Finding Some Sort of Stability

Early on in recovery, life is simple to describe: chaotic. Emotions are all over the map, wounds are fresh and open, and vulnerability is at an all-time high. The slightest conversation can turn toxic in one-two hundredth of a second. Trying to find any form of stability seems next to impossible. One day things seem hopeful and peaceful and everyone seems amicable. The next day, anger and flooding take hold and the future of the entire marriage and family seems at risk.

It’s enough to push either spouse over the edge. It’s much easier to wallow in despair and hopelessness than it is to believe that somehow things are going to be OK.

Our stability early on was our kids. Yes, I was a pastor, but I couldn’t find God anywhere it seemed. I was in a haze of condemnation and despair and surrounded by people who all of a sudden hated me upon finding out about my failures. When D Day hit, my youngest was 5 weeks old and a bit of a handful (especially considering Samantha’s trauma), and our other two were 5 and 4 and relatively manageable. We had passes to an amusement park nearby, so about three days a week, the kids and I would retreat to the amusement park to simply give Samantha space. However, I had been to that same amusement park what seemed like thousands of times with the kids and my affair partner, so it wasn’t much of a safe haven for Samantha.

We had lost all but maybe three of Samantha’s friends and I had lost literally all of mine but one, and he was still reticent to talk to me much at all. To say we were lonely and isolated is to put it lightly.

We had to find a routine to make it through the days and weeks if there was going to be any stability. I’m sure many of you feel the same way and are trying to make it, and perhaps I can give you some insight on what began to work for us and for many others who are in this particular phase of early trauma.

1.       We rallied around the kids. We both loved them, and let’s face it, early on, we were pursuing recovery for the kids. It’s not what kept us going, but it’s what launched us into pursuing the marriage. I was with them as much as I could be and Samantha would read to them and sit with them as much as possible. (This is easier with younger kids, I know.) Many say don’t use the kids, but in a jovial way, I say use the kids as much as you can. Use them to remind you why you got married. Use them to remind you how many wonderful times you’ve had with your spouse. Use the kids to remind you that this marriage is not just about you or your spouse.

2.       Try and establish a bit of a routine to rally behind. For me it was starting the day feeding the kids, then putting on a TV show or DVD for them and reading the Bible or other books I found to be helpful. I would also journal to start my day. Soon after I would clean the kitchen as a cathartic way to manage my thoughts.  

3.       I would then ask Samantha an important question, almost every morning: “What do you need from me today?” She would then let me know things like going to the store, or giving her space, or cleaning the house, or taking the kids away for several hours. She felt better knowing that at a certain time I would be leaving so she could take some deep breaths while I was gone and either continue to grieve, call one of her friends, or simply sleep and feed the youngest.

4.       I had immediately resigned from my position, so I was out of work. Some days I would look for work, or try and formulate a plan for how I was going to move forward in a new career. It was a bit overwhelming, so I had to go slow and take breaks to do something else to ward off hopelessness and shame.

5.       Both Samantha and I each had one person who was safe. They didn’t give us advice, or direction, but just comfort and encouragement. You’ll need at least one same sex person to talk to that can simply hear you out. Eventually they will need to be able to call you out on some things, but for now, they simply need to help you feel safe and heard. It will most likely be too early to vent to your spouse, but you can vent to your friend who will hear you out, but NOT give advice or direction.

6.       You’ll need to get into a process of recovery. If you haven’t seen the programs AR has here, you can review them here: https://www.affairrecovery.com/programs-and-courses. It’s absolutely vital you get into a process which can help take the lead for you and your spouse’s recovery. I hate to be controversial, but typically just finding a counselor will not be enough or even effective unless they have been through infidelity themselves and are experts.  

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