Triggers are typically associated with the betrayed spouse.

Research shows that early in recovery, the betrayed spouse encounters between 75 and 110 different reminders of the affair every day. They can be incapacitating and overpowering, making it almost impossible for hurt spouses to reclaim any stable ground.

Samantha encountered thousands of reminders, and the courage and perseverance it took to press through them was monumental. The good news is they do dissipate over time and they can be diffused when you get the right kind of help. (Harboring Hope was a great asset for Samantha.)

Unfaithful spouse, when you are aware of your mate encountering a reminder, choose humility and own the moment as an immediate first step. Something that worked for me was to actually go to Samantha (not retreat, which was one of my biggest obstacles) and approach her saying something like “Listen, I know that was probably a huge reminder to you. I’m so sorry it was and I’m so sorry that you even have reminders. It’s my fault and I’m forever sorry for that. You have these reminders due to my choices and I’ll do all I can to help you with them. They are my fault, not yours.” Then I would reinforce my love for her and my desire to be only with her.  Often times she was too angry and hurt to even talk, but when she did open up and allow for a moment to talk, I was able to share those thoughts. Yet, here’s an example of a reminder.  

One day Samantha read an email from a business client I was trying to close. I wrote something that was simply incorrect word choice. Samantha stumbled upon it and read only a few words and became incredibly upset. My response (when she cooled down) was, “Honey, you can read any and all of my email. I don’t have any feelings for her at all, and it wasn’t the best use of words. If you’d like to call her, email her, or have me contact her or not even try to have her business, I’m fine with that. I’ll do whatever you want or need me to do. The goal is not her business, but saving our family.” Though she was triggered and upset for a few hours, she would later tell me my response to her reminder was one of the main factors that helped diffuse the reminder and helped her find balance again rather than letting it fester.

Our response to their hurt and their pain can help dissipate the anguish and despair. How we handle it when THEY are triggered due to OUR past choices will set the course for healing or for collateral damage.

What’s funny is, I started to write today about how even the unfaithful can be triggered, and the timeline associated with rejection and insecurity. Oddly enough, my own timeline seems unimportant today. Perhaps next time I’ll write about how the unfaithful can be triggered as well.

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Thank you Thank you Thank you for posting this. I feel often that my spouse has no idea as to the high number of triggers I am dealing with and when they come up he is at a loss as to how to help us through them. Thank you so much for sharing.


What a great post. There is no way of knowing what either spouse is going through unless you've been there. I felt my triggers were far too many and that the response I needed was asking too much from my spouse. Thank you.

triggers for the unfaithful

Thank you for this post. I am the hurt spouse and I am 10 months from D-day. We are at a stand still because he does not want to relive this affairs. He is only willing to move forward and feels that going back is pointless; therefore, my triggers are not addressed at all and I deal w/ them on my own. If I try to talk about them, he will say that he also has MANY triggers of exactly what you said...reminders of rejection and abandonment which he uses as justification for the affairs. I would love if you could blog about the unfaithful's triggers and how a couple should view it.

thoughts about triggers....jana

jana thanks so much for the post. i would help him understand that you need to heal and that talking about it is how the betrayed heals. have him read these articles on shame as unless he's willing to talk about it, you cant heal and he'll be forever imprisoned by his shame: he will need to understand it's not about going backwards and reliving them, it's about helping you heal and move forward. however, what triggers are you dealing with and how do you deal with them.? maybe you can give me an example of how you are triggered and what then happens after that? this may also help: this one will help him as well..... thank you again for posting and if i can help at all any further feel free to reach out.

My triggers

My situation dealt with my "committed" girlfriend traveling to visit a guy in Phoenix from Miami. The whole weekend i thought she was in Miami. I live in The Bahamas while she is in school and I traveled to be with her this week. Almost 1 month from D-Day. The airport terminal, the baggage claim when the stated that bags will be arriving from Phoenix, I had a breakdown in the middle of waiting for my bags. Anxiety level is so high. I enjoy reading this because the lyft drive was a trigger, hotels are a trigger. Salmon (she cooked him Salmon) is a HUGE trigger. I pray that I overcome these one day but it's good to know that there are people who deal with this on a daily basis and are strong enough to overcome. I feel so weak, zero confidence. I miss the days I had before finding this out. We weren't perfect, but I truly know the meaning now of not having peace of mind. Thanks for this write up.

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