possibly the endless barrage of questions about what’s next.  “So, when are you going to get married or, when are you having kids?”

For some couples who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair, the holidays might seem like the last thing on their mind.  The affair might not have been disclosed to anyone, so they might have to act like nothing has changed when inside they’re hurting.  

If the family is aware of the affair, children, in-laws, and other family might demand the couple continue to engage in the status quo of the relationship or “put on a brave face for everyone”.  Either way let’s face it, it’s difficult!

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of an affair during the holidays or know a couple who is, it’s important to remember the following tips:

Boundaries

Whatever the case surrounding their affair, it’s important to set boundaries, and the first step in affair recovery, especially as it pertains to the holiday season.

Perhaps it means only staying at a holiday party for a two hours, rather than staying until the very end to help the host clean up. Perhaps it means no drinking or no work parties as that is where the affair may have occurred.  Perhaps it means a couple doesn’t host this year and rather offer to assist by bringing the side dish to a family member’s house instead.

Don’t Overshare

Sometimes a couple wants to share and tell everyone (especially with family), about what’s happened to them or what’s going on in their lives.  It’s important to be cautious about who you share the information with and how much information is shared. When either part of the couple opens up to family or friends, they’re opening their relationship up to potential negative opinions and judgements, which may or may not be helpful.

Assure there is a clear understanding of whether or not you’ll share and what you will share.  Check in regularly regarding thoughts and feelings about communication with others.

Figure Out What You Need

Think about your relationship as being in the Intensive Care Unit, ICU. Especially when an affair is fresh the couple is treating and managing the symptoms of the affair as they come up, often moment to moment.

If an affair is still in its first year after discovery then a couple might be experiencing the holidays for the first time post affair.  This can bring up a lot of anger, hurt, frustrations, resentment and more.  Family and couple traditions can feel tarnished or no longer special.

It is important to talk about this with one another or work with a therapist trained in helping couples navigate an affair.

Get clear on what both parties need during this time and how to communicate that to one another. Maybe taking some time to be together is helpful or time apart is what is needed. Come to a compromise on what that looks like and help each other honor that, knowing that from moment to moment that may change.  Discuss how you’ll handle any unforeseen events that might come up.

When an affair, an emotional trauma, is fresh, each party needs a lot of self care especially for the partner who is just learning about the affair.  For the partner just learning about the affair this information is brand new as opposed to the partner who was involved in the affair.  The involved partner has been processing the affair over time.  

Recreating a New Relationship Story

One of the important things in affair recovery is that the couple begin to create a new relationship story.  If the couple is ready and has worked through aspects of the affair sometimes it helps to create new rituals and traditions especially during the holiday season.  Helping the couple say goodbye to the old relationship pre-affair and living into a newer relationship that is just the couple’s, post affair.  

The holidays overall bring added and undue stress to most of us.  If you are working through an affair and having difficulty I urge you to seek out a trained professional who can support you through the process.  

Katie Lemieux is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, expert couples counselor and coach

specializing in affair and betrayal recovery with offices in Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, FL. If you live or are willing to travel to the area to help heal your relationship reach out to her www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

 

affair recovery - technology is hurting your relationship

Stop Your Technology Affair Today

It’s Friday evening, you’re on the couch, watching Netflix with your spouse and your phone buzzes gently next to you on the couch. You glance over and a small smile crosses your lips. “Who’s that?” Your spouse asks. “No one.” You reply, yet you’re itching to pick up the phone.

Now, you’re out at a restaurant, your spouse heads to the bathroom, you pull out your phone and frantically check your notifications: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. You see your spouse coming back and quickly pocket your phone.

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to your phone. Are you having an affair with your technology?

You’re not alone.

It’s been thought that we check our phones at least 110 times a day, probably way more.

Your guess is as good as mine about how long we’re on our phones each times we check them.

Overuse of technology is a common complaint I hear in my office from couples, heck it is one of my own complaints.

Whether it’s during dinner, a movie, a date, a day out with the kids, you name it, it’s there.

What does all this phone time do to our relationships? How does it impact the quality of our love life? Is it really “harmless”, a victimless crime?

That depends.

For some couples, this isn’t an issue. For most, it is.

The iPhone 8 was released just last week and people are already plotting and planning on how to get it. I mean do you really need a new phone? What else could you do with the $700, of course I say invest in your relationship, but I am sure you already guessed that!

For couples, I always ask:
What are your rules and agreements around technology?
Does your phone or computer have a bed time?
Where does your phone sleep?
When do you have set weekly time that you spend with each other without technology?

Technology can rob relationships of time, presence, intimacy, and emotional connection, to name a few. It’s important to remember that staying overly connected to technology, when in the presence of your spouse or partner, is a way to avoid communication and connection.

When we think about the amount of time we invest in technology and checking our cell phones, our E-Mail, text messages, playing games on our phone, it’s little wonder there’s no time left for meaningful connection.

What we invest into getting the latest gadget or toy, we take away from investing in our relationship. (Check out my video on How Investing In Your Relationship Can Go A Long Way to see what I mean).

For couples who are struggling with getting the technology mistress out of their relationship, you might be wondering what exactly you can do to achieve that goal.

Set Boundaries

These aren’t just for other people! Boundaries around certain activities are just as helpful as setting boundaries with individuals in your life. Get some boundaries around technology. Putting your phone to bed, on silent, shutting it off or even stopping the notification dings, rings and bings helps if you jump every time your phone does. You need to recondition yourself.

Schedule It

I’m a huge proponent of scheduling your time and scheduling it wisely. We all get the same 86,400 seconds every day (go ahead Google it that is how many seconds in 24 hours; I Google’d it myself). They will be spent whether we plan them or not, they will replenish but we can never get them back. How are you spending your 86,400?

If you know you need to work with your phone or laptop for an extended period of time, schedule it for times when it won’t interfere with family time, add breaks in between working and put your technology to bed.

Get Present

Staying in the present moment is so important for couples. Mindfulness (Check out Everyday Mindfulness here) is a buzzword as of late, yet what does it really mean?

It means being fully present in the moment (bye bye, multitasking) without passing judgement on the situation. What does that mean for your relationship and technology? Leave the phone at home! Don’t worry if that would have made a great Instagram picture. Stay present and enjoy the moment for what it is; the memory will last longer that way.

Looking to end your affair with technology? I’m here to help. Feel free to give me a call to further explore the possibilities of getting your relationship unplugged at 954.401.9011 or E-Mail me at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

3 Ways to Stop Online Affairs

 1. Protect Your Status

The first step Dr. Richardson-Quamina recommends in preventing an online affair is to protect your relationship status. We all remember the pivotal scene in 2010’s “The Social Network” when Jesse Eisenberg’s character realizes that the one thing that will make his online platform completely ready for use: relationship status. When you put your relationship status out there for everyone to see, you’re being honest with others about your availability (and surprisingly, this doesn’t always happen). When you’re upfront about your relationship status, you have options on what you choose to do when you receive an inappropriate “Like”or “Poke” (back when Facebook had those) direct message. Dr. Richardson-Quamina stresses that everyone’s reaction will be unique to themselves but some reactions include: deciding to unfriend the person, unfollow the person, cut the connection, or reach out and set a boundary with that person. A question to ask yourself in determining your response is, “Will this cause a problem in my relationship if I continue to communicate with this person?”

2. Follow the Golden Rule

Of online usage, in this instance. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests that for an individual trying to determine at what point his or her online behavior becomes questionable to remember “Don’t do anything [online] that you cannot do in front of your partner. This simple and easy to remember mantra can be the guiding principle one follows for all online interaction, especially when it comes to social media. Be honest with yourself, and your partner, about the myriad of ways in which communication comes across through social media and online. E-Mails, direct messages (DM), webcams, etc. all play a role in how you’re communicating with others outside of your relationship. And you should be communication about this with your partner, which leads to Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s final tip…

3. Talk the talk

The difficult talk. Communication is so important in relationships, it cannot be stressed enough. Often, the issues occurring within the relationship are a result of miscommunication and misunderstood expectations. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests taking the time to sit down with your partner and have the difficult conversation of what your expectations are and learn what your partner expects from you. She even mentions creating an contract of all online behavior, as a way to set boundaries regarding acceptable communication online. Perhaps your partner doesn’t think communicating with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is an issue, but this is something that would drive you insane. Until you make your expectations know, your partner can’t know them. While it’s difficult to start, having this type of talk will ensure smoother communication and boundaries in the end.

For more information on Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s tips, you can visit her website at Therapy Tribe.

Marriage counseling after infidelity

Can Your Relationship Recover From An Affair?

One of my favorite movies is “Gone Girl” the 2014 psychological thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The movie is based off the 2012 book of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn, which chronicles the relationship between the two main characters and the aftermath which ensues following Amy’s discovery of Nick’s extramarital affair.

Marriage counseling after infidelity

If giving away the story line of Nick’s infidelity has already spoiled too much for those of you who haven’t seen the film, I won’t say anymore. I will say that Amy’s reaction to Nick’s affair would give anyone pause before even thinking about committing such a spousal betrayal.

An affair is one of the most devastating events that can happen within a relationship, married or not. The stakes appear higher when a couple is married; there may be more to lose, like home ownership, custody of children, and a lifestyle to which one is accustomed. The flip side of the coin is that couples who find themselves cohabiting or co-parenting without the legal documentation of a marriage certificate may face even greater difficulties when it comes to a division of assets. No matter the size of the legal headache a divorce or break up may be, it doesn’t compare to the amount of emotional and psychological pain experienced after an affair. That’s why many couples find themselves reeling after an affair and often seeking a way to recover.

While many people may say that once a partner has an affair the relationship is over, others choose to work on continuing their relationship in the wake of the betrayal. If any of you have ever broken a bone or undergone major surgery, chances are you know a thing or two about physical recovery and how long it takes to heal from a physical trauma. The recovery from an emotional trauma such as an affair may feel almost impossible and you may even find yourself wondering, “When will these feelings end?” or “Will I ever feel right again?”

In my blog post 5 Key Ingredients in Healing from an Affair, I share with you some tried and true methods that couples who decide to stay together after an affair can use to strengthen their relationship and heal from the hurt. I want to highlight that these key ingredients are used when couples decide they want to stay together in spite of the infidelity. Some of you may be reading this and might not have reached a decision yet on whether or not to stay. This decision is not an easy one to make and should not be one made hastily or during extreme emotional duress. If you’ve just learned of your spouse’s infidelity, stop for a moment before you spring into action. The Scientific American released a podcast in 2010 providing just a brief overview of why quick, emotional decision is not always the best (you can listen to it and read the transcript here). You might be saying to yourself, “I’m hurt, I don’t want to make a logical decision.” and that’s okay. Humans are emotional beings and our behavior is often, if not always, guided by our desire to achieve a certain emotion. I want to empower you to take a moment to consider a few the following questions when determining whether or not your marriage is worth saving:

  • “How often has something like this happened and with how many people?”

This isn’t the question you ask to torture yourself and your spouse into chronicling and detailing every aspect of the affair, such as “How many times?” A part of you may be curious to know whether or not this was a one night stand or a longer standing affair that occurred over a longer period of time. The answer to both of those questions can help you reach your decision about whether to try and save your marriage but that’s not the purpose behind this question. This question is designed to help you determine if your spouse’s behavior is habitual. The answer to this question can be followed up with..

  • Is there abuse in my current marriage, including physical, emotional, psychological, or financial?

Domestic violence is illegal and it is not confined to physical assault. Many people may not consider an affair an abuse within a relationship and in most instances, that’s correct. But ask yourself, “Has my spouse consistently been unfaithful, with numerous sexual partners, and possibly put my health at risk by practicing unsafe sex in these affairs?” You’ll also want to consider the arguments you and your spouse engage in (does your spouse use derogatory language against you when arguing, including curse words, and attack your character/intelligence/abilities?) and also ask yourself, “Is my spouse controlling of me in way that I find uncomfortable, such as who I spend my time with, how I spend my money, my schedule, etc.?” Identifying any fear you may have of your spouse is an extremely important factor when deciding whether your marriage is worth saving. Lastly, ask yourself

  • How did I feel in my marriage before this happened?

It’s important to take make an honest assessment of your marriage in the wake of an affair. If you found yourself struggling to see the value in continuing your marriage prior to the affair it may signal that the road to recovery will not be an easy one and possibly not the one you will take on your journey towards healing. Try to identify what you want most out of your marriage and see if you can imagine achieving those goals within the boundaries of your current marriage. You might find that you and your spouse have differing opinions on what the future holds for you as a couple and you’re unable to compromise or reach an agreement on how to move forward and accept one another.

No matter the decision you make deciding how to proceed in your marriage after an affair is a difficult endeavor. As always, I’m here to help. Feel free to give me a call to further explore the possibilities of healing from an affair in your relationship 954.401.9011.

healing from an affair

6 Steps for Couples Healing from an Affair

1. The Start of Affair Recovery – The recovery clock on infidelity doesn’t start ticking unit the contact (all stimuli – texts, calls, seeing one another, etc.) stops.  Given this, what is the motivation to recover, as not all couples come to counseling to recover.  It is important to be really clear on what it is that you and your partner/spouse both want.  Sometimes couples attempt couples counseling as a demonstration that they have “tried everything” to make it work, and they aren’t really committed.

healing from an affair

Recommend Reading, “Why We Love:  The Nature and Chemistry of Love” by Helen Fisher.

2. “Closing the Pharmacy” – is an important next step and something to be aware of.  The involved or unfaithful partner must be willing to “close the pharmacy” on the love drugs that keep him or her involved and unfaithful.  Love drugs are seducing and intoxicating and keep the unfaithful partner returning to the drug store for more contact with the affair partner.  The interaction produces a strong feel-good chemical production in the brain, and it is like self-medicating with drugs more powerful than crack. It is also important to remember with any “drug” or “addiction” it is always temporary and never lasting and often can have serious consequences.  The high we get and feel when we initially fall in love or lust doesn’t last.

3.Establishing Guidelines – Once both have agreed to terminate contact and to start healing from the affair, guidelines need to be established and followed by both parties. The involved partner MUST be transparent. It is therapeutically recommended that the hurt or betrayed partner not ask about the specifics of the sexual acts as research has shown this to be more traumatic and detrimental to both parties. Being transparent helps to re-establish and regain trust.  The involved/unfaithful partner must help the hurt partner understand how far back he or she has to go to find the truth in their relationship, how long has this been going on, etc. It is important that the hurt partner’s questions are to understand, not to punish or make feel guilty!  The betrayed or hurt partner must learn to contain emotions, take time for self care and learn ways to self soothe. Although the hurt partner may feel justified in his or her actions, comments, rages, blames, etc. it can further damage the relationship if emotions aren’t contained.  Emotions, especially early in this process can feel like a glass of milk that spills all over the counter. Affair Recovery can be messy and is often a moment-by-moment, day be day process. This is why having ground rules and/or guidelines helps. Your trained couples counselor can help you in establishing these as well as work with you to support you in the healing process by facilitating and teaching communication skills to both you and your partner/spouse.

4. Both Parties Hurt – The unfaithful partner also hurts, can be anger, and feels resentment. These feelings can interfere with effective and corrective expression of remorse. They are angry too. They are hurt too. Often affairs or infidelity are a symptom or manifestation of issues in a relationship. Sometimes while the couple is going through couples counseling it can be helpful to have each party engage in individual therapy if they are having difficulty expressing themselves or working through some of the emotions they feel.

Recommend Reading – “After the Affair” by Janis Abrahms.

5. Re-Building Trust – During couple’s sessions the couple’s counselor will work with both parties to teach them different ways of communicating that deepens the understanding of each other. This is done through communication techniques that are validating, curiosity seeking and empathic.  Couples learn to show empathy for one another. Getting the couple to turn toward each other with their feelings, their experiences, and helping them sort through the day-to-day rubble of their marriage or relationship.

6. Forgiveness – This is the final stage, the place of acceptance that the affair happened, understanding what was going on in the marriage or relationship, oneself, and taking responsibility – on both sides, for what has transpired. Dr. O’Mara tells the couples she works with, “your relationship is wounded and this affair is just one symptom of many that needs your attention. Affairs are co-created in relationships. EXTREME RESPONSIBILITY” is her motto. “You can’t fix what you don’t own”.

As seen on a Sussex Directories Inc site
Dr. Michele O’Mara has a private practice in Plainfield, Indiana mainly serving the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, and transgender community. She is committed to helping couples through difficult times in their relationship and enhancing their love and connection for one another.