So, your spouse has cheated, and you’ve been reliving your spouse’s infidelity non-stop, and you want it to stop?
First, you must understand that emotional trauma is inevitable when dealing with infidelity.
And no matter how much you try to forgive and forget, the painful memories won’t simply go away.
The fact of the matter is, infidelity doesn’t end after the truth was revealed or after you and your partner decided that your marriage was worth saving and fixing.
It’s a constant battle that you will have to fight every single day, especially if you are still in the process of healing.
After all, you are dealing with many negative emotions, some of which are self-loathing, anxiety, and grieving the ideal marriage you created in your head for a long time.
These are all normal, and you really have to go through these emotions to process the betrayal properly and find the path towards healing.
But, of course, healing is a long road, and it often feels like it’s never going to end. It almost feels like it is unreachable, especially if you keep on reliving the painful memories.
To relive the painful memories you so eagerly wanted to bury deep down in your brain is part of the trauma you are currently experiencing.
And even when you try your best not to remember what caused it to avoid reliving the memories of your spouse’s infidelity, certain things or situations will trigger it, just like psychological trauma.
When that happens, the healing process will seem more complicated, and your end goal, whether to save your marriage or to move forward on your own, will feel unattainable.
How emotional trauma affects you and your marriage
When we talk about trauma, people often neglect the fact that even losing a relationship or going through a betrayal can be damaging.
People with trauma often feel extreme negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, loss of self-worth, anger, and other physical symptoms like insomnia and body pains.
Now, what does it have to do with the progress you are making?
The trauma you are experiencing right now is actually hindering you from being happy again and finding a sense of peace with what happened in the past.
Of course, it is not your fault that you are dealing with emotional trauma right now, but it is your responsibility to recover and heal.
Unless you acknowledge that the trauma is there, you will only remain in a place full of negative thoughts and unhealthy behaviors.
You will always ask yourself why your spouse cheated on you. Always blaming yourself for thinking that you are not good enough.
Constantly wondering what your spouse’s lover has that you don’t. You will begin being paranoid, full of doubts, carrying that baggage wherever you go.
And these behaviors won’t do you any favor because they are all detrimental to your mental well-being. It will also keep you from being happy again.
GoodTherapy cited Cook et al. (2004) in their blog post When It All Falls Apart: Trauma’s Impact on Intimate Relationships, and it said:
Why recovering from the trauma is hard.
“Trauma survivors often report a decrease in relationship satisfaction, along with impaired expression of emotion, sexual activity, intimacy, communication, and adjustment. Cook et al. also state that ‘those with PTSD have higher separation and divorce rates than their non-PTSD counterparts.’”
Hence, if the infidelity itself didn’t end your marriage, the emotional trauma might be the one to push your marriage in reaching its epilogue.
Or if it has already happened and you just want to heal yourself, holding on to the trauma won’t still do you any good. You are only making yourself suffer.
Yes, dealing with emotional trauma is hard, particularly when you’re at a point where every simple thing reminds you of the memory of infidelity and triggers intense negative reactions.
That said, you will have to find a way to work through these memories so you can finally find healing and move forward with your life free of unnecessary emotional baggage.
Reliving infidelity: how to put a stop to it
Being a victim of infidelity, you cannot simply avoid having intrusive thoughts. And even if you don’t want to, they will surely affect your mood and your behavior.
Imagine walking through the aisle in the grocery store and seeing someone that resembles your spouse’s ex-lover.
Or you’re having dinner with your family, and a simple word makes you feel like you’re not good enough, so you start comparing yourself with the person your spouse had an affair with.
It will cause you another heartbreak, another disappointment, and another resentment. Consequently, it will once again delay your healing.
And instead of finding in yourself the courage to rebuild your trust, you are only setting yourself up to fail.
But don’t despair because even though it feels impossible, you can do some things that would help you stop reliving your spouse’s infidelity.
They are as follows:
1. Replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
This can be quite complicated, but you will be able to do it successfully with enough practice.
You see, you are still hurting, and healing is far from being attainable. That is why those negative thoughts can easily come into your head whenever and wherever!
However, you need to make a conscious effort to replace them with memories that will boost your mood and will make you feel motivated to continue towards the path of recovery.
Now, how does it work? Whenever a sad or painful memory comes into your head, pause for a moment, take deep breaths, and try thinking of happy thoughts.
Do you remember your spouse’s betrayal? Why don’t you take a moment and think of your kids (if you have!) and your happy and fun memories with them?
Or the joke that your friend said a few days ago that made you laugh so hard?
The thing is, only you can decide to move forward to not get stuck in an unhappy place.
Remember, dwelling on those sad, painful, and unwanted memories will only make you feel worse. So, practice as much as you can, and hopefully, it will eventually become easier.
2. Have a support system.
It always pays to have people who truly care about us and would do anything to help us get out of a dark place.
They can be your family members, close friends, or coworkers. Some even consider their pets as part of their support system.
And it doesn’t matter if it’s a small group or a large group. What matters is that they are offering you genuine support and helpful advice without any judgments.
Whenever you’re unwantedly reliving your spouse’s infidelity again, call or text one of the people from your support group, that should help you stop it.
Share your thoughts and your feelings. Tell them how it’s negatively affecting you. Ask for their advice, if you want to. Or simply vent out your feelings to them.
Or if you don’t want to talk about it at the moment, you can just go out with them and have some fun time together.
What’s important is you are constantly moving, you are not isolating yourself, and you are doing things that would help you stop the negative thoughts.
3. Seek professional help.
Trauma is a serious condition, and it can get extremely overwhelming at times. When this happens, seeking professional help might be the best thing to do.
Your counselor or therapist might be able to help you make sense of these painful memories and the negative emotions associated with them.
Additionally, they can help you determine which is the best way to go to find healing and have the ability to regain the trust that was lost. You can read more about it here.
If you and your spouse have decided to stay inside the marriage and try to make it work despite the infidelity, counseling can also be beneficial.
Not only will you both have the chance to work through your marriage’s conflicts, but you will also have a deeper understanding of each other and hopefully acquire forgiveness in time.
Any person inside a relationship or marriage would never want to deal with infidelity because it doesn’t only cause damage in the relationship but also to themselves.
However, you do not have control over your spouse’s mind, and if they wanted to cheat, they would cheat without thinking about the possible consequences of their actions.
And so, here you are, trying to make sense of your spouse’s thoughts and behaviors while also trying to find ways to heal from their betrayal.
The good news is that you can heal and move forward.
Whether you want to do it on your own or with your cheating spouse, healing is possible, even though it’s going to take some time and a lot of effort.
But sometimes, your healing process will also experience some ups and downs. And the healing will be even more difficult with all the painful infidelity memories you want to stop reliving.
Even though it’s mostly out of your control, it doesn’t change the fact that it is causing your healing to take a longer route.
But bear in mind that you have the power over your thoughts, and although it may also take some time and practice, you can train your mind to focus on the happy memories.
And most importantly, always remember that healing is a choice. You won’t stay in a dark and unhappy place if you make the conscious effort to move forward with your life.
Recommended: Can Therapy Stop Your Fear Of Getting Cheated On?