How to Handle the Flooding

When recovering from infidelity, emotional flooding will most certainly be a piece to the puzzle. When flooding arises, chaos seems to ensue. If you’ve ever flooded emotionally, you know it’s excruciating. Many describe it as an influx of almost uncontrollable emotions where flight or fight seems to rule the day and our heart rate spikes at least 20%. Attempting to curtail this flooding with a simple “get over it” or “what’s wrong with you” or “lookout, here we go again” ensures certain disaster. It will only intensify heart rates, emotional flooding and instability and the speed in which things like dishes, silverware, books, cell phones or anything else within arm’s reach is thrown by the spouse who is flooding.

Flooding is real. If you’re an unfaithful, I assure you this is not an excuse for chaotic violent behavior. But imagine your worst memory. I mean the worst memory you can fathom where you felt betrayed, abandoned, raped, molested, you name it. Then play it over and over in your head. Then think of a million ways this memory can be replayed and triggered between 70 and over 100 different times a day and see how it feels. I could go on, but I’m sure you get it.

When flooding occurs, the opportunity at healthy, constructive communication is gone. You or your spouse is flooding and typically, the spouse who is being flooded upon if you will, feels completely helpless. The worst thing the floodee can do if you will, is to react to the flooding and try to either one up the flooder, or try and engage them at their level. They simply won’t be able to act rationally and will not listen to rational thought. They may not think that or agree with that statement at the time, but in retrospect many admit to such overwhelming emotion. They are flooding and are in a hemisphere you cannot reach, speaking a language you cannot compete with, and are at a heart rate which is running faster than you can imagine.  So what do you do? Here are a few suggestions to handle flooding.

1.  Purchase low cost but efficient heart rate monitors. Once they get to 100 beats per minute, take a time out.  All rational and reasonable conversation is now lost and you’re probably going to say or do things depending on who you are, which you both will regret very shortly. Nothing good happens after 100 beats per minute when you’re arguing.

2.  Take a thirty minute time out immediately and go for walk, get some water, fresh air and time to simply cool down. Maybe it’s a fast walk or simply sitting on a bench and letting your heart rate calm down, your anger subside and allowing clarity to reenter the picture. Thirty minutes may not be enough and it may take an hour or two, or even later that night or in the morning.  Have a time out protocol.

3.  A time out protocol needs to be established before flooding ensues. When one spouse feels like things are out of control, they need to take a time out. There needs to be a hand gesture of some sort that will suffice for the signal. Either Samantha or I would put our hands up slowly and say “I’m taking a time out.” At that point, we agreed, we were done, right then, right there. The spouse that raises their hands is the one who leaves the room. No following the spouse who called time out. No trying to get the last word or jab in. No violating this procedure or else more trust will be lost, more damage will be done, more confidence will be lost and you will not have a safe protocol to utilize to minimize the chaos you both are probably stuck in.

Here are Rick’s thoughts on what to do for 30 minutes or what to do when you start talking again:

What to do during the 30 minutes:

1.  Try to find something else to focus on such as reading a book or lying down.

2.  Do not think about what you’re going to say when you come back together.

3.  Don’t obsess about how angry you feel at the other person during this time. Rather, it’s a time to cool down so the discussion later can be more productive.

Upon returning to the discussion:

1.  Both people focus on what aspects of the solution will work (rather than focusing on what won’t work).

2.  Together, they choose parts of both solutions that will make both parties satisfied.

3.  Use “I” statements. Be flexible and look to compromise. Listen to see if you can understand how your mate is feeling and communicate your understanding.


1.  Focus on “all or none” solutions

2.  Be rigid in only being open to your solution (e.g., “my way or the highway”)

3.  Criticize the other person for their idea.

4.  Eye roll or shake your head in disapproval non-verbally.

Add New Comment:


Wow flooding it hit me one

Wow flooding it hit me one time real hard at least for me it was bad and what pit me over the top was my wife just sitting there not saying a thing I yelled then I slammed the car door! How bad is that I could not believe I did that I was so shocked that I did that, that it stopped the flooding right away it scared the s..t out of me I had never done anything like that before it also brought me to a real understanding about myself I knew I was healed not long after and have not been triggered again even when I found my wife over her ap's house two times after that. I can not tell you how to get over it because everyone is different. But for me that time got me thinking just how much I had let things get out of control that I could handle it if I just redirect the feelings from the person (my wife) to the situation if I focused on her then just about anything she would do would only make things worse but instead I would thing of what just happened and not on her I know this sounds a little strange but it is kind of what we talk about in Married for life focuse on the emotions of the argument not the person and that is kind of what I had started doing. It has worked for me.

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas