When you end the affair, you might get a feeling of withdrawal. Being in an affair is a lot like being addicted to a drug. This means that when you end the affair you will have to go through the uncomfortable experience of withdrawal before you can be clean again.
There are three major emotional symptoms of affair withdrawal: anger, anxiety, and depression. Why you might have these emotions should be fairly self-explanatory at this point.
You can expect to have intense withdrawal symptoms for about three weeks. You may continue to feel some symptoms for up to six months, but they should gradually diminish in intensity and frequency over this time period.
During this time, you are in a vulnerable position. Like an addict, you might be tempted to use your favorite drug again. You might be tempted to contact your lover again to help calm the force of your withdrawal symptoms.
Doing so is a little bit like a heroin addict in recovery who says they are just going to do a little hit to make the pain go away. This is clearly a terrible idea. If you do this, it is likely you will be tempted to start using again, end up back in the affair, and undo all the difficult work you have done up to this point.
Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to contact your lover. This will destroy your relationship.
Instead, reinvest in repairing your relationship. This is liable to be difficult as well, particularly if you have just informed your partner about the affair. If you are talking to your partner at all, it is likely that your communication is negative and difficult. It is unlikely that you will be getting a great deal of positive feedback from your partner at this point and this is bound to make you feel emotionally disconnected. This could worsen your withdrawal symptoms.
If you feel that you have had your needs met in this affair in a way that they haven’t been met in your relationship, there is going to be a time when you need to address those problems with your partner. That time isn’t now. I say this here to help you have hope that you can get what you need out of your relationship and not feel compelled to continue going outside it to fulfill those needs.
“…your book describes exactly what should be done.”
“I think you hit the nail on the head when you said to sort through your emotions instead of asking questions about the affair. I think people don’t know what to do when they are so numb from finding out, but your book describes exactly what should be done.”
Remember that you are going through this painful time for a reason: you want to heal your relationship. You can look at this difficult period as a necessary step to straightening out the mess you have made of your relationship. Like an addict, there may be a period of time in which you suffer. Going through that is the first step to putting your life back on the right course.
Keep in mind that when you maintain the course of recovery through this rough period, the reward is a relationship that is better than you ever dreamed. Use the strategies you have learned up to this point to overcome your negative feelings, and hang tight in your determination to rebuild your relationship. Your efforts will pay off.
None of this will be easy. You will likely face quite a lot of emotional difficulty when you end the affair. Nonetheless, it is necessary to face this pain in order to restore your relationship.
Dr. Frank Gunzburg is a licensed marriage counselor in Maryland and has been specializing is helping couples restore their marriage for over 30 years. He is also the author of How to Survive an Affair, a step-by-step healing system that can help a couple repair their relationship after it has been shattered from an affair.
If your relationship has been damaged by an affair and you would like a step-by-step system for repairing your relationship, then please visit Dr. Gunzburg’s site for more information: http://www.surviveanaffair.com